For a belated graduation present, I got a paperback copy of My Utmost for His Highest, a classic, daily devotional compiled of sermons given by Oswald Chambers. On the first page was this message: “To Nyssa from L.M. May this prove a blessing to you.”
L.M. was an elderly woman at church (born in 1907) who always wore her long, white hair in a beautiful coil wrapped around her head, and fastened with old-fashioned pins.
It wasn’t a boring bun or an “old lady” hairdo with short, curly hair. As a child, I once said I wanted to wear my hair like hers when I got to be her age, which tickled her.
A picture of a similar hairstyle is here.
Unfortunately, she died in 1992, soon after she gave the book to me. So I never got to tell her how much of a help that book was to me over the next couple of years, which were more trying than any I had ever been through before. But I think that, up in Heaven where she undoubtedly is, she knows.
Probably a day or two before January 5, Peter and I boarded the Greyhound bus again to return to K–. Fortunately, this time they didn’t lose our luggage.
Peter’s parents were glad to see me, for an unexpected reason: Maybe now Misha would behave.
While we were gone, she turned into a spitfire. At one point, she even leaped onto the curtains, claws extended, and slid down, ripping the curtains in her anger that I was gone for so long: I was the first person to grab that nasty cat’s heart, and calm her into a more loving kitty to the rest of the family.
After this, they put her in a cage downstairs.
Peter’s mom told me about a time when the family went through Kentucky. They passed through hillbilly country, and actually saw an old woman sitting on the porch of a shack with a shotgun across her lap, pointing her finger at them.
Over the break, Peter and I had the occasional tiff, but after a soul-sharing talk about all sorts of things, we seemed closer than ever.
Yet as soon as we got to Peter’s house, something felt wrong. I had no idea what. He said nothing about it, just acted stiff instead of tender with me. Even his parents seemed to get annoyed with me when they hadn’t before.
I didn’t know why or what I could have done.
I had to sleep in the front room instead of the spare room, and there was some sort of divider up. The next morning, after I woke up, Peter spent lots of time in the kitchen talking low with his parents. He didn’t come in to see me even though he may have known I was up.
I got the feeling he was avoiding me for some reason. When I first saw him and his mom again, they seemed grim.
Especially note that I sensed this but had absolutely no clue WHY. Nobody was talking to ME, nobody was communicating what was going on. I had no way of knowing if I did something, or what it could possibly have been. Which means I also had no way to fix it.
His parents may have seemed less patient with me, too. I don’t remember if this happened now or over Thanksgiving Break: Peter’s mom told me I could use her pants press to iron my pants much more quickly. I smiled and said that I didn’t iron my pants. She wrinkled her nose and cried in distaste, “You don’t?”
At some point I mentioned this to Candice. I’d never heard of ironing pants, my mother didn’t do that, and Candice said it was useless: Within minutes of sitting down, your pants would be all wrinkled again, anyway.
When he took me back to school on probably Sunday the 5th, Peter and I went to the mailboxes in the Campus Center. He said something about us parting, and I probably made some cute, half-joking, disappointed noise. He said, “But we just spent the last two weeks together!”
What difference did that make? How could I ever be tired of him? How could he possibly be tired of being with the love of his life?
I probably had no clue that he might truly be tired of me, and didn’t yet understand that a little space to be alone or with friends is a good and healthy thing.
Winterim was a short, optional semester in the month of January. You could take a class for fun or for your major, three hours a day. I didn’t bother getting up for breakfast, since class wasn’t until 12:30. I got up in time to shower and get lunch, though it wasn’t good for my stomach.
Peter and I both took Science Fiction for the Fun of It. He thought about taking a class related to his major, but that didn’t work out.
Most of the reading was from a collection of very short science fiction stories from past decades. We discussed the previous night’s homework assignment and then watched a movie significant in the genre. Sometimes we got out of class a bit early, especially if the movie was no longer than two hours.
Peter was between jobs at this time, but he kept having to leave before dinner and go home, saying he missed eating dinner with his parents and they wanted him to do chores around the little farm. So I let him go, spending the long evenings entertaining myself with books and music, since my homework took very little time.
Peter either was constantly unable to see me on Sunday evenings, or he kept saying he didn’t feel like going to church. I pondered telling him that without church, “I feel like a wilting flower.”
