slander

Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk (Part 1)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 9

I had been trying the past couple of days to get to Career Services, but they were closed each time I could make it.  The problem was finding a time when they were open that fit with my schedule.

I was thinking of finding a job in S– so I could stay around there, which I used to think I would do anyway, unless Phil and I went to live with my parents after the wedding.

Anyway, since this was right after the split and it still seemed possible that he would cool off and call off the divorce, it made sense to make sure I could stay in the area until then.

And it was also to stay near my friends.  I didn’t have many left in South Bend that I was still in touch with, but I had a bunch around S–.  I mention this for a reason that will soon become clear.

Wednesday evening I went to the library to take care of some class business, and Dirk was there, working.  He said he had a few things to discuss with me, if I wanted to talk to him.  I agreed.

He asked another student worker to cover for him while he took me into the adjoining room, the one with reference books and oversized books.  We sat on one of the couches by the oversized books, and talked.  This spot seemed too public, so I hoped our voices were low enough to not be overheard.

We talked about all sorts of things.  I could tell that Phil fed him all sorts of untrue things about me.  He gave me advice I did not need; told me to do things I was already doing, chewed me out for things I supposedly did or didn’t do.

He knew everything about relationships, me, and Phil.  He knew the real reason for the secret marriage (which he didn’t tell me).  He knew Phil was upset about particular things, and why, though I did not.  He knew how I could get Phil back.

He would tell Phil if I responded appropriately to this lecture.  Red flag warning!

He knew how a girl should act to get men (apparently, my dressing in attractive but modest clothes wasn’t enough to “dress to impress,” even though a Christian woman should not be “showing her wares,” so to speak).  He knew that I–Well, let’s just quote him:

“You’re the only girl I’ve ever thought I needed to tell this to,” he said, “but here goes: You’ll probably end up an old maid.”  (Yeah, tell that to my husband and child.)

He knew everything about the Bible and what it really said about sex; if he were wrong, he’d be struck down for the things he’d done.

He knew that I should convert to Catholicism if I wanted to marry Phil–even though I would have ended up one of those reluctant, “bad” Catholics who don’t really believe it.

He apparently didn’t know that there are ways for Catholics to marry non-Catholics so that even the Catholic church recognizes it, even without a Catholic ceremony or Mass.

Such weddings can be blessed by a priest, even if not officiated by one.  It sounds like Phil did not even bother looking into these alternatives, which is a shame, because they could have settled everything to the satisfaction of him and me.

Note how Dirk tried to shame me into abandoning my own beliefs and switching to Catholicism.  Red flag warning!

Unfortunately, Dirk was just like Shawn, and could talk you into believing anything he said.  Then later on, after talking to friends or contemplating, you’d realize, “He doesn’t know anything about me/the situation/reality!”

For one thing, it’s impossible to be an old maid when you’ve already been married.  For another, without adopting any of his suggestions of how to get men, but by being myself, I got three more boyfriends that year, and married one of them.

He told me that Phil thought my friends wouldn’t let him sit down when we were watching My So-Called Life, just because they gave him the only seat left, a cushioned milk crate we often sat on.

But that wasn’t all.  The time he came over after playing D&D with Dirk and his new girlfriend, and we were playing Spoons, Phil said he didn’t feel welcome, and no one let him sit down.  Both times, I didn’t defend him.

Well, I said, I didn’t know I needed to–I saw no such thing!   (Shows how much Phil communicated with me!)  So now Dirk thought I was horrible, over something that didn’t even actually happen, that wasn’t even true.  

And if Phil was so offended by something I had no clue about, why didn’t he speak up about it to my friends, instead of putting it all on my shoulders?  Am I his attack dog now, too?

Dirk chewed me out for telling Phil about my crush on Mike.  Apparently, Phil didn’t tell Dirk his rule that we confide in each other about attractions to others, or that Phil found it totally appropriate to tell me every girl he lusted after.

Apparently, what was good for the gander was verboten for the goose.  How dare I be attracted to a sweet, non-abusive guy after a summer of abuse, and how dare I mention it after my husband’s been repeatedly telling me I’m not enough for him.

Dirk also seemed to think I didn’t know what love is or what it means, and said I needed to learn that.  He asked, did I ever do anything romantic, like a candlelight dinner?–

While I thought, wait a minute, why in the heck is he telling me these things????  Why should he ask such a thing?

I stay faithful despite everything, and Phil leaves me without trying to work things out, yet Dirk says I don’t know the meaning of love?  If that were the case, then why did I stick by men until they left me, instead of leaving them first?

And who ever said I was not romantic?  I loved romance, and I liked special moments to be special however they could be.

I didn’t do candlelight dinners because I didn’t cook and I didn’t have any candles, and it wasn’t like we ever had the chance to anyway.  There was no place in the dorms, where they were verboten, and we lived with our parents.

That didn’t mean I didn’t make up for it in other ways.  Candlelight dinners are not the only romantic thing you can do.

I am a romantic soul, the one who writes about passionate love between aliens and time-travelers and such, and between humans and vampires.  I fell in love so easily with the people I dated, and longed for romance.  I didn’t/don’t know where Dirk even got the idea that I might be lacking in love or romance.

Phil abuses me in various ways all summer, fights everything I need or want, cuts me down constantly, even sexually assaults me because he refuses to respect my wishes that sex not involve excruciating pain, but I don’t know anything about what love is or what it means?

I don’t know what Phil had been telling him, but obviously it was a whole pack of lies.  Phil had his brain so screwed over that Dirk thought he knew everything about me and what happened, but he knew absolutely nothing.

I could tell Phil didn’t listen to me, but Dirk listened to him.  Dirk was a pawn in Phil’s Control by Proxy.  Nowadays, he’d be called a Flying Monkey or a sycophant.  I never had a thing to do with him after September.

For example, when Phil broke up with me, he kept saying, “You say you want to be a housewife,” as if that were a fault, as if I refused to ever work outside the home.

I’d tell him that’s not what I said, but he kept harping on it.  Over the summer, I told him again and again that I wanted to be a housewife so I could have time for my writing, because I saw writing as my life, not any other career.

But I said again and again that after we got publicly married and moved out on our own, I’d do my share to bring in money until he got his acting break–even work in a factory if I had to.

But my wish was to one day retire from this and write full-time–once we could afford it.  I also felt it was best to stay at home with our future children.

I never said I’d refuse to work no matter what.  I just said I preferred a traditional role so I would have time to work on my writing career.

Now, Dirk started harping on my wanting to be a housewife.  Phil must have ignored everything I ever said on the subject, and told Dirk I was not willing to contribute financially.  Here’s the gist of what Dirk said:

“You should have plans for something to do with your life.  You’re smart.  You can do something, make something of yourself.  Look at Margaret Thatcher–she’s a prime minister!  Just because you’re a woman don’t think you can’t do anything important.  Find a career goal.”

What I wish I would’ve said to Dirk: “I do have a career goal: I want to publish novels, as I told Phil many times.  It takes brains to do that, and it’s important. 

“And what the heck ever gave you the idea that I thought women could do nothing important?  Do you think I could be born in the 1970s and grow up in the 1980s thinking that women were fit only to look pretty in the drawing room?

And what’s so unimportant about raising children and running a household?  Just tell a stay-at-home mother of three kids that she’s lazy, she’s not contributing and her work is meaningless–and see what happens.

