stalked by abuser

The Teddy-O Incident; Birth of These Memoirs–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–January 1995, Part 3

On the night of the 17th, I wrote in my diary:

God, help me
God, be with me
The whirlpool of depression and despair
Has sucked me down.

I know with my head
That You’ll bring me out–
That You’re all-powerful,
Almighty God
Able to do miracles,
Anything You please–

But my heart just
Doesn’t believe it–
Heart, don’t be so stubborn!
Help me out here!

God, pull me out!
Pull me out!
Reach down with Your mighty hand
And pull me from
These murky, watery depths
Up to the air of freedom

I need You
More than I’ve ever needed anyone
‘Cause I’m drowning
Under here

I wrote the following early in 1998: Ever since the whole problem with Peter and how it devastated me, I was determined never to go through that again.  Of course, that meant a difference in how I dealt with the Phil-situation.

I tried not to dwell on it as much as I did on the Peter-situation, tried to get my mind on other things.  I dealt with the situation so well that the counselor told me, “You’re dealing with this a lot better than most people do.”

I forced myself early on to face what Phil really was: an abusive, cruel jerk, not the wonderful, loving husband I’d thought he was.

With Peter, it took much longer to face that he was not the wonderful, loving boyfriend I thought he was.  It took what, a year or less to get over Peter, but only a few months with Phil.  Aside from one relapse during January (see below), I was over him by Winterim, and ready to meet Cugan and a few other guys.

I made sure I could get on with life sooner.  I cried sometimes, but not as much as I did with Peter, and tried to avoid sadness whenever I could.

Some may say I wasn’t dealing with the pain properly, not allowing myself to grieve, that I kept pushing the pain away.  But I still remember how bad my grief over Peter made me feel, and how my friends got tired of hearing about it.

I remember moving on to a destructive relationship with Shawn instead of looking around for guys to go out and just have fun with.  I could have asked out James, for example; I did have a crush on him.  I did ask him to Pearl’s party junior year, but I could have actively pursued him sophomore year instead.

But I was too drawn to Shawn at the time to pursue James the way I should have.  I look at all that, and think that my manner of dealing with the Phil-situation was the best I could have done at that time.

Or if not the best, then the best I knew how to do.  It’s hard to say.

I decided not to date another actor, because they were used to pretending in front of an audience and could easily pretend in front of me.  If a man was a good actor I wouldn’t know the difference.

Phil was so good an actor that I never could tell he wasn’t always sincere.  He fooled me with his “subconscious,” and in late September he had fooled me into thinking he wanted to be with me.  I didn’t want to go through this again with anyone else.

****

Pearl and I watched My So-Called Life every Thursday, but the network was now threatening cancellation because of low ratings.  It hadn’t even had a chance to build up a following yet, but they were already cancelling it.

I liked that the actress for Angela (Claire Danes) was the same age as her character, fifteen.  You don’t see that often.

I sent e-mail over Thanksgiving or Christmas Break to the TV Guide‘s “Save Our Show” campaign, and voted for this show.  Pearl’s sister liked it too, and was proud of me for voting.

But the campaign failed, and the show still got canceled.  Network execs keep canceling the good shows before they have a chance to build up a following, and keeping the mediocre shows!

Several years later, Freaks and Geeks got the knife, while Popular got renewed. (Typical: the popular kids beating the geeks.)

My roommies all loved ER, and watched it every Thursday night at 9.  They said it “er,” not “E.R.,” just as Jay Leno did.  I was so-so about it.  It was gross, especially in the opening scene, and that was the same time I usually had my evening snack.

Some of it was interesting, though, like some of the relationships.  Once I graduated, I never watched it again.

The library workers began processing new books for the library, along with books for RC-Japan, a branch of Roanoke.  One of the RC-Japan books was Anne of Ingleside.  (I thought it was the last book in the Anne of Green Gables series, though actually it’s only sixth out of eight.)

I borrowed it to read, since this was okay, and then talked about it with Sharon in one of our many library discussions that year.  She’d also read it, and we both agreed that it was disappointing: too much of Anne’s kids and too little of Anne herself!  It shows you that a series can go on for too long.

This is true, not exaggerated: Everywhere we went in the S– area, with few exceptions, Mike knew somebody, and waved and yelled “Hi!” to them.  Was there anyone he did not know?  Catherine said that everyone in the world was destined to meet him eventually.

I found a review for a new movie called PCU.  PCU was a spoof, written by young people, of college campuses that are too politically correct, have too much activism, and are too unreal.  I was glad I hadn’t gone to a college like that: I wasn’t into all that stuff.

Mike told us, probably in the first part of senior year, about his recent trip to Milwaukee.  He was stopped at a stoplight when a man came up to his window and said,

“Do you want some drugs?  Are you a college student?  Here, you can sell this at your college.”

Mike kept saying no, he doesn’t want any drugs, yes he’s a college student but no he doesn’t want to sell any drugs, no, no, no!  This shook him up.  Finally, the light changed and he could drive on.

Each of us had small bottles of milk, rather than one big bottle in common.  There was always at least one bottle of sour milk in the refrigerator.  Once, one of us finally cleaned them all out, when many of them sat in there just taking up space.

****

We were told at the beginning of the year that we could get no stains on the carpet at all, or else the whole carpet would be pulled up and replaced, and everyone in the apartment would get charged for it.

That was to keep the apartments in good condition for years to come, but one little stain would not ruin the beauty of a whole apartment.  Out in the real world, apartment complexes allow normal wear and tear, and don’t pull up the whole carpet just for one stain.

Needless to say, we were paranoid about stains that year.  We’d rush to clean up the tiniest spills with the bottle of Resolve Carpet Cleaner provided by the school.

One day, Pearl and I were alone in the apartment, me on the couch and her in the kitchen making lunch.  Pearl tried to be independent as much as possible, so if she needed help, she’d ask for it.

I learned from her that the disabled don’t like to be seen as helpless, and are quite capable of figuring out how to do things.

Later on, I met a man with no eyes or hands, but he led me from his apartment to the parking garage.  He appreciated that I did not assume he was helpless, but waited to be asked for help: It was a relief from what people often did.

There is a key movement in the disability community for the right to self-determination, which means that we have the power to freely choose how and when we act or are acted upon, without having the will of nondisabled people forced upon us.

