verbal abuse

My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive; My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 6

My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive

I kept the engagement bird up on the living room shelf because I had nowhere else to put it.  Phil told me to keep it.

Though tempted to break the bird into a million pieces, I dreamed that I did and began to sob over the poor bird.  It wasn’t its fault.  So I didn’t break or even chip it.

I later put the game Crack the Case, which Phil had put in my safekeeping, into a cupboard below the sink.

At some point, Phil told me on the phone about things people thought of me and the “advice” they gave.  I objected.  He said, “Are you saying that Dave doesn’t know you?  That Peter doesn’t know you?”

What?  Peter’s problems with me were old and very petty, and Peter said he treated me the way he did because it was hard to deal with his feelings.  He hadn’t seen me much at all since freshman year.

As for Dave, he barely knew me.  He hadn’t seen me all summer, and before that he only saw me for a few months and only every once in a while, when Phil and I weren’t alone together.

He saw me in Botany class and labs, but that’s schoolwork, and I believe I was more into the class or the lab than into being sociable with him.  I still don’t see why he said “we don’t get along” when he had only just met me and I thought we got along just fine.

Dave told all sorts of lies about me, while barely knowing me.

Anyway, Phil used his statement (“do they not know you?”) to justify what his friends said about me: party pooper, Bible beater.

(Peter said nothing to him about breaking up with me, though, because Peter only knew we broke up, not why.  I don’t know when he found out or how he heard.  I believe he said in late winter that he hadn’t spoken to Phil in quite a while after the way the family treated him in early 1994.)

I said these people didn’t know me so well.  Also, what they supposedly said didn’t fit me at all.  I didn’t go to parties with drugs, alcohol, or sex, but usually to parties with my own friends.  I had a great time, so who would call me a pooper?

What did “party pooping” have to do with our relationship or anything else, anyway?  Nothing!  Marriage is not about partying.  (For him to even think so, shows he was not ready for it.)

And he only just said that I wasn’t a Bible beater “like Pearl.”  Even if I was, so what?  I was a Christian, and that was what mattered.  My lifestyle had kept me out of tons of trouble, and eventually, my life would be very happy because of it.

Neither of these so-called “problems” were any reason to break up with a person, and there were many people who wouldn’t consider them “problems” at all.

Phil was probably talking to one of those boring partiers who just wanted to get drunk and do harmful things all the time.  I had no patience with such people, screwing up their brains instead of protecting and using them.

My response was, “Maybe you don’t know me so well after all.”

He said, “Do you really want to be with a guy who doesn’t know you?”  But this is faulty reasoning.  The point is to get to know a person over time, not necessarily to know them very well at the outset.  How can you?  It takes time.

Now I understand that this is triangulation, as I describe here, a tactic used to make you think you’re the problem and that everybody agrees.  But at the time, it just came out of left field.

Phil said on the way back to Roanoke that this was the best summer of his life because he’d been with me.  Then, a few days later, THE END.  How could I believe anything he said to me that week?

I went through almost two weeks of trying to fight away the misery and trying to figure out whether or not we were ever really married.

Phil now said we weren’t after all, that now he wasn’t sure he even believed in marriage anymore, that he no longer thought sex was wrong if the couple loved and were committed to each other, that he was getting desperate and thought it possible he’d sleep with someone in the heat of the moment–all things that crushed me.

****

I heard tell, and could see for myself, that the freshman class was about as big as the three other classes put together.  And now the lunch lines went all the way back to the opposite wall, then doubled up and went all the way back to the outside doors!

The line seemed to take different routes every year: Freshman year, the line would go into the Muskie.  I think at times it had even gone around the other Bossard walls.  I believe sometimes it would also double up over by the Muskie.

Anyway, you had to be careful what time you went to Bossard for lunch, or else you’d get stuck in this line, whatever way it went.  Sometimes we would just sit down and wait for it to get smaller, because it would, eventually.  And what were we waiting for?  School food!  Ugh!  (Though it was better than public school food by far.)

I loved goatees junior year, but senior year–I don’t know, I guess too many guys were wearing them now.

Sarah, Tara, etc. used to say, “PEO-ple! It’s PEO-ple!”  (That came from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, one with a tennis-shoed, orange-haired monster in a scientist’s castle.)  Now Tara got us all saying, “PEEP-hole!  We want a PEEP-hole!”

We wanted a peephole on our outside door for safety reasons.  The door didn’t have a window, and neither did that whole wall, so we couldn’t see who was out there before opening it.  When Mike came along and banged on it in his own peculiar way, we didn’t know if it was him or a crazed Zeta.

I loved the honks of the geese by the lagoon.  Though they would threaten me if I went near them, I considered them my friends: Their beautiful sounds consoled me.

Sharon said the choir director complimented her on never having “S– hair.”  S– hair, in those days, was big, curly hair.

****

Now my friends told me the many reasons why they didn’t like Phil.  I always thought they just found his jokes annoying.

I didn’t realize it was the way he treated me, that he treated me like a child, that he was too controlling and possessive.  A couple of years late, Cindy told me she witnessed him yelling at me, and later at the girl he married, and she hated that.

After the divorce, he said the drunk guys at the party called me possessive.  In reality, I only objected when he leered at–not just looked at–or made crass jokes about other women, and when he said he wanted two additional wives.

I never acted like he couldn’t be friends with other women.  It’s not “possessive” to be suspicious of someone who gives you good reason to suspect him.  Apparently, he was just projecting his own trait onto me.

My friends said nothing because they thought I could see it and was okay with it.  But I’d been too blinded by NVLD to notice the things my friends noticed.

I can tell you for sure that this was not just them comforting me after a breakup, like friends sometimes do, telling you all the bad things to get you over him faster.  As I describe later, one of my acquaintances–not one of my close friends–told a friend at dinner one day that she needed to “warn” Persephone about Phil.  I never talked to this person about Phil.

Even after I graduated and got engaged, and no longer cared who Phil dated, my friends saw a new girl date and marry Phil.  They saw him do the same things with her, hated him, even tried to warn her before she married him.

It wasn’t just our opinion, either.  Even Persephone later agreed that he treated his girlfriends like children.  “Sure,” she said, “he’ll be respectful to a girl when she’s just his friend, but as soon as they start dating, he treats her like a child!”  She said maybe it was because he considered his mother a child, and was disrespectful to her.

Dad said Phil was very unstable, and a yo-yo, always going back and forth.  In their talks together, Phil often seemed “stupid.”  Mom said he made too much noise at night, and that in all the time he spent with us, he never lifted a finger to help with the chores, or to pay them back for things they bought him for work.

My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues

One day, I sat in my room thinking, I’m so depressed and I think I’d like to go to church this Sunday.  The phone rang.  Out of the blue, Anna invited me to her church.  I thought maybe she did have a “direct line to God,” as Latosha used to tell her.

The most likely date we went to the church is September 11 (back when that day had nothing bad associated with it).

Anna’s church in S– was noisy, spiritual and full of activity.  I didn’t feel comfortable joining in with shouts or claps or any of that, being a Nazarene (though Dad told me once that Nazarene churches used to be a lot like that).  But a Pentecostal church is the perfect place to go when you’re upset.

Rather than the preacher leading them in prayer, for a time, the congregation was encouraged to pray privately–but out loud.  Anna knelt beside me and prayed in tongues.

I asked her later what the words meant, and repeated what I remembered.  She said she didn’t know, but she always looked them up afterwards in a special dictionary for people who speak in tongues.

I saw my old suitemate Tom there!  After the service, a man told me, “When he came to us, Tom was a messed-up Catholic!”  Then Anna brought him to her church, and there he was that day–a Pentecostal and (as they called it) full of the Spirit!  I couldn’t believe it.  He was so different from the partying suitemate I knew freshman year.

People found out I was a Nazarene (sort of a sister church), so they kept trying to convince me to turn Pentecostal, and that their doctrine on speaking in tongues is the correct one.  But they did this in a nice way, so I was more amused than annoyed.

I must admit, their stories were surprising–like young children speaking in tongues–and I was almost convinced.  But not quite.

Someone gave me a new King James Bible, the church’s usual gift for newcomers.

Anna and I went to school brunch together and talked about the breakup.  I asked what she thought of spiritual marriages, if they were real.  Her answer surprised me: She thought they can be more real than many “legal” marriages that are just a piece of paper.  But she also said we should follow the laws of the land.

Then we went down the Campus Center stairs and saw Phil in the foyer.  Anna left me with him, gushing about how wonderful it was that he was there and I could talk to 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:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So–

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

–was horrible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After he left, I broke down and cried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 3

On Monday, it was finally time to move my stuff into the new apartment on campus.  After I got my key card, Phil and I started unloading the minivan.

The doors were supposed to stay shut even while people moved things in or out of the building, and were not to be propped open (all the residence halls had signs posted saying this).  Since the doors had automatic locks, I was forced to unlock the door each time we brought something in.

So, naturally, I would go on ahead with whatever I carried, and try to unlock the door before Phil got to it.

But he actually snapped at me for not waiting for him before going to the door!

I said, “I have to go before you do so I can open the door with the key before you get to it!”

But he wouldn’t listen to reason.  I seethed inside.  It seemed no matter what I did or didn’t do, in his mind it was just cause to yell at me, even for being considerate and practical!

Sheesh, what a jerk.

But other than that, it was fun to see my friends again and hear their jokes as we went in and out of the apartment.  Mike was there, being his usual muppet self: bouncy, goofy, weird, loud, childlike, sweet, outgoing, hilarious.

(He danced like a muppet, and “muppet” just seemed to fit him in general.  Still does, 20 years later, especially since he loves posting muppet videos on Facebook.)

After we finished moving my stuff into my room and the living room (my room was too small to hold all the boxes), Phil may have left again for a little while.

Dirk lived in the same apartment building.  At one point, Phil and I walked away from the apartment, possibly going to the Campus Center.  Dirk yelled to us from his basement window.  (These windows were on the upper part of the lower-level bedroom walls; once you found something to stand on, or if you were on an upper bunk, they easily cranked open).

Phil talked to him through the window, and Dirk was surprised that I now had a fourth-level bard in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

I spent some time with my roommies and Mike.  We discovered the vents in the bedrooms were good sound conductors.  You could hear practically everything from the upstairs apartment.  Mike yelled up the vent to our upstairs neighbors, who were Phi-Delts we knew, and they yelled back.

We thought these vents could be a problem, because how much of our everyday lives and conversations would our upstairs neighbors be able to hear?  I don’t know if they even noticed, but I was often paranoid about this during the year.  And I think that, in my room, we did sometimes hear voices from their apartment.

It would be fun living there with my new roommies: Tara, Sharon and Pearl.  (We called each other roommies no matter who shared a bedroom with whom.)  I was happy to be back and with my friends again.

Phil and I had once spoken of marrying halfway through the year and then living in our own apartment on campus, since he heard they were supposed to be for married as well as regular students.  When my roommies-to-be and I looked at the apartment the year before while it was being built, I thought I would live with them for only part of the year.

But now, I wanted to spend the whole year enjoying life with my friends.

My roommie-roommie was Sharon; my roommies in the other bedroom were Pearl and Tara.

The visiting custom of the apartments was the same as for the suites: Anybody, anytime.  The only rules that applied were the ones your apartment-mates agreed on.

One rule we eventually made was that if someone wanted to let a friend/boyfriend stay overnight, she had to ask everyone else for an OK.  The friend would sleep on the couch and not with one of us, but it made people uncomfortable to walk into the living room in a bathrobe, and discover someone sleeping there.

A dorm newsletter stated what we Krueger residents knew last year: The cold in the dorm was not our imagination.  The newsletter read, “Last year the temperature in Krueger…Remained below 55 degrees during January.”

The windows were replaced, the steam heating system was repaired, and the floors were carpeted, all adding warmth to that cold dorm at last…after I moved out, of course.

Phil and Dirk discussed playing D&D that night and ordering a pizza, but I hadn’t decided whether to join them.  At first I wanted to, but they were already playing D&D, we had no directories yet, and I didn’t know where to find them.

So instead, I settled down to a fun evening with my new roommies, Astrid, and Mike.  Clarissa wasn’t there, because it was a day before move-in day.  Mike lived nearby in H– and the others were to be freshman orientation leaders, so we were all early.

We sat around the big, fake-wood dining table in this small but lovely apartment.  We played games, such as non-alcoholic Spoons.  I had never heard of it before, but was told it was a drinking game.  Our punishments had nothing to do with drinking.  I forget what they were; maybe you were “It” or something like that.  I also don’t remember how the game was played, just that it involved spoons.

Phil had made dirty jokes all summer and, with his influence, I had joined in on some of them.  Some were in-jokes triggered by certain words or phrases.  I heard some of these words while with my friends that night, but said nothing.

I noticed that Mike made few or no dirty jokes that night, and I found it refreshing.  I admired him for it.  (Not that this state of things lasted–Mike actually does make such jokes, especially now that he’s married–but this made my heart go pitter-pat.)

Finally, Phil came along and tapped on the glass doors, and we let him in.

I realized, as I later told Phil, that I was glad to be there instead of playing D&D with him and Dirk.  My friends had been my family at Roanoke, longer than Phil had been with me.  After dealing with Phil’s drama all summer, it was a relief to be with my friends again.

Maybe that night or the night before, Phil told me his mom made him give his summer money to her.  He’d saved up all summer to buy my engagement ring from a catalog for $300, but she used that money on Phil’s car payments!  We were both furious.

Phil told me to “Stay with your friends tonight” instead of going back with him to his house.  At first I wanted to go with him, figuring I would miss him.  But I soon changed my mind.

Before he left, I told him I needed a ride to go to the store and get milk and orange juice, since I had a box of cereal and would now be eating breakfast in the apartment.  I didn’t have to go to Bossard for a normal breakfast anymore, because we had a kitchen.

All the rooms had white plastic wire towers with drawers.  One wire tower was in the toilet room of the bathroom, and each of us took a drawer for various personal items.

I call it the toilet room because the bathroom was actually three separate rooms.  In the main room were two sinks; to the left of them was the bathtub with its see-through glass door; to the right was the shower room; and across from the sinks was the toilet room.  This was the handicap suite because of Pearl, so we had a huge bathroom.

Some time that first week, probably right around Tuesday, I discovered Hot 102 (dance) had turned alternative, so that quickly became my favorite station.

Of course, I recognized almost immediately that Chicago’s Q101 was much better, and that Hot 102 (now New Rock 102.1) was copying it.  The signal for Q101 didn’t cut out until we got close to Milwaukee, so copying it was easy.

New Rock 102.1 used the same terms and did the same shows as Q101.  Example: The Retro Flashback Lunch.  Another example: “We give the name and artist of every song we play.”  (That was a wonderful perk, but they stopped doing it in about 1995.)

However, New Rock didn’t play the same songs as Q101: I greatly missed “Millennium” by Killing Joke and “Insanity” by Boingo.  But they did have “Undone (The Sweater Song)” by Weezer and “Snail Shell” by They Might Be Giants.

Now to give you the view from my window.  The apartment was on one end of the bottom level, which was partially submerged by ground on one side (hence the high windows).  My bedroom was on the submerged side.  From my window, you could see the new parking lot for the apartments, a sidewalk, and the edge of Muehlmeier.  Venetian blinds probably covered the window.

On the opposite side of the apartment, by the living room, there were glass, sliding doors and a view of the lagoon, the geese, the adjacent apartment building, and the courtyard.

Our side of the building was next to the other building.  If you faced these glass doors, to your left was the wall we shared with the next apartment.

To your right was the kitchen and the back outside door.  The outside door led to a ramp-like walk which curved to the right, up the hill, to the sidewalk leading to Muehlmeier and the Campus Center.  Pearl kept her scooter inside this door.  From this door, we could see the woods on the outskirts of the campus.

We had another door, which led to the apartment mailboxes, the little laundry room, and the next apartment.  We went upstairs to get outside.

As I already mentioned, the door locked automatically and had to be unlocked with a key card.  We weren’t supposed to leave this door open, but during move-in days, people often propped it open anyway with a heavy-duty floor mat.

The place had that new building smell.

Pearl put her new stereo system in the living room for us all to use.  It had a radio, tape player, five-disc CD changer, and remote control!  Everything you could wish for–well, except for a record player, but none of us brought our records anyway.  Records were too hard to transport safely.

But the antenna was weird.  It was this black, plastic, boxlike thing connected to a couple cords.  I don’t know why it wasn’t the usual metal pole.  By second semester, there were five discs in the CD changer at all times, so we could turn it on and play whatever came up.

On Tuesday, September 6, it felt weird doing my natural family planning in the apartment.  Before, I did it secretly so my parents didn’t know about it, but Phil knew I was doing it.  Here, nobody I lived with knew about it.  I took my temperature while still in bed when Sharon couldn’t see, and stashed other tools in the toilet room in my drawer.

I set up my work schedule: On Wednesday, I started work, from one to three p.m.  Once again, I kept my weekends and evenings free from work, just as I always avoided 8:00 classes.  This left weekends free for laundry, cleaning, homework, relaxing, and sleeping in.

Junior year, Sharon got five hours done on Saturdays, but I preferred to spread out my ten hours over the five weekdays.  Sometimes I had to do, like, one hour one day and three hours the next, but my ideal setup was two hours a day.  It all depended on class schedules and other workers’ schedules.  The librarians wanted only two people working the desk at one time.

I soon gave a class and work schedule to Phil.  This is important later, because in my innocence of what was to come, I let him know where to find me all semester.

I didn’t know what time Phil would show up at the apartment that day, but I knew he would.  I wanted to see him, and knew he wouldn’t want to go a whole day without seeing me, his beloved wife.  Not only that, but he knew I needed milk and orange juice, which I couldn’t get on campus.

This new guy named Charles came to visit us, and sat in the living room while I unpacked boxes.  He was loud, tall and huge.  I didn’t know why, but I felt this strange attraction to him.  He wasn’t handsome and I didn’t know him very well, so that wasn’t the reason.

He said proudly that he was of Sicilian ancestry.  He had a strong, aquiline nose.  He was  24 but a freshman, having been in the Air Force.  He had a girlfriend named Trina, another freshman.  My friends probably met them in orientation.  Charles and Trina had only just met, but were already dating.  Trina was about 18 or 19.  She had glasses and dark, shoulder-length, kind of feathered hair.

Since many of my boxes had been put in the living room for lack of other space, I unpacked them within the first few days so as not to annoy my roommates.  To my surprise, everything fit neatly in the closets and wire racks.  I unpacked the porcelain bird as Charles watched, and told him, with a big grin, that it was my engagement ring.

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 picks fights and avoids responsibilities to make me feel like a shrew–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 1

The following quote from Psychopath Free explains everything that happened during this month and the following months, changing “online” to “on a college campus,” where I saw Phil and Perspehone constantly–especially when they both sat right there with my friends and me at lunch–getting all cuddly and cute with each other.

