toxic relationship

Poem about being stalked by Phil–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 10

Sometime during the month of October, Pearl, Sharon, Tara, probably Astrid, Mike, and I went to a Halloween party at Tanya’s house.

This Tanya was a Christian, sweet, outgoing, and–as Sharon put it–one of the cool people.  She occasionally came to InterVarsity.  I’ve mentioned her before, along with her boyfriend Matt; they had been in Sophomore Honors with us.

I didn’t get a written invitation–my friends were allowed to bring me along as their guest–so I don’t have a record of the exact date.

I dressed up like a gypsy again, as similar to my junior year costume as it could be.

Cindy’s friend Rick was there.  He was the one who promised to call me sophomore year, then never called me, basically standing me up when we were supposed to have a date.  Then I saw him again early junior year at a dance.

Tara dressed as Death.  She put white makeup all over her face and black stuff in her hair, and wore a black dress.  We loved it.

I think Charles was at the party, too, and I know Cindy, probably her boyfriend Luke, and Jennifer were there.  Jason may have been there with Jennifer, but I don’t remember.  Ralph Z. may have also been there.

The party mainly took up three rooms in the big farmhouse, with three different things going on, whatever you wished.  You could watch movies or play games, whichever room suited your fancy.  It was a great set-up, very well planned.  There were lots of people, but it didn’t seem crowded.  There was food, too, and a scavenger hunt.  (No alcohol.)

Tanya’s house was in the country outside of K–, and it was a beautiful–though cold–starry night.  Tara, Sharon and I grouped together with Pearl, and took turns pushing her wheelchair.  Pearl usually used a scooter, but since her surgery, she needed a wheelchair.

We went around on the family farm and to another farmhouse, looking for clues.  At the other farmhouse, an elderly couple waited for us in Halloween masks in their indoor porch.  They gave us candy and another clue.

We had to find one clue around the back, at a door at the back of the house leading to a closet or shed downstairs.  We had some trouble finding what we were looking for there.

Later on, I ended up in a room in which some people (some I knew, some I didn’t) sat in a circle and played a game.  I don’t remember what it was, exactly, but I think it was like Taboo.

I sat next to a cute guy in the crowded room.  He paid some small attention to me, which I liked, and I may have made one or two funny remarks to him.  I wanted to stick around longer, but the game was about over.  He was just what I liked–tall, long nose, skinny.  He was kind of a blond Phil.

With me, both blonds and brunets could be cute, though I seemed drawn to brunets most of all.  I saw this guy later on at various places around the school, such as the library.  I had a tiny crush on him because he was cute, but it never went anywhere because I didn’t know him.

I decided to be nice to Rick again.  I had figured, junior year, that it would pour coals of fire over his head to be so nice after he stood me up.  I wondered if he remembered me, though.  One of my friends thought he must have; how could he have forgotten?  In any case, by being nice I wouldn’t make a scene, and if he asked me out again, I would calmly say no.

At the party, he played Trivial Pursuit in the dining room with Tanya and Matt and a few others for some time, while I was with my friends in the living room.  At one point, we in the living room played Taboo.

Later on, several of us were in the kitchen, and I stood next to Rick and others by a counter.  I sometimes felt or saw his eyes on me during the evening, looking me over.  But I said nothing to him and acted like nothing had ever happened.

He ended up marrying his girlfriend; I don’t know if he was with her at this time, since they broke up on occasion.  And yeah, he remembered me, even asked Catherine about me when he saw her years later.

On October 30, some of us went to a party thrown by Astrid.  We first went to Astrid’s UCC church, a one-room affair except for the little foyer (though it may have had classrooms downstairs).  This church looked like a miniature cathedral.

Then we went to Astrid’s house.  I believe it was near West Bend, close to Kettle Moraine State Park, and in Washington County, a nearby county but a long drive from Roanoke.

Outside was a dog and an A-framed playhouse, which was neat.  Lunch was good, and I even tried a few different cheeses from the spread.  One had dill pickle in it.

Later on, after eating lunch and watching ZTV, a Christian music video station, on the satellite TV (and Pearl saying, if she had ZTV, she’d watch it all the time), it was time to leave.

This may have been the time Pearl and I ended up in the Beechwood school.  We sat in the pre-school or daycare room and smiled as Astrid and her mother entertained the kids.

On the way back to Roanoke, I composed a poem in my head.  I later wrote it and additional verses in my diary.  It gets harsh at times, but I put it here because it shows the often losing struggle with anger I had in my heart, and because people might identify with it.  It also shows just how dark this time was for me:

I pushed away the pain
And it worked for a while
But it came back again
And won’t be denied this time

I try to push it back away
Try to kill it
Try to stab its night into day
But it’s made of bullet-lead

Die, die!
Die, the source of my pain
The one who gave in to the lie
–But I can’t think that way

Obsession
Watch your heart, watch your thoughts
Damnation
If you give in to hate

As Ahab hunted Moby Dick
I hunt my pain
This hatred makes me sick
Fills my stomach with bile

Leave me!
Leave me with peace and love
Pain, how is it you can’t see
What your greeting does?

Why I greet you not,
Why I pass you by?
Why my anger is hot
And you see only a scowl?
God, take this thorn
From my side!
I’m wretched and forlorn
And on insanity’s edge

Help me, help me
Lest I perish
Rescue me
From time’s oppression

In October, the American Lit class read Moby Dick.  Catherine had hated it when she took the class.  But Dr. Nelson let us skip the “whale lore” chapters so we read the actual story.

The sexual innuendoes were surprising: Ishmael and Queequeg in bed at the beginning, Queequeg putting his arm around Ishmael, everyone squeezing out the sperm (oil) and having a wonderful time….

I read that the author was gay, so it’s possible he actually meant it that way.

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 feel stalked by ex Phil–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 9

Here’s a letter to the school newspaper editor in 1952, reprinted in the fall of 1994 in a special edition.  You can see things hadn’t changed much:

Would you please tell me why something hasn’t been done to solve this unfortunate transportation problem on campus?  It is a shame when a student cannot move from campus without becoming a parasite on some person owning a car.

Many college students are working at the present time to support themselves in school and thus do not find that they have the money to pay for the up-keep of an automobile.  Does this mean that they have to continually be shut within the walls of this campus?

An individual gets sick of asking a friend or acquaintance for a ride into a neighboring town or community, and so does the driver of the car get sick of hauling five or six passengers every time he leaves the campus!

This transportation problem also makes it hard for dating (a natural pastime at all colleges).  The fellows who do not own cars have no means with which to take out their girls.  On Friday and Saturday nights, when it is most likely for them to have their dates, the book store isn’t open to the students.  Where are they going to go?

Maybe a few are lucky enough to be able to double date with a friend who has a car, but maybe they are not that fortunate.  The dorms are closed to the students of the opposite sex after certain hours in the evening and therefore only one solution comes to the couple: sitting in someone else’s parked car!  It is only due to the many inconveniences around campus which force the students to take this undesired course.  Can you blame them?

It is about time for the students on this campus to get busy on solving this transportation problem.  It is a sure sign that if we don’t do it, someone else will!

(What would you do in the book store on a date, anyway?  Buy some textbooks or a college sweater?  And it’s funny because I don’t recall guys having trouble just hanging out with their girlfriends on campus.)

By our day, the campus did have shuttle vans to S– on certain days and at certain times (I think on Sunday afternoons), though it probably hadn’t started up for the year yet when I needed Phil to take me to get milk and orange juice.

I usually got haircuts and stocked up while at home on breaks so I wouldn’t run out of toiletries at school, except for ones available in the Campus Shop.  Senior year, Mike started a “shuttle service” of his own, taking a bunch of us in the Group to S– on Friday nights to go grocery shopping.  Now that we had our own kitchen, we liked to keep food in it.

As the Mirror said, some of the dorms had now put computers in the lounges for people who couldn’t get to the computer lab.  The following year, they’d even get Internet access.

Every other college in the country seemed to already have Internet access, so it’s funny to see how times have changed, reading on the Roanoke website [1998] that now they’re “one of the ‘most wired colleges’ in the nation.”  Wow, they even have access ports in the dorm rooms now!

In 1994, the Internet was only just starting to get popular, having been a little-known service for academics and government researchers before then.  Beyond users of Compuserve, Prodigy and AOL, few people had heard about it until the mid-90s.  (A source.)

****

Anna met Persephone through the Mirror, and seemed to like her.  She liked her sense of humor; Persephone would say things that made Anna look at her in surprise.  I think Anna said I was the same way.

****

Wednesday, October 26.  Sharon and I went to third-floor Jubilee, and sat outside an office waiting for our turn or maybe for Pearl.  To my consternation, Phil showed up there as well.  (Why did this sort of thing keep happening?)

He said hello.

Sharon said nothing.  I just looked away.

He said, “Okay.”  He hung around for a few minutes, and tried to say one or two things to me or Sharon, but I just kept quiet.  He even congratulated me on dating Charles!  (Seriously?)

Sharon went in one of the offices and Phil went through the door to the stairs, saying to me in a surprisingly non-sarcastic voice, “Good-bye.  Nice talking to you.”

I asked Sharon if I’d done the right thing in snubbing him.  She said maybe I should coldly say hi and bye–but that he was an idiot to try to keep talking to me when I clearly didn’t want him to.

Pearl said I gave him the treatment he deserved.  So it’s hard to say.  Anne of Green Gables would probably agree with Sharon, though.  🙂

I see from my diary at this time that I felt like these constant instances of running into him, were not coincidence.  On the sidewalks, at meals (he was a commuter, yet kept sitting with Persephone, who sat with my friends), coming out of the Campus Shop….

He had my work/school schedule from the beginning of the year, which I gave him before the breakup; was he watching for me, so he could pass by?

It seemed the more I wanted him to go away and leave me alone, the more he came near me.  It infuriated me.  I felt stalked.

****

Thursday, October 27.  My friends and I went on the Halloween tour through the woods that night.  There was a huge line by the Pavilion, but we finally got through it.

The Hall Council advertised that the tour would be scary and we’d learn all the legends of the haunted Roanoke woods.  Instead, it was funny at times, and had rusted cars and other debris here and there, but I don’t think the stories we heard were true.

It wasn’t scary.  It was a walk at night through the woods with a flashlight or two.

We saw Persephone in the line while we waited, and she grinned to see us.  She was friendly with me and I was friendly back, especially since last I knew she and Phil were broken up, but I still felt weird around her because of Phil.  It’s possible that, by then, they’d gotten back together and then broken up again.

Either before or after reading a CCM article about Brent Bourgeois, who’d grown up with Charlie Peacock, Pearl got his new debut CD, Come Join the Living World.

(Websites say the CD came out in January of 1995, but I could swear she had the CD before then, when I was still in deep depression.)

She also got one by a group called Pray For Rain.  I thought it was new, but it was copyrighted 1992.  (Not surprising, since my sources of Christian pop at school and at home were limited.)

I soon had three favorite songs from these CD’s: “Blessed be the Name” by Brent Bourgeois, and “My Time” and “Stay” by Pray For Rain.

Two were sad and fit my present situation without being unbearable, unlike many secular songs based on sad situations.  One was based on Job, and one was about a marriage in trouble.

“My Time” was about devotional time.  That one took me away from my situation.

They were also musically superior songs, with original, innovative tunes that I loved (love) to listen to over and over again.

Sharon said, the first time she heard the Bourgeois CD, “That sounds like something I’d listen to over and over.”  It had a calming effect on me, as did plenty of Christian music.

I’d been playing my Christian CD’s more than anything else, especially Shape of Grace by Out of the Grey.  Unlike romantic-love-soaked pop music, they took me away from my situation and reminded me of God’s love for me, that He doesn’t leave me alone, ever.

I didn’t want my music to remind me of the breakup.  Pop music would remind me constantly.

(By the way: Pray For Rain had to change their name because of a pre-existing group with that name.  Yet the secular group Mastodon has the same name as pre-existing Christian group Mastedon, yet never has to change its name?  What is up with that?)

****

Trina didn’t like to hear that Charles was dating me now.  One day he saw her through the Campus Center window (she was sitting in the lounge), and waved.

He left the window and re-joined me on the sidewalk, then said, “I really shouldn’t have done that.  You’re not supposed to rub it in your ex’s face when you start dating again.”

That made sense to me, especially now that Phil kept rubbing it in my face that he had a new girlfriend.

For example, even though none of us liked him except Persephone, he would sometimes sit with us at meals.  On November first, he even flirted with her while sitting right across from me.

I don’t think Charles did things like that to Trina.  I don’t think she sat at our table when he was around.  After a short while, she seemed to get over him and start looking around again.

Charles said Phil congratulated him on dating me, too–and right in front of Trina.  That’s weird: Congratulations are for engagements and weddings and the births of babies, NOT for dating somebody casually.

Those machines!  We only had one washer and one dryer for the whole building.  We didn’t have a lot of people using it, so this would be okay, except that our brand-new machines kept breaking down, and other halls were locked to non-residents.

The suites’ laundry room, last I knew, wasn’t locked, but that was all the way over on the other side of the campus.  The Phi-Delts heard a rumor that their sorority suite key cards would also open up all the other hall doors, but I didn’t have such a key card.

When we first got there, the washing machine would fill up with water, not drain properly, then the water would get all over the floor and soak your clothes, so water would stream out of them when you took them out of the machine.  I learned this the hard way, thinking it had been fixed.

Then they finally fixed that, but I think the dryer broke, or the washing machine again.  So I had to go over to Muehlmeier, but the only way to do that was to call up Persephone and ask her to open the back door for me.

It was a short walk, just to Muehlmeier in decent weather, down the hallway to the other end of the building, then downstairs to the laundry room in the basement.  But carrying a load of laundry made it harder to handle, and added to that was having to ask Persephone to help me.

By this time it must have been late in October.  We were friends, but for me it was a wary friendship, since she was seeing my ex-husband only a few weeks after our final separation.  I just didn’t understand how she could do this if she wanted to be my friend.

When I talked to her, it was hard to keep unwelcome images out of my head–her dating Phil, kissing him, talking with him, laughing, dancing, maybe even worse.  I didn’t know yet that she refused to go past kissing 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:

Friends tell me Phil is controlling–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 8

When we went to school events, Charles put his arm around me and I didn’t mind, but I feared other guys would see this as a sign that I was “off-limits.”  I wasn’t: We were both allowed to date anybody else we wanted.

That’s what we meant by not being serious, by taking it slowly, by being, as Charles told Pearl, “very casual.”  And I wanted to date at least two other guys at the time, including Mike.

Helene and her best friend Kay became my friends junior year through Phil, who liked to sit with them at lunch.  They met in Sophomore Honors and liked him then, but now they were my friends as well, and Helene didn’t like him so much.

Helene said, “Phil has been talking to Kay.  I think he sees her as a sister.”  That might explain why she got quiet when I said Phil was a jerk.  What truth twisting did he tell her?

Helene said Catherine told her Phil and Persephone were dating.  Helene’s thoughts:

“It shows he misses you….You shine compared to her….It confirms my worst fears about him.  I really think little of a person who–like a person who gets a divorce and then goes out and finds someone else right away.  They don’t want to work on the relationship they have, and they go out and find another one?…He’s going to regret it.” 

(Pearl said that Persephone’s going to regret it–which turned out to be true, a year later.)  I said Phil didn’t want a feminist; Helene noted that Persephone was extremely feminist.

Helene also said, “Last year, after you two got engaged, Phil came to us [her and Kay] once and said you had an argument but worked it out.  But he complained that you wouldn’t just do whatever he wanted.  We saw this as controlling, and hoped you would realize this before you married him.”

I remembered that argument.  It was over whether or not I could listen to a rock station in the minivan, one which only came in outside the campus and played better songs than any other station.  Remember, this was in the Stone Ages when college kids couldn’t just hook up to campus Internet and pull in a webstream whenever they wanted.

I found the following paragraphs in The Psychology of Romantic Love by Nathaniel Branden:

Imagine that an individual feels, perhaps beneath the level of conscious awareness, that he or she significantly lacks worth, is not lovable, is not a person who can inspire devotion for any sustained length of time.

Simultaneously, this individual desires love, pursues love, hopes and dreams to find love.

Let us suppose this person is a man.  He finds a woman he cares for, she seems to care for him, they are happy, excited, and stimulated in each other’s presence–and for a time it seems that his dream is to be fulfilled.

But deep in his psyche a time bomb is ticking away–the belief that he is inherently unlovable.

This time bomb provokes him to destroy his relationship.  He may do this in any number of ways.  He may endlessly demand reassurance.  He may become excessively possessive and jealous.

He may behave cruelly to ‘test’ the depth of her devotion to him. [Phil once told me this was why things had gotten so bad.  It’s in my diary.]

He may make self-deprecating comments and wait for her to correct him. [Phil did this all the time.]

He may tell her he does not deserve her and tell her again and again and again.  [Yep.]

He may tell her that no woman can be trusted and that all women are fickle.  [He refused to let me meet his “vampire friend S–,” with the fear that I’d fall for S–.  And he didn’t believe me when I said I would never leave him even if I found a “soul mate.”]

He may find endless excuses to criticize her, to reject her before she can reject him.  He may attempt to control and manipulate her by making her feel guilty, thereby hoping to bind her to him.  He may become silent, withdrawn, preoccupied, throwing up barriers she cannot penetrate.  [This whole paragraph sounds like Phil over the course of our relationship.]

After a while, perhaps, she has had enough; she is exhausted; he has worn her out.  She leaves him.

He feels desolate, depressed, crushed, devastated.  It is wonderful.  He has been proven right.  The world is the way he always knew it was.  ‘They’re writing songs of love, but not for me.’  But how satisfying it is to know that one understands the nature of reality!

Suppose that, despite his best efforts, he cannot drive her away.  Perhaps she believes in him, sees his potential.  [That was me.]

Or perhaps she has a masochistic streak that requires that she be involved with such a man.  She clings to him; she keeps reassuring him.  Her devotion grows stronger, no matter what he does.

She simply does not understand the nature of the universe as he perceives it.  She does not grasp that no one can love him.

In continuing to love him, she presents him with a problem: She confounds his view of reality.  He needs a solution.  He needs a way out.

He finds it.  He decides that he has fallen out of love with her.  Or he tells himself that she bores him.  Or he tells himself that he is now in love with someone else.  Or he tells himself that love does not interest him.

The particular choice does not matter; the net effect is the same: in the end, he is alone again–the way he always ‘knew’ he would be.

Then, once more, he can dream of finding love–he can look for a new woman–so that he can play out the drama all over again.

It is not essential, of course, that his relationship end so conclusively.  A literal separation may not be necessary.  He may be willing to allow a relationship to continue, providing both he and his partner are unhappy.  This is a compromise he can live with.  It is as good as being alone and abandoned–almost. –p. 128-129

(According to the author website, this book is now out of print, but you can find it at the above Amazon link.)

Around this time, I saw Phil with his head on Persephone’s shoulder in the cafeteria.  It made me sick.  I was glad to have Charles around.

Charles and I were taking things very slow and casual, while Phil just seemed to jump from one serious relationship to another.  The bed wasn’t even cold before he started dating her!

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

Phil shows my letter to his friends; I’m triggered by reminder of forced oral sex–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 6

October 12, 1994.  I went out to the woods for a time, to be alone with nature and to pray.  Nature can be soothing in times like these.

I asked God to show me the way to peace and rest.  I followed a dark path and found a dead end.  I followed a sunny path, and found the elusive river.

I thought God whispered to me, “Do you trust me?”–like Aladdin in the 1993 Disney cartoon.

Then I heard the Bradley Clock, and had to turn back.  I was supposed to meet Sharon before dinner.  I got lost for about 15 or 20 minutes, which was fun, but made me late.  Sharon left without me.

While walking back from the woods, I was startled to pass right by Phil on the sidewalk as he left Muehlmeier, where Persephone and Trina lived.

We crossed paths; he went to the Campus Center as I headed back to the apartments to get Sharon for dinner.

He said nothing to me, just walked past me, snubbing me, so I ignored and said nothing to him.

I was right by him, close enough to touch, and saw and recognized the letter–the envelope, the thickness were the same–in his hand.  He held nothing else.

I mentioned it to my friends at dinner and said I wondered if he’d shown my letter around.

Charles said, “He probably did show it to someone.  Except for my friend S– and myself, most guys are jerks.  They only think about themselves, and not about their girlfriends or wives.”

I was furious with Phil.  This letter had personal things in it (which I deleted here), and it was quite likely he’d shown it to other people, especially after I specifically asked him not to talk about it to anyone who wasn’t in a happy marriage (which, obviously, would be neither Persephone nor Trina, who weren’t married).

This apparent betrayal hurt me deeply.  I also couldn’t see why he would treat my letter as a personal offense.  I still don’t, when reading over the copy.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but considering how mad he looked when I saw him, it’s entirely possible that Persephone and Trina saw the letter, agreed that it was reasonable, and angered Phil by not agreeing with him.  Of course, this is merely speculation, but it comes from a re-reading which I just did of the letter.

****

Charles broke up with Trina only a few weeks after school started, and probably by early October.  It seems they met during Orientation Week and started dating before they met anyone else; now Charles said he no longer felt a “spark” for her.  He didn’t hate her or anything like that.

Trina went through a short time of not wanting to be at the same table in Bossard with him, leaving soon after he’d sit down, but I don’t think it was more than a few weeks.

Charles invited people to a party in his apartment in my building, where he lived with Dirk and Carl, but Pearl and I were the only ones who showed up.  We had a good time anyway, watching Field of Dreams (first time for me) and Loaded Weapon.  We had popcorn and pop, and Charles was a courteous host, happy to see us and spend time with us.  Dirk even came in at one point.

I just realized something: Charles lived in Muehlmeier.  I know this party was before I started dating him, and that he lived in Muehlmeier afterwards, so he must have started out in the apartments and then moved into his own room in Muehlmeier.

****

One evening at dinner, probably during the second full week of October, I sat at a table set apart from the other tables, taking orders for candygrams for an IV fundraiser.  I kept knocking on the table (some of my friends were around) and saying, like the Land Shark on a 70s episode of Saturday Night Live, “Candygram!  Candygram!”

Unfortunately,  the cafeteria served something different: various ethnic foods they’d never served before.

At first I thought this was great, a chance to try new things, but one of the foods was okra.  I tried it, but I could not stand it because it was all sticky and had the same consistency and taste as semen. 

Ugh!  I couldn’t stand this reminder of oral sex with Phil–especially after he forced me into it.  I went hungry because there wasn’t much else.

That night we put the candygrams together: suckers and lollypops with little messages, written and sometimes decorated by the people sending them.  They were written on little cut-outs of shapes like footballs, hearts and circles.

Sharon told me later, when I asked, that she saw the one that Persephone wrote to Phil.  It read “Keep the faith,” nothing ooey-gooey and “I love you”-like.

This relieved me, though I couldn’t figure out why Persephone would tell him the same thing he had recently told me.  It wasn’t as if he needed encouragement that we’d get back together.  He was the dumper, after all, and chasing Persephone!

Now that Phil was gone, and I knew I would be allowed to marry again without committing adultery because I was the abandoned party, I let my crush on Mike begin to grow.  Why ever not?

Sharon had a crush on him as well, but since neither of us had encouragement from Mike, and he had rejected her late junior year, it didn’t feel like a true rivalry.  It just meant somebody with whom to gush over him.

****

Friday, October 14.  At 2pm, I went to the Opening Ceremonies for the Great Lakes Writer’s Festival in the Bradley Building.  I stood up, as I’d done every year, when the Fessler Scholarship recipients were recognized.  Then we heard readings by Lucien Stryk and Sapphire, both poets.

Sapphire had been there before, but I missed her the first time.  I just wished they’d had a novel writer there again as in previous years: one poet, one novelist.  After all, I wrote and enjoyed some poetry, but my main love was novels and stories.

The weekend of the Writer’s Festival was also the weekend of Homecoming, so later on my friends and I saw the “Lighting of the R.”  The “R,” for Roanoke, was just a tiny piece of cardboard or metal with some lightbulbs on it that formed the shape of an “R.”

All the administration did was put it in the yard outside the Campus Center, in the same place we had the first picnic freshman year (where I met Shawn), and turn on the lights.  I remembered Sarah’s laughing comments the year before, saying she had just seen the “Lighting of the R.”  I now saw why she laughed.

It was strange, but whenever I sat with my friends at lunch or dinner and Charles was there, I’d be a little nervous and happy that he was there.  I’d hear him talk about asking girls out.

He once wanted to ask a girl out but was disappointed, because she had a boyfriend and was upset over a recent fight with him (meaning she was off-limits).  I would feel a little upset about this because I wanted him to notice me!

I wasn’t with Phil anymore, and Charles wasn’t with Trina anymore, so if I wanted to act on the strange attraction I felt for Charles, I could.  Before, when I was still with Phil and had just met Charles, I felt it and it was like forbidden fruit.  Now it wasn’t, but it was still enticing.  Maybe I felt it because he was a decent guy.

One weekend around this time, probably on a Saturday, I was doing laundry–whites–when Charles came over with his best friend S–, who was visiting him for the weekend.  The dryer got done and I had to go get my clothes and fold them, but I didn’t want to leave the conversation in the living room.

By the way, S– was cute and had two earrings.  He seemed like a nice guy with a good sense of humor.  He also had a girlfriend, but that didn’t matter to me because I liked Charles, anyway.

I sat in the living room folding towels while we all talked and laughed about things, and I think my laundry was the object of one good-natured joke.  I don’t remember if I folded my underwear in front of them, or if I excused myself and went into the bedroom for that.

I got the feeling that Charles liked me back, and that S– knew about it and was, well, checking me out.

We all had fun at Homecoming.  I never saw Phil at the festivities, so that helped a lot.

Friday night at 7:45 was the bonfire and pep rally, then the fireworks.  Just before Homecoming, Pearl went to the hospital for surgery related to her physical disabilities, so we were forced to go to it without her.

During the beautiful fireworks, loud rock songs played, such as the AC/DC song “Thunderstruck.”  The song seemed to fit well, and I went to another world, one with no Phil, just my friends and beauty and music.

Charles joined us there; I stayed near him as we stood and watched the fireworks.  Charles said, “I wish Pearl were here to see this,” and we all agreed.

After this, the new Homecoming Tent was opened up for us on the lawn outside the lower level doors of the Campus Center, so we could go in and dance.  It was a small tent, and I don’t know if many people went to the dance, or how many would have fit in it.  I went there with Mike and Charles.  I don’t remember where my other friends went.

Mike asked me to dance once, then started dancing like a muppet, but I didn’t dance.  This was outside the dance tent.  We didn’t like the music–rap, as usual–so we didn’t stay long.

We thought they should play alternative more, which people seemed to like, but it never got played.  Lots of people complained about the music that was always played at these dances.  When we were at the tent, we were the only ones there.  I don’t think I went inside.

Saturday night, after the Campus Cookout at 9pm, my friends and I (soon joined by Charles, to my glee) went into the tent not for a dance but for some entertainment.

There was this guy there, Hammerhead, doing magic tricks, but I thought he got a little too verbally lewd with the female student who went up on stage to assist him.

Then at ten was Pat McCurdy, who sang weird and funny songs.  At one point, he did a song in which everyone was supposed to put their hands to their cheeks and join in whenever he yelled, “Makes me nervous!”  It was his own song.  I really liked that one.

I especially liked when, before one song, he asked, “How many people here are in love tonight?”  People clapped.  Then he asked, “How many people here are in hate tonight?”  I clapped hard for that one, thinking of Phil, who was apparently nowhere around that night.  Persephone may have been there, though.

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:

 

 

My letter to Phil, Part 2–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1994, Part 5

 

First part of letter

Trust seemed to be a problem as well.  Up until I found out about the games you’d been playing with me, like you termed it I’d have trusted you until the ends of the earth; but for some reason, you seemed to have trouble trusting me.  I don’t know why that was.

Like you thought that someone could steal me away from you even after we married, even though I told you how firmly I believe in the bonds of marriage.  As the Bible, the Catholic church and the Nazarene church affirm, those bonds are not to be broken, and I was not going to break them.

It hurt me that you kept thinking the “perfect” person would steal me away or that you could never introduce me to your friend S–.  (Really, we’d probably have gotten along well, but I loved you, and I’m not into sadomasochism!)

As a song by the Christian group 77’s says, “If you’re looking for a perfect man that you can worship, baby, He ain’t on this earth, baby, no more.”  Couples can’t be clones of each other; they’ve got to be individuals.  Your old-fashioned, non-feminist (usually) [as he said he wanted] girl was not going to run away to find somebody better!

That bit about “being a better person when not with you”–that was taken straight from “Mrs. Doubtfire,” wasn’t it?  Well, I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now.  It’s not a biblically sanctioned reason for divorce.  If you don’t believe me, grab a concordance and a Bible and look up passages on the subject.

It also feels to the other person like they’re being blamed for how their partner acts.  The person isn’t the problem, it’s how their partner relates with them. They just need to learn how to relate better.

As that very movie shows, divorce tears families and people apart.  That’s why God hates it (Malachi 2:16 and surrounding verses; also see Matt. 5:31-32, Deut. 23:21-23; verses that may relate: Deut. 15:12-17).

(You may call me a holy roller, may even say I’m preaching, but if I know someone’s a Christian, I feel free to make references to what God says in the Bible.  Not spouting off verses right and left, but mentioning or quoting things that apply when it seems appropriate.

(Usually, people seem to appreciate it because it reminds them of how God feels about something they’re struggling with, gives them a better understanding of things.  If it convicts them of wrongdoing, they might not always like it so much, but that’s human nature.

(I don’t like to feel convicted of something wrong, either, but sometimes a person needs to hear it.  You even tell me Bible verses at times.)

You say the counseling idea is “like beating a dead horse.”  Well, I don’t agree.  It was never given a chance to revive the horse.

Three “dead horses”–couples that were already divorced–saw those tapes I mentioned, and were brought back to life: they remarried their ex’s.  According to Gary Smalley, good results because of the tapes have been reported without exception.

Love, happiness are increased; even the once-divorced couples report more affection for each other than they had even when they were first married.  This would certainly include a restoration of cherishing, which means “to care for kindly” and “to hold dear.”

Maybe this sort of thing could even help your parents restore their first love–in fact, probably could.  [His mother had told him the only reason she hadn’t divorced his dad was because Phil and Dave were still at home.]  And keep things from breaking down again, as long as the principles continue to be applied.

Once again, one person could feel their life had been wasted until they met the other person.  [Phil used to tell me that his life had been wasted until he met me.]  If I didn’t think this sort of thing had a fighting chance, I wouldn’t bother with it, wouldn’t bother even mentioning it.

One of the principles, one example of how to break the communications barrier, is one Smalley learned from his wife: When a woman says “Don’t touch me,” what she really means is, “Hold me, talk to me, make me feel better.”

This is true.  I can think of an instance in which you apparently didn’t know this, and it had consequences.  It was after that horrible argument we had near the beginning of the summer, when you were getting overwhelmed by that second sales job.

[This was when I thought he was talking in his sleep as he often did, but he just had his eyes closed.]  I finally got you to come upstairs and go to bed, my bed, but I was so angry and felt so betrayed that I said, “Don’t touch me.”

If I’d really meant that, I’d have told you to sleep in the guest room.  I wanted you to hold me, to try to talk things out, to be so worried about my attitude that you’d make me let you hold me.  Instead, you took me at my word, and turned over to go to sleep, leaving me feeling abandoned.

If you’d known what a woman really means when she tells her husband not to touch her, we could’ve resolved the problem better and more quickly.  It isn’t that she’s lying, it’s just that she’s upset.

Another thing is the “space” issue.  I see that as another example of poor communication.  I’m not always a good reader of body language; I go by what people say.

When you’d say you just needed some space, that it wasn’t me but you needed to sleep in the guest room that night, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d understand and sleep alone that night without complaint.

When you just disappeared and I found you in there, I’d feel like you were deliberately snubbing me or running from some argument.  I’d feel hurt, angry, abandoned.

To kindly say you need some time alone is much more effective than just getting mad or running off.  I’ve done that sort of thing myself before (to Clarissa), and it didn’t work, just made me feel ashamed because I knew I was probably doing something wrong.

We used to be able to resolve things [in the beginning of the relationship, we prided ourselves on being able to resolve things using already established principles that we hadn’t even heard of until afterwards]; I think we’ve forgotten how.

And I think if we learned how again, plus more tips that we never knew before, we’d see that “first love” returning, remember why we wanted to be together in the first place, why we wanted to be married and knew we were each other’s ideal.

But even if we didn’t, we could learn principles that can be applied in other relationships.  Either way, we’d both win.

We wouldn’t have to “get back together” before watching tapes or reading books or whatever; we could watch them, and then see if we’d want to give it another try or to just move on.

But there couldn’t be a “yo-yo effect” afterwards.  If we decide to try it again, then we’ll have to both give it a good try, not keep changing our minds when problems don’t go away right away.

Maybe there wouldn’t even be any left by then; maybe they all would’ve been taken care of through time and through learning how to communicate more effectively.  And I think God would be pleased by our efforts and bless us.

It seems we resolved things better until after we married. Perhaps what happened was, you unconsciously tried to make it into your parents’ relationship, which is familiar to you, and I unconsciously tried to make it into my parents’ relationship, which is familiar to me.

The two conflicted–unhappiness is incompatible with happiness, “light has no fellowship with darkness”–and everything broke down.

I hope you take this letter well, and in the kind spirit it was intended in.  I wanted to tell you about the tapes and other possibilities, and to tell you some things that I feel you should know.

I don’t know if you’ll listen to me, but I couldn’t trust that these things would be said to you by anyone else, as much as some others want to say them to you.  If some anger or bitterness still came through, well, I felt I needed to say what I did.  [Reading it over, I don’t really see any.]

But forgiveness is divine.  I don’t hate you.  If I can never even be friends with you, it would kill me.  I hope and pray you don’t turn into another Peter, because that would just finish me off, to see someone else I care for turn scuzzy.

But anyway.  If Mom can get ahold of these tapes or something like them, I plan to watch them.  But don’t tell me yet what you think of the idea, what you think of seeing them yourself.

Sometimes decisions made in haste are regretted later.  Give it maybe a couple weeks or more, let it sink in, mull it over and put it on the back burner; then decide.

Don’t listen to friends who don’t know what they’re talking about, which would probably be most of them–“The worst thing you can do,” Dad says, “is talk to your friends.”

[Dad’s advice used to be so influential with Phil.  He’d sit talking with him for hours–though Dad, at times, thought he was an idiot!]

Advice should be taken from the wise.  Pray about it, pray for guidance; God, the wisest of them all, hears the prayers of His children, and won’t leave them all alone.  That includes you.

Love,
Nyssa

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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