“Once upon a time, women were expected to be housewives; now that the pendulum has swung the other way, women are often expected to go out and get a job along with taking care of the house, and derided if they want a traditional role.”

I have to wonder if Dirk knew that Phil treated me like a disobedient servant, not a wife, a throwback to the days when men thought women couldn’t handle intellectual pursuits.

Just so you know I meant what I told Phil:

After college, I got a full-time job in insurance.  I worked for a couple of years, became a homemaker for a year after being downsized, then worked again part-time for four years to pay off some debts.  Then I became a stay-at-home mother.

All along, I have written; my books are now published (information here) and making a little bit of money.  I am also getting some success as a blogger.

Just what I said I would do, and all perfectly acceptable.  Despite how he and Dirk both scorned it, I’m living the dream, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

This article by Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Orthodox woman who used to be a feminist Episcopalian, describes how feminism–while certainly making good changes, such as the vote for women and more natural standards of beauty–also made some very bad changes.  One was the idea that women should find careers more important than staying at home, that “staying home and raising kids was mindless drudgery,” that “housewives were dumb.”

There’s nothing wrong with mothers working.  But the choice of a housewife should be respected, not derided.  Housewives with children are very busy, and have to use their brains all day long; calling them lazy is ludicrous, as is saying that a housewife is wasting her brain.  These jobs would have to be done by somebody, even if the wife didn’t do them.

And I certainly don’t waste my brain when I do finances, make out a menu, or act as the tech support for my household, since I understand computers much better than my engineer husband does.

But back to September 1994.  Though ticked and confused, instead of what I should have said, I said, “Tomorrow I’ll go to Career Services.”  (You’ll note I’d been trying to go there already anyway.)  He said that was good, and he would tell Phil that.

I should have told him off.  Of course, I don’t remember what else I said.  I might have set him straight, or tried to.

Right after I said I’d go to Career Services, I said that the next day I would also talk to Pearl about what he said about InterVarsity.  He was pleased with that as well, and said he’d tell Phil about that.

So you see, he got me under a bit of a spell, controlling my mind, getting me to think he was right even when his words made no sense and had no connection to reality.

Part 2

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Phil wants a divorce–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 5

On Friday, while I worked in the library with Sharon, I told her I was sad and didn’t know what was going on.

My old Lit teacher Wesley came up to the desk and we chatted.  Remember the crush I had on him?  He looked a bit scuzzy now: unshaven, long hair.

He asked what I’d be doing after graduation, and I said I’d be getting married.  (What a pity: He was now divorced and no longer my teacher.  And the student he once dated, just told him she was married now.  If I saw him a day or two later, who knows what would have happened?)

I saw Dirk standing by the copy machine, and felt uneasy.  After a few minutes, Wesley went on his way.

Dirk, still by the copy machine, and silent till now, talked to me near the end of my shift, and said Phil was upset.  I had no idea what he could be upset about, when he hadn’t waited around long enough for my answer, and it was good news.  Dirk just said he knew what was wrong and we needed to sit down and work this out between ourselves.  (So why bring it up, then?  And why was I the last to know?)

He also told me Phil was pledging Zetas again.  Phil knew I had problems with the Zetas, especially now that the cool ones had graduated.  He gave me every reason to believe he wanted nothing to do with pledging after how they treated him as a pledge the previous year.

I said, “What? He knows how I feel about that!”

Dirk said, “He’s got to live his own life.”  But wasn’t it our life together as man and wife?  As if the opinion of his own wife didn’t even matter!  How insulting!  And how devastating.

I felt like crying, though I did not know what was going on, and had to choke back tears as Sharon and I walked back to the apartment.

Someone soon knocked at the inside door (I don’t know how he got in the building without calling me).  Sharon went to answer it, then came back in our bedroom, saying, “Uh-oh, Nyssa, uh-oh!”  She left us alone as Phil walked in.

He told me there were too many problems and he was breaking up with me.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was also upset because I had been faithful to the vows we made even when I wanted to break them, yet he just went ahead and broke them.

Now I finally learned that he petulantly thought no one wanted him to sit down when they offered him the little cushioned crate.

I don’t know what he expected to sit on, when there was nowhere else to sit.  I did not see the milk crate as offensive, nor did I see sitting on the floor as offensive when all other chairs were already taken.  It’s just part of college life; I sat on lots of floors.

I feel he overreacted big-time and took it out on me.  I guess what was good enough for the rest of us to sit on, was not good enough for his majesty.  (A quick Net search shows that cushioned milk crates are often used as extra seats.)

Yet he thought I should’ve stood up for him when my friends treated him “so bad.”  But this was impossible because I didn’t even know anything was wrong.  I’m not a mindreader, and I saw nothing at all amiss in the way my friends treated him.

He also said it looked like we were just watching some 90210-like “teeny-bopper” show, and he didn’t want to wait for such a show to get over with.

But this show was critically acclaimed, ahead of its time, and inspired the first-ever online fan campaign to get it renewed when it was prematurely cancelled.

Phil’s remarks insulted both my taste and my intelligence, and all my friends’ as well.

This tells me that because he didn’t consider the show worth his time, I wasn’t supposed to like it, either, or be excited about watching it, or do anything but jump to his command. 

If he says now it’s time to talk, even though I have previously made plans and he made absolutely no effort to contact me about when he would stop by–oh, I’m just supposed to jump and do whatever he says right then because he said so.

I never had a chance to tell him I had chosen him over the other guy.  Instead, without a word he had vanished to a party with Dave, where he told drunken party boys about our problems and lusted after some girls.  He even wanted to get drunk and lose his inhibitions so he’d sleep with one of them.

Fortunately, he didn’t listen to the advice of drunken party boys, but tempered it with the advice of a married friend to give me another chance.

He said the drunken party boys told him, “Oh, just dump her.”  He didn’t want to listen to them because they were selfish and drunk–

–but what was he doing, telling guys like that about our problems?  These boys–

–who didn’t know me and only knew the slanted story of somebody who gaslit and abused me, and told lies about me to his friends–

–called me “possessive.”  I wasn’t possessive at all.  (Sharon, on the other hand, called him possessive.)

He said he’d been talking to a friend of his, a married man whom he often went to about relationships, and asked how he could break up with me when we were married.

This guy said it wasn’t long enough to be a common-law marriage.  I think he said it had to be at least six months in Wisconsin.  He also said he thought Nazarenes recognized it, but the Catholic church didn’t.  (I had never heard of the Nazarene church accepting or not accepting common-law marriages.)

Phil conveniently forgot that this never bothered him before.  He hadn’t cared who thought it was a “real” marriage so long as it was one in God’s eyes.  We already knew that the church and the law would not call it a marriage, but as far as we were concerned, it was one.

At least, that’s what Phil always told me whenever I started to doubt.  He was the one who kept having to convince me

Also, we knew Wisconsin didn’t recognize common-law marriages in the first place, so what difference did it make how long we’d been together?

In a research frenzy, I later checked Pearl’s dictionary: It described two different types of common-law marriages, one based on length of time and the other based only on agreement.  For the second, all you needed for a common-law marriage was an agreement to live as man and wife.

Phil’s confidant also asked if he loved me, and he did not hesitate before saying yes.  Though after reading about abusers and narcissists, I now doubt that he ever loved me at all.  You don’t sexually assault and emotionally abuse someone you love.

He complained about “us eating just because you’re hungry.”  Say what?  Was I not even allowed to say I was hungry and wanted lunch, not even in the middle of the afternoon, if he wasn’t yet hungry?

He said “I’m not your taxicab”–just because I was scared to death of driving and had no car anyway, so I asked him to take me places?

He complained about me telling him when to wake up and, supposedly, making his self-esteem drop.

So–

–begging him to wake up in time to take a shower and have a decent breakfast, instead of sleeping until 2pm and not showering at all for weeks at a time, and begging him to wake up on the last possible day he could get his brakes fixed so we wouldn’t get killed on the way back to Wisconsin–

–was horrible?

What a load of crap.  I can’t believe I tried so hard to get this loser back.

All summer, whenever I doubted the validity of our marriage because it wasn’t legally recognized in Indiana or Wisconsin, he insisted on the validity and told me not to worry about it.

But now, he said our marriage wasn’t real.  He could probably get away with that in his church because our marriage was never blessed by a priest (i.e., not valid in the Catholic church), but what about in front of God?

So, according to him, it takes two people to end a marriage if one is abusive, but only one to end it if the other person is not subservient enough.

And, apparently, Phil decides when a secret marriage is real and valid–which is when he wants it to be.

Well, I considered it real and valid, and this was not a breakup, not the end of an engagement, but a divorce.

All the anxieties of a divorced, conservative Christian woman came into play: Will I be an adulteress if I marry somebody else?  Must I be reconciled to him or else never marry again?  Will I be free to marry again because he deserted me–the Pauline privilege?  Will he be an adulterer if he marries again?

I had spent all summer trying to be a good wife: supporting him when he had job trouble, vacuuming and dusting our rooms for him, washing and bleaching the skid marks out of his underwear, praying for his safety.  And this was my repayment?

If there were any other reasons given at this time, I don’t remember what they were.

Basically, he blamed it on me.  Yeah, right.  I believe he just broke up with me because I wasn’t willing to give in to his constant emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  (The physical abuse was, basically, the sexual abuse; they were intertwined in this case.)

By not letting him control me or make me the “victim,” I was doing so many “bad” things that I had to become obedient and change for him to come back to me.

If I were such a bad person, then why did I not act badly with my next three boyfriends?  And why did I never cry with anyone as often as I cried with him?

Yet I hear that Phil, on the other hand, carried on to his next two relationships at least some of the things he did to me.  He acted the same, he yelled, he manipulated, he controlled, he acted petulant when he didn’t get his own way, and he even slapped his next girlfriend Persephone (only once because she slapped him back).

Cindy later told me that she heard him yell at me in the Krueger lounge, so she didn’t like him.  Then she heard him do the same thing with the girl he eventually married (and later divorced).  My friends saw him be mean to her, and want his way, only his way, and that’s it.

Mike later wrote to me that abusers commonly blame their girlfriends or wives for their behavior.  They’ll abuse and abuse and sometimes even go so far as killing them, yet still say their wives deserved it, that they did so many things wrong that it was their fault.

Phil fit the trait “unceremoniously discarding,” here: What is Abuse (“Overt Abuse”).  For years, I wondered why an abuser would leave his victim, and thought that it must have been because I resisted.  Of course, Dr. Phil might still say I allowed the abuse by continuing to stay with him.  But now I see that abusers do discard, so maybe I don’t need to figure out a reason.

I could admit to doing some things I shouldn’t have, but he took no responsibility for his own wrongdoing.  During the talk, I didn’t think of the things he did, of saying that he was no saint, but they began to come to me later on.

For some reason, the song “Insanity” by Boingo kept running through my head.

Like an idiot, I thought I’d be better off with him than without him (apparently forgetting all the emotional abuse of the summer), and begged him not to divorce me.  I said, “But things were getting better!”

He said he had given me so many chances to change, and that I hadn’t done so, but if I changed within a month, we could get back together.

(ME?  I had to change?  I was not the abuser!)

He said we might change after seeing other people.  I asked him for a parting kiss, but all he gave me was a peck on the lips.  He said just before he left, “Keep the faith.”  (What the heck did that even mean?)

After he left, I broke down and cried.

I told my parents, though I had to call them collect through the new 1-800-CALL-ATT because my phone card number stopped working for some reason.  My mom could tell I was upset just from the way I said hello to her.

She had hoped I wouldn’t have to go through this again.  I think she told me to eat something.  She did tell me to go to that night’s dance with my friends, that it would be good for me, take my mind off things.

For at least a few days, I made a lot of collect calls, until my dad got a new number for me.  I believe he switched long-distance carriers to Sprint, which was why the number didn’t work.  The new number was very easy to remember, mostly made up of our home phone number.

I didn’t want to do a thing without my parents’ advice, for fear I’d mess things up if I did.  I remembered how I messed things up with Peter when I acted on impulse.

Possibly at dinner, I met Persephone for the first time.  She was a dark-haired girl with short hair, a freshman, Trina’s roommate.

Some of the other freshman girls had told her they came to Roanoke to get married.  She laughed about it with us, having already discovered that Roanoke guys had a bad reputation.

She said, “That’s it, I’m not sleeping with any Roanoke guys!”  This secretly made me glad, because then she wouldn’t be sleeping with Phil.

Either before or after I met her, Phil told me he was interested in a girl named Persephone.  I soon found out this was the same one.

I went to the Friday dance, after all, even though Phil and I were supposed to go together and now we wouldn’t.  This was supposed to be my chance to see him dance.

Well, I did see him dance, though it was across the room.  It was hard for some time afterwards to hear the songs “Funkytown” (Pseudo Echo’s version) and “Delirious” (Prince) and remember his foot-stamping.  He was a weirdo jumping-bean on the dance floor.  Though I didn’t notice, he later said my friends kept giving him dirty looks.

Once, he danced over to me, and I said he did dance weird.

It felt good to dance and escape and work out some of my grief, though I couldn’t stay there long.  I may have left alone, or with my friends.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 3

In an August letter to Clarissa, I described a headache which two of those mail-order music companies put me through, Word and Columbia House: I sent my May cards back in plenty of time to refuse the month’s latest “tell us no or we’ll send it automatically” selections, almost a month before the due date, along with address changes from Roanoke to my home.

Yet for some strange reason, they kept sending cards to Roanoke–along with the selections I rejected!  Then when the selections were forwarded to my house (one was COD for some unknown reason!), I sent them back.

Then I got letters scolding me for either (Word) not paying for a CD I’d already sent back, or (Columbia House) not telling them I wanted to reject the selections.

!!!!!!!!!!

I was furious, annoyed and irritated, dealing with this all summer long, when I had done everything I was supposed to, and had done nothing wrong.

I don’t recall when I finally cancelled these accounts, after all these years.  This probably had something to do with it.

Sometime afterwards, I tried BMG, which eventually moved everything to a website, sometime between 1998 and the 2000s.  I used the website to reject a selection, only to get it anyway.  Or to order another, and not get it.

I finally washed my hands of music clubs completely, and now get my stuff from Amazon.  This “tell us no or we’ll send it” method is ridiculous.  I recommend staying away from clubs like this.

Another thing I wrote in that letter:

You won’t believe what station just drowned out Q101 (Chicago) for a few minutes and came in quite clearly: WIXX!  They identified themselves as WIXX–Green Bay, and I about freaked.  That station that you can’t pick up past S–, drowned out a Chicago station across the river?!  (8/3–Phil tells me they were going to boost their power.)

****

Phil almost lost his legs one day!  He came home and said his friend at work was driving the forklift (or some other kind of machinery) and didn’t see Phil there, picking up metal strips (or tubing or whatever it was).  At the crucial moment, one of them saw the other and tragedy was avoided.

I felt that if I hadn’t prayed for him every day when he went to that factory (always fearing such incidents), and if they hadn’t seen each other in time, Phil would have lost the lower half of his legs, at or below the knee.  He was glad I’d been praying for him.

His legs were in pain for a few days.  After this, I prayed even more fervently for his safety at the factory each day.

Phil didn’t think he’d have to work the next day, but that he would just go in, report the incident, and come back home to recover.  I expected to see him again within the hour after he left.

But his foreman said that because he didn’t report the incident right after it happened, he wasn’t eligible for compensation, and had to stay and work.  I guess it was harder to prove it actually happened on the job, though his friend could back up his story, but the foreman should at least have let Phil take a sick day.  It just didn’t seem fair.

****

Probably in July, Phil made up some character sheets for my new character, Phoena Palindrome, and we started playing Dungeons & Dragons with her.

She was a half-elven, bard meistersinger, with gold hair like the Crayola crayon.  I wrote up a whole background for her.  Phil found that strange, though I hear that’s common.

We went around the house looking for dice, since Phil didn’t bring most of his, just his players’ handbook, bard’s handbook, big Monstrous Compendium notebook and maybe a few other books.

We had to improvise with six-sided dice, though I do remember a cool, red, twenty-sided one with pink flecks, and possibly a gold nugget.  Maybe he used these for his Dungeon Master rolls.  There were big ones, small ones, red ones, tiny ones I found in a game.

Phil had to type up character sheets on the Microsoft Word Processor, because he had no real character sheets.

Later, I started a new character, Fury, a druid, meant to complement Phoena and be her more sensual cousin, so I could have a little more fun with her.  (Phoena was saving herself for marriage.)

She had proficiencies Phoena lacked, and few of Phoena’s proficiencies.  (If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it.)  Their first and last names, by the way, were Phil’s idea, since he said he knew what kind of names an elf might have.  Phoena’s name was spelled “Ph” because I liked it better.

I faithfully recorded every adventure Phoena had, and noted I didn’t like the many fights she had with other creatures.  She didn’t like fighting, but it seemed the only way she ever had adventures to write songs about.

Phil said that as Dungeon Master, his games were battle-oriented.  He was proud of this, but I found it boring.  Phil soon brought in Darken, a dwarf, to help Phoena get out of fights alive.

He told me once that I was better at this and getting the hang of it faster than anyone else he knew.

Finally, something of more interest than constant fighting happened: Phoena was sold as a love-slave.  On the way to her master’s home, she rode along in a cart with his other slaves, all male, not love slaves.  One, a cute elf, took a special liking to her.

Phoena, by the way, never wanted to settle down with anyone, and kept breaking hearts.  Phoena got away from her master with her virginity intact, answered a sphinx’s question, and continued her adventures.

****

Phil began complaining about what he gave up to be there with me, reproaching me with it, as if it were my fault somehow.  He said he would’ve had steel-toed boots and not had to buy them, he would’ve had his own suits, he would’ve had this or that.

He mentioned an opportunity for doing a demo tape of his voice, which he would use to get announcing jobs on the radio or TV.  The sub for the theater director told him about this in the spring, while the director had heart trouble.  The sub was an accomplished actor, and loved Phil’s abilities.

I don’t know the circumstances, why Phil didn’t just go earlier or later.

Phil talked about these things as if I made him give them up, which I hadn’t.  I never forced him to come down to Indiana, had resigned myself to not seeing him all summer.  Then he said he wanted to take me down there, take my mom’s offer for him to stay with us, and find a job.

He defied his parents to do this, even though my mom said she didn’t want him disowned over this, and I did not want him to defy or lie to his parents.  The true story is in the May chapter.

But now he changed history on me, trying to make me think I forced him into this against his wishes, so now it was all my fault he had to buy new boots and didn’t make that demo tape.

Did he seriously expect me to buy this?  This, by the way, is more gaslighting, a common tactic of abusers and narcissists.

In December, he told a friend that I made him go down there, that my parents wanted to see if we should get married.  When I confronted him with it in a letter, he acted to Pearl like he didn’t say that.

But you see here that he did say it to me, and that he was a gaslighting liar, so why should I believe he did not tell Randy that?

Also, he admitted to me in September that he manipulated people for his own ends, so why shouldn’t I believe that he told Randy this, then when it got back to me, pretended to Pearl that he never did?

A smear campaign to discredit the abuse victim, is another common tactic of abusers: If his friends all think I’m controlling and crazy, they won’t believe me when I tell the truth about what he did.

Also, all that time, over all those months since January 28 when we started going out, I thought Phil had been nice to Tracy during the breakup.  I thought she accepted everything, said she never expected he would stay with her, anyway, because she knew where his heart truly lay.

This was how he explained it to me.  He said he opened doors for her after the breakup and tried to be nice.  When she began hating him and told his mom he treated her badly, I thought it was spite, and wondered where it came from after she’d been so understanding.

(Typical abuser tactic: paint the ex as crazy or spiteful, so you don’t believe anything she says.)

But no.  This was not the case, after all.  One night in the kitchen, I found to my dismay that he broke up with her meanly.  He told her, “I’m sick of being a nice guy!”

Meaning, he was sick of being the nice guy who gave her a chance even though he was not attracted to her, but was in love with me.

Now, he also insulted me for “stealing him away” from Tracy.  He said if he saw a girl he wanted with another guy, he’d let them be.  He wouldn’t try to get her.

Never mind the fact that I only tried to “steal him away” because I asked him out first, he said he liked me rather than Tracy, and for his whole month with Tracy he kept showing and saying how much he wanted to be with me instead.  He did not love her; he just knew her better.  He loved me.

He spent all these months telling me how much he loved me, that he realized it before we went to Pearl’s party, etc. etc.  He also checked with her, and she said it was perfectly fine for him to date other people, because they were not exclusive.

All this is depicted in the December and January chapters, which include details taken straight from diary entries I wrote while this went on.

If he actually loved Tracy and not me, I would have left them alone.  But now he talked as if he were sorry I succeeded.

This fits with the abusive traits of gaslighting, berating, chastising and insulting.

And besides that, the timing was wrong, because he already liked me and already knew I liked him, so “going out” with her rather than choosing me was unfair to both Tracy and me.

It was unfair to me because I knew he liked me, and my feelings were hurt.  It was unfair to Tracy because it led her on, and set her up to get even more hurt by a breakup instead of a simple rejection.

In the spring, he also accused me of being responsible for her pain by not being “assertive” enough in going after him.

Um….First semester I barely knew him, barely ever saw him, except at Pearl’s parties.  He was a commuter, so I could not look him up in the campus directory.  Yet I worked up the courage to ask him out, a huge step for me.  I didn’t wait for him to ask me out.

The night we went out, I told him I was interested in him romantically.  So how exactly was I not “assertive” enough?

But this was his way of making me responsible for his hurting Tracy through his own careless behavior.  The latter part of summer was Phil putting one massive mindscrew on me, typical abusive and narcissistic behavior.

Here we were married, so we obviously belonged together, yet he insulted me for chasing him in the first place!  This is emotional and psychological abuse.

****

We’d been going to bed at about 5 am and getting up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon.  (Yes, you read that right.)  Phil came home, then we’d want to game, he’d play computer games, he’d have a frozen pizza for his dinner, we’d make love, we’d talk, we’d argue….It depended on the night.

Mom told me we shouldn’t go to bed so late.  It was weird to go to bed just when she got up, but Phil didn’t get home till after 11pm.  I slept when he did (though I got up sooner, since nine hours is a lot) so I could be with him when he was awake.

It was the only time I got to see him during the work week, especially since he woke up at 2pm or later and then rushed off to work, unwashed.

He said guys at the factory went to bed right after work and slept until about that same time.  Maybe they didn’t have wives or families, because their wives and/or children would want to see them sometime during the day.

Also, it’s hard to buy that, considering that midnight to 2pm is 14 frickin’ hours.  Responsible adults need to spend part of every day doing something besides work and sleep: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, going on errands.

And, yes, caring for children and spending time with the wife.  I suspect it was another lie meant to make me feel like a nag.

****

Phil picked up the game “Crack the Case” for the InterVarsity group, who loved playing board games at parties.  One person, the gamemaster, knows the solution to a mystery case and the other asks yes or no questions.  It sounded like fun, and you can see it has high marks.

But when Phil and I played it, he kept snapping at me.

If he was the gamemaster, he treated me like a stupid idiot when I didn’t pick up on some clue he gave.

Or, if I was the gamemaster, he yelled at me for not answering him “properly” with a yes when I thought it deserved a no.  He thought I couldn’t decide for myself what I could say and what I couldn’t without breaking the rules.

Another abusive tactic: trying to make your spouse feel like she’s too stupid to function without you.  And I have never wanted to play this game since, because it reminds me of him treating me like an idiot.

****

One night, he told me he’d been doing a “points” thing while driving to work.  He would think of things for me and things against me.

One thing against me was that I wasn’t Catholic.  That insulted me.  It shouldn’t be a point against to be Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox; they’re all Christian.

As Sharon later told me, once you’re engaged, it’s time to stop the dating “point system.”  It’s doubly time when you’re married.

My parents complained about him a lot at dinner these days.  Just various things, like he shouldn’t make so much noise at night, or he should do such-and-such.

I tried to quiet him at night, especially when we were in the kitchen, but he still often talked loud.  Sometimes I tried to defend him; sometimes I could think of nothing to say.

****

Sometimes we played D&D in the family room, sometimes in my room.  D&D was so much fun that I wanted to play it most nights.

I liked playing Phoena, though she had to fight nasty creatures a lot, and I wished sometimes that Phil would concentrate more on the little romances he put into adventures than on battles.

Fury, a peaceful druid, did not have the skills to adventure in dangerous territory on her own, yet Phil insisted on having her gain some skill levels before she met Phoena.

(Why didn’t he just let me roll her at a higher level, instead of starting her out at first?  That’s how now-hubby Cugan would have done it, and it makes more sense.)

Phil stuck her in a dungeon, and with the limitations of NVLD, I didn’t know what to do to get her out of it.

Phil gave me no help understanding how to play a druid.  Instead he got mad at me and yelled at me like I was stupid, then said, “She gets depressed and dies.”

I got upset and he took it back, but we no longer played her.  (I played her later in one of Cugan’s games.)

(Poor Phoena: Every game she’s in, dies.  First this game ended when Phil and I divorced.  Then I tried her again in a game with one of Cugan’s friends, but that game ended after one time.  Then I finally pulled her back out again to play in my friend Richard‘s game, only to be betrayed by him and discover that he was not really my friend, so that game ended as well.)

Phil spent all his free time just sitting and playing computer games.  It was boring to sit there and watch him, so I’d usually read, since I wanted to be with him.

Dad had the game Lemmings, and it was fun to watch Phil play it.

I tried to play it once, and asked Phil to help me learn it because he said he was great at figuring out the puzzles in each level.

I just asked him to help me learn how to play, but he told me how to solve everything, and got mad if I didn’t figure out the levels right away.  That wasn’t what I asked him to do!

One level was especially perplexing: This big column-thing was in the way of the Lemmings, and you could only bash it in the direction opposite the one in which the Lemmings were going.

Phil told me to time some bombers perfectly and get a bunch of Lemmings digging at perfectly placed intervals along the top of the column-thing, to obliterate it from the top down.

It was impossible to place them so well that there would be no leftover slivers to block the Lemmings, but he insisted I do it this way, and became furious with me for not doing it right.

On December 23, I played that level on my own, and discovered how much better and easier the game was for me without Phil standing over me and telling me how to think.

I came to the level with the big column-thing.  Phil had insisted I solve this the hard way, the nearly-impossible way–

–when all I needed to do was send a couple of crawling Lemmings over the column, make one of them a blocker so the other one would turn back around and become a basher, then the basher would bash through the column and make a nice tunnel for all the other Lemmings to go through.

Blow up the blocker, and all the other Lemmings will march through and make it safely home.

He tried so hard to make me feel like an idiot, yet once I got out of his influence, my true smarts became clear.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–July 1994, Part 3

Phil and I got into a routine of sleeping in Sunday morning, having Sunday lunch at home (sometimes warmed up if we slept too late), going to the evening service, then going to get dinner for ourselves from a fast food place, because Mom never made dinner Sunday evening.

In my family, our traditional Sunday dinner was at lunchtime, then we’d have ice cream (sometimes cake or brownies a la mode, too) in the mid- to late-afternoon, and popcorn after the evening service (or around 7:00, if we didn’t go to the evening service).

But this didn’t satisfy me anymore and often made me feel a little sick, so I welcomed going to get dinner with Phil.

We used to go to the morning service, and people complimented Phil’s bass singing, but we decided we’d rather sleep and go to the evening service.

But one evening, the people at the church service divided up into little classes in the Sunday School classrooms.  I’m not sure why; it was not normally done, but the pastor wanted to do something different that night.

I was excited about it and wanted to go to one, but Phil refused to go with me.  I said I didn’t want to go alone.  He said he didn’t want to go, maybe for the same reasons he didn’t want to go to Sunday School–avoiding indoctrination or confrontation?

(Like that would’ve happened!  We as a church were very laid-back, and wouldn’t do this sort of thing.)

He said we should either leave, or he’d wait in the van for me as I went to a class.  I said people would wonder why he wasn’t with me.  He didn’t care.

I got frustrated, and really wanted to go to a class, but I refused to let him be an object of my embarrassment by sitting outside in the van.  I said we might as well leave.

****

I got into practice of being a good little housewife: Just as I kept up with cleaning my dorm room and laundry, I cleaned our upstairs rooms: dusting and vacuuming our two bedrooms, cleaning the half-bath each week, doing laundry for both of us, folding his clothes and hanging up his shirts and jeans and putting them all away, then putting one or two fabric sheets in his underwear drawer to keep the underwear nice and fresh.  (My mom taught me this trick.)

But I kept finding the fabric sheets in the wastebasket.  It was kind of insulting, almost like he thought I was leaving them there accidentally or something, or like he didn’t care about my little gesture.  I put them there every time and set them nice and neatly over his underwear. It seemed hard to mistake that for an accident.

I went to a lot of trouble to clean his underwear, learning how to bleach and trying to figure out how to remove the stubborn stains guys leave behind.  I tried and tried and tried, but could not get them out.

I also washed and bleached the white sheets on my bed, which we both used, but the grease from his arms after working at the factory did not come out of the sheets.

(Later that year, I’d put the stained parts at the foot of the bed, so I couldn’t see them and remember sex with him.  In 1997, I decided to just get rid of them, since there was no way I was using them again.  Now I just wanted to burn them.)

He acted like I was a nag for asking him to clean up with the Lava soap I put in the upstairs bathroom for that purpose.  But he just didn’t seem to realize what he was doing to the sheets by not washing up every night.

He couldn’t take a shower at night because the full bath was in my parents’ bedroom, so that’s why I brought in the Lava soap.  But he didn’t get up early enough to take a shower the next morning, when my parents were gone–and for goodness’ sake, he had to clean up sometime!

Trying to wash the T-shirts and jeans he wore to work was almost impossible.  They got clean, but except for one red T-shirt that resisted the grease stains, they were badly stained and fit for nothing else but such work.

I kept trying and trying to get the stains out, but it just didn’t work.  Phil wore the same pair of jeans to work each day so the other ones wouldn’t get ruined.

Phil never bathed much, even now that he was working in a factory, and even when he showered, he didn’t always use soap.

He didn’t like showering because of some near-drowning incident when he was a child; he said he’d rather just use shampoo in the shower, and soap up while taking a bath, since the water wasn’t pouring down all over him.

Yet I don’t think he took a bath more than once or twice the whole time I was with him.  If he did, I didn’t know about it.

He also didn’t brush his teeth.  I begged him to shower and brush his teeth, but he said, “This way you won’t have to worry about any other women coming on to me!”  But hey–what about being more attractive to me?  When he did shower, I begged him to use soap.

Once, he told me he washed his hands but didn’t use soap because he didn’t see any.  I said there was a softsoap bottle sitting right there on the sink!  (Duh!)  He said he doesn’t use soap if he can’t tell it is soap.

But, come on, that softsoap stuff had been on the market and advertised ever since we were little kids, and most public bathrooms used softsoap, so he should have known by now what it was.  And it probably said “soap” or “softsoap” right on the bottle!

****

One early afternoon, Phil infuriated me.  I did nothing wrong, and wished he would apologize for treating me so badly.

We went over to the nearest branch of the library to get a book, you see; I used to walk there all the time in high school.  I thought it would only take a moment because I knew exactly what I was looking for: a particular Gothic novel for my studies.  This was all for my senior thesis, Gothic novels and how they’ve changed over time.

Instead I found a collection of Gothic stories.  While I looked that over, and over what other Gothic books they had there, I lost track of time.  But Phil apparently did, too, or else he knew what time it was and didn’t tell me.

Anyway, it got late, and he had to go to work.  I thought it was still early, because I was so engrossed that time went quickly.  I thought it took fifteen minutes at the very most, and I don’t know what took up so much time.  He didn’t tell me until it was already late that we needed to get going.

Then on the way back, instead of walking along holding hands cheerfully and lovingly, like we did on the way there, he started walking and running fast.

He got mad at me because I couldn’t keep up with him, though I was physically unable to go faster.  I told him I couldn’t walk or run so fast.  He yelled at me and then, when we got back, he left in a huff.

I have always had trouble keeping up with others who walk or run fast, especially guys.  In a walking test in gym class in maybe sixth grade, I finished the track long after everyone else in the class was done.  I have long legs, but still can’t keep up.  For years, I’ve considered this an NVLD-related thing.  So Phil yelled at me for something I can’t help, something related to my nonverbal learning disability.

Dad was home so I tried to hide my tears, but I sniffled while doing the dishes.  Dad may have noticed, but I don’t remember for sure.  (I know my parents did notice some days that I was unhappy.)  I was still pretty ticked at Phil because he should’ve been more understanding at my lack of athletic ability.

Phil did say when he got home from work that maybe he shouldn’t have gotten so mad at me, and he did apologize.

But he had complained about me at the factory during a break.  So not only was he trying to break me with psychological warfare, but he smeared me to his co-workers as well.

****
Jake’s wedding was on July 30 at Pam’s mother’s house.  We of Jake’s family, even Phil, were included in the informal pictures.  (A few months later, Mom didn’t like to see him in the pictures.)

I loved the punch, which had ice cream in it.  And no, it had no alcohol.  Why should punch be spiked?  It’s delicious the way it is.  And whatever happened to punch at parties and weddings?

Anyway, the reception was at a restaurant, probably Old Country Buffet.  My youngest brother, Mom, Dad, Grandma McCanmore, Phil and I all sat together at the same table.

My youngest brother liked to make snide comments about me all the time.  He said I was stubborn and wouldn’t do anything I didn’t want to.

Phil said proudly, “She does whatever I ask her to.”

Grandma said to me, “Don’t let him think that!”

I did jokingly call him “master” sometimes, like the girl in Pamela, or like a genie with  bowed head and hands pressed together, because I didn’t mind giving over the decision making to someone else.  However, this was a grave mistake because he took it to heart, liked it way too much, took it way too seriously.

The 700 Club taught a better form of submission, a wife willingly submitting and a husband willingly loving and protecting (mutual submission), rather than a subservient wife forced to obey her husband.

Phil wanted obedience; I wanted mutual submission.

It wasn’t until later–when I researched for American Lit and changed my senior thesis to Victorian women who tried to break free from male domination, and probably with the sting of bitter memories–that I began to hate the very idea of one head of the household.

But I always resisted being controlled and obedient, as if I were a child and Phil my father.

But if Phil wanted something I didn’t want or could not give, such as anal sex, he began demanding it, scolding me and saying, “You always get your way!” or “Fine, have your way, you always do.”

This from the guy who kept refusing to do things I asked for and treated me like a nag for wanting them, such as: taking me to look for PH paper for his required natural family planning, doing little things once in a while that I asked for because they were sweet and reminded me of our early days together, or going to a park on the weekend instead of just sitting around the house doing nothing except watch him play computer games.

This also contradicted his assertion at my brother’s wedding that I did whatever he wanted me to. 

Years later, I also heard from a friend that he held me up to his new wife as some kind of saint, obedient and perfect, so that she idolized me and tried to be like me.  It was bizarre.

But back to July 1994.  If I stuck up for myself during one of his tirades, he screamed, “You always have to be right!”

Never mind that he kept demanding I give up something important to me (such as Sunday School), do something disgusting or demeaning or perverted or painful, allow him to get his way or win the argument when he was being unreasonable or cruel or ridiculing me, or read his mind.

As I described above, he even threatened to withhold natural marital relations if I refused to agree to the perverted and excruciatingly painful (no lube) thing he wanted to do.

I knew that Phil used pornography before we started dating.  He told me he got rid of the Hustler magazines in his room.  But studies have shown that use of porn can distort a young man’s expectations of his wife/girlfriend.

I believe this is exactly what happened with Phil, that he expected me to act like a porn star.  (Also see here.)  I knew he watched a certain porn movie all the time, and Hustler is hardcore, not like Playboy.

Sure it’s difficult to put these details on the Web, but stories of abuse need to be told, for the sake of those who have been and are being abused.  Maybe some woman (or man) will recognize herself (himself) in these pages and get the help she (he) needs.

 

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Controversial Play Tears the School Apart–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1994, Part 2

Now for the defining event which essentially ruined what InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) fought so hard to set up at Roanoke:

You don’t have to agree with the people who were against the school play, but I do want you to understand that nobody was trying to stifle women’s voices or fight against women’s empowerment.

Nor was it IVCF trying to censor people, which is how it was misrepresented to the student body.  This is what really happened:

In March, there was a huge controversy over the school play that was to be put on that semester.

Lucky Spot” had already caused controversy fall semester because it had nonstop cussing and was shown on Family Night without a warning; the language really should have been toned down out of sensitivity to the audience and any Christian actors.

The language added nothing; the play would have been perfectly understandable without it.  It didn’t seem right to make actors use language which may have been against their personal Christian beliefs.  It was, however, a good and funny play.

This next play, “Uncommon Women” by Wendy Wasserstein, caused controversy because of the often vulgar subject matter.  Many people considered it inappropriate at a Christian college.

The year before, my World Lit class had said that we could be pretty sure the old guys who ran Roanoke would never agree to showing the old Greek play, “Lysistrata.”  But “Lysistrata” was tame compared to this play.

Some of the controversial scenes: A girl runs in and says, “I did it!  I’ve tasted my menstrual blood!”  (I have a low tolerance for gore.)  There was also a scene in which a girl shows a virgin the different penis sizes.  I don’t remember more concrete examples from the play, so you’d have to find a copy or video of it.

In Googling this play just now, I discovered that this play was shown on TV back in the 70s, to critical acclaim.  I had never heard of this play, however, and I doubt that many people at Roanoke had, other than the older generations, such as the theater director.

(No doubt my parents did not want me, a 5-year-old, to see it.  As Nazarenes, they probably did not want to watch it themselves.)

A critic from the New York Times called the sex talk funny and believable, though it becomes excessive.  But to me, it wasn’t at all believable, and was all excessive.

As Phil explained it to me, a former member of our IVCF group, Dori, also a theater major, got a copy of the script (hoping to try out), but was irate.

She wrote letters to the churches that supported the college financially, quoted the vulgar parts of the play, said it had no business being performed on a Christian campus, and that IVCF was behind her in this.

But I don’t know why she wrote this about IVCF.  She was on the outs with our club president Pearl, she had not been in IVCF for a while, and IVCF had never even heard of this play.  

The rest of the school, however, got wind of this by March and believed a rumor–namely, that IVCF was against the play.

The members of IVCF had never read the play, and had no official stand on the play, not then or, as far as I remember, ever.  But they were seen as censors.

The Mirror staff showed a grave error in judgment by making a certain Kelly, the most vocal and adamant supporter of the play and foe to IVCF, the main writer of articles about the controversy.  

Rather than do actual, professional, journalistic research, he wrote rumors and opinions and inaccuracies as facts, and fueled the fire against IVCF.  Basically, he was our own Rita Skeeter.

IVCF was ridiculed and verbally abused.

Many of the people, organizations and churches who funded Roanoke threatened to withhold their money because of the play.

I have since learned that Tracy was involved in this play (to my surprise because I believe she was a Christian), and that the actresses made T-shirts which said, “Who’s afraid of Wendy Wasserstein?”  Which really made no sense; nobody was “afraid” of Wendy Wasserstein.  We didn’t even know who she was.

I had no individual stance until after the Play was shown.  I wanted to see it for myself before making up my mind.

I went around listening to people’s various sides of it: I had long talks with Phil about it, since he had the one male part in the play: an announcer offstage.

He said this year’s theme was plays by Pulitzer Prize-winning women, but this play had not won the Pulitzer.

(After just now checking out the plot of the Pulitzer winner, The Heidi Chronicles, I bet it would have been far better received at Roanoke than Uncommon Women.)

We also talked with others about it, such as Julie.  She and Darryl were to change their position after converting to Catholicism a few years later, and feel mortified that they took the stance they did.  But at the time they felt that Roanoke was a liberal arts school, and showing the play was part of being liberal arts.

Kelly apparently didn’t know that I was in IVCF, which he mistakenly thought Dori still belonged to (an example of his lack of research before writing articles).

When Phil and I somehow ended up talking with him about the play after lunch or dinner one day and the cafeteria was nearly empty, he railed in a loud voice against Dori.  He was graphic, crass and embarrassingly loud.

He said he bet she had done things to herself that were like things spoken of in the play, and then moved his hand down to his crotch and started yelling out female cries of orgasmic pleasure.

Phil and I said nothing at the time, but both agreed that what Kelly said and did was far over the line of decency.

Others, such as Astrid and Pearl, thought that a Christian school should not be showing plays with vulgar content.  If this were a secular college, they would have let it go.

Different people in IVCF had different opinions.  Some thought it should be banned; some thought it should be shown; some didn’t know what to think and preferred to stay out of it (that would be me and probably my roommate).

The rumor mill made us sound like a powerhorse, but IVCF was merely a handful of hardworking friends with no real influence in anything, who just wanted to get a group going for Christians to come together and hang out and have Bible studies.  

The majority of people against showing the play did not attend IVCF meetings at all, or rarely attended.  Some of us, regardless of our individual stances, were disgusted at how our little group of IVCF had been dragged into this.

Pepper Steak Derek had started doing a campus talk show in Bossard called “No Holds Barred.”  One night, the topic was the play.

On the panel were four people who he said represented InterVarsity–not representing the people against the play, but IV, though it had no stance: It was just a group.  They were Pearl, Mike, a guy who I don’t think came to IV that often, and Dori–who wasn’t even in IV.

I didn’t go to it for some reason, but Pearl later told me that it was like being in Hell itself.  There was yelling and jeers (people against IV), and people accusing IV of things it wasn’t even doing.  

Pearl and others tried to explain their positions, and I believe they got rudely shouted down.  Once a girl stood up and started rambling on about it, and her thoughts were disjointed and made no sense so the unnamed guy on the panel said, “Excuse me, but what is your point?”

The rumor mill had made IV sound like Bible-thumping censors and jerks, but that was nowhere near the truth.  IV, in fact, never did have an official position on the play.  Kelly, of course, also wrote a biased article about “No Holds Barred.”

Pearl, Mike and Rachel all wrote excellent letters to the editor.

Pearl thought the college should decide if it was Christian or secular, and on that base its decision whether to show the play.

Mike thought that people in the local towns were sheltered; nowadays, after forgetting all about the play, he says he’d be interested in seeing it.

Rachel, who was not in IVCF and was certainly no prude, thought the play should not be shown.  She tells me now that the play embarrassed her, that women can be crass and vulgar, but portraying them that way shows their foolishness, not their strengths.  It doesn’t do women justice.

Somebody, I don’t know who, started a petition to ban the play.  I don’t believe the petition had anything to do with IV.  If anything, it was just one or two people who wanted to do it.  I don’t believe I signed it, either, if I ever actually saw it.

Since Phil was the voiceover, I got to see parts of the script beforehand.  Some made me laugh, so I thought maybe the play would be fine.  The date I went to see the Play: probably April 22.  I don’t know what I did with the program.  I may have tossed it.

I felt the acting was often exaggerated, done to shock and to play to the supporters, done to emphasize the controversial bits, rather than to amuse.

During the intermission, I went out into the foyer to go to the bathroom, and Phil soon found me.  He took me into the entryway, which was separated from the foyer by glass doors, and asked me what I thought of the Play.  I said it was just awful.  Then and/or after the play was over, I said I hated it.  I didn’t care who heard me.

From what I could see, with everything in context now, the Play had no plot or point, and just took whatever chance it could find to be as gross, offensive, or vulgar as possible.  It glorified promiscuity.  And why on earth would anybody want to taste her menstrual blood?

I didn’t consider myself prudish–after all, I liked Lysistrata, The Monk, the Black Adder series and Are You Being Served, and had been addicted to Tales of the City and Melrose Place.  But there was a line I did not like to cross, a line which went past “provocative” or “naughty” and on to “obscene.”  As far as I was concerned, Uncommon Women was on the “obscene” side.

It was like it had been written by a teenager who wanted to shock their elders, or a shock jock, or one of those shock comics we had in those days.  Such things may make adolescents giggle, but they’re not true, lasting art.

Maybe it was making some kind of point about society’s views of women, but that was in the 1970s when the Sexual Revolution was a new thing.  In 1994, it wasn’t at all unusual to hear teenage women talking about sex, or for Christians to be mocked for believing in God and for abstaining from sex, drugs and alcohol.  All through my childhood and teen years, I had been mocked for my beliefs.  I came to a Christian college to find a safe haven for four years where I could hopefully find a husband among a huge pool of men with the same values I held–but instead I found almost none who shared them.  The ones who did, weren’t interested in me for some reason I never could understand.  The guys I did date, kept pushing me to compromise my beliefs.  And now here was this play telling me that my beliefs were wrong, that chastity was weird, as if I hadn’t already heard enough of that every day.

Everybody gave the play a standing ovation, but I thought it was the worst play I’d ever seen.  I later wondered if it would be better to read it, because the acting itself was so terrible, with little attention paid to things like emoting and sounding natural, sacrificing quality to say shocking lines as loudly and mockingly as possible.  This wasn’t artistic–It was nothing but a big F**K YOU.

It was possible that the play would have been much better in the hands of skilled actresses with comedic timing.  I had seen much better acting on that very stage, even from the very same actresses.  For example, if you want to see shocking, controversial subject matter done well with excellent comedic timing, I recommend watching the show Titus from around the turn of the century.

I figured the standing ovation could only have been for putting on the play in the first place despite opposition, and not for artistic value.  I stayed in my seat and only made a couple quiet, cursory claps–even quieter than my soft, shy claps usually are.

This may have been when I decided that the play did not belong on a Christian campus, though I didn’t support Dori’s actions, either.  (It was too late to join one side or the other, however, now that the play had been performed.)

Reading works in Lit class was one thing, often necessary to get a full grounding in Lit education; performing them was another, because it essentially endorsed whatever work was performed.

None of the campus plays I’d seen before this were specifically Christian, especially Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  But here was a Christian college putting on a play that openly mocked people who wanted to save themselves for marriage and resist looking at others as sex objects.

IVCF did go to the Play, an effort to show that we were trying to be fair and had been given a bad rap, and held a discussion on it after opening night.  However, no one even came to the discussion, which surprised us.

(I don’t believe I saw the Play on the opening night but on the second, though my day planner suggests I did.  I think my not going to the Play that night was the reason I didn’t go to the discussion.)

The lack of anyone at the discussion was a slap in the face, especially considering that lots of people on campus thought the play should not be shown.  Gary’s Christian girlfriend, Diana, not a part of IVCF, had the part of the virgin, and was the only character I liked.  I wondered why she wanted to be involved with such a play.

The memory of this Play was still fresh in our minds when senior year began, and the strange hostility to our group didn’t seem to dissipate much.

Once during a prayer (when once again we prayed at each of the buildings around campus), two girls walked by and began singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of their lungs.  (We countered such rudeness with humor, which you can read about when I discuss this in the senior year chapters.)

I was so furious with the rumors and what they did to our hard work that, years later, I still burn to tell people what really happened.  [This part was written and posted online in 2007.]

Years later, I discovered that the play director’s wife misrepresented the opposing point of view in the Summer 2007 issue of the alumni magazine, in an article about her husband, who had retired:

Tracy and the rest of the cast of ‘Uncommon Women,’ remember the controversy about the play?  You suffered as a group because at the time the college didn’t know anything about women’s studies.

I’m still proud of you for responding by wearing those ‘Who’s Afraid of Wendy Wasserstein?’ shirts.  Thanks for supporting [the director] and the idea of empowering women’s voices.

This just re-opened the wound I thought had closed, by making it sound like the people against the play–some of whom were my close friends, and women writers–were ignorant anti-feminists who didn’t want women to have a voice.

First they were accused of censorship; now they are accused of stifling women’s voices?  Come on, now!

This had nothing to do with woman’s “struggle against patriarchal society” or “empowering” women.  This had nothing to do with knowing nothing about “women’s studies.”  (Heck, we’d read Toni Morrison and other women authors in Lit classes.)

Many of the people against the play were women writers, even feminists.

This had everything to do with a Christian college putting on and endorsing a play which glorified promiscuity and made it impossible for many Christians to even try out for it.  For Rachel, it was about women being depicted as foolish.

This was about people refusing to listen to both sides of an argument, instead shouting the other side down and allowing slander to run rampant, and then mocking the opposition after you have effectively silenced them.

How is it “empowering” women to talk about penis sizes and tasting menstrual blood?  Women are struggling with much more important issues than finding a good lay.  We have everything from unequal power structures to abuse and murder to contend with.

How about being “empowered” in positive ways through good, unselfish, equal marriages, children raised to respect others, equal pay for equal work, equal respect, women (and men) choosing to work or stay at home as they wish, women dressing how they like instead of how others tell them to?  How about being empowered by fighting for a society that rejects sexism and rape?

Do we really need vulgarity to accomplish this?

The victors really do write the history books, so we have to be careful.  And journalists do not always tell the whole story, whether through deliberate yellow journalism or through getting facts wrong or through getting their stories chopped up.

And this does real damage to lives and to groups.  Not only did the effects of this slander and libel follow us through the rest of the year, but they continued to follow us through senior year, as I will show.

As far as I know, IVCF lasted only a little while after our last founding member (Astrid) graduated several years later.  And all this fuss was over what–something noble?  No, it was over a play about tasting menstrual blood.  I still hear about “Hair,” but I never hear about this play.

One heartening thing is discovering that, in 2007, the college now has four specifically Christian organizations, where once it had none.  Once IVCF was the only one, and it struggled to survive; now there are others in its place.

Those groups must have enough support and members to survive as four groups instead of one.  It makes me wonder if the atmosphere there has finally changed, if perhaps it has become the Christian college we had once prayed for.

But I have no way of knowing, since I haven’t attended for twelve years now.  I also couldn’t tell you if the college ever put on another controversial play.  [Note this was written in 2007.]

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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