It explains Phil’s behavior, refusing to accept any of my complaints as valid or anything but a shrew who has to cut him down.

While I was supposed to accept everything he wanted or complained about as gospel truth or my wifely duty, no matter how cutting, no matter how painful, no matter how it slandered my character.

The friend he talked to, was Dirk, whom he manipulated into thinking I was an abusive shrew, and who then became Phil’s tool of controlling me by proxy.

Now for the quote:

The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy.

In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.

After the breakup, they will openly brag about how happy they are with their new partner [Persephone, whom he dated immediately after the breakup], where most normal people would feel very embarrassed and secretive about entering a new relationship so quickly.

And even more surprising, they fully expect you to be happy for them. Otherwise you are bitter and jealous.

During this period, they make a post-dump assessment. If you grovel or beg, they are likely to find some value in your energy. They will be both disgusted and delighted by your behavior.

If you lash out and begin uncovering their lies, they will do everything in their power to drive you to suicide.

Even if you come back to them later with an apology, they will permanently despise any target who once dared talk back to them. You’ve seen too much—the predator behind the mask.

This is why they constantly wave their new partner in your face, posting pictures and declaring their happiness online. Proving how happy and perfect they are.

It’s a final attempt to drive you insane with triangulation. To make you blame the new target, instead of the true abuser.  —Torture by Triangulation

****

Probably on a Thursday night while my parents were at the store, and probably on September 1, 1994, I saw the first episode of My So-Called Life.  Since no one else was home, I was free to watch it in privacy in the living room and have my own opinions about it.

I loved it.  Angela, Claire Dane’s character, reminded me so much of myself at 15: insecure, feeling out of place at a party, all that stuff.  They sure dressed weird, though–and Ray-Ann’s hair!  Where did she get those ideas?

****

Phil’s brakes needed to be fixed.  Back in May, he had them inspected, and they needed new pads.  We went to Firestone together to have them checked.  The service man gave him a paper with everything listed that was wrong with the brakes.  It wasn’t just the pads, but that would help at present.

It was understood that Phil needed to have the brakes fully fixed before we went back to Roanoke.  That was a 4 ½ hour drive, including Chicago and Milwaukee interstate traffic, and we sure didn’t need the brakes going out somewhere along the way.

Phil installed the brake pads himself with the help of Dad and my brother Jake.  Jake said proudly, “I knew he could do it!”

But in September, he still hadn’t gotten the brakes fully fixed, yet I had such trouble with him!  I believe that on Friday, September 2, he still hadn’t told his employer he was quitting, no two weeks’ notice, and he had to go in to work that day and tell them.  We were to return to S– that weekend.

So on Friday he would have only a few hours, if he got up early enough, to get the brakes fixed.  Doing it on Saturday was probably out of the question: Shops tended to close on Saturdays.

Phil wouldn’t take me anywhere without me begging.  He wouldn’t take responsibility for himself and get up in time to take a shower before work, even though he set my old clock radio for 1 p.m. each night.

So even though he had plenty of time to get the brakes fixed, he slept through every chance to do it.

Then on what was most likely Friday, September 2, was his last chance to take care of the brakes before we went back to school.

Yet what did he do?  He insisted on sleeping late, despite my trying to get him up, and snapped at me for trying to wake him!

But if he didn’t take care of the brakes that day, the brakes could give out while we were on the road, and we both could die!  I didn’t know about him, but I wanted to live a while longer.

But finally I got him to get up, and he FINALLY got his brakes fixed.  I could not believe him sometimes!

On probably September 3, we left in the afternoon.  Finally, I got to sleep in, rather than waking up in the wee hours of the morning to go back to Roanoke, like usual when my parents took me.

On the way, Phil said, “This has been the best summer of my life because I spent it with you.”

Though I didn’t say so, for me it had been one of the worst.  For quite some time, I cried every day because of Phil’s words or actions.

For the past week or so, we had been in another honeymoon period, which I hoped would continue.

But as September wore on, Phil kept doing and saying things which showed he no longer cared for me or my well-being, even though he kept saying he loved me.  Even his family seemed to turn against me.

I also found myself having feelings for other guys, one I knew (Mike) and one I met during the first week of the school year (Charles).  I couldn’t imagine breaking up with Phil, but these guys seemed sweet and decent, especially Mike.

Considering the summer I just endured, it’s no mystery that my heart latched onto a nice guy so quickly after we returned to school and out of the bubble of home.  Mike gained my respect, which Phil had lost.

But back to September 3.  When we got to Chicago, we had an argument.  I don’t remember now what it was about.  All I know is it had something to do with Phil having me look at the map to figure out where we were.

(Keep in mind that I have NVLD, which makes map-reading more difficult, especially when rushed.  We didn’t have Google Maps to make it easy with specific routes, street views, and text directions.)

We must have gotten off track somehow.  He got mad at me for something, maybe for not finding things fast enough or for not finding a certain street.  I got upset with him for getting upset with me over something like that, which I couldn’t help.  We may have made up later on during the drive, if we ever really did.

When we got back and unpacked what we needed for overnight, his mom threw some sheets at the bed.

He never used sheets before while I was with him, just blankets, while we slept directly on the bare mattress.

Sesame seeds (from fast food) and dirt got on it all the time.  Since he never put sheets on, it never got cleaned off except with a swipe of the hand.

Before, I was so much in love that I barely noticed.  But now, after spending the summer on sheets I washed weekly, I couldn’t stand getting on that icky mattress again without sheets.

Yet he even made that into an argument.  He looked at me like I was ridiculous and a shrew for wanting sheets on the bed.  He said if I wanted them, I could put them on.

Why on earth was he so petulant over putting sheets on his bed?  He obviously wanted to pick fights on purpose, somehow finding a way to make me the one to blame, even though I did nothing wrong.

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:

 

Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 6

In Phil’s church, no one ever went up to the front to sing a song.  In my church, it was commonplace.  His way was strange to me, and mine was strange to him.

At the end of the summer, Phil wanted to sing a song in front of the church before we went back to school, so we went to the Family Bookstore for a background tape.  He picked out Amy Grant’s El Shaddai because he already knew it.

He practiced it nonstop.  Though I knew he needed to practice, it got on my nerves.

It reminded me of the summer of 1993, when the neighbor girl got a tape single of a popular rap song, Ditty by Paperboy.  She sat outside with her jam box one day and played the single over and over again.  It was all the same song, no B-sides.

Finally her mother yelled, “If you don’t stop playing that, I’ll take it away from you!”–to the possible applause of half the neighborhood.  I didn’t like the song much in the first place, and after that I could not listen to it anymore without gagging.

On the last Sunday morning we were in South Bend, August 28, Phil was to sing.  We had had a couple of good weeks.  As we got ready for church in my room, we talked about our last two weeks, how good they’d been and how we were improving.

I said we had all this time before our legal wedding to learn how to deal with married life.  Phil said that when the time came, we could know for sure if we wanted to legalize it or not.  I said that everyone else, not knowing of the common-law marriage, “will wonder how we do it.”  Phil smiled.

Though if we didn’t legalize it, I didn’t know how to reconcile that to the fact that we already were married in God’s eyes.  Wouldn’t it be adultery to split up?

One thing, though: I asked him to shave for the service, at least.  I said that even though I liked his beard, I wanted to see him clean-shaven again for at least a little while, and didn’t want him to look scruffy in front of the congregation.  (His beard always looked scruffy even when fully grown in, because it grew in patches.)  He just smiled at me, and didn’t shave it.

My pastor introduced Phil as “Nyssa’s friend.”  My mom said in a low voice, “Fiancé!”  I believe the same thing happened at the beginning of the summer, that the pastor announced I was back from college and had brought a “friend.”

The people loved Phil’s bass voice.  They also told my parents how well he sang hymns.  It made me proud.  Not only could he sing, but he could also serenade me, and he had done so at least twice.

Now, I look at this and what happened only a little more than a week later, and think, he went so far as to sing in front of the church as my fiancé–but then, a little more than a week later, broke up with me?

He sang a song about the glory of God’s many names, yet only a few weeks later, he got back with me only so he could satisfy his lusts, and left me again?

It’s people like him who give us Christians the name of “hypocrites”!

****

Phil and I finally went down to the South Bend Tribune building in August to pick up engagement announcement forms.  I kept asking him to take me, but he kept procrastinating.  We went in and picked up an engagement form–and he, with a smile, also picked up a wedding form and an anniversary form.  “We’ll be needing these,” he said.

I filled out my part, he filled out his, Mom answered a question or two–and it appeared in the paper on Sunday, August 28.  In the next few days, Mom’s coworkers brought their own copies of the engagement section to work and gave them to her.  She took them all home and folded them together.  It made her happy.  It did me, as well.

Later on, she wondered if the engagement announcement scared Phil instead of making him happy like it was supposed to.  She said that maybe he was scared to see in print just what was going to happen–maybe it didn’t hit him until then just what he was doing.

I believe it was that week I called my South Bend best friend, and got ahold of her for the first time all summer.  (She was always busy and hard to get ahold of.)  I asked if she saw our engagement announcement, but she said no.

I told her I was engaged, and asked if she’d be maid of honor.  She happily agreed.  She said South Bend guys were dogs, and asked if S– guys were.  I said mine wasn’t, so she said I was lucky.  You see how Stockholm Syndrome can do a number on your brain.

****

For once, I could take everything to school with me in the fall, instead of taking a little bit more every break, and going without stuffed animals or favorite books or winter clothes or a clothes basket for the first few months because they couldn’t fit into the Grand Am (or, freshman year, the Sunbird).  This excited me, and I made my packing plans accordingly.

Then Phil started acting strange.  In a petulant tone, he said my parents should take me back instead, while he spent extra weeks at his factory job before going back to S–!

But my parents were looking forward to not having to drive me all the way up there once again and pay tolls.  It had already been agreed and understood that he would take me with him when he went back to Wisconsin.

Since we came to Indiana together and had school at the same time, there was no sense in doing it any other way.  My parents hated the drive, which, to them, was twice as long, because after they dropped me off they had to go all the way back.

I sure didn’t appreciate him even suggesting he wouldn’t fulfill his part of the agreement.  If I told my parents, they sure wouldn’t, either.  I finally got him to do what we had planned all summer to do.

I doubt my parents would have let him stay with them without me those extra weeks.  I believe they would have been irate.

After he neglected fixing his faulty brakes all summer, how dare I insist he finally get them fixed when it was the last possible day to do it before he drove us back to school, so we wouldn’t get killed.

If he saw a big-breasted, pretty girl in the drive-through, and told me how much he wanted to take her in the back of his minivan, how dare I get upset instead of laughing and taking it.

A friend of Phil’s called up one day and said, “Your dad says you two are perfect for each other.”

Phil said, “Oh, I don’t know.”

I was, of course, upset at this.  Phil made some excuse, like, “perfect” is a strong word and nobody’s absolutely perfect for each other.  Now, I believe this was a lie.

****

By the way, I found this article inspiring: “Spilling Secrets,” August 2006 issue of Writer’s Digest.  Synopsis: “Revealing dark, personal secrets can be cathartic for an author and inspiring for readers, as these authors have proved.”

Because of this article, I have new determination to keep going in these memoirs, and reassurance that it is good to get out these “dirty little secrets” in nonfiction rather than just cloaking them in fiction.

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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