Things kept going wrong; Peter would argue with me over religion; I’d get upset and fume for hours. (It’s entirely possible that I was cranky because of that time of the month.)
I thought that Peter and I had similar beliefs, but we turned out to be diametrically opposed. During the religious arguments, I looked to Shawn as moral support against my own boyfriend!
The short time I spent with Peter each day had turned very frustrating. I pondered asking Peter if we could switch from “going out” (exclusive) to “seeing each other” (dating each other and other people).
I also began thinking that, if Peter and I had never begun dating, we would at least have been good friends–and would I be better off just friends with Peter and dating Shawn?
Shawn said I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend; if we were alone together at the same table, he’d act uneasy and soon leave. Was he uncomfortable because he was attracted to me, someone he couldn’t have?
On the 17th, Peter came to see me in my room. Without removing his jacket, he sat down on the bed. The door was probably closed, and Becky was gone.
He said that our arguments lately were “tearing me up inside. If we can’t tell each other our beliefs without one of us getting upset, we might have to break up, and I don’t want to see that happen.”
I knew he was right, so we resolved to do better. So you see, I could take criticism.
During the week of January 19 we got a visit from a Roanoke graduate from the 70s who was now a published science fiction author. Afterwards, I chatted with two freshmen named Sharon and Catherine.
We said things like, “She graduated college in 1973? That’s the year I was born!” One of us, possibly me, said, “Just think, twenty years from now one of us will come back here as a famous author to talk to a class, and the kids will say, ‘She graduated college in 1995? That’s the year I was born!'”
And guess what: It has happened! I believe it was Pearl who went to a sorority thing as an alumna in around 2014, and the active girls said, “You graduated college in 1995? That’s the year I was born!” And of course, when I read this on Facebook, I mentioned what we said back in 1992.
We began chatting every day; I don’t remember how often Peter was with me. We discovered we had things in common, and became friends.
Peter got a new job on campus in the week of January 12 or January 19. Now, however, though it was wonderful he had a job, it was right after class. He rushed over there after class, and then after he finished working, he rushed home for dinner with his parents and for chores.
I only saw him during lunch and class. That was hardly quality time. But then he would refuse to come over even for a minute before or after work.
Starting possibly mid-month or the last full week of January, I noticed that of all the people Peter sat with at lunch, I got the least attention.
He’d be gruff with me, but cheerful with others. He’d sit next to or across from me, but nearly all his comments and jokes were directed at the others. Half the time, he would speak so low that I didn’t hear the joke, and felt left out.
This never used to happen. Why couldn’t he say those things to me, or at least loud enough for me to hear? It was as if I wasn’t even there. He later complained of “jealous looks”; I don’t know what he could have meant, because I have never been possessive or jealous as a girlfriend or wife.
(I have always allowed my boyfriends and, eventually, my husband to have any female friend they like and see them whenever they like, without having to get my “approval” first, as long as they don’t cheat. My philosophy has always been, trust until you have a GOOD reason not to. This philosophy has served me well because when you hold on too tightly, you lose your man.)
If he meant my expression during lunch, I had good reason, as you can see: This was our only time together, yet he paid all his attention to others, and was short when he even spoke to me.
During the week of the 20th, many things went wrong, as if Peter decided to explode. He kept slighting me and blowing me off. He got mad at me for the tiniest things. I felt like I was walking on eggshells, but I didn’t know why.
For example, one day, probably after class, we were walking from the Muskie and through the cafeteria together when Peter went into the kitchen. I believe he made no explanation as to why.
I waited for him, of course: That’s what you do when you’re walking with someone and he has to stop and do something before continuing. But when he came out, he snapped at me, sounding angry at me for waiting for him.
And when we’d leave class and walk along the same sidewalk, I would naturally expect that my own boyfriend would want to walk with me, especially when we barely got to see each other anymore. But he would walk so fast that I had to hurry to catch up with him! And he rarely kissed me.
It may be that, because of my nonverbal learning disability, I had no idea whatsoever that I was annoying Peter in various ways, until he finally started yelling at me about it–and then I couldn’t understand why it bothered him so much. (I still don’t remember what happened, since I didn’t “see” it the first time around.)
Or maybe he was a typical guy needing space, but not saying so; since women don’t usually have these space issues, they often don’t understand the “clues” and don’t know they’re making things worse. (I talk about this later.)
To put it simply, there was a major lack of communication. And without communication, the problem can’t be fixed.
Peter’s behavior was very passive-aggressive, because he treated me like this without telling me if he had problems with me.
On the evening of Tuesday, January 21, our class went to see Freejack, a science fiction movie which had just opened in a local theater. We rode in a van or bus, and Peter and I sat together. Catherine, possibly Sharon, and Shawn sat nearby; we were the only people there besides the teacher.
We all chatted together. Somebody brought up Monty Python’s The Holy Grail, which had been on TV the night before. Peter saw part of it at home, and I saw the last hour of it in my room. I loved it, and so did Catherine, Shawn and Sharon–but Peter said it was stupid. [Wut?]
We liked Freejack, and it was a good night. But something seemed weird between Peter and me. Peter and I shared our last kiss that night, a simple, goodnight kiss. He probably had to rush off, as usual.
More things happened the next few days, things that showed his coldness, things that made me cry. I don’t want to go into everything that happened.
On the 28th, I decided to talk to him before class and tell him how horribly he’d been treating me lately. If I had to, I would threaten to break up: That would get him to shape up. But before I got far, he turned it around and broke up with me.
I don’t want to go into all the reasons he gave then: All these years later, what difference does it make?
My friends called them petty reasons; most could have easily been resolved with communication on his part. Some were not fair at all. Some did not bother other guys in the slightest.
One main one was quickly proven to be an out-and-out lie, that he wouldn’t have time for any girlfriend or social life. (He soon joined a frat and got another girlfriend.)
They were probably just excuses for his real reason, which was that he wanted to start exploring new things in college, and my beliefs and values kept him back. None of his reasons were ever repeated by other boyfriends.
In fact, my later boyfriend Phil, after telling me what Peter “warned” him about me, said that one complaint in particular did not bother him in the least. In fact, he expected me to do it, and he kissed me for it!
I should have realized then, but didn’t: If we were pre-engaged and the communication was this bad, what would marriage have been like?
In the olden days, kids our age could have gotten married and been mature enough to handle it. But in our day and age, while some eighteen-year-olds are old enough for marriage, most still need to grow up.
What really got me, though, was his reaction to my question, “What about our plans to get married after graduation?”
He said, “I don’t want to get married for many years after college. I want to do some things first.”
This was the first time he ever said anything like this, and it contradicted everything he said for our entire relationship, proving him to be a liar.
Not only that, but in a later phone conversation, when I asked about our plans for him to go to South Bend over the summer, he said, “I’m probably going to Arizona over the summer!”
This was the first time he ever even hinted at an internship over the summer or a change in our established plans, yet he spoke to me in irritation, as if I should have known.
In one phone conversation we had over the next few days, he said I shouldn’t expect to marry every guy I dated. (I didn’t.) He accused me of “dropping hints” of wanting to get married. When I turned this around and said he talked about marriage all the time, too, he said, “We were both at fault.”
But how is it a “fault” to talk about marriage with someone you’ve already agreed to marry? How is it a “fault” or “dropping hints about marriage” to discuss wedding plans with someone you are pre-engaged to? This is all part of pre-enagement!
(Here is a discussion among women who are pre-engaged and, in some cases, are even setting dates with their boyfriends, looking at venues and making wedding plans, even though they are not yet actually engaged.)
Ever after, he denied that we had an understanding: He told people about my “marriage talk” as if I were clingy or smothering.
I never have understood why, since there’s nothing shameful in having been pre-engaged to a former girlfriend. It happens all the time among young couples who want to be committed but are not yet ready for marriage for whatever reason (in our case, finishing school).
You can even buy a promise ring to signify your pre-engagement, or use a class ring.
It was absolutely ridiculous, a whole slew of lies meant to gaslight me into thinking he never said a thing about wanting to marry me–when we had long since agreed to get married after graduation, and he even told my parents this, so I had witnesses!
He had already expressed many times how much he wanted to marry me after college, and it was a done deal between us.
This guy was a liar in general, but I foolishly thought he’d never lie to me. I was so young and inexperienced at dating, and so trusting because of NVLD, that I had trouble seeing what he was really doing, how he was trying to manipulate me by making me not believe my own memory.
Be aware of this, girls, that there are guys out there who will tell you one thing at one time and then twist it around later on. And don’t let them break your hearts: Realize their true character, and consider yourself lucky when they leave.
Another thing I don’t understand is the modern idea that we should always date around before choosing someone to marry. What’s wrong with marrying the first person you date, if you get along well?
I’m of the more conservative viewpoint, that the whole purpose of dating is to find someone to marry, not just to have a good time. If you can’t see yourself marrying a person, don’t get serious with them, don’t sleep with them, and never ever breathe an “I love you.”
A good article on Christian dating is here. As far as I’m concerned, a girl who wants to marry should not waste her time with someone who doesn’t.
It’s also wrong to date someone who’s looking for a mate, if you aren’t interested in marrying her.
The way people date these days is far too casual for anyone’s good, and a lot of people are getting hurt with lasting damage. An “I love you” based on a passing feeling is not true love at all. (This was probably written in 2006.)
On the night of the breakup, I put all reminders of Peter into a dresser drawer. Once, I threw a stress ball across the room. I cried to put everything away, but knew that I would be in even worse shape if they sat out on display, reminding me of good times every time I looked around.
The next several days are so depressing and personal that I’d rather keep most of the details in my journals.
Even when my biggest crushes turned into nothing, I hadn’t felt this way. After realizing that C.B. just wasn’t going to go out with me, I allowed myself one cry into my pillow. Then after that, I thought, “I had my cry.”
I can only remember crying over one other boy; after that, I drew myself up and acted like he was nothing to me. I actually felt angry that he didn’t give me a chance.
When D.B. began dating another girl even though I thought I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wanted me, it hurt, but I looked at it philosophically: High school romances (like theirs) don’t last long, and we were about to graduate anyway.
Now, my heart hurt so much physically and was so tight in my chest that it was a wonder it didn’t burst.
I discovered that Food Service wouldn’t serve meals over the break between Winterim and the spring semester, except to people who paid extra for sack meals. I had expected to spend the few days of Winterim Break at Peter’s house, where I spent every break, and had no money to pay for sack meals, so this left me without food for four days!
I had a brief conversation with Peter, and mentioned that I had nowhere to go for Winterim Break, but he didn’t offer to let me stay over. I don’t know if he realized I was without food.
My parents told me to go to the business office on Thursday and get a cash advance from my credit card of at least 50 or 60 dollars. This way, I could pay for the meal tickets. But, to my dismay, the woman working there said, “This is not a bank.”
So one more door was shut. The next four days looked bleak. Not only was I without the person I thought I loved most in the world, but I was going to starve. I was probably furious with Peter for leaving me in this situation, though I’m not sure he should be held directly responsible. Still, he did change plans at the last minute, leaving me in the lurch.
During this time, I began hanging around with friends I made the last semester. They were Pearl, Cindy, Sharon, Catherine, Tara and Carol. I needed friends, and not to be alone; I liked them best of everyone I knew there.
On Thursday, I told them my situation. They were all going home for the break, but Sharon and the others had some spare food. Sharon gave me Frosted Flakes and milk and maybe some soup or some other dry food. I think Cindy gave me hot chocolate, unless I already had that. I was so grateful to them that I became their lifelong friends.
A certain member of administration (I will call her Memadmin) somehow got wind of my situation–maybe I was supposed to ask her how to buy meal tickets–and had me go to her office on the 30th.
Since she also somehow heard of my breakup with Peter, maybe she knew why I hadn’t looked into the Winterim Break meal plans before this. (I spent every school break except Christmas with his family, and this breakup was right before Winterim Break, so why would I expect to need a meal plan?)
She said to not tell anybody, but she would do me a favor: give me a few sack meal tickets, enough for one meal per day. They weren’t many, but they were enough to keep me alive, especially with the food my friends had given me and the snack foods I had.
Then my parents decided to come up and take me to a hotel.
After freshman year, hot meals were served during breaks, not just sack meals. Junior year, the college began serving meals during breaks as part of the meal plan.
Winterim Break left me on my own for a couple of days with no one to talk to, except long-distance. I had little experience with dating, and didn’t know what to do. My nonverbal learning disorder made things even more difficult to sort through. I tried to get my mind off my problems, but nothing worked. I couldn’t sleep or eat.
The ensuing hours and days are probably too personal to describe here. It also isn’t something I really want to talk about now, because I want to leave it in the past. When I wrote in my memoirs about it, that was my catharsis, and finally seemed to settle old resentments and hurts.
I will say that I didn’t yet see that he was totally the wrong person for me, that he would change from the person I knew into someone totally different.
(Having trouble reading the various nuances of body language has made me gullible where other people could see right through it; it’s possible that he never was the person I thought he was. It’s possible he was trying to be what he thought I wanted. Considering what others have told me, this is quite likely. But by no means can I be sure.)
When you finally find someone after years of loneliness and wondering why nobody ever asks you out, losing him again makes you wonder if you’ll ever find someone else. I went into a deep, dark depression that lasted for months. I did foolish things, and things that maybe weren’t foolish but I didn’t know how to do them right.
My depression was so bad that I wouldn’t have made it out alive if not for God. I did not yet know that life is a wheel, that I could ride out even the worst depression and come out on the other side, happy in new experiences.
I relied quite heavily on prayer and Bible-reading. I got closer to some acquaintances and made them friends, which gave me a support network away from home. I believe God provided them for me.
Peter–who always told me that drunkenness was stupid–was drinking underage and getting drunk. He even began smoking pot! He also went back to swearing like a sailor, even when I was nearby.
I thought he had changed considerably, and my heart burned; Shawn said that no one changes that much in such a short time. He suspected that Peter had been lying to me.
Though I knew Peter lied to others, even his parents, I thought it impossible for him to have lied to me before the breakup. But now, looking back, I think he must have told me a few lies here and there.
Nonverbal learning disorder would have made it easy for Peter to misrepresent himself to me:
The impairments of NLD also lead to a preponderance of very literal translations which, in turn, precede continuous misjudgments and misinterpretations.
The child with NLD is naively trusting of others (to a fault) and does not embrace the concept of dishonesty (even in terms of white lies) or withholding (even inflammatory) information. He also will not recognize when he is being lied to or deceived by others.
Deceit, cunning, and/or manipulation are beyond this child’s scope of assimilation. He assumes that everyone is friendly who displays that front verbally and that the intentions of others are only that which they expose verbally.
This inability to ‘read’ the intentions of others often results in a lot of unfortunate ‘scapegoating’ of this child. He needs to be taught to question the motives of others – he won’t learn from experience. –Sue Thompson, Nonverbal Learning Disorders
That explains why, during the breakup, when Peter told me we shouldn’t see each other “for a while,” I initially thought he meant we would start dating again later on.
During this time, I was led astray by a popular Charismatic teaching that each person can be a sort of “prophet.” Many people seek to get revelations from God about whom they will marry. These revelations tend to be totally wrong, lies either from Satan or from the self.
In fact, Anna was also led astray by this very thing. We would encourage each other to keep faith in what God had told us. Senior year, she discovered that her “future husband” was now engaged–to someone else. She said her “revelation” came from Satan.
She got her revelation through such things as “words” from other people, and opening her Bible and finding something that seemed to be for her. I got mine through a practice I heard about on The 700 Club.
I had watched The 700 Club for years, and actually started listening for “words” back in high school. Twice I felt “Don’t worry” when I thought I had forgotten about a test or a homework assignment, only to discover that it wasn’t due for another day or two.
A major part of each episode of The 700 Club was the prayer, which included Pat Robertson and his co-hosts waiting for God to reveal to them who in their studio and viewing audience was being healed of various ailments, about to get money they desperately needed, etc.
Many of these people then called and said they were the ones these words were meant for. Often their testimonies were dramatic, and turned into news stories for the show.
One co-host, Sheila Walsh, said that at first she wasn’t sure God was actually telling her these things, that she wasn’t the type of person He’d tell them to. But He told her something, she said nothing, and then God told Pat instead and he said it (at least, that’s how she explained it). That convinced her.
In the winter of 1992, a guest on The 700 Club gave more information on how to seek God’s direction, “words” impressed on your spirit about the future or the present. You might fast for it; you might sit and meditate, trying to clear your mind and focus on one word.
I wrote down everything he said. I now know this practice is deceptive, that we should let God speak to us as He wills, not try to force it. I’m told that some people have even lost their faith over “words” that fail to come true.
This practice comes from the Charismatic branch of the church, which many other denominations (such as the Lutheran or Orthodox) consider to be full of errors.
I’m convinced that if I hadn’t had these deceptive “words,” I would’ve stopped waiting for Peter far sooner. Instead of trying to build my faith in the words, I would have tried to move on.
I would’ve been much happier–especially nine months later, when I no longer wanted Peter back, but felt I would eventually have to go back with him because God said he was my future husband.
Yet I did as Pat said when I got the “words,” and even tested them! Despite what some people might have thought, I was not going off the deep end; I was just misguided by a popular show and charismatic teachings.
By some accounts, The 700 Club is the “most respected” Christian TV show! And, after feeling like it was just me, I have since discovered that all sorts of people have done the same things I have, getting words about whom they’ll marry (and getting it wrong), seeing demons and spiritual warfare in everything, etc.
I’m told that young people are especially susceptible to these things, wanting to be special, feeling passionate about God, wanting to know God’s will as they make big decisions about careers and spouses, and wanting to see the supernatural in their lives.
This is a real-life demonstration for you of the harm that such teachings can cause. I shudder to think now of how this affected me in college and the actions I took because of it. I would have let go of my ex much sooner if I could’ve simply listened to friends who said he has either changed a lot, or he only pretended to be what you wanted.
If not for the deception of the “words,” I could’ve seen he was not right for me, and God did not “choose” him for me. Instead, I fought my “unbelief” and strove to “lean on the promise” even when I fell out of love and wanted to move on.
In 2001 I found a website which talked about these very things. It even talked about “prophets” getting political “revelations,” such as Pat Robertson did, and said these prophets could be projecting their own wishes onto the “revelations,” or may have demonic spirits talking to them.
I’m so glad I stopped watching The 700 Club in 1994. Nowadays, rather than seeing it as a positive influence on my teen years, I see it as actually detrimental.
I’ve also learned that in situations like this, it’s better to rely on the hope that God will see you through anything, rather than trying to figure out what will happen next. When I look back, I see all the ways that He’s kept me out of trouble, and made sure that I would follow the path He wanted me to go in.
You can find that website here. Go to the heading “How does one get possessed?” It may not sound like the right place, but it is. You have to scroll down a bit. A quote from this article:
Some of you reading this, who in the past got burned by some false prophecy, can now understand what happened.
You may have thought that ‘word’ that said you would be healed, see a loved one get saved, marry someone you had a crush on, or reap a 100-fold return on the money you sent to a minister had to have been from God.
When it didn’t come true you either got mad at God or got discouraged and blamed yourself for not having enough faith. Well, the truth is, the Charismatic movement is rife with false prophets who give the real ones a bad name.
The “Predict the Future” sub-heading above the “possessed” heading is also relevant. I don’t agree with everything the writer says on his website, but I believe he is right about this.
I also go into this here.
Another thing I’ve grown to understand, from a combination of experiences and reading that popular book Men Are From Mars/Women Are From Venus, is that I was probably right when I felt like Peter and I were closer than ever before after the talks we had over Christmas Break.
(I know this book gets criticized a lot. I also know that gender differences are often more due to culture or personality than gender. Many times, I found the roles in Mars/Venus to be reversed in my case. But many times, I found it to be right on target, describing not just me but the guys I had dealt with. This book may not apply well to everybody, but it applies well to me, probably because I’m often feminine and conservative, and has given me insight into why my exes behaved the way they did.)
According to Mars, such increased intimacy may scare a man into thinking that he must pull away and re-establish his identity. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love his woman. If given the space he needs, he will eventually snap back, and things will be fine again.
Women, however, usually think fundamentally differently than a man does. When he pulls away, she thinks something’s wrong (pages 92-98). If she says something about it, he may think she’s blaming him, even when she’s not (page 89). If he doesn’t pull away, he may get moodier, more irritable, or more defensive (page 105).
In either case, the woman’s instinct is to try to get closer, to fix things. This is what works with women. With men, however, it pushes them even farther away. But because of the differences in the way men and women deal with things and respond to things, they often have no idea how their responses are affecting the other person.
The man doesn’t realize that the woman is hurt and that, according to her way of thinking, she has every right to feel hurt; the woman doesn’t realize that her attempts to fix things actually push the man farther away (pages 93-98).
This doesn’t mean she should submit to being treated like a doormat. But communication and discussion before actually breaking up could make a huge difference. Chapter six talks about many feminine behaviors which I did, including trying to fix the problem.
Too bad I didn’t have this book back then. But it wasn’t even written until 1992, I didn’t hear about it until 1994, and I didn’t get ahold of it until 1995.
But then again, considering the ways Peter changed as the year went on, maybe nothing would have worked. He wanted to go one way; I wanted to go another. And he may have been lying to me about who he really was. A breakup was inevitable eventually.
The difference between men and women does not excuse other things. For example, Peter should never have told people I was obsessed with marriage while he wasn’t thinking that far ahead, or that I made up the Link.
Sadly, I was hardly new to being the object of vicious rumors spread by guys who used to like me. And it would happen again senior year, by Phil, an abusive ex-fiancé.
In elementary school, a certain boy always used to make fun of me. Then I heard he liked me, and didn’t believe it. The following year, he kept making public comments to me such as, “Hey, gorgeous.”
I have a soft heart, so he wore me down until I liked him back. But he never actually asked me to “go with him.” Then, near the end of the year, somebody in gym class found out how I felt about him.
Next thing I know, this boy, who’d chased me all year, starts yelling to me on the bus, “I’m not your type.”
In junior high, a certain guy spent all year flirting with me in front of everyone, though he never asked me to “go with him.” Near the end of the year, he told another kid about me, “Don’t you know we’re going together?” I spent the rest of the day happy because he was finally my boyfriend.
Then, the very next day, he said to me, “I like this other girl now.” A girl who also happened to be a mean girl who made fun of me on the bus in elementary school. For the rest of the year and on into high school, he told everyone I was a Satan worshipper, and ripped on me and called me names every chance he got.
Now, here in a college full of what were supposedly adults, another guy was spreading rumors and ripping on me every chance he got. And in another two years, it would happen again with another ex.
Not only did such treatment wound my spirit, it made me wonder why this kept happening to me. Why couldn’t I find a decent man? I wanted a nice guy, but the nice guys never seemed to want me. When they did, they ended up treating me badly.
It would be many years before I discovered that my issues with guys could easily be traced back to family issues.
Once, Julie told me about her own experiences with an ex, and even let me read a class essay she’d written on the subject. This happened the previous year (she was now a sophomore); they were engaged; it took her some time to get over him. It was a while before she stopped calling him to ask if he was sure. A friend or family member offered to vandalize his car, but she said no.
All her poems in Poetry class were about him and the breakup–just as most of mine would be about Peter. She and Darryl started seeing each other soon after the breakup, but stopped because they didn’t want it to be a rebound relationship.
Julie eventually got over her ex; she and Darryl became a couple. Though they had the occasional breakup, they got married (though that eventually ended).
No one knew that I probably had a learning disorder which caused me to take everything literally. When Peter said he would do something with me–marry me in three and a half years, or take me out on his motorcycle, or teach me stick shift, or have me teach him German, for examples–I expected him to do it. I thought everyone did this.
I could not understand why Peter came up with conclusions different from mine. I did not understand how negotiating everything could push him farther away, instead of pulling him back.
I did not understand how he could say he would marry me, but then not do it. I fully expected him to still take me on that motorcycle ride, still teach me stick shift, still have me teach him German, even after the breakup.
These traits along with many others, by the way, are shared by Nonverbal Learning Disorder and by Asperger’s Syndrome.
By the way, if you read this and my fiction, you may be tempted to think that my fiction is autobiographical. It is not. Events and emotions are often inspired by my real life, but the characters, details, dialogues, even things that happen, are distinctly different.
I draw from various sources: my life, other people’s lives, dreams, imagination. I’ll take events that have nothing in common with each other, and thread them together into one plotline.
I’ll make up motivations to suit the story. I’ll change all sorts of things. The truth is here in my memoirs and in my journals; it is not in my fiction.
This time period wasn’t all bad, despite my deep depression. I flipped to the Comedy Channel one day, and found some strange show which had a movie, shadows of a row of movie theater seats down along the bottom, and black figures of a man and two robots sitting in the seats. As the movie played, those figures made comments.
I didn’t understand what was going on, so I soon turned to something else. Soon after, I overheard a friend of Stefan’s as she talked about how funny this show was. So I tried watching it again, and loved it. It was Mystery Science Theater: 3000.
Life at Roanoke: My College Memoirs–September 1991 through May 1995
Table of Contents
- Meet the Suite
- Meeting Shawn–and a Ninja
- Campus Stories, Wisconsin, Campus Radio Station
- Campus, People, First College Boyfriend
- Dating a Ninja
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
- Classmate a stand-in for “Rudy”; Jigging at College Dance
- Library Tales
- Happiness Returns
- Living with Friends in Krueger
- Funny Library Stories
- Shawn Calls
- Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars
- Return of Rick
- Adjusting to New Dorm
- Spitball-Throwing Teacher
- Rat-Obsessed Teacher and Doctor Zhivago
- A Teacher Dated a Student; InterVarsity Fun
- Charlie Peacock Concert
- Random Stories
- Letter to Shawn
- Erotic Vampire Dream (Inspiration for Alexander Boa)
- I Ask Out James
- Peter Calls!
- The Fateful First Meeting of Phil
- The Birth of Dolphin Philosophy
- Our Group of Friends Splits Apart
- Spring Classes
- Big Red Flag: Phil’s Dysfunctional Family Life
- The Drunken Stork (Phil’s Controlling Nature Manifests)
- Idealizing Phase and Early Sign of Control
- Phil Tries to Control my Friendships, Unfair Accusations from his Dad and Brother
- Phil Gaslights Me with Fake Dreams, Ridicule and Psychological Abuse
- Another Pre-Engagement
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
- The Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell
- Phil rapes me anally
- Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene
- Phil’s cruel hoax on me: his “subconscious” coming out to be with me
- Phil’s “subconscious” explains why he’s coming out to talk to me
- The lies unravel as Phil admits to conning me; also, fright as my periods turn wacky
- How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse
- Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games
- Phil says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers
- Pearl reveals that Phil is costing me social invitations
- Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage
September 1994–Divorce: The Long, Dark, Painful Tunnel:
- Phil picks fights and avoids responsibilities to make me feel like a shrew
- My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion
- I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles
- Phil vanishes without a word of why
- Phil wants a divorce
- My friends tells me that Phil is controlling and possessive
- My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues
- Phil refuses to accept responsibility for the divorce
- Phil cuts off contact
- Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk
- Phil the narcissist admits to manipulating people and using them as pawns in his game with me
- Phil comes crawling back to me–and we put our marriage on paper
- Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again
- Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath
- Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse
- My friends tell me Phil is psychotic
- “Soul Ties”
- I return Phil’s things and he skewers me; consolation from friends
- My letter to Phil
- Phil shows my letter to his friends; I’m triggered by reminder of forced oral sex
- I start dating Charles
- Friends tell me Phil is controlling
- I feel stalked by Phil
- Poem about being stalked by Phil
- Fury at Phil stalking me and rubbing my face in his new relationship
- A Date with the Vampire
- Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull
- The Teddy-O Incident; Birth of These Memoirs
- We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life
- New Guy Begging at My Feet
- Life on TCB
- Meeting Cugan (Hubby)
- Learning my ex Peter was a love-fraud; New Men
- Before Tracy, There Was the Avenger (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 1)
- Torn between three men as Catherine pushes me toward Cugan
- The Love Rectangle
- Torn between FIVE men! Me?
- Persephone’s Own Outrageous Stories of Phil’s Abuse
- College-style living
- Online Shenanigans
- Phil Finds TCB; Meeting a Hit Man
- Gypsy’s Party: Healed friendship with Peter
- The Avenger Starts a Flame War (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 2)
- Meeting the elusive Speaker
- First Date with Future Hubby Cugan
- On Breaking Up with Kindness
- Loony Roommies and Flying Gargoyles
- The Goddess of Pleasure and Salt
- A Conversation with Oscar Wilde
- My First SCA Event
- Cugan: a vast improvement over Phil
- Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA
- Cugan breaks up with me
- After breakup: Phil’s return and trolls
- Cugan comes back
- SCA hippies; college senioritis: anxiety!
- Or should I move back in with my parents?
- Peace with Phil
- Defending my Thesis; Graduating with Honors
- Graduation: Trapped at school
- Epilogue and Apology from Phil