Or, in the simplest possible terms: disabled DOES NOT mean helpless. I cannot stress this enough.

Being a good person is a great thing, but please don’t do it at the expense of allowing me to determine my own needs. It’s time for able-bodied people to differentiate between politeness and infringing upon my independence. –Emily Ladau, Thanks for the help, I guess, but I’m not helpless!

So Pearl, on her own, stuck Teddy-O’s (a kind of Spaghetti-O’s) in the microwave (I think the microwave belonged to one of us), and heated them up.

They were in a covered Tupperware bowl.  She took them out again, got a good hold on the bowl and her crutches, and began to carry them out of the kitchen.  She probably meant to take them to the table.  Everything seemed normal, uneventful.  And normally, nothing would happen.

Next thing I knew, she tripped and/or dropped the bowl, and the Teddy-O’s flew, spilling all over the kitchen floor and the carpet next to it.

We both laughed and joked about it, but of course, we had to clean it up, for fear we’d get charged for new carpeting.  Pearl couldn’t do it herself, so I grabbed the Resolve and some paper towels and did it myself.  I don’t remember if any stains were left behind, but we were not charged.

****

One evening, probably during Winterim, my friends and I went to the opening night of Wayne’s World II.  The lines to the movie were so long they stretched outside the doors.  I was used to a very short line, if any.  Across the street, a digital bank clock showed how cold it was: below zero, I believe.

We loved the movie.  We laughed at the kung-fu moves (which reminded me of Peter’s ninjitsu); the weird, naked Indian; the parody of the 70s/80s Calgon commercials; the naked Indian crying about the litter on the landscape, just like in the old 70s/80s anti-litter commercials.

The group of middle-school kids right behind us didn’t get the commercial parodies at all.  They scoffed at how much we laughed.  They also kept talking–not whispering, talking–through the whole movie.  Argh!

****

That semester, I worked on two writing projects in addition to my schoolwork: a novel based on Roanoke, and a novel about my seventh-grade dream about ancient Egypt.

I wrote many pages for the Roanoke novel before wondering just how long the thing would take.  Those pages have become my memoir’s introduction to Roanoke, the chapters “Meet the Suite” through “Tales of the Campus.”

In 1996, when I resumed the writing of these memoirs, and wasn’t sure whether to make them into a novel or an autobiography (though I knew I had to at least write down the true story before making it into a novel), I incorporated these chapters.

Besides the interesting bits of my own life, I wanted to put my friends in the book because they were so much fun themselves.  The whole group of us had been through many things together.

Pearl said one day that “Someone should write a book about us,” so I said I was already doing that.  She and my other roommies got excited and told me what names I should give them.  Yes, “Pearl” was one of those names.

By Friday, January 13, I had written about thirty pages of my Roanoke book, and made a note to include Penisman Christopher’s poems in the novel.  Unfortunately, I later realized I couldn’t, since I had no idea how to contact him for permission.

I actually started making notes for such a book during junior year, and began to write it senior year.  Of course, very little of it was fictionalized; I decided to write everything as it happened and then fictionalize it later.  Its current form is all truth, no fiction.

I later decided to write my memoirs but not make them into fiction, because that, in a weird way, could set me up for libel–while if I wrote an autobiography I couldn’t be sued for libel because it would all be true.

Eventually I abandoned the idea of publication, since I was afraid my family would disapprove of certain things.  Instead, I started using the memoirs as inspiration for novels, which I’ve read that most authors do.

Then in 2001, after friends requested to see the memoirs, I put them into e-mails, removing whatever seemed too boring or personal for other readers.  Those e-mails have now been adapted into this current form.

****

Around mid-January, the senior class hosted a Hunk and Honey contest, which elected the best couple.  You voted with pennies in a big, plastic jar set by the name and picture of your favorite couple.

Penny drives like this popped up now and then to raise money for something (and to get rid of spare pennies).  We had another one that year, in which the classes (junior, senior, etc.) competed to see who could put in the most pennies.

To my shock and dismay, someone nominated Phil and Persephone.  One day in the week of the 16th, probably Tuesday or later between 11:30 and 12:30, I walked past James and my co-worker Megan as they sat at the Hunk & Honey contest voting table.  It was on the south side of Bossard and near the bathrooms.

James said to me, “I nominated Phil and Persephone because they deserve each other.”  He hated both of them.  He said, “Persephone is the most negative person I’ve ever met.”  Then he put a bunch of pennies in the big, plastic jar.

Megan agreed with him, and said she voted for them, too.  They probably thought it would cheer me up and show they supported me, but it depressed me.

(By the way, I’ve reconnected with Persephone on Facebook.  In a recent status update about those days, she said she eventually realized why she had so much trouble making real friends at Roanoke–and made changes in herself.)

I worked at the senior table with Sharon from 4:30 to 6:00 on Monday, June 16.  I looked at Phil and Persephone’s container.  It was filling up with pennies!

I probably thought, “Please tell me people are voting for them because they deserve each other, not because they make a great couple!–which they don’t.”  I kept thinking, “It should say Phil and Nyssa, not Phil and Persephone!” Ugh, stupid residual pain.

Then Persephone came along and saw how full it was.  She said, “Oh, wow, look at that.”  She chuckled.  “I think I know who nominated us.  I’m going to have to get after him for that.”

This depressed me even more.  I thought I was finally getting over Phil, especially after my wonderful Christmas Break–but this threw me into a relapse.

I told Helene all this as she drove me back to my apartment in her minivan on a cold day.  There in the apartment parking lot, as usual, sat Phil’s minivan, close by my bedroom window.

I hated coming out of my apartment in the morning and finding it still there.  Just like John Cusack’s character in the movie High Fidelity, all sorts of horrible images popped into my head of Phil having sex with Persephone all night long.  I hoped he stayed in Dirk’s room, not hers.

(She later told me they never had sex, though he essentially lived with her and her roommate because his home life had grown intolerable.)

Anyway, I pointed out Phil’s Dodge Caravan to Helene.  She charged at it with her minivan.  She’d speed toward it, then slow down, turn around, and speed toward it again.  We giggled.

I don’t remember who won Hunk and Honey, but I do know it wasn’t Phil and Persephone.  I don’t think I even knew the couple.

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:

 

When our abusers get honored: Dang newspaper tells me about my abusers

Recently, the newspaper told me Tracy graduated college, and her major.  I’ve also seen her back in town recently, right in the same parking lot I pulled into.

From various IPs linked conclusively to them, it looks like one of them has been in town this whole past year, even while she went to college on the other side of the state–even though her IP location came from a city near the college for much of the year.

Her main IP address is screwy, because the locations keep changing even though the IP does not.  Sometimes she’s in Eau Claire, or Madison, or Rochester MN….

And now the same IP shows up as Fond du Lac, then Madison, then Fond du Lac, then Madison…. Other local IPs from that Internet Service Provider, including mine, always show as Fond du Lac.

She recently used one other IP that showed Missouri, but it was identified by my stat trackers as her cell phone–and she used that same phone on my blog a short time later, from Fond du Lac.

And sometimes I get hits from Texas, someone who has used Richard and Tracy’s unique search terms.

I have no clue what’s going on.  All I know is that now she’s graduated and was in Fond du Lac again back in June.

I’ve heard of people leaving town to get away from their abusers, but that’s not possible here: We own this house, and were in this town long before they were.

The other day, I open up the newspaper and it tells me that Tracy got some kind of honor at her college.  A couple of years ago, it said she was in an honor society of some kind.

I did not want to see that.  She does not deserve honors after the way she has treated so many people over the years.

But unfortunately, academic-based honors often have little to do with the kind of person you are, and are based solely on grade point averages, so even sociopaths and various forms of abusers can get degrees and honors.

Abuse victims want justice.  We don’t want our abusers getting accolades.  Just ask the daughter of Woody Allen what that’s like:

After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the “child victim.” Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime.

That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself.

That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong.

Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines.

Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart.

For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away.

But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Just ask any girl who’s been raped in college, but her abuser went on to get a degree.  Even a degree seems too good for our abusers.  This does actually happen, as a victim’s concerns are minimized and the rapist is allowed to graduate:

Woman is accused by college of harassing her rapist

A graduating senior at Central College who was found responsible for “non-consensual sex” with a fellow student was given a choice: be expelled a month before graduation or stay in school with the conditions that he not walk in the ceremony and allow the college to notify a future employer and other schools that he’d violated the code of conduct….

A year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that students deemed “responsible” for sexual assaults on campus often face little or no punishment from school judicial systems, while their victims’ lives are frequently turned upside down. –Lee Rood, Central College lets rape suspect select punishment

 

Scott is a graduating senior, so some people may wonder why I care anymore. He’ll be gone soon enough, so what if the school didn’t do anything?

When he was first found responsible, I was told that the purpose of these sanctions was to help him learn from this. It is clear to me he hasn’t learned anything, and that scares me.

When he gets his diploma, he will officially be a representative of what Macalester stands for, and I fear that he will represent my school as a place that protects rapists at the expense of the people they victimize.

If I return to Macalester for my senior year in the fall and get my diploma next year, I will also be representative of Macalester.

For better or worse, I will be tied to Scott forever. I will also be tied to what I see as a pattern of survivors of sexual assault who are forced to watch their school choose to protect the future of criminals over their own safety.

My fear is that if I stay, I will become a silent accomplice to rape. Not just to my own rape, but to the future people I believe Scott will victimize. –Anna Binkovitz, Sharing a degree with your rapist

Just finding out that my ex Phil is a math teacher or professor, makes me cringe.  Him, molding young minds?  The guy who psychologically abused me and even tried to sexually assault me several times?  And of course, to be a math teacher, he had to get a couple of degrees.

Years ago, I told people I hoped he would become a monk, so he could not hurt more women or, as a priest, advise married couples.  Instead, he went on to marry, have two kids, and get divorced, making me wonder how that woman and her children have been abused.

My bullies, Richard and Tracy, denied the truth of what I wrote in this blog about their many abuses of me and others.  I had already told Social Services about the abuse in their home.  They threatened to sue, and began to stalk me at church for a while, then by keeping tabs on my blog.

And that’s despite the fact–or maybe because–Richard had been convicted of choking one of his kids, proving I wrote the truth.  I kept my blog up despite all the hell they put me through, because the truth needed to be told.  I told my friends and family about it, too.

The Forum we all used to belong to, was convinced of my credibility when they saw the facts of Richard’s case on the state’s and newspaper’s websites.

Yet still Richard and Tracy imagined they could somehow threaten and scare me into believing I was a liar.  Apparently they were the only ones who did not see Richard’s conviction as proof I was telling the truth about domestic violence in their household.

Yet I opened up the paper yesterday and read that Tracy had received some sort of honor at college this past school year.

I previously learned that Richard, while convicted, plea-bargained and got merely a fine and year’s probation.

So he’s out walking free despite nearly killing a 9-year-old girl, and I still see the kids with them both despite Tracy’s verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse, despite my detailed report describing how Tracy had been tormenting the children and exposing them to her domestic violence against Richard.

I want these people in jail for abusing their kids and terrorizing me.

I want Richard to have gotten the sentence he deserved: many years in prison, which he would’ve received if he hadn’t plea-bargained.

I want Tracy put in jail for punching Richard.

I want them to either shape up or get their kids put with better parents.

I want them to apologize to me on their knees.

I do NOT want them moving on with life, getting honors, manipulating and abusing other people, being told how wonderful they are, continuing to physically abuse and psychologically torture and scar their children.  (They have hurt a lot of other people besides me.)

One consolation is, while Richard wanted to become an Orthodox priest, my priest tells me that’s impossible because of the child abuse conviction.  And a friend who sometimes has to help hire people, was directed to screen out anyone with domestic abuse on their record, because of the nature of the job.

It boggles my mind (and my husband’s) that Tracy got a degree in business management.  HER, a MANAGER?  She can’t even manage her own household or temper!  I fear for anyone who, in the future, is put under her supervision–just as I fear for her children under her supervision.  I pray for her children’s safety nearly every day.

And I’m not the only one who has to deal with this.  I see the same frustrations, anger at the injustice of it all, permeating other abuse blogs.  For example, this one, because this woman, a PTSD sufferer, was spiritually abused by a predatory pastor, then reported him–yet now he’s been made senior pastor at a new church:

Just found out that Pastor Andrew Allison has been promoted to Singleton Baptist Church

I am really angry and I have a right to be. It is righteous anger.

Allison also occasionally checks up on her LinkedIn profile, which is creepy.  Yes, those of us who have been abused know how creepy it is to be “checked up on” by our abusers!  I get “checked up on” every week or so by mine!  Keeping my blog up has required a lot of courage, and has earned me a strength I did not have before.

This kind of thing happens in our churches, and it should not.  It’s not just a Catholic problem.

It’s also not just a Christian problem:

Narrow Bridge, movie addressing problem of Jewish leaders who are predators

Hopefully the more we spread awareness of these things, through our blogs or other means, the more things will begin to change.

Already there is an outcry about abusive pastors going on to other churches, or keeping their current posts.

Abuse victims of all kinds are spreading the word that this evil exists, so that hopefully society can begin to stamp it out.

“Narcissist” is becoming a household word, and Cluster B (abusive) personality disorders are becoming better-known.

Talk hard!

 

 

New definitions: Did Phil rape me?–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 4

My apartment building was now dubbed the Morland House.  The other was the Hill House.  I loved Northanger Abbey (by Jane Austen), especially the movie.  I would forever associate the name “Morland” with Catherine Morland, the heroine.  So it was funny and fitting to live in a building named Morland.

Pearl asked to use my phone one day, since her phone was out of order for some reason, so she sat on my bed (the lower bunk), where the phone was.  She told me later,

“I saw an Alice in Chains CD on top of a Sheila Walsh CD on your radio, and I thought, ‘That is so Nyssa!'”  She laughed.

(In case you don’t know, Sheila Walsh is a sweet, contemporary Christian music singer, once a rocker but now much more mellow.  It might have been the Dirt or Facelift Alice in Chains CD, and Sheila’s For A Time Like This, which is mellow but not too mellow.)

That night, I found another saying to use as Dolphin Philosophy.  It was taken from that wonderful show, My So-Called Life, and said by Brian: “How much more ironic can you get without vomiting?”

****

The following happened on Thursday, November 10, in the morning during the time I usually had Intro to Psych, since on that date I have a note in my day planner saying class would be in room 100.  This was the room I had for Botany junior year, and for entrance exams back in the spring of 1991.  In this room on the 10th, several classes filed in and a speaker told them about date rape.

He told us that if one person is drunk and someone has sex with them, it’s now considered rape because the alcohol impairs your reasoning abilities.

Among sober people, it’s also rape if she says no, if she feels it’s a rape, when he uses false pretenses or manipulation or guilt trips to get her to consent, or when she never actually says “yes.”  He gave examples of what he meant.

I don’t think he meant to stir up paranoia, but to make guys aware that they need to be careful what they do, and to help young college women realize they don’t have to be treated this way.

Soon after, I asked Pearl into my room, and we sat on my bed.  I told her this speaker’s examples and words made me realize that sometimes John did rape me:

There was the time we were having sex, and then he suddenly withdrew and tried to stick it in my anus, even though I begged him not to.  This was when he got upset because I said rape was grounds for divorce.  (I probably didn’t tell Pearl these details.)

He used begging, pleading, manipulation, guilt-trips and false pretenses as well, like with the “subconscious” thing and snipping “You always get your way” when I didn’t want to do it anally or orally.

(I’d heard about a guy who fought at the Alamo who’d pretend to marry a girl just to get her into bed; I now knew that would be rape.)

I didn’t even know yet that the time we got back together was just so he could get sex from me; that would be rape.

Pearl prayed with me, and said, “If you do get back together, you’ll have to deal with that first.”

We also talked about whether or not I should press charges, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pull this into a court.  Still, knowing I could if I wanted to, made me feel powerful.

I didn’t want my parents to know what was going on, though.  I didn’t want the details of our relationship being made so public.  I may also have feared that the judge would throw it out of court, just because I consented to have sex with Phil.  I wasn’t sure what to call it, but it did feel like rape for the reasons I gave above.  Phil had violated my trust as well.

I remember Phil and I talking over an episode of “Picket Fences” in which the judge threw a rape case out of court.  The judge said it didn’t count just because the guy got the woman liquored up so she’d consent.

I think Phil and I disagreed over this part.  I don’t remember if we were talking about rape in general and he brought up this episode, or if we were talking about the episode itself.  But according to the speaker, yes, it would be considered rape, both because she was liquored up and because she felt like she’d been raped.

Recently (it’s January 1999) a guy called up MTV’s Loveline and said that he got drunk at a party, so drunk he couldn’t remember anything.  Then a girl told him they’d had sex and she was now pregnant.  He said, “I think I was raped.”

This also related to a “Picket Fences” episode, in which the annoying lawyer Wambaugh said a raped man’s member was, after all, “at attention” when it happened.  But I believe a doctor said he could’ve been erect due to fear, not attraction.

On Loveline, they wondered if the guy could have been able to hold an erection while drunk long enough to ejaculate, but it’s also been said that all you need is one little sperm, and some of them are released even before ejaculation.  That’s one reason why the “withdrawal” method of birth control doesn’t work.

Apparently the caller wondered if he could have had sex with this girl while drunk, and if what she said was true, then because he was drunk it was rape.

[Written 4/25/14:] This shows how confusing this issue got in the 90s.  I know I felt used by Phil, and he did sexually assault me once.  But whether or not it’s actually “rape” to manipulate someone into sex–I don’t know.

****

Then right after this conversation with Pearl, Phil sat with someone else at lunch, but back with Persephone (and my group) at dinner.  I was angry, because I had told him in the letter to stay away from me.

Once I got up to take my tray up and go to the bathroom, just to get away from him.  Pearl said his eyes kept straying to me, which he didn’t do before today.

Persephone left, but he stayed–making Pearl and me both fear he’d confront me right there at the table.  He sat there a few moments, head down, fists on his temples, said something to Charles, then finally got up and left.

****

The school play, Measure for Measure, ran from November 10-12 at 8pm each night.  I didn’t go to the first showing.  A guy in one of my classes said he went to the opening night performance, but the acting was bad and the words were all muted and unintelligible.  He couldn’t tell what was going on.

Pearl and I went to the play on Friday the 11th.  It was weird to see Phil in it, playing the role of Vincentio, Duke of Vienna.  I tried to remember that other people I knew and liked were in the play.  One of these days I’ll have to read the play and find out what happened, since that guy in class was right.  Even Phil didn’t sound convincing.

I dreaded having to sit and watch this guy I’d been trying to avoid and ignore.  He even had the lead role, so I had to see him most often.  During an intermission, I heard a girl near the bathroom say “Phil O’Hara” with a smile.  I think she was a freshman.  I cringed, wondering if she had a thing for him.

I wondered if he even knew I was there, if he could see me in the audience.  I suspected he could, but I’d also heard somewhere that with the lights off you can’t see the audience that well.  Later, I admitted to Pearl that while watching I discovered I did still love him, after all.

Usually, the actors and actresses in each play would come out in the lobby so you could congratulate them on their performances.  After Lucky Spot, Pearl and I had stopped to congratulate Phil.  This time, I don’t remember if we stopped to talk to our friends in the play, which we might have done, but we said not a word to Phil.

****

Sharon and I went on many walks that fall through the woods and down by the lake together.  We talked about many things, such as childhood games and friends.

We spotted the covered Friendship Bridge, which had been partially destroyed when a tree fell on it.  It later collapsed.  This might have happened in a storm.  The tree was still there when we saw it.  The school knew about this, and the Zetas were to build a new one.

I believe this was also the first time I ever saw the Friendship Bridge.  I know I saw this in the fall of 1994–though a Mirror issue says the Zetas built a new bridge in the summer of 1994–so they must have left the old one the way it was.

I discovered that Sharon agreed with me on people banging on the bathroom door, like Dave’s fiancée did to me.  Things don’t always move along for me like they should, or it comes continuously for a long time; one day, Tara came along, banged on the bathroom door, scared me half to death, and yelled, “Would you hurry up in there!”

Why didn’t she just lightly knock and politely ask, “Are you going to be in there much longer?”  I wasn’t in there for my own amusement.  I was so ticked.  And I later found that Sharon agreed with me: She called that “intimidation” and dysfunctional behavior.

Thus was cemented a lifelong friendship.  We still see each other now and then, though we’re in two different cities.

****

I wasn’t attracted to Mike when I first met him, back when I was in love with Shawn.  But now, he was so cute and sweet and moral, and I wanted to date him so bad. I dreamed of being with him, and wondered what it would be like to be a pastor’s wife.

I’d always admired spiritual people, like pastors and missionaries, and thought it would be cool to be married to one (unlike my mom, who protested back when Dad started studying for the ministry because she’d never wanted to be a pastor’s wife).

I also saw them on TV and movies, and wanted a man like them (for example, How Green Was My Valley and an episode of The Campbells in which the Campbell girl thinks a traveling, young pastor wants to marry her).

Back when I had a crush on Phil junior year, I also had a crush on Mike.  I couldn’t decide which one I wanted most.  They both showed signs of possibly liking me back, though Phil’s were stronger.

I can remember walking next to Mike in the parking lot at the Susan Ashton concert, feeling like I belonged there.  At the same concert, as Susan told us all about her pastor-husband, I thought how cool it would be to marry Mike and have my own pastor-husband.  At that point, my crush on Mike was stronger than the one on Phil.

As Dad drove me home from Roanoke at the beginning of Thanksgiving Break, I thought of both of them as we rode through the darkness.  Finally, there was someone besides Shawn or Peter for me to dream of, someone I might actually get to date.  Not some elusive dream, like James, whom I’d also tried asking out.

But by December, a lack of signs from Mike and an abundance of signs from Phil, plus Phil’s physical appearance and oddness and Christian beliefs and apparent niceness, tipped the scale in Phil’s favor.

(Mike’s niceness was real, but not Phil’s, but I didn’t know that yet.)

You know what happened next.

Around that time I heard some guy call “Nyssa” from an upper library window as I passed, but I couldn’t see who it was.  I always wondered if it was Phil, but he insisted it wasn’t him.  I even asked his “subconscious,” who said it wasn’t him but he wished it was.

I wonder now what it would’ve been like if I’d asked Mike out instead of Phil.  I was afraid to ask Mike out senior year because at the beginning of the year he told Pearl, “I know she likes me, and I don’t know what to do about it.”  Phil had told him, as I mentioned before.  But I kept hoping he’d change his mind and decide he wanted to be with me.

I kept trying to attract his notice by dressing well (he said he liked this in a girl), taking off my glasses in his presence to clean them and show him what my face really looked like, talking with him about Intro to Christianity, things like that.

Once or twice I had to pass him in the apartment hall in a T-shirt nightgown and my robe, which was hot pink and really nice-looking.  I wondered if this would stir any passion in him.

Yet he never made a move, and I wondered if it was futile.  But I have to give him credit: He was nice to me, but without leading me on.  Some guys will be mean to you.  I also never “threw” myself at him, so he had nothing to rebuff.

****

Those brown Dodge Caravans were everywhere that fall!  Phil’s model was very popular.  (They were popular in 1993 and 1994, but Phil’s was from around 1984, which confuses me now because how could a 10-year-old van be suddenly popular?)

I used to like it, and there was another one on my street that past summer, which we thought was funny.  We always had to check the license plate in a parking lot because it was easy to get confused.

Now, they reminded me of Phil, which I did not want.  One of the other students, a female non-trad, also owned one.  So I saw them a lot, and always had to check the license plate or the driver to see if it was his.

Even worse, Phil kept parking his minivan in the lot next to my apartment building, in view of my window.  I knew he was probably either in Muehlmeier seeing Persephone (doing who knew what) or in my own apartment building seeing Dirk.

Did he park there deliberately so I’d know he was there?  He wasn’t supposed to park there, but by Grossheusch, according to campus rules.  I kept hoping he’d get a ticket.  He rarely parked by Grossheusch.

Was he trying to upset me?  He knew I lived there.  He knew I had to walk right by the parking lot to get anywhere on campus.  And he usually parked right next to the sidewalk.  It was all I could do to restrain myself from kicking the tires.  But I forced myself to restrain, because I knew it was right.

On the 12th, I wrote this to friends:

I also want to say I’m feeling happier now than I have for a while.  And the day after I wrote in the journal about this hate and anger I didn’t know how to deal with, I had to re-shelve some books in the religion section of the library.

I had several spiritual questions, and started looking over the titles to see if there was a book that could help me.  And there was a little white paperback called Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts you Don’t Deserve.  So I snatched it up and checked it out at the desk.

It’s been quite helpful, and even though I still think what’s-their-name is an idiot and a jerk, it seems my hatred has lost some of its intensity.  The problem is that I keep wanting to hang onto it, but the book says, hatred’s power is short-lived.  It may give you power, but it won’t last as long as the power forgiveness gives you.

The book also told me to confront the person who’s hurt me, and tell them just what they’ve done to me.  I did just that in a letter, and I feel so much better now because of it.

They had been going on their merry way like they didn’t know the damage they left in their wake, but a day or two after they got the letter, I could tell they now had a better concept of what they’d done.  I now pray that God will convict this person, because He’s the only one who can.

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:

 

I confront Phil about his abuse–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 2

On the third, Persephone and I joked about how Phil squanders his money.  I mentioned the tithe-disagreement when he said he’d handle our finances, and she said, “I’m never gonna marry him.  I’m not crazy!”

On the fourth, I wrote in my diary,

“I’m a better person when I’m not around you.”  Hogwash.  [And also, from accounts of his next girlfriends, not at all true.]  You’ve got to take responsibility for your own actions, since nobody makes you act cruel unless they hold a gun to your head or something.

If you treat me like dirt, if you feel like a bad person around me, that’s your problem, not mine.

On the fifth or sixth, Saturday or Sunday, my roommies and I were walking back from lunch when lo and behold, I saw Phil and Persephone off in the distance, walking on the drive over by the marshy field beyond.

I couldn’t believe it.  I have recorded many different times when Phil and I somehow “happened” to be in the same place at the same time, no matter how unusual.

When we had class at the same time and in the same building, it was understandable, but this often wasn’t the case.  It was as if Phil knew where I was at all times and made an effort to be in my sight.

If, in those days, American society had already grown paranoid about stalkers (which they were in the late 90s), I probably would have asked the question, Is Phil stalking me?

As it was, I was very upset, seeing yet again a reminder of how quickly he threw me away and looked for a replacement chick, after having insisted for months and months that we were truly man and wife.

On November 3, I had just prayed for help forgiving Phil.  I had also just written in the Journal to my friends the day before about the hurt and anger I didn’t know how to deal with.

I had to shelve new books in the Religion section of the library.  So I looked around for books on knowing God’s will and other spiritual questions.

Then I saw this little, white paperback with the title, Forgive and Forget: Healing The Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis B. Smeade.  (Here is an interview with the author which describes the book’s philosophy.)

I snatched up the book and put it on the cart to check out.

It said hatred was stage 2 of forgiveness.  It said that in order to forgive, first I must confront the person who wronged me–say how he wronged me, and that I hated him for it.  It had to be done, or I wouldn’t be able to release him in my heart, and he wouldn’t know that he did something wrong.

On pages 141-2, the author described a college teacher who trusted the chairman of her department to put in a good word for her.  Instead, he stabbed her in the back, and she lost her job.

She knew about it, but he didn’t know she did.  She pretended each day to day that it hadn’t happened; each night she’d go home and throw up.  Finally, she told him he’d done her wrong, “and I hate you for it.”  After that, she stopped throwing up after work.

Dr. Phil McGraw also says that sending a letter is sometimes necessary:

As you consider your own triggering event and the nature and degree of the suffering you’ve endured, what is your MER [Minimal Effective Response]?

Maybe you don’t feel the need or have the courage right now to do either one of the kinds of things that were contemplated for Rhonda. Maybe what you need to do is write a letter and write down all your thoughts and all your feelings. Maybe that does it for you.

Maybe you even need to mail the letter, if your event involves another person. Perhaps, like Rhonda, if you can’t mail the letter, then you might need to go to the offender’s grave and read it to him or her in the cemetery.

Whatever your MER is, you need to identify it and you need to do it. You need to emit that response until such time as you can say, “OK, that’s it. That’s enough. My lens is clean. My emotional business is finished and I am free to go back to being that person that I now know that I am.”

So I confronted Phil in a letter, which I let sit, told my dad about, and then showed to Pearl for advice before sending.  It’s often said that we should confront people rather than just complaining about them to other people, that the pain of confrontation is brief in comparison to the pain of having a problem continue.

The letter went into detail about the emotional abuse Phil had put me through.  

It made clear that I saw him with my last letter coming out of Muehlmeier, and that I felt there was nothing about that letter to upset him.  It chewed him out for showing it around rather than considering it.

It gave my perspective on the marriage, which is that it was real and valid.  

The letter explained that I had to confront him if I ever hoped to forgive him.

I prayed a lot over the letter, asking for guidance, for the proper words and content, for God to work his will through it, soften Phil’s heart for it, convict him through it….I felt it was God’s will for me to send it.

Phil never responded to the letter–probably because I told him not to unless he sincerely repented.  I didn’t want to talk about it.  I’d already had quite enough of his dismissals any time I tried to tell him he did something wrong.

I wanted him to stop sitting with us at meals and getting mushy with Persephone, to stop greeting me in the halls; I wanted to be left completely alone so my anger would cool down.

I wrote, “No more will I be walked over.”

Persephone found the letter accidentally, but after talking with me about it, decided she had nothing to be angry with me about.

After reading this letter over again almost 20 years later, I would have deleted some things, though I put them in there for a valid reason.  But they could be misunderstood or seen as arrogant.

But I understand them: I was furious with him because, as I have shown over the course of these memoirs, he had emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abused me since we started dating.

I expressed so much anger because he ripped my spirit in two with his constant psychological abuse, gaslighting, playing hoaxes, and attempts to force me into painful or disgusting sex.

He sexually assaulted me.

He tried to change history on me and lie to me numerous times about my own behavior, to make me think I was bad, when I never did what he accused me of.

He shamed me and cut me down over and over again for things which were not wrong, such as solving a puzzle on a game differently than he would, simply so he could control me with his fury and verbal abuse.

The pain was still raw, and immediately after breaking up with me, he started up with a new girl.  He sat with my friends and me all the time to be with this new girl, and got cuddly and cutesy with her right in front of me, deliberately rubbing in my face that he had moved on already.

He told lies about me to his friends, a smear campaign to make others think I was the abuser.  He was still trying to control and abuse me after the relationship was over.

5 years later, I still saw it as an excellent letter, though I already saw the things that needed changing.  Even 12 years later, when I posted these accounts on the Web in 2006, I still thought it was a good letter, with nothing to be ashamed of.

In any case, the letter never threatened or begged; it gave my point of view completely, and told him to stay away from me so I could calm down my anger.  It was brief, only about 4 typed pages.

I did not yet know the terms emotional abuse, sexual abuse (forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do), psychological abuse, or gaslighting.

But this and the previous letter described many of his abuses, and begged him to get counseling for himself.  It even directly accused him of abusing his authority as head of the wife.

It’s a relief to read this many years later, because I did indeed confront my abuser with his abuses, and do not have that “unfinished business.”

This part I would not touch; it is the best part of the letter:

During our marriage I may’ve done a few things I shouldn’t have, but you’ve done your own things that make me think you just don’t know how to respect or love a wife.  Some of the things you say to your own mother were warnings to me, but I hoped you wouldn’t treat me the same.

And your refusals to respond to my needs in so many situations–only your “subconscious” really knew the proper way to treat a woman, and that’s why I fell in love with him.

Then I discovered he wasn’t even real, and that it wasn’t easy to get you to act like him, even though you said it was.  He was you, you said.  Yeah, right.

He was reasonable, unaccusing, cool-headed.  He could compromise.  He didn’t demand his wants over my needs, nor make me feel like I had to be a meek little slave to please you. 

He wouldn’t flat-out refuse to do something I needed done just because he didn’t want to, he’d have a legitimate reason. He wouldn’t force himself on me in ways that pained me, he’d slowly get me to want them. 

He wouldn’t take and take all I was willing to give, which was a lot, and then not give me what I asked for. He wouldn’t be chauvinistic nor treat me like a silly and naïve woman, when really I could often reason better or was better informed. 

[At first this seemed arrogant, but then I saw that he treated me like “a silly and naïve woman.”  It wasn’t about arrogance, but protested being treated like an idiot.]

He didn’t abuse his authority as head of the wife, or be a tyrant.

This isn’t a question of being meant for someone, this is a question of examining yourself and the way you treat your wife, changing what you can change and not taking the defeatist attitude that you can’t, learning to compromise, and thinking how your stage of rebellion (which really isn’t against me) can be gotten through without hurting and alienating the people who love you the most.

I feel sorry for Persephone, who has yet to learn these things about you.

Since he never apologized or repented during that time (at least, that I ever heard), and carried on his behavior to subsequent relationships, I was probably talking to a brick wall.  But somebody had to confront him.

Persephone also confronted him, calling him an a–hole for things he did to me and told her about.  Knowing her, she probably also confronted him about things he did to her.

So there you have it: First, I went to him directly with my concerns.  Then I discovered that Persephone told him off for the things he did to me.

Yet he did not repent.

Since we had no church in common, and he no longer went to InterVarsity meetings, there was no way to “tell it to the church.”  The next stage, adapting Matthew 18:15-17 to my situation, was to stop associating with him.

On the 8th, praying on the way, I pinched the letter as a symbolic “laying on of hands,” then dropped the letter in the Campus Center mailbox.  I went into the Campus Shoppe for a bit, then started out.

But who should open the door for me, but Phil!  How did he, a commuter on a campus with more than 1000 students enrolled, always show up in the same place and time as me?

I stared straight ahead and walked past him.  As I wrote in my diary the next day,

It is done.  It makes me nervous, but there’s also that consciousness of doing the right thing–facing up to my tormentor, taking no more of this abuse.

Pearl also has a theory on why I keep running into him all the time: Maybe God’s trying to teach me endurance.  Hm.

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:

 

Struggling to move on despite the pain–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 1

At an Open Mike session one night, Dr. Nelson read a story, a long one with tons of pages, but very funny.  It was a conversation between two people.

He read quickly through each page–not too fast for comprehension, and apparently on purpose.  When he finished reading through a sheet, he tossed it on the floor.  That, as well as the story itself, was part of the hilarity and amusement of the story.

The Open Mike gatherings seemed to be quite popular that year.  I’m not sure how long they’d been around, but I believe they started in my underclassman days, when they were held in the Muskie.

They’d been well-attended in past years by students and teachers, but maybe even more now, probably because they were in the Pub where people liked to hang out day and night.

Many different people participated now, and it was no longer just a treat for writers: Singers and musicians were now welcome.  Two married teachers, who also had a band, played Celtic music one night, when the husband taught my Celtic class over Winterim.

One night, as my friends and I found seats, I caught a glimpse of Persephone sitting at the bar and Phil standing or sitting next to or behind her, his hand on her shoulder.  THAT was something I didn’t need to see!

I suppose I don’t even need to mention how incensed and upset and sick this made me.  But I just walked by them, ignoring them both, and went to a table with my friends and enjoyed the readings and performances.

I didn’t want Phil to think he could spoil my evening just by showing up with another girl.  I had to be stronger than that.

****

Most of my friends didn’t hang around with Peter much and didn’t know him very well, so didn’t often talk about him.  With Phil, however, things were very different.

My suitemates and possibly Astrid all went to town one day, Mike driving.  We stopped in a parking lot and Mike said before we got out,

“I’m mad at Phil O’Hara.  You know what he told me?  He said I shouldn’t wear my key chain necklace because it makes me look like a girl.”

This was the Roanoke Key Chain Necklace, a big blue thing, which was “high fashion” around campus.  You know, the sort of thing you see in any club or institution which gives out key cards.  Lots of people wore them, both male and female.

Pearl said, upset, “I wouldn’t trust anything Phil says about what’s manly.  What does he know about it?”

Another time, Charles said he didn’t like people forcing friendship on him.  He said Phil did this.  I believe he meant Phil always trying to talk with him when he didn’t want him to, or things like that, and people trying to be friends with him even though he sent out signals that he didn’t want to be.

****

We started giving Mike time-outs.  Whenever he got too weird and his jokes got way too weirdly dirty, someone called out, “Time out, Mike!” and he was supposed to settle down.  I didn’t do this myself, maybe because I have a high tolerance for oddballs–so much so that I married one.  🙂

A popular college myth, which we all believed, got exposed as a myth one day, probably senior year.  It was, if your roommate dies, you get straight A’s because of the emotional anguish.  It may have been the Mirror which revealed this wasn’t at all true.

I learned in 1998 that this is apparently a popular myth in colleges all over the country, because a comedy movie came out about a kid who tries to kill his roommate and make it look like a suicide so he can get straight A’s.

One Sunday evening, when snow covered the ground, Mike drove Pearl, Sharon or Astrid, and me to a church in S–.  We got lost.  Finally we found the church, but the service was already halfway done.

We found the congregation watching a movie (an actual projector-movie, not a VCR tape) about Dave Roever, who lost half his face in Vietnam but now uses this as a witness to how Christ helped him go on.

Since the lights were off, we could sneak in and hope nobody noticed us.  When the movie ended, people saw and greeted us and asked who we were.  They were excited to hear we were college students.  Did they know we came late?

Some guy called Mario became the target of cafeteria tray jokes.  I think he was in a frat.  I don’t know if he was a freshman pledge or what.  But people kept writing these awful, explicit jokes about him on the cafeteria trays.

My group tried to avoid the “Mario trays,” but it wasn’t always possible.  When we failed, we’d say, “Uh-oh, I’ve got a Mario tray.”

Our InterVarsity sweatshirts, ordered earlier in the year, now arrived.  They were dark blue with gold lettering.  The front said “InterVarsity Christian Fellowship” and had an alpha, cross and omega.

The back said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.–Isaiah 9:2.”

They seemed to be a fashion statement for our group: One day I went to a meal and found everybody at the table wearing one, even Charles.

****

Apparently, a lot of things bugged me that semester.  I guess Phil put me into a bad mood that lasted until December: I could feel myself getting dark and maybe even turning into less of a nice and caring person than I was before.  I didn’t like it, but didn’t know what to do about it.

Phil kept sitting at our table at meals–surrounded by people who he knew disliked him–and getting cutesy with Persephone, rubbing his new relationship in my face.

Apparently his ex-wife was not worth what respect and sensitivity he once showed to his ex Tracy when he was with me.

I was mad at Phil and getting madder, a typical response to abuse of any type, and it seems this affected my attitude toward life in general.

It took time to pull out of this, and the help of a man who treated me much better, teaching me I didn’t have to be on the defensive all the time in case another guy turned out to be a Phil.

By 1999, I started to feel more like the type of person I was supposed to be.

****

As you may have noted with the story of the Halloween party in the last chapter, Pearl was finally back, but now she had to use the wheelchair again.

When she could use her scooter she was very independent, but this was the second time she had to depend on other people to get her around the campus.  Sometimes it was hard to correlate schedules to get someone to push her wheelchair.

We’d do it for her because she was our friend and we loved her, but it did make it harder for us and, I’m sure, for her.  I know I wouldn’t like having to be dependent on somebody else every time I wanted to go across campus or even to the next building.

She couldn’t go anywhere on her own because she just wasn’t physically capable of using her scooter until she got better.  (I believe this is the time they removed one of her hips, and later they gave her a replacement.)  And that wheelchair was heavy and hard to push!

I hated seeing her in this situation, and I’m sure everybody did.  We worried about her because she had to go through so much.

She was able to walk once, long ago, and she was supposedly going to be able to walk again by this year, but there were complications and it didn’t turn out that way.

(I believe her problem was rheumatoid arthritis in the legs, which caused her not only to need crutches and the scooter, but also kept her at a childlike height.)

****

It was sometimes painful to work on my novel Jerisland, but I had to because it was now my Senior Writing Project.

When I broke up with Peter, I couldn’t work on it because I had imagined the hero Stefan was like Peter.  Stefan and Jeri were supposed to be happy together forever.  Now, all summer I had imagined Stefan was like Phil.

Before, I put the breakup with Peter in Jerisland and made things happen the way I wished (at the time) that they would have happened.  Though Stefan did awful things to Jeri, he apologized and made up for them.

In this latest rewrite, Jeri became the dumper, not Stefan.  She listened to Stefan’s best friend, who tried to convince her she belonged with Stefan.

Since Stefan reminded me of Phil, and some of the things I wrote in the story came from my relationship with Phil, it was hard to write that Stefan and Jeri had a happy marriage that lasted forever.

But I had to because there was no way I wanted those two to break up.  It seemed I could never have a happy relationship that lasted for the rest of my life, but dang it, I wanted Jeri to have one with Stefan!

****

Apparently we were supposed to read shelves in the library.  I had never heard of this rule before, or that any of us had been assigned to certain shelves.  But Sharon and I started doing this together.

We basically scanned the Dewey decimal numbers to make sure the books were in order.

It could get boring quickly, but we talked about life, and the cool and old and weird and German-language books we’d find.

We even found one on Egyptian hieroglyphics.  We checked it out of the library.  We were supposed to draw up our own copy of the Egyptian alphabet, but never got around to that.  I loved working with Sharon.

I enjoyed re-shelving books.  Pulling or pushing along the book cart, going upstairs in the elevator (the only one on campus besides the one in the Wehr Center), going in among the stacks putting books away–it all made me feel so important: “I work here!”

We put the books in numerical order before taking the cart away from the circulation desk, to speed up re-shelving.

Re-shelving took me away from the desk and from life in general, sticking me in among the stacks, where I wanted to be.  I still had no clue where Tara and Sarah’s “haunted bookshelf” was.  (They said books would fall out of it.)

Sometimes I felt a little creeped out in the juvenile section, a tiny room at the very top of the building.  My friends told stories about it being haunted.

But I’d find the most wonderful and obscure books in the library, and often come back with books on the cart, to be checked out.  I loved checking my own book out rather than waiting for a clerk, writing my name on the card, putting it in the card box, and putting a date due card in the book.

Sometimes I felt light-headed and dizzy in this room.  Sometimes I wondered if I felt this way because I was pregnant.  At various times in my life, I’ve had these sudden bouts of dizziness, though they don’t last long, and I go years without feeling it again.

Of course, nowadays I am aware that my dizziness in that room could’ve been caused by elevation and an old structure.  This can also explain dizziness people sometimes feel in old houses, which they attribute to ghosts.

But it wasn’t as bad as when he first divorced me and I could barely get through my two hours (dazed or numb, Helene called it), trying to go through the card catalog doing a project we’d been given, and not go crazy with the pain, fear of losing my husband forever, and sadness.  The working day took forever in those days.

But in November, trying to get through the work day wasn’t quite so bad anymore.  Being in the stacks alone or with Sharon, though sometimes hard to handle when sad thoughts returned, was often a solace, reminding me that I belonged among books.  My purpose and calling was to read and write.

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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