My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive
I kept the engagement bird up on the living room shelf because I had nowhere else to put it. Phil told me to keep it.
Though tempted to break the bird into a million pieces, I dreamed that I did and began to sob over the poor bird. It wasn’t its fault. So I didn’t break or even chip it.
I later put the game Crack the Case, which Phil had put in my safekeeping, into a cupboard below the sink.
At some point, Phil told me on the phone about things people thought of me and the “advice” they gave. I objected. He said, “Are you saying that Dave doesn’t know you? That Peter doesn’t know you?”
What? Peter’s problems with me were old and very petty, and Peter said he treated me the way he did because it was hard to deal with his feelings. He hadn’t seen me much at all since freshman year.
As for Dave, he barely knew me. He hadn’t seen me all summer, and before that he only saw me for a few months and only every once in a while, when Phil and I weren’t alone together.
He saw me in Botany class and labs, but that’s schoolwork, and I believe I was more into the class or the lab than into being sociable with him. I still don’t see why he said “we don’t get along” when he had only just met me and I thought we got along just fine.
Dave told all sorts of lies about me, while barely knowing me.
Anyway, Phil used his statement (“do they not know you?”) to justify what his friends said about me: party pooper, Bible beater.
(Peter said nothing to him about breaking up with me, though, because Peter only knew we broke up, not why. I don’t know when he found out or how he heard. I believe he said in late winter that he hadn’t spoken to Phil in quite a while after the way the family treated him in early 1994.)
I said these people didn’t know me so well. Also, what they supposedly said didn’t fit me at all. I didn’t go to parties with drugs, alcohol, or sex, but usually to parties with my own friends. I had a great time, so who would call me a pooper?
What did “party pooping” have to do with our relationship or anything else, anyway? Nothing! Marriage is not about partying. (For him to even think so, shows he was not ready for it.)
And he only just said that I wasn’t a Bible beater “like Pearl.” Even if I was, so what? I was a Christian, and that was what mattered. My lifestyle had kept me out of tons of trouble, and eventually, my life would be very happy because of it.
Neither of these so-called “problems” were any reason to break up with a person, and there were many people who wouldn’t consider them “problems” at all.
Phil was probably talking to one of those boring partiers who just wanted to get drunk and do harmful things all the time. I had no patience with such people, screwing up their brains instead of protecting and using them.
My response was, “Maybe you don’t know me so well after all.”
He said, “Do you really want to be with a guy who doesn’t know you?” But this is faulty reasoning. The point is to get to know a person over time, not necessarily to know them very well at the outset. How can you? It takes time.
Now I understand that this is triangulation, as I describe here, a tactic used to make you think you’re the problem and that everybody agrees. But at the time, it just came out of left field.
Phil said on the way back to Roanoke that this was the best summer of his life because he’d been with me. Then, a few days later, THE END. How could I believe anything he said to me that week?
I went through almost two weeks of trying to fight away the misery and trying to figure out whether or not we were ever really married.
Phil now said we weren’t after all, that now he wasn’t sure he even believed in marriage anymore, that he no longer thought sex was wrong if the couple loved and were committed to each other, that he was getting desperate and thought it possible he’d sleep with someone in the heat of the moment–all things that crushed me.
I heard tell, and could see for myself, that the freshman class was about as big as the three other classes put together. And now the lunch lines went all the way back to the opposite wall, then doubled up and went all the way back to the outside doors!
The line seemed to take different routes every year: Freshman year, the line would go into the Muskie. I think at times it had even gone around the other Bossard walls. I believe sometimes it would also double up over by the Muskie.
Anyway, you had to be careful what time you went to Bossard for lunch, or else you’d get stuck in this line, whatever way it went. Sometimes we would just sit down and wait for it to get smaller, because it would, eventually. And what were we waiting for? School food! Ugh! (Though it was better than public school food by far.)
I loved goatees junior year, but senior year–I don’t know, I guess too many guys were wearing them now.
Sarah, Tara, etc. used to say, “PEO-ple! It’s PEO-ple!” (That came from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, one with a tennis-shoed, orange-haired monster in a scientist’s castle.) Now Tara got us all saying, “PEEP-hole! We want a PEEP-hole!”
We wanted a peephole on our outside door for safety reasons. The door didn’t have a window, and neither did that whole wall, so we couldn’t see who was out there before opening it. When Mike came along and banged on it in his own peculiar way, we didn’t know if it was him or a crazed Zeta.
I loved the honks of the geese by the lagoon. Though they would threaten me if I went near them, I considered them my friends: Their beautiful sounds consoled me.
Sharon said the choir director complimented her on never having “S– hair.” S– hair, in those days, was big, curly hair.
Now my friends told me the many reasons why they didn’t like Phil. I always thought they just found his jokes annoying.
I didn’t realize it was the way he treated me, that he treated me like a child, that he was too controlling and possessive. A couple of years late, Cindy told me she witnessed him yelling at me, and later at the girl he married, and she hated that.
After the divorce, he said the drunk guys at the party called me possessive. In reality, I only objected when he leered at–not just looked at–or made crass jokes about other women, and when he said he wanted two additional wives.
I never acted like he couldn’t be friends with other women. It’s not “possessive” to be suspicious of someone who gives you good reason to suspect him. Apparently, he was just projecting his own trait onto me.
My friends said nothing because they thought I could see it and was okay with it. But I’d been too blinded by NVLD to notice the things my friends noticed.
I can tell you for sure that this was not just them comforting me after a breakup, like friends sometimes do, telling you all the bad things to get you over him faster. As I describe later, one of my acquaintances–not one of my close friends–told a friend at dinner one day that she needed to “warn” Persephone about Phil. I never talked to this person about Phil.
Even after I graduated and got engaged, and no longer cared who Phil dated, my friends saw a new girl date and marry Phil. They saw him do the same things with her, hated him, even tried to warn her before she married him.
It wasn’t just our opinion, either. Even Persephone later agreed that he treated his girlfriends like children. “Sure,” she said, “he’ll be respectful to a girl when she’s just his friend, but as soon as they start dating, he treats her like a child!” She said maybe it was because he considered his mother a child, and was disrespectful to her.
Dad said Phil was very unstable, and a yo-yo, always going back and forth. In their talks together, Phil often seemed “stupid.” Mom said he made too much noise at night, and that in all the time he spent with us, he never lifted a finger to help with the chores, or to pay them back for things they bought him for work.
My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues
One day, I sat in my room thinking, I’m so depressed and I think I’d like to go to church this Sunday. The phone rang. Out of the blue, Anna invited me to her church. I thought maybe she did have a “direct line to God,” as Latosha used to tell her.
The most likely date we went to the church is September 11 (back when that day had nothing bad associated with it).
Anna’s church in S– was noisy, spiritual and full of activity. I didn’t feel comfortable joining in with shouts or claps or any of that, being a Nazarene (though Dad told me once that Nazarene churches used to be a lot like that). But a Pentecostal church is the perfect place to go when you’re upset.
Rather than the preacher leading them in prayer, for a time, the congregation was encouraged to pray privately–but out loud. Anna knelt beside me and prayed in tongues.
I asked her later what the words meant, and repeated what I remembered. She said she didn’t know, but she always looked them up afterwards in a special dictionary for people who speak in tongues.
I saw my old suitemate Tom there! After the service, a man told me, “When he came to us, Tom was a messed-up Catholic!” Then Anna brought him to her church, and there he was that day–a Pentecostal and (as they called it) full of the Spirit! I couldn’t believe it. He was so different from the partying suitemate I knew freshman year.
People found out I was a Nazarene (sort of a sister church), so they kept trying to convince me to turn Pentecostal, and that their doctrine on speaking in tongues is the correct one. But they did this in a nice way, so I was more amused than annoyed.
I must admit, their stories were surprising–like young children speaking in tongues–and I was almost convinced. But not quite.
Someone gave me a new King James Bible, the church’s usual gift for newcomers.
Anna and I went to school brunch together and talked about the breakup. I asked what she thought of spiritual marriages, if they were real. Her answer surprised me: She thought they can be more real than many “legal” marriages that are just a piece of paper. But she also said we should follow the laws of the land.
Then we went down the Campus Center stairs and saw Phil in the foyer. Anna left me with him, gushing about how wonderful it was that he was there and I could talk to him.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: