Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: svengali (page 1 of 8)

My narcissist: inspiring the rewrite of my old novella

The ideas are just streaming in as I work on a mass revision of Unwilling Time-Traveler.  I’ll keep posting the original version so you can see what it was like, and the original version is a basic template for what happens in the revision.  But I’m coming up with some new directions.  (I won’t tell you all of them, because that derails the creative process.)

I read the first few revised scenes at Writer’s Club on Monday, and they elicited laughs in the proper places, lots of interest in Madge and Herr, and curiosity over what Herr Bismarck is really up to.  This is promising, giving me reason to keep going.

Part of the inspiration is altering the character of Herr Bismarck: No longer a white-haired old guy, in many ways he’s an older and much thinner version of my ex-friend Richard.

Not the same person, of course, because Richard is not a time-traveling Nazi or even a scientist.  Herr Bismarck is a totally different person, with different family, background, etc.  He’s inspired by Richard, but is not actually Richard, and does different things.

But he becomes Svengali to Madge, manipulates her, uses her, then devalues and discards her.  This inspires a mixture of hate and regret in Madge, who then must work to keep him from changing the course of history.

So finally I found a way to take the experience with Richard and turn it into something quite useful in my fiction.

Will it be a novel or novella?  Will I try to publish it traditionally, or on my own?  Heck, I don’t even have it all written yet.  We’ll see.  🙂

But hey, Richard (if you ever come back here again), guess what–You’re my muse.  Thanks for that.  😉  LOL

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Different kinds of abuse–same feelings: How Mark Driscoll reminds me of Tracy, Phil, and others

One reason why I read blogs and articles of all different kinds of abuse, is that I find the reactions of the abuse victims are the same everywhere.

Of course you’ll have differences here and there: Being molested by a parent is not the same as being psychologically manipulated by an ex-boyfriend, for example.

But everywhere you find the same common themes: loss of trust, hurt, pain, confusion, longing for the abuser to acknowledge the abuse and make up for it.

The other day, I read this account of narcissistic abuse and a smear campaign at Mars Hill Church:

My Story by Jonna Petry

Her husband was a pastor with the church for a time, until he was abandoned and smeared by Mark Driscoll.

In this and in other stories I’ve read about abuse at Mars Hill Church, I was struck all along by things that sounded very familiar, in my own experiences with narcissistic abuse, from exes (especially Phil) and from Richard and Tracy:

  • A person/place who at first seemed like God’s gift to you.
  • Pressure to conform.
  • Shunning someone you are told is bad.
  • Abuse and getting kicked out for questioning, disagreeing, speaking up about problems.
  • A person who throws tantrums and verbally abuses you for the slightest offenses, even when the offense is only in his own mind.
  • A smear campaign.
  • Others encouraged to shun you.
  • A kangaroo court in which you have no real chance to defend yourself.
  • Others put through the same abuse if they stick up for you.
  • A “conference” which is meant not to hear your side or your grievances, but to coerce you into agreeing that the abuse against you is justified.
  • A refusal of the abusers to admit they’ve done anything wrong.  As Driscoll and his henchman wrote to Jonna and her husband, “We still believe we have done nothing wrong.”
  • Begging others to help, but no one will.
  • Discovering this abuse is a pattern, that it neither began nor ended with you.

The hurt, pain and confusion as you long desperately for reconciliation:

In shock and heartbroken, Paul and I tried desperately that first half-year to bring about some level of reconciliation.

We so longed to be restored to our friends, to have our name and reputation exonerated, and to have peace in our relationships.

This had become our family that we loved and served and ministered to as our own dear children and as brothers and sisters. These were our dear friends.

How could they do this to us? Words do not adequately describe the shock, horror, betrayal, and rejection we felt. The weight of the loss was excruciating.

The PTSD and shaking of faith:

During this whole season since the firing and the months that followed, I was emotionally and spiritually devastated.

I was often tormented by fear. I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children.

If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have.

I literally slept in the fetal position for months. I stayed in bed a lot, bringing the children in bed with me to do their schoolwork.

I became severely depressed and could hardly bring myself to leave the house except when absolutely necessary. I cried nearly every day for well over a year thinking I must soon cry it out, right?

But, the sorrow was bottomless. My faith was gravely shaken. How could a loving God allow this?

Later it became clear that I had typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression and that these reactions were common in someone who has experienced spiritual abuse.

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone uses their power within a framework of spiritual belief or practice to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others. It is a breach of sacred trust.

Christians are commanded by Jesus to love one another. When that is projected, articulated, enjoyed and then treacherously betrayed, the wounded person is left with “a sense of having been raped, emotionally and spiritually” not by a stranger, but by someone who was deeply trusted. (See Recovering from Church Abuse by Len Hjalmarson)

At the beginning, Jonna wrote,

This past summer I saw the movie, “The Help,” and a seed of courage was planted in my soul. One of the last lines of the movie:

“God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do.  But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.”

This story is an earnest attempt to speak the truth in love that freedom and new life may flourish.

At the end, she wrote things which encourage me to continue telling the story of Richard/Tracy–and express the same hope I hold, that one day my abusers will recognize their abuse and change:

In Acts, Chapter 20, the Apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesian elders to pay attention and guard the flock.

This admonition, along with the mounting stories of abuse and misconduct coming out of Mars Hill Church, has added to our conviction.

We believe that to remain quiet now would be unloving and disobedient to God. As my husband stated earlier–if we fail to remember our history, we leave it for others to re-write. And, unfortunately, some of that has occurred.

And, in Mark’s own words from his book, Vintage Jesus:

“People are not perfect. As sinners we need to be gracious, patient, and merciful with one another just as God is with us or the church will spend all of its time doing nothing but having church discipline trials.

“It is worth stressing, however, that we cannot simply overlook an offense if doing so is motivated by our cowardice, fear of conflict, and/or lack of concern for someone and their sanctification.

“In the end, it is the glory of God, the reputation of Jesus, the well-being of the church, and the holiness of the individual that must outweigh any personal desires for a life of ease that avoids dealing with sin biblically.

“Sometimes God in his providential love for us allows us to be involved in dealing with another’s sin as part of our sanctification and growth. It is good for us and for the sinner, the church, and the reputation of the gospel if we respond willingly to the task God has set before us.”

What happened to us was very wrong. The way it was publicly described by Mark and the elders at the time was completely exaggerated and deceptive. The way the media and blogs have since reported on it has many holes and errors. Now it is open and plain to everyone.

If Mark and the organizations he leads do not change, I fear many more will be hurt, Mark and his family included.  To not speak is to not love or care and shows no thought or consideration for those who have been wounded and those who will be in the future.

We are witnesses. There is a pattern. There is a history. There is an ethos of authoritarianism and abuse.

Mark is the unquestioned head of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network. His elders have no way to hold him accountable. Those under him likely fear him and want to garner his favor so they don’t dare say nor do anything that might anger him. This is tragic.

Perhaps at some point, with enough outcry and exposure, Mark will come to his senses, own his harmful behavior, and get the help he needs to change. I hope so. Our common Enemy can make terrible use of our weaknesses and blind spots.

Our Lord’s harshest words were for leaders who used their status, power, the Scriptures, and God’s people for their own self-aggrandizement. Surely this is not what Mark meant to do.

We are all in this together, no matter what kind of abuse we suffered, or from whom.

We did not deserve it, and need to learn and remember this.  We need to put the responsibility for the abuse, and our subsequent hurt and pain, where it belongs–on the abuser–and take none for ourselves.

And we need to NOT look at each other and think, “I got it worse than you, so why should I bother with your story and pain?”

We also need to learn from each other, take courage from each other to speak up and tell our stories, and heal each other.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 14

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:

  1. Issues will be honestly dealt with–not turned into arguments or “clamming up.”
  2. Each will listen to the other–not interrupt or get angry–and really think about what the other is saying.
  3. No getting up in a huff and stalking off–issues will be brought to a resolution.
  4. Each will be calm–no yelling, hitting, raising voices, or the like.
  5. Honesty–but not cruelty (including jokes).
  6. If someone violates the “rules,” the other one will calmly tell them– the talk is not over yet.
  7. Any and all apologies will be accepted.
  8. 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.

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:

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 13

The night after Phil and I got back together, my suitemates threw a party for us “summer birthdays.”  Those of us with summer birthdays had to stay out of the apartment between five and seven, while the others got the place ready for us.

I thought Phil would show up during the party.  He had a date for the following night with the sixteen-year-old (I guess she was now seventeen) who kept calling him when he had a girlfriend.

He made the date while we were broken up; he said it would be platonic, and he would tell her we were back together again.  Because of this, I didn’t mind so much.

Possibly during the party, Charles saw my videotape collection (Dr. Who, Gone With the Wind, Monty Python, etc.), cried out, and wanted to know who owned it.  It impressed him.

He also admired my book collection, which included Dr. Who and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books.  (In October, he started reading my new copy of the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s series.  However, I don’t think he finished it.)

Phil was gone for an awfully long time.

We had a fun party.  We even went outside on the little porch with the nice railing, tied balloons on Tara’s hair, and took pictures of her.

The Director of Safety and Security came by and said this was an “unauthorized social gathering,” too many people and not cleared by Memadmin, so we’d better go back inside and break up the party.

So we went inside, and instead turned on an audiotape of the Roanoke choir singing “The Messiah.”  If he came back, we’d say we were rehearsing choir songs.

We later found out he thought there was alcohol, but there wasn’t.  We could have as many people as we liked, as long as there was no drinking.  Otherwise, it would have to be cleared with Memadmin.  We didn’t drink at our parties, so this was funny.

Now that we were twenty-one, there might be a wine cooler or a strawberry daiquiri or the new drinks with the risqué names Sex on the Beach or Sloe Screw, but that was it.  I only drank pop.

During this party, we also played Phantom of the Opera music.  Mike turned on a Barry White CD to demonstrate to non-choir people what Derek had done on the last choir tour: Mike turned on the song “Feels So Good” and played the first few notes–Duhduh-duhduh-duh–then Barry’s words “Feels so good.”  Then Mike pushed the reverse button, and did this over and over again, replaying that first part over and over.

Derek made a tape of himself doing this over and over and over again, and played the tape over and over on the spring choir tour.  This drove everyone crazy.  The choir people, Mike especially, adopted this as a catch phrase–or perhaps, catch tune.

There were other couples at this party–Jennifer with the same Jason whom Catherine and Cindy had dated, Charles with Trina.  I felt lonely and depressed, almost as if I had no one, even though I was now back together with my Phil.  I didn’t know why I felt that way.

When Phil finally came near the end of the party, he told me the date was not the next night but this night, so that was where he had been all this time–at a coffeehouse with that other girl.

The coffeehouse was her idea: Her generation seemed to like those old-fashioned beatnik turtleneck coffeehouses, which were now coming back in style.  He told her we were back together, and she said she wasn’t surprised.

He looked odd in the black turtleneck he put on to “fit in” at the coffeehouse.  He left soon after, and kept waving and waving to me from his van as he left the parking lot by the apartments, the kind of thing he used to do.  It was funny.

One evening in the Pub, there was some sort of party.  Phil and I were there, as were James and Persephone.  Persephone came over to me, and smiled and looked surprised when I told her Phil and I were engaged.  She also said she had a crush on James.

****

TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL FORCE DESCRIBED BELOW

At his house one day, Phil said he almost wished we’d never slept together (even though we were married), because now he wanted all the girls he saw, and there were way too many cute freshman girls this year.

The more he talked, the more it sounded like a sexual addiction, so I begged him to get help for it.  It’s one thing to enjoy sex with your wife; it’s quite another to barely be able to restrain yourself around women!

I didn’t understand such a desire, myself, because I only wanted to have sex with one man my entire life: Phil, my husband for life!  And how could I be sure he’d stay faithful to me?

I had a day or two of happiness, but then started to feel a wedge between Phil and me.  He was very demanding, very pushy–and his ideas, plans and opinions about various things seemed a lot different from what they were before.

For example, he said he wanted to go to Thailand for a couple of years after we got legally married, to study martial arts for movie roles.  Thailand?  I thought we were supposed to go to Texas!

If I didn’t want to do something he wanted to do, it meant I didn’t care like I said I did.  

I felt like I was walking on eggshells, and the slightest thing might push him away.  I felt I had to align all my opinions with his, do things exactly as he wanted even though I couldn’t read his mind, or he’d divorce me.  

He seemed like a different person.  After he broke up with me, I was a broken, submissive person who was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.  That meant even oral sex:

One day, when he got me alone, before I had a chance to even talk to him, and without a word, he pulled down his pants. 

He got a strange, angry, stern look on his face, and pushed my head down–forced, really, since I couldn’t move my head whether I wanted to or not. 

I didn’t want to–it was smelly, I didn’t know if he had washed it recently, and I never liked doing this–but I did anyway, because of the unspoken but well-understood threat that he would divorce me if I didn’t.

Once, as a girl on crutches started to pass us on the sidewalk, I quickly moved to cross in front of Phil and get out of the way, so she could safely pass.  But Phil put out his foot and tripped me, almost making me fall!  The girl smiled at him (or maybe said “thank you”), and he smiled at her.

!!!!

I didn’t understand what was going on.  I complained that he tripped me, but he said he was “moving me out of the way” with his foot!  He treated me like I was the rude one, like I wasn’t getting out of the way so he had to make up for it and move me!

He humiliated me in front of that girl.  I burned with the injustice of being falsely accused–and tripped.  I was furious with him, but he just laughed.

More gaslighting!  And according to this website, tripping is one form of physical abuse.

How much farther could he have gone?  How far has he gone in the 20 years since I last saw him?

Many of the emotional and verbal abuse traits in that website are also familiar, as you will see.  It also says,

While physical abuse might seem worse, the scars of verbal and emotional abuse are deep.  Studies show that verbal or nonverbal abuse can be much more emotionally damaging than physical abuse.

That explains why I had so much trouble getting over this, still struggling some 11 years later, when I finally wrote about it on my Myspace blog and got it out.

Once, either now or before we got back together, Phil told me his friends had been encouraging him to break up with me–something about keeping him down, not letting him do things, exaggerated junk like that.

None of which was actually true.  It sounded like they thought I was the tyrant, when it wasn’t me, it was Phil.

The reasons were stupid and it sounded like they had no idea what was really going on.  My dad told me on the phone that in these situations, “The worst thing you can do is listen to your friends.”

It’s also quite possible that Phil made this up, another common tactic used by abusers to make you think you’re the problem because everybody says so. 

Either that, or he smeared me to them, too, a common abusive tactic to discredit the victim.  I went into this earlier: It’s called torture by triangulation.

On the night of the 24th, Phil, Pearl and I hung out in the living room, watching Demolition Man, Three Weddings and a Funeral, and some other movie with Rutger Hauer, the guy who played the white-haired robot from Blade Runner, playing an escaped convict in the future.

At one point there was the Chicken Movie.  I don’t know what its real name was, but it was terrible, something about a plague brought on humans by crazed chickens.  We called it the Chicken Movie.  I don’t think we could watch the whole thing.

Phil brought a plastic bowl and a spoon from home for soup, which was his dinner, but he left them there in our sink, dirty.

After Pearl went to bed, he said I was free from my vows, that I could go off with someone else if I ever wanted to.

I refused to accept the freedom.  “It’s worse than any chains you could give me,” I said.

For some reason, he found this strange.

I wanted us to say our vows again, which we hadn’t done since getting back together, and I insisted so he did, but he left out the vow of “cherish” and the vow of fidelity.

He said he was having a hard time keeping to the vow to “cherish” all the time, that it might lead to infidelity, and if he was bound to those vows he might end up hating me.  He wanted to be sure of them before he said them again legally.

He couldn’t be in my bedroom, but wanted to have sex with me on the couch.  I didn’t want to because I thought the others would be disgusted if they ever found out.

But he laid on a guilt trip, when I was already afraid of losing him if I didn’t do as he commanded or agree with all his opinions: “That just means you don’t really want to sleep with me.  Everyone else who’s ever wanted me didn’t care where it was.”

So I slept with him there, to prove I did want him. 

You see how he manipulated me into going against my conscience, forcing me through guilt and intimidation (the ever-present threat of losing him again) to be inconsiderate of my roommates. 

Ever after, I sometimes sat on that couch and remembered what happened.  It made me shudder, so most of the time I blocked it out.

It was because of him staying over that my roommates decided we must all clear it before someone’s boyfriend or friend stayed overnight.  They didn’t like seeing him there on the couch in the morning, and hadn’t expected it.

One day, as I sat with my friends, Phil came over and needed some money for lunch, so I gave it to him.  He said with a smile as he sauntered off, “You’re a saint–sometimes.”  What is this “sometimes,” another criticism because I’m not subservient?

Another time, while we were on the sidewalk by Muehlmeier, he got down on his knees and begged me for five dollars.  I gave it to him–but never saw it again, and didn’t bother asking for it.  This may have been Wednesday or Thursday.

On Tuesday, September 27, I had a meeting scheduled with the counselor at one p.m.  I told Phil right before that I would go see her, but tell her it was the last meeting I needed, and it might be short or it might not.  I might cancel it.  I didn’t know how long it would be.  I made this very clear to him–so I thought.

I told the counselor Phil and I were back together, so I wouldn’t need any more meetings.  She didn’t let me go that quickly, though: She gave me tips on conflict resolution, and a name of a book: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.  I had never heard of this book before.

Our discussion ended up taking the full hour.  Once, we heard a deep voice outside the door, but I didn’t think it was his.  The meeting ended and I left.

Phil came to me, furious.  He chewed me out for taking so long.  It was his voice outside the door.

I said, “I told you I might stay the whole time!”

“You took so long!  You said you’d just go for a few minutes and cancel.  I asked some people where the counselor’s office was, and they didn’t think anyone was in there because they didn’t see the light through the door.”

“I told you I might stay the whole time.  I said I didn’t know how long I’d be!”

It didn’t matter.  He stayed mad at me, and I didn’t deserve it.  For being so affectionate the first few days we were back together, he had turned so distant–and no matter what I did, it was wrong, even if I had little or no control over it (the length of the meeting).

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:

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Phil comes crawling back to me–and we put our marriage on paper–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 12

September 22.  Phil had once mentioned meeting Persephone, and sounded interested in her, which made me feel awful and jealous of her.

By this time she may have had a crush on James, which would have eased my fears a bit if I knew about it.  (Odd—he wasn’t especially handsome, yet without even knowing him, girls just seemed to keep falling for him–me included.)

One day, possibly anywhere between Monday and Thursday, I overheard Phil talking to Persephone at the table right behind mine at lunch.  I was all alone by then, and the cafeteria was almost empty.  He told her about the time he almost lost his legs during the summer, working at the Mishawaka factory.

When you’ve been married to and living with someone all summer, and he starts chasing another girl right in front of you, you feel like a part of you has been ripped out.

Next thing I knew, Phil came up to me, startling me, and started talking about Mike.  He asked if I talked to Mike about my crush yet, and I said no.  (I didn’t want to talk to Mike.)  Phil said if I didn’t, he would–which was a terrible intrusion he had no right to make.

But all the time he acted sweet and smiled.  I didn’t understand what was going on.  For me to be so surprised about it, it may very well have been Monday, when I still thought he hated me.

On the morning of September 22, I put out another fleece: that if Phil was meant for me, Mike would ask a question in class.  If not, the teacher would cancel class.  If no answer, both would happen, or neither.

I expected a no.  I went to class in the Chase basement, thinking it didn’t matter if I was late because we wouldn’t have class anyway.

To my surprise, there was still class that morning.  And Mike–well, he said one of those, “So you’re saying this is the case?” type of questions, more a clarification-question.

The teacher did let us out halfway through the class, so I thought maybe I got a “wait” answer, but then I thought, well, he didn’t exactly cancel class; he just let us go early.

So I sat in the chair in the little lounge under the steps there in the Chase building in the basement, and read the assignment for American Lit class.

I often went there that semester, when Intro to Christianity class let out early and I needed to kill time until Intro to Psych class the next period.  Sometimes I saw Phil pass by or heard his voice, because he had a class just above mine.

From October on, I tried to ignore him when he passed by, and pretend he didn’t bother me at all.  I liked my Lit books, and they, not he, would engross me.  Or so I wanted him to think.

Then I’d go upstairs to class, and sometimes I passed him on the way or got a drink at the water fountain when he was just down the hall.  Eventually, I ignored him and loathed the sight of him (you will soon see why).

I hated Phil in those days, sinning in my anger, and wanted nothing to do with him or his friends or his family (though I didn’t mind if his mom said hello and wanted to chat with me).  But it was impossible to keep a constant distance from him on that little campus.

On the 22nd, I went to lunch straight from a meeting with the counselor at 12:15.  Lunch closed at 1:30 each day that semester, since they expanded the hours on weekdays.  So I could get lunch, but I had to take whatever was left.

I sat in an almost empty cafeteria.  It was lonely, especially without my friends there, but I had to work not only with my schedule but with the counselor’s.

During the meeting, the counselor told me I was handling this much better than most people handle the breakup of an engagement.  I figured this owed to my past experience with Peter.

As painful as it was, the breakup with Peter taught me a lot.  When Peter broke up with me, I slept maybe two hours out of the first night–and that was part of my problem.  Fatigue makes depression much worse, much harder to deal with, and my inability to eat made me physically sick.

The counselor said my anger, as expressed in my diary the night before, was a good thing, a healthy thing, part of the healing process, and I should concentrate on that for a while.  I probably spent at least part of the meeting spewing out to her what I felt about Phil.

I still wondered, though, if I truly got an answer from God, or if I was misinterpreting it, or if it was just coincidence.  One more fleece that day, and that would be it.  I asked God to either open the door or to close it forever, whichever was in His good and perfect and wise will.

While I sat at lunch, probably thinking about the meeting and how enraged I was over how Phil had been treating me, the weirdest thing happened:

Phil came over to me, probably from the Muskie, and sat down across from me!  I believe he had already finished his lunch.

I didn’t know what he was doing there.  I didn’t want to see him.  I also no longer wanted him, no longer wanted the fleece to really be a “yes.”

He started saying some things to me, some nice, conversational things, while I sat there ripping on him in reply with witty and caustic remarks.  He didn’t seem to get it.

Then he said something insulting about me (I forget what), so I stood up abruptly and took my tray to the tray window.  He looked stunned.  I liked that.

However, I had to come back and get my stuff–my bag and, I believe, trusty duck umbrella.

I may have put on my light jacket, and was about to leave with my stuff, but he said something more to me, which got me to sit down again.  I don’t remember what he said, but it seems to have calmed me down for the moment.

But I didn’t stay for long.  I had to get to work soon, and I just didn’t want to be around him any more.  I wrote to a friend, “And then last Thursday, when I was mad at him and had been wanting him to stay away, he kept coming to talk to me wherever I was.”

My Thursday shift started at 2:30 and went until 4:30.  Phil came in the library while I worked.  He came and went, but I don’t think he said a word to me.

I had a sort-of-fleece, but without actually mentioning it to God, because I didn’t want it to be an official fleece, because I wasn’t sure I should be putting out any more.  But it was that he would come back down from the second floor, or wherever he went, in fifteen minutes or less, and that would be a “yes.”

He did so.

Near the end of my shift, Phil came up to the desk and started talking and joking with me.  This annoyed my co-worker Megan, who said,

“Why don’t you just go to dinner with her and talk to her there?”

Phil said, “Why would I want to have dinner with her?  I just broke up with her.”

He soon left, finally taking the hint.  I said to Megan, “He is so annoying.”

I went to dinner right away, hoping my friends were already there.  While I sat eating with them, Phil came over and took the empty seat across from me!  Pearl and I were both surprised.

He talked and joked with me, while I kept putting him down in witty ways.  After the others left, he still talked with me, even though I wanted him to go away.  He asked me to go to his house and see a movie that night.  I was like, Okay, whatever.  I also thought, Is this the open door I was asking for?

That night, I went with him to his house to watch Omen.  On the way, he asked, “Have you thought about my offer?  To have sex without commitment?”

I said, “I’ve thought about it, but I’ve decided that it wouldn’t be right.  Before, we thought we were married.  Now, we don’t.  We don’t have an excuse.  And I’ll need a piece of paper saying we’re married before I sleep with you again.”

We sneaked into his room and started watching the movie.  He hid me in his room, since he didn’t want the family to know I was there (why not?).  I stayed on a little chair in a corner for some time, while he looked for the movie and his mother talked to him.

Then he came back in and we sat down together on his sofa bed, which was pulled out.  He started to put his arm around me, and I cuddled up against him–all unexpected.  Then he started kissing me.  Then he wanted to make love to me.

I said, “Not without a piece of paper!”

He seemed so dejected, and so affectionate.  He said, “Don’t tell anyone we’re back together.”

I said, “I have to.  I’m not going to keep such a thing secret.  Are we engaged again?”

“Yes, I suppose we are.”

“And the spiritual marriage is back on?”

“Yes.  Everything is.”

“Well, I won’t do anything this time without a piece of paper.”

He got out a piece of paper and a pencil, and wrote words like this:

This is to show that Nyssa McCanmore and Phil O’Hara are married in the heart, the soul, and the body.  It is a real marriage, and this is binding for us, even if it isn’t a legal marriage.

So you see, I had a written contract expressing that we considered ourselves married.  We may have signed it; I have since forgotten.

I said, “Never do this to me again.”

“I’ve grown up a lot over the past couple of weeks, and I never want to lose you again,” he said.

I told him how I embarrassed myself with Peter and that I decided not to do that again.  I also told him about the fleeces, and some of the things people said about him, wanting to get those issues out in the open and out of the way.  I believe I also mentioned that they called him unstable.

I later wrote my high school friend Becky about all this.  He wanted me to keep the marriage secret from her over the summer, but now all our college friends knew about the spiritual marriage, and I told Becky about it as well, in an October letter.

So for the next week, we were openly married.  In some places, this would have made us legally married.

Laws aside, it was now a public covenant that we were married, which is more important in marriage than legal issues.

When Phil took me back to school the next morning, we walked arm in arm from the parking lot by the suites to my apartment.  We passed Kelly, InterVarsity’s chief nemesis during the play fiasco.

I figured Kelly must have known about the breakup by now, and this must have been such a sight for him!  I enjoyed it immensely.  Look at us now!  Back together and happy again!  I imagined Kelly telling the tale to others, seeing their shocked faces.

I went to my room to shower and change for my 9:15 class.  I saw on the message board: “It’s 8:30–Do you know where your roommies are?”  Referring to my “disappearance,” of course.  They were already gone, so I wrote a reply.

Blissful, I went to lunch.  My roommies sat behind the south Bossard partition (which was up), and I sat with Phil, Dirk and Sandy.  I saw Pearl come in the cafeteria; I smiled at her and said, “It’s on again!”  She rushed over and told the others.

Dirk said he and Sandy were happy for us, and, “We were rooting for you because you make such a great couple.”  (Heh, Dirk had such a way of showing this….)

I took the stuffed rabbit Benny down from the closet, and put Phil’s pictures and keepsakes back on my shelves and bookcases.

Phil soon told his family about us, but he didn’t think I should go over there again right away, because he wasn’t sure his parents would like it.  He said it was because we had broken up.

But he soon talked to his mother, and she said she didn’t mind.  He just wasn’t sure if his dad would mind.

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:

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Olderposts

Copyright © 2019 Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Powered by ClassicPress | Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: