Intro to Psych was fascinating: It taught me a lot about such things as projecting your faults onto others, which I saw Phil doing.
The only problem was, it was an Intro class. Like Intro to Christianity, I took it just to get credits. For Christianity, I needed credits of any type so I’d have enough to graduate; for Psych, I needed Social Science credits.
But because it was an Intro, the class was full of immature freshmen. Only a few people weren’t, like Astrid’s roommate Chloe and me.
Intro to Christianity, which I attended with Mike and Randy, taught how Christian doctrine developed and split over time. The teacher, a preacher with the United Church of Christ, taught that Christ freed women, and Paul bound them up again.
We were also taught that the writers of the Bible saw a difference between Truth and Fact, which explains why, for example, the gospels have different versions of the same story, yet are still considered True. The Truth is that Christ arose; the Facts are how many angels were at the tomb.
Unfortunately, we skipped over the section on Eastern Orthodox theology, so I knew very little about it until 2005, though I knew about the Great Schism.
Probably on Thursday, I went to lunch, went through the deli line, and spoke with the cafeteria lady who was at one of the food stalls. (This may have been where the fries, or some other side dish, were.)
Sandy happened to be nearby as I told this woman I was engaged, and smiled and gushed about it. Sandy didn’t say a word.
Amazing how, both times I got dumped, I had just been gushing about my engagement to someone the same day, and Dirk or his girlfriend Sandy happened to be standing nearby, silent–as if they knew something I didn’t.
Thursday, September 29, Phil took a nap in my apartment, after agreeing to go to the IV Bible study in the lounge that evening. When it was almost time for the prayer group, I woke him up so he wouldn’t miss it.
Nothing at all unusual about that. It’s polite, it’s kind, it’s helpful.
But he said, “I thought you said you wouldn’t tell me when to wake up and when to go to sleep.”
Can you imagine such an irrational comment? I said this wasn’t the same thing. I wanted him to join us because it was important to me, and he also said he wanted to come.
But he was so–weird about it, and acted like a jerk, like I had no right to wake him up for anything, no matter how important it was.
You see I couldn’t even be a normal human being around him. Normal human beings wake up other normal human beings for things they want to go to. I felt helpless, like the tiniest slipup and I could lose him. (To me now, that doesn’t make him sound very loving!)
He finally got up, leaving some textbooks and pencils (some of the books were Dave’s) in my room.
(Just to clarify, since I’ve discovered that back in the ’70s, “jerk” often meant “stupid person”: I use the modern meaning of “jerk,” or someone who’s mean and nasty.)
We had a fun meeting with lots of people sitting on chairs arranged in a ring around and inside the TV nook.
After the meeting, Phil talked with someone; I believe it was the guy who came to InterVarsity once junior year, and wondered if Jews and Muslims, as People of the Book, would be saved. Somehow, they got to the topic of how many kids a woman could potentially have.
Phil came up with a hundred, and I said from the couch on the other end of the room, “I don’t want a hundred kids!” It was all playful and fun.
Later on, after the meeting ended it was just Charles, Pearl, Phil and me. Phil and I cuddled together.
Phil and Charles got into a political argument. I thought Charles was right and Phil was wrong, but said nothing at all about it.
Finally, the argument seemed to have ended. Phil later complained that I didn’t support him in the argument, but how could I when I didn’t even agree?
Wasn’t I allowed my own political opinions? And was I expected to back him up no matter what he said or how much I disagreed with it?
Soon, I quietly asked Phil to drive me to the store to buy milk and orange juice, but he said, “I’m not your taxicab.” So I’m not even allowed to ask for a ride now?
He then asked Charles and Pearl,
“Do you think a guy has to take his fiancée to the store if she asks?”
Charles and Pearl both said, “Yes, of course!” Charles said yes if they’re going out and serious, and especially if they’re engaged.
I felt vindicated, and very upset with Phil for trying to humiliate me like that, though I still said nothing.
There may have been a few more words said between them, but I don’t remember. He complained to me about people who don’t listen–though I thought the stubborn person here was him, not them.
I whispered to him, trying to be very calm and loving in my tone,
“Sometimes–I feel–you do the same.”
He said to me, “Thank you for being so supportive.”
Supportive? After he’d just slammed and embarrassed me in front of my friends? He treats me this way and expects me to support him? My friends have just vindicated me and he says I should support him?
He got up and left the apartment. I hurried after him, but couldn’t catch up with him, and he wouldn’t stop. Then I did something that to this day I’m very glad I did: I yelled down the sidewalk to him,
“So you’re just going to run away?” I used a tone that showed how cowardly I thought he was at that moment.
I went back inside and sat down on the armchair.
Charles had some choice words to say about Phil and his behavior that night. Pearl was mad at him, too, and she showed it.
They both thought his question about a fiancée was unfair to me, and that he was trying to embarrass me. One of them, or I, said he seemed to be taking out his frustrations in the political argument on me.
A few minutes later, he called me up and said, “You’re more than free. Good-bye.” Then he just hung up.
I tried to find him by calling Dirk’s apartment. Dirk’s roommate Carl answered the phone, and promised to have Dirk call if Phil came there. Unlike Dirk, he was very supportive of me. Later Dirk called or I called him, and when I told him what happened, he said, “It sounds like you two have broken up.”
I think Dirk was very kind to me despite the lateness of the hour (probably after 11), and didn’t want to see us broken up, but felt powerless to stop it–even though he had done severe damage to my attempts to work things out.
Phil’s behavior all week long, especially including this, is well described in the “Disproportional Reactions” section here:
One of the favourite tools of manipulation in the abuser’s arsenal is the disproportionality of his reactions.
He reacts with supreme rage to the slightest slight. Or, he would punish severely for what he perceives to be an offence against him, no matter how minor. Or, he would throw a temper tantrum over any discord or disagreement, however gently and considerately expressed.
Or, he would act inordinately attentive, charming and tempting (even over-sexed, if need be).
This ever-shifting code of conduct and the unusually harsh and arbitrarily applied penalties are premeditated. The victims are kept in the dark.
Neediness and dependence on the source of “justice” meted and judgment passed – on the abuser – are thus guaranteed.
I believe this was indeed premeditated, that he wanted nothing but a subservient puppet with no mind or will of her own, and as soon as I expressed my own desires, my own opinions, that would be “the last straw” and he would leave.
And somehow, it would be “my fault” even though the unvarnished truth is that he was an A$$HOLE and I did NOTHING wrong.
I talked to Phil on the phone the next day and asked him to come meet me and talk with me. At least he gave me that much. However, he insisted it be in the Pub, though it was public and often noisy. We set the time for 3 p.m., after I left work.
During these weeks, I read books–a book on the Psychology of Love, which I’d bought sophomore year, when it was used by a Winterim class I didn’t take, “Love and Hate.” I also started reading a book Helene lent me, on how to let go when you get divorced.
Both were very helpful to me. I read them while there was still hope, and read them after the second breakup. The first one I read when Phil and I first got back together. I read it in just a few days to learn how to deal with our arguments. The second one I read as I needed to.
I tried to set up rules to keep our discussion civil, probably using things I’d learned in these books. The rules were to keep me in check as well as him:
- Issues will be honestly dealt with–not turned into arguments or “clamming up.”
- Each will listen to the other–not interrupt or get angry–and really think about what the other is saying.
- No getting up in a huff and stalking off–issues will be brought to a resolution.
- Each will be calm–no yelling, hitting, raising voices, or the like.
- Honesty–but not cruelty (including jokes).
- If someone violates the “rules,” the other one will calmly tell them– the talk is not over yet.
- Any and all apologies will be accepted.
- No accusations–use words like “I feel” or “It seems to me.”
I showed these to Pearl, and she thought they were fair. I wrote them not only to protect me, but to protect Phil, because I could see myself breaking any of these rules quite easily.
Anna stopped at the library and gave me a pep talk about the meeting. I prayed hard that it would go all right. I think I even started to feel a peace about it.
3:00 came, and I headed over to the Pub with my books. Phil was alone there. I think I didn’t want to go there because I expected to find too many people, but only one person came in the whole time.
I showed him the House Rules, the pact I wanted to make with him. But he refused to go by them, so I ended up not going by them, either. What was the point, after all, if he wouldn’t play by any rules, to stick to any myself?
He was so pig-headed he wouldn’t even entertain the notion that I might have some good ideas about how to keep the talk at a reasonable, productive level.
Instead of sitting down and talking quietly with me, Phil played pool. It seemed he didn’t want to talk with me, didn’t want to listen to a word I had to say. He just walked around the pool table, shooting the balls.
It was frustrating. It was done to show me that what I had to say was unimportant because it disagreed with His Majesty.
I tried to work out some problems, and it didn’t work. He was so unwilling to listen to anything or even try to talk things over that we got into an argument. I said he didn’t know the meaning of love; he said, “You’re right.” Okay, for once we agreed on something!
Phil said cruel things; one thing was, he made me sound undutiful or uncaring because I didn’t confess to Mike that I had a little crush on him (and it was little–it had only just budded a couple of weeks before).
He yelled at me for never talking to Mike like he kept telling me to do, in those two weeks after the first breakup, and yelled that if I’d done so, I’d know it wasn’t returned. He’d talked to Mike, and learned that “he does not“(that’s how Phil said it) return my feelings.
Not only did he overstep his bounds by scolding me for not broaching a subject with a friend without feeling right about it–
but now he made me feel like crap by not only saying Mike doesn’t return my feelings–
but saying it in such a way that made me feel presumptuous to even think that somebody else would like me.
So now I was left with nobody at all, as he kicked me in the emotional side and made me feel like there was something wrong with having a tiny crush on somebody who didn’t return it.
But it hadn’t been right for me to talk to Mike, not while I was with Phil, and not so soon after the breakup.
There was also no sense risking Mike’s friendship over something that was so insignificant at the time.
But Phil had gone ahead and done that for me, a shocking betrayal, overstepping his bounds.
It was a blatant disregard and disrespect of me and my feelings on the issue. It also could have jeopardized my friendship with Mike.
He also said at one point, “I’ll probably do things with other people,” meaning have sex. I don’t know why he told me this, except to make me feel like crap.
I became furious, lost patience with his disregard for civility, and began saying what I felt. Phil kept saying, “You’re right.” This infuriated me even before, because it was an angry tone, and he’d once told me he did this to deliberately upset people during an argument.
All of a sudden, while I still had things left to say, Phil abruptly walked out of the Pub into the Campus Center lounge. I almost followed, but when I got to the door and looked around he was already out of sight.
Rather than waste my time looking for him, I picked up my bookbag and left. Sharon later said it was good I didn’t follow him.
I believe I said what I should have said, though it didn’t go very well. I’m not at all ashamed of the chewing-out I gave him, either then or in later letters–I’m quite proud of standing up for myself, of refusing to sit back and be the victim of his abuse.
Because Phil was a classic abusive monster, even without hitting me, and I was well rid of him. He was a narcissist, a sociopath.
He broke things off with me because I dared to have my own mind, my own thoughts, my own opinions, my own needs.
He was an old-fashioned chauvinist pig. He broke things off with me because I was not a subservient, submissive slave who never does anything but what the Master wants, even if he doesn’t tell me what he wants.
My anger was fierce because I knew I’d been mistreated and abused. I hated him.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: