The Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell

As usual for the past few summers, we had a family reunion in Three Rivers, MI.  It may have been sometime around the fourth of July, but that’s only a guess.  For the first time, I had a boyfriend and/or fiancé to bring.

He annoyed people, though, like Mom and my brother Jake.  He begged for a Mountain Dew and even offered to pay for one, which embarrassed Mom.


I was glad I waited for marriage before having intercourse.  From what I could tell from my limited experience, it was much better to wait, as I did.

Marital sex was wonderful and freeing: I could give my body over to Phil in trust and freedom, knowing my body would belong to him for as long as we both should live.

I was sure it pleased God, too, that we waited, and I also praised Him that we waited.  I felt He blessed our union and the love we made.


One night on Picket Fences, the Judge presided over a child molestation case.  The sheriff’s daughter thought her best friend was having a baby by her own father, and that she didn’t even realize how wrong this was.

But to prevent prosecution, the “father” finally had to admit they were Mormons, and this girl was not his daughter, but the second of his two wives.  The first wife, whom the people of Rome, Wisconsin had thought was the girl’s mother, was about his own age.

(Rome was supposed to be a fictional town, but I found two Romes on the Wisconsin map.)

This caused a problem, of course, because bigamy is outlawed in this country.  But the Judge said,

“Common-law marriages exist all over.  There’s nothing to stop them from having a common-law marriage.  They must dissolve one of the marriages on the books, but they can still consider it common-law, and live as they have been living.”

And common-law marriages, of course, are not legally recognized in Wisconsin, so he wouldn’t legally be a bigamist.

It seemed Providential that this was on Picket Fences at just this time.  I also read in the newspaper about someone in California who lived with a woman he considered his wife, though she wasn’t legally, and the paper called her his “girlfriend.”  But as far as he was concerned, she was his “wife.”

These are two examples that I believed showed my marriage to Phil was truly legitimate, even if the local law didn’t recognize it, so we were truly married before God.

It seemed like God was trying to show us, through two examples so close together that summer, that it was OK.  They showed these marriages were common and real, not just our own idea.

The porcelain bird, my “engagement ring,” sat on my dresser all summer next to a picture of Phil; both got dusted regularly and lovingly.


I wrote these things in a letter to a pen pal on 7/3/94:

Thanks for the two cards!  They were cute.  And the bunnies were really appropriate, considering I have a stuffed rabbit that we call our ‘son.’

He wanted to name our first son Benjamin, or Benny.  We gave this name to the rabbit, which he gave me in the spring.

I saw one of the bunnies sold in the Campus Shop, and thought how nice it would be to have one.  They were cute and cuddly and wore T-shirts that said, “Cuddle up with someone from Roanoke.”

I didn’t say a word about it, but Phil got me one.  Phil now has two sons; he named one Benny.  More from the letter:

Interesting all the attention the World Cup is getting.  In the comic strip ‘Cathy,’ Cathy’s new boyfriend has been watching it, but I don’t think they really understand what’s going on.  My brother has been talking about it, but I don’t think my dad has been watching.

The TV Guide had articles on it, wondering if soccer could ever catch on with Americans.  Phil, of course, doesn’t watch because he’s not into sports.  I don’t know if it will catch on, but one thing’s for sure: American football will probably remain the sport of choice in this country….

We haven’t set the date, but probably next summer.  My parents plan to pay, it being the tradition even though nowadays the groom’s family might help or the couple might pay for it themselves.  My parents intend to use our local church for the ceremony, which was what I’d hoped to do.

So you see, my not converting to Catholicism would not be an issue.

My parents apparently like the engagement.  It means two of their children married off–my older brother is getting married in a few days–and only one [left]…to find somebody.

P.S.: Phil’s not selling cable anymore.  His pay was hardly enough for the work he did or to cover the gas he used.  Now he’s working in a factory.  Hopefully this one will work out.

The factory was in Mishawaka, but Phil thought the people there sounded Southern!  I knew some people from Mishawaka who did have an accent different from the rest of us.

Or it may have been a Michigan accent, which it did sound much like; we’re so close to the border that we share the county, and the whole area is called Michiana.

Maybe Mishawaka people do talk differently than South Bend people, which would be weird because we’re literally across the street from each other, and South Benders don’t have an accent.  (We used to be one city, but Mishawaka wanted to be by itself.)

Phil noticed his co-workers, my dad and, I believe, Hoosiers in general, said “Wes-consin” instead of “Wisconsin.”  It always used to sound like “Wisconsin” to me, but after he and/or Peter mentioned it, even I thought Dad said “Wes-consin.”


Phil and I, since I wanted to match his schedule, got into a routine of sleeping in Sunday morning, having Sunday lunch at home (sometimes warmed up if we slept too late), going to the evening service, then getting our own fast food dinner, because Mom never made dinner on Sunday evening.

Our traditional Sunday dinner was at lunchtime, then we’d have ice cream (sometimes cake or brownies a la mode, too) in the mid- to late-afternoon, and popcorn after the evening service.  But this no longer satisfied me and often made me a little sick.

We used to go to the morning service, and people complimented Phil’s deep singing voice.  But when Phil began working second shift and we took on later hours, we decided we’d rather sleep and go to the evening service.


On July 3, I wrote to Pearl,

Oh, by the way, did you have any idea what Dave thinks of me?  Phil told me some things Dave said to him that really upset me, especially since they’re untrue–though Dave believes them–and one is based on faulty information that he took as the truth.

Phil, of course, didn’t listen to them, which I suppose is what really matters, but after all, Dave will be my brother-in-law.  (Isn’t that an odd thought?) I thought we got along well enough, but I was told that Dave called me a name.

Then I had to see him in Botany.  He started talking to me about something, and I couldn’t forget what Phil had told me, and wanted to get away.  At least the semester was about over then.

I’ve gotta wonder if his opinions of me are based on things Peter might’ve told him while we were still at odds.  If so, that might explain why Dave would tell Phil we don’t get along at a time when I’d just met him for maybe the first time and thought we did get along.


But all did not stay rosy.  The factory seemed to change Phil’s personality.  Even his language began to change, with more cuss words than before.

As the summer wore on, I felt like Phil always had to be right, yet he accused me of this.  He kept taking my different views as attacks, turning them into arguments when they were not meant to be.

He said once that it’s a guy thing–that they don’t like to be wrong.  Basically, that they get mad or act hurt because it hurts their pride.

I felt forced to defend my position because he cut it down so much and refused to let me have a legitimate point.  It frustrated me to no end when he acted like this then pinned all the blame on me.

It seemed I wasn’t allowed to disagree with Phil about things, or have a good point or idea, or a legitimate feeling or reason.  It didn’t seem fair, him accusing me of what he did himself.

Then he shut down emotionally or left the room.  (Some people leave the room to cool down.  But to me it felt like a manipulation tactic, not allowing me to have my say: also known as withholding, the silent treatment, or stonewalling.)

As an example, once, when we were about to make love (if you can call it that), Phil wanted my backside.  I didn’t want to do it that way because it was not just disgusting, but also excruciatingly painful.  Then afterwards, the pain continued during bowel movements.  THIS GUY NEVER HEARD OF LUBE.

He got mad and yelled, “It’s always your way!  You’re right.  You’re always right!”  Then he stormed out of my room.

But as his next girlfriend Persephone would say, it is my body.  I shouldn’t have to do something I’m not comfortable with.

I hated having to beg Phil to take showers–and use soap.  I shouldn’t have had to.  One day, he said he would use both soap and shampoo.  At one point, I turned on the water upstairs for a second or two to wash or rinse my hands, probably after going to the bathroom (without flushing), then I turned it back off again.

A few minutes later, Phil came upstairs, complaining.  He said that he didn’t use soap after all because the water got cold.  He waited and waited for it to warm up again, but it never did, so he stopped his shower.  I said I did turn on the water for a few seconds, but I turned it off again.

He yelled at me for having sabotaged my own desire for him to use soap in his shower.  I said I had to wash my hands.  I said it was only a second, and hardly long enough to cause a problem.

(I knew how the water worked in that house, since, after all, I’d lived there for twenty-one years.  Running the water or using a dishwasher or clothes washer may make someone’s shower cold or hot, but only for as long as you have the water on–not after you turn it off.)

He said it was cold for a long time–like several minutes.  If it was, then it sure wasn’t my fault, but he just wouldn’t listen to me.  (Maybe Dad was running some water downstairs.  Or maybe the hot water ran out.  Or maybe he was just plain exaggerating or impatient and couldn’t wait two frickin’ seconds.)

This wasn’t a good enough reason to stop showering, because it happened to me all the time, and I didn’t come out and yell at people for ruining my shower.  I just waited it out and then finished up when the water warmed up.  Or I shut off the water while soaping up, and turned it back on again to rinse off.

He was so unreasonable.  He even scolded me for using too much shampoo, when he barely used any, and I had waist-length hair!

Trigger Warning: Phil rapes me anally

Phil kept wanting to do my backside.  I didn’t want him to.  I let him once or twice, but it was too painful–like my horrible first time all over again.  He had never heard of lubrication or the need to wear a condom, but was obsessed with anal sex.

I didn’t (still don’t) understand how anyone would like it, but Phil’s last girlfriend (number six) said it was the most pleasurable way for a woman.  (Say WHAT?)  But it was not–it was some of the most excruciating pain–so she must’ve been a masochist.

He knew it hurt me, but thought it was like vaginal, and would only hurt the first few times.  But the anus doesn’t have a hymen, and is not meant to be used that way.

Also, the pain was a gift that kept on giving: I felt it afterwards, and bowel movements also hurt.  It was even worse than getting a rectal exam from a doctor.  At least a doctor knows how to do his job safely.

I hated to hear Phil whisper in the middle of sex, “Please–give me your backside!”  No means no!

But one day, Phil said if I didn’t let him do that, he wouldn’t be able to have sex with me in any other way for several weeks: He wouldn’t be able to get excited enough.

He didn’t understand, but that hurt me emotionally just as bad as anal sex hurt me physically.  I still didn’t want to do it anally, despite what he said.

He was using emotional and sexual manipulation to get me to do this horrible, painful thing.  He even accused me of always having to get my way, because I refused to do this.

The next morning, I took my temperature and recorded it for Natural Family Planning, but then started crying, wanting to throw the notebook aside.  What was the use of watching my cycle if we weren’t going to have sex for a few weeks?

I cried at least once more that day.  I told Phil about it, probably that night, and he said, “Is it really that important to you?”–like he was surprised.

But why wouldn’t it be?  I had my own desires, for normal sex and not some aberration, but these were not being recognized, just constant pressure for something bizarre and painful.

He said maybe anal is the “natural” way in some cultures, but I really doubt that.  I had to explain to him that the Clan of the Cave Bear’s “back entry” scenes didn’t involve anal sex, but rather an animalistic version of vaginal sex.

Once, before our marriage, he said he could go without sex if I didn’t want it.  If he could abstain from sex in general, couldn’t he abstain from anal sex if I didn’t want it?

After I told him how I felt and we talked about it, everything seemed back to normal.

But one night, what a horror!  In the middle of things he said, “Give me your backside.”

I kept saying, “No, not that way!” but he kept pressuring.

Before we finished, while still on top of me, he withdrew and moved down to my anus, not actually in but trying to get in.

I pleaded with him to move.

I clearly said no, and I also struggled, trying to push him away.

But he didn’t listen and didn’t move, and he ejaculated like that.  It got all over, and I got mad at him for not respecting my wishes.

At one point, as he sat hunched over on the side of the bed in the darkness, I said that rape could be grounds for divorce.

He said in a trembling, petulant, upset voice, “So are you going to divorce me now?”

I said no, but our reconciliation was probably painful.  It felt like a rape.  I still think of it as one.  He did to me sexually what I didn’t want him to do, despite my pleas.  The trouble is, in a situation like this, how would you even prove it in court?

At least, that’s how I thought at the time.  Indiana law in 2013 would indeed consider it Criminal Deviate Conduct, Class B Felony.

However, it’s been almost 20 years and laws on all sorts of things have changed since then; I don’t know if this law was on the books back then:

  • Criminal Deviate Conduct, Class B felony: knowingly or intentionally causing another person to perform or submit to deviate sexual conduct* when:(1) the other person is compelled by force or imminent threat of force; …

* Deviate sexual conduct, according to IC 35-41-1-9, is any act involving “(1) a sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; …”

[Update 9/17/14: The laws were changed just since I posted this in December 2013, thanks to the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  Now it is indeed called “rape,” rather than “criminal deviate conduct,” and the law reads,

“Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a person who knowingly or intentionally has sexual intercourse with another person or knowingly or intentionally causes another person to perform or submit to other sexual conduct (an act involving a sex organ of one (1) person and the mouth or anus of another person) when the other person is compelled by force or imminent threat of force; commits rape, a Level 3 felony.”]

As you can see, this also applies to unwanted oral sex.  This was another point of contention: It was gross, no matter who did it to whom.  I didn’t want him to kiss me afterwards, but he would whine that none of his other girlfriends said that.

I didn’t want to do it to him, didn’t want to put anything like that in my mouth, did not like the taste, would not do it long enough to get him to ejaculate, because it was absolutely disgusting.

But he kept trying to get me to do it.  (His “subconscious” tried to ease me into it.  More on that later.)  But I got no pleasure from it, was grossed out by the whole thing.

I may have been traumatized by this and the constant coercion: When the cafeteria served okra that fall, I couldn’t eat it, because it was slimy and reminded me of oral sex.

Ever since then, I have never engaged in this disgusting practice again, and have been blessed with a husband who also finds it gross and wants nothing to do with it.

Late summer, during sex, Phil sometimes tried to turn me over to do my backside–with a petulant, angry, stern look on his face, like he wanted to control me and I’d better do what he wanted or else.  I would refuse and resist his hands, and push myself back down.

But what really got me was that he’d pick a fight with me practically every time right after we’d made love.  This is the time to bask in the glow, not pick at the person you’ve just been sexually intimate with!

I would lie there naked and vulnerable, all satisfied and happy, and he would yell at me for one thing or another.  It really, really hurt.  Instead of being most satisfied and happy with me and our marriage, my “loving” husband would turn on me.  Yet another trauma.

I’ll jump on ahead to September to include another incident of sexual coercion.  In September, he broke off the marriage and spent a couple of weeks psychologically abusing me.  Then he came back to me.  I thought he wanted to be married again, but he just wanted sex and a submissive puppet.

By now, my will was broken, and I was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene

Phil and I got into a routine of sleeping in Sunday morning, having Sunday lunch at home (sometimes warmed up if we slept too late), going to the evening service, then going to get dinner for ourselves from a fast food place, because Mom never made dinner Sunday evening.

In my family, our traditional Sunday dinner was at lunchtime, then we’d have ice cream (sometimes cake or brownies a la mode, too) in the mid- to late-afternoon, and popcorn after the evening service (or around 7:00, if we didn’t go to the evening service).

But this didn’t satisfy me anymore and often made me feel a little sick, so I welcomed going to get dinner with Phil.

We used to go to the morning service, and people complimented Phil’s bass singing, but we decided we’d rather sleep and go to the evening service.

But one evening, the people at the church service divided up into little classes in the Sunday School classrooms.  I’m not sure why; it was not normally done, but the pastor wanted to do something different that night.

I was excited about it and wanted to go to one, but Phil refused to go with me.  I said I didn’t want to go alone.  He said he didn’t want to go, maybe for the same reasons he didn’t want to go to Sunday School–avoiding indoctrination or confrontation?

(Like that would’ve happened!  We as a church were very laid-back, and wouldn’t do this sort of thing.)

He said we should either leave, or he’d wait in the van for me as I went to a class.  I said people would wonder why he wasn’t with me.  He didn’t care.

I got frustrated, and really wanted to go to a class, but I refused to let him be an object of my embarrassment by sitting outside in the van.  I said we might as well leave.


I got into practice of being a good little housewife: Just as I kept up with cleaning my dorm room and laundry, I cleaned our upstairs rooms: dusting and vacuuming our two bedrooms, cleaning the half-bath each week, doing laundry for both of us, folding his clothes and hanging up his shirts and jeans and putting them all away, then putting one or two fabric sheets in his underwear drawer to keep the underwear nice and fresh.  (My mom taught me this trick.)

But I kept finding the fabric sheets in the wastebasket.  It was kind of insulting, almost like he thought I was leaving them there accidentally or something, or like he didn’t care about my little gesture.  I put them there every time and set them nice and neatly over his underwear. It seemed hard to mistake that for an accident.

I went to a lot of trouble to clean his underwear, learning how to bleach and trying to figure out how to remove the stubborn stains guys leave behind.  I tried and tried and tried, but could not get them out.

I also washed and bleached the white sheets on my bed, which we both used, but the grease from his arms after working at the factory did not come out of the sheets.

(Later that year, I’d put the stained parts at the foot of the bed, so I couldn’t see them and remember sex with him.  In 1997, I decided to just get rid of them, since there was no way I was using them again.  Now I just wanted to burn them.)

He acted like I was a nag for asking him to clean up with the Lava soap I put in the upstairs bathroom for that purpose.  But he just didn’t seem to realize what he was doing to the sheets by not washing up every night.

He couldn’t take a shower at night because the full bath was in my parents’ bedroom, so that’s why I brought in the Lava soap.  But he didn’t get up early enough to take a shower the next morning, when my parents were gone–and for goodness’ sake, he had to clean up sometime!

Trying to wash the T-shirts and jeans he wore to work was almost impossible.  They got clean, but except for one red T-shirt that resisted the grease stains, they were badly stained and fit for nothing else but such work.

I kept trying and trying to get the stains out, but it just didn’t work.  Phil wore the same pair of jeans to work each day so the other ones wouldn’t get ruined.

Phil never bathed much, even now that he was working in a factory, and even when he showered, he didn’t always use soap.

He didn’t like showering because of some near-drowning incident when he was a child; he said he’d rather just use shampoo in the shower, and soap up while taking a bath, since the water wasn’t pouring down all over him.

Yet I don’t think he took a bath more than once or twice the whole time I was with him.  If he did, I didn’t know about it.

He also didn’t brush his teeth.  I begged him to shower and brush his teeth, but he said, “This way you won’t have to worry about any other women coming on to me!”  But hey–what about being more attractive to me?  When he did shower, I begged him to use soap.

Once, he told me he washed his hands but didn’t use soap because he didn’t see any.  I said there was a softsoap bottle sitting right there on the sink!  (Duh!)  He said he doesn’t use soap if he can’t tell it is soap.

But, come on, that softsoap stuff had been on the market and advertised ever since we were little kids, and most public bathrooms used softsoap, so he should have known by now what it was.  And it probably said “soap” or “softsoap” right on the bottle!


One early afternoon, Phil infuriated me.  I did nothing wrong, and wished he would apologize for treating me so badly.

We went over to the nearest branch of the library to get a book, you see; I used to walk there all the time in high school.  I thought it would only take a moment because I knew exactly what I was looking for: a particular Gothic novel for my studies.  This was all for my senior thesis, Gothic novels and how they’ve changed over time.

Instead I found a collection of Gothic stories.  While I looked that over, and over what other Gothic books they had there, I lost track of time.  But Phil apparently did, too, or else he knew what time it was and didn’t tell me.

Anyway, it got late, and he had to go to work.  I thought it was still early, because I was so engrossed that time went quickly.  I thought it took fifteen minutes at the very most, and I don’t know what took up so much time.  He didn’t tell me until it was already late that we needed to get going.

Then on the way back, instead of walking along holding hands cheerfully and lovingly, like we did on the way there, he started walking and running fast.

He got mad at me because I couldn’t keep up with him, though I was physically unable to go faster.  I told him I couldn’t walk or run so fast.  He yelled at me and then, when we got back, he left in a huff.

I have always had trouble keeping up with others who walk or run fast, especially guys.  In a walking test in gym class in maybe sixth grade, I finished the track long after everyone else in the class was done.  I have long legs, but still can’t keep up.  For years, I’ve considered this an NVLD-related thing.  So Phil yelled at me for something I can’t help, something related to my nonverbal learning disability.

Dad was home so I tried to hide my tears, but I sniffled while doing the dishes.  Dad may have noticed, but I don’t remember for sure.  (I know my parents did notice some days that I was unhappy.)  I was still pretty ticked at Phil because he should’ve been more understanding at my lack of athletic ability.

Phil did say when he got home from work that maybe he shouldn’t have gotten so mad at me, and he did apologize.

But he had complained about me at the factory during a break.  So not only was he trying to break me with psychological warfare, but he smeared me to his co-workers as well.

Jake’s wedding was on July 30 at Pam’s mother’s house.  We of Jake’s family, even Phil, were included in the informal pictures.  (A few months later, Mom didn’t like to see him in the pictures.)

I loved the punch, which had ice cream in it.  And no, it had no alcohol.  Why should punch be spiked?  It’s delicious the way it is.  And whatever happened to punch at parties and weddings?

Anyway, the reception was at a restaurant, probably Old Country Buffet.  My youngest brother, Mom, Dad, Grandma McCanmore, Phil and I all sat together at the same table.

My youngest brother liked to make snide comments about me all the time.  He said I was stubborn and wouldn’t do anything I didn’t want to.

Phil said proudly, “She does whatever I ask her to.”

Grandma said to me, “Don’t let him think that!”

I did jokingly call him “master” sometimes, like the girl in Pamela, or like a genie with  bowed head and hands pressed together, because I didn’t mind giving over the decision making to someone else.  However, this was a grave mistake because he took it to heart, liked it way too much, took it way too seriously.

The 700 Club taught a better form of submission, a wife willingly submitting and a husband willingly loving and protecting (mutual submission), rather than a subservient wife forced to obey her husband.

Phil wanted obedience; I wanted mutual submission.

It wasn’t until later–when I researched for American Lit and changed my senior thesis to Victorian women who tried to break free from male domination, and probably with the sting of bitter memories–that I began to hate the very idea of one head of the household.

But I always resisted being controlled and obedient, as if I were a child and Phil my father.

But if Phil wanted something I didn’t want or could not give, such as anal sex, he began demanding it, scolding me and saying, “You always get your way!” or “Fine, have your way, you always do.”

This from the guy who kept refusing to do things I asked for and treated me like a nag for wanting them, such as: taking me to look for PH paper for his required natural family planning, doing little things once in a while that I asked for because they were sweet and reminded me of our early days together, or going to a park on the weekend instead of just sitting around the house doing nothing except watch him play computer games.

This also contradicted his assertion at my brother’s wedding that I did whatever he wanted me to. 

Years later, I also heard from a friend that he held me up to his new wife as some kind of saint, obedient and perfect, so that she idolized me and tried to be like me.  It was bizarre.

But back to July 1994.  If I stuck up for myself during one of his tirades, he screamed, “You always have to be right!”

Never mind that he kept demanding I give up something important to me (such as Sunday School), do something disgusting or demeaning or perverted or painful, allow him to get his way or win the argument when he was being unreasonable or cruel or ridiculing me, or read his mind.

As I described above, he even threatened to withhold natural marital relations if I refused to agree to the perverted and excruciatingly painful (no lube) thing he wanted to do.

I knew that Phil used pornography before we started dating.  He told me he got rid of the Hustler magazines in his room.  But studies have shown that use of porn can distort a young man’s expectations of his wife/girlfriend.

I believe this is exactly what happened with Phil, that he expected me to act like a porn star.  (Also see here.)  I knew he watched a certain porn movie all the time, and Hustler is hardcore, not like Playboy.

Sure it’s difficult to put these details on the Web, but stories of abuse need to be told, for the sake of those who have been and are being abused.  Maybe some woman (or man) will recognize herself (himself) in these pages and get the help she (he) needs.

Phil’s cruel hoax on me: his “subconscious” coming out to be with me

Ever since early February–yes, the very beginning of our relationship–Phil pretended to talk and move in his sleep, making me think he was dreaming when he was actually conscious the whole time.  He did this with all sorts of “dreams.”

It is well known that people sometimes sleepwalk, talk and/or act out dreams in their sleep, and I saw Peter act out dreams a few times.  One of Cugan’s college friends once took on too many activities at Gen-Con, the gamer’s convention; he finally collapsed into his seat at a Dr. Who roleplaying game.  He dozed off, then woke again to hear, “You won!”  He had sleeptalked through the whole game, doing voices and accents and cracking jokes so well that no one had a clue he was asleep.

With my NVLD, I didn’t realize Phil was playing a hoax.  With my trusting nature, and being in a relationship based on trust, I never imagined how well an actor can act when deceiving his own girlfriend, fiancée or wife, the one he claims to love.  I never realized that he was Lovelace to my Clarissa.

I have rarely mentioned this to anyone before, because it was so humiliating.  Putting it here on the Web is to finally release it, and put it where it can help others recognize the tactics of abusers.

(Also, I would love for Dirk to find it and realize he was the pawn of a manipulative abuser.  Though that probably will not happen, because Phil has no idea this blog exists, and I do not use real names.)

As I described before, in February, Phil pretended to go into a dream state, and then said, “Your purpose is–to destroy me!”  I was horrified that he would say such a thing, whether in a dream or awake.

Over the summer, while his conscious self became more and more controlling and manipulative, his so-called dreaming self was the same kind, gentle spirit I had fallen in love with, telling me this was all a “test” to see if I’d stick around.  Naturally, I began to prefer the dreaming self.  The most elaborate hoax was played from July 19 to August 11–almost a month:

On Tuesday, July 19 at 7 in the morning, I wrote in my diary,

The oddest thing just happened to me.  [We were sleeping in the guest bedroom when] Phil’s subconscious “awoke” twice while he slept, and talked with me.  After the first time, when Phil woke up, I despaired of hearing the rest of a sentence he’d been saying, but later on “he” came back out and restated his sentence.

Then we had a long talk about many things the subconscious knew that Phil (who he referred to in the third person) did not.  Two of the most important things were:

His conscious believes he first fell in love with me that night we had our long talk about him and Tracy, and then stayed overnight in [a Phi-Delt’s] room, and also that he only liked Pearl as a friend when he first met me.  But his subconscious knows that he did like Pearl romantically, and that he knew it was either me or Pearl.

And most importantly, he fell in love with me soon after he first laid eyes on me–truly love at first sight.  I guess it does exist, after all.  His conscious mind first knew he loved me when we went on our very first date, but convinced himself it wasn’t until the night of our talk/sleepover.

The second most important thing is, his conscious mind doesn’t know the biggest reason why we keep arguing so much and worse.  He thinks it’s hard day taken out on me, being mad at me, being mad that I’m not making sense–but that’s all he knows.  His subconscious knows he’s testing me–making sure we’re right for each other and that I can put up with him.

On Saturday, 7/23 at 1:43pm (yes, pm), I wrote,

He came out again just now, while Phil was sleeping.  Phil had been dreaming about me and keeping me awake for the past hour with his gropings and pullings, etc., when he asked me to kiss him.  He asked me to make love to him (yes, we are married, common law–if we’d not been married, Phil and his subconscious tell me, Phil would’ve hated me for taking away his virginity).  I said, “You’re asleep.”  He said, “No, I’m not.  I’m subconscious.  You wanted me to come out again.”

He thinks he comes out when Phil kisses me with his eyes closed, but that happens a lot, so obviously that’s not the whole reason.  I kept asking him questions…. Here’s what he told me:

First, that he–the subconscious–has wanted me from the first time he laid eyes on me.  That he knew I wanted him–not a psychic thing, but a subconscious one.  He saw my “aura”–that told him things about me, that I was a virgin and not a slut, that I was a good person–and that I would be good in bed.  Hmm!  I was also, he said, more desirable than anyone else in the room.

He didn’t want to tell me more, because he could go on for days!  The main reason for his attraction was the way I looked, he said.

….I asked him if he was the superego, or what part of the subconscious he was.  “I am the subconscious,” he said.  “Superego and id?” I said.  “In Freudian terms,” he said.

“Was Freud right?” I said.

“On some points,” he said.

“Is the id really that bad?”



(Several shushes.)

“Don’t talk,” he said, “just experience.”  Even though he didn’t know if Phil would stay asleep or wake up afterwards.  He woke up, to my disappointment because I had more questions, and he didn’t want to hear what his subconscious had told me.  He started reading my diary over my shoulder after I wrote “First,” but then he went downstairs to work on a Dungeons & Dragons character.

My men–first Peter, now Phil–sure have a way of keeping it interesting for me!–2:03pm

–3:30pm  Oh, yeah: This is definitely a unique experience.  When Phil’s talked in his sleep before, it’s been Phil asleep.  His subconscious says that he’s never done this before, talk to people like he does to me, and he doesn’t know why he’s doing it now.

Maybe I could tell some of the less-private things, things about the subconscious itself, to Sharon, my psychology-major friend and, now, roommate.  [Around this time, I did tell my old roommate Clarissa in a letter, telling her not to tell anyone else because they’d think I was gullible–but she did tell Sharon.]–3:23pm

–8:26pm  “He” came out again….I’ve heard of joining body and soul, but this–would it really fit to say it’s “ridiculous”?  I don’t know what to think about it; it’s all so weird.

He told me his purpose in coming is to make love to me….[Earlier Phil] said he “must sleep now.”  I asked him why; no answer.  I tugged on his ear and said, “Phil’s subconscious!  Why?”  He answered then, and told me his purpose in being out.  He kept telling me…that I want him more than Phil’s conscious–“I’m more intriguing to you,” he said….

I asked him who he was, based on the division of body, soul and spirit.  I told him Pat Robertson’s description of it, that the spirit is what God talks to and the source of the psi function, and that the soul is the mind.  At least, I think that’s roughly how P.R. put it.  Maybe psi is in the soul, not the spirit.

But whichever way it is, the subconscious said he’s the part that knows more than Phil-conscious knows, and only tells him what he needs to know without being overwhelmed.  I think he said he remembers things but I’m not sure now.  He said he’s part of the mind.  So I guess he’s part of the soul.

…He said we’re meant for each other.  I said, “You mean, me and you and Phil, or just me and you?”  He said, me and him.  “This is getting spooky,” I said.

“How?” he said.

“For one thing, how do you come out?  Why did you?”

“I come out because you want me to.  You wanted me to come out.”

“I was curious if I could get you to come out.  I kissed Phil with his eyes closed.  How’d you know I wanted you out?”

Somehow, he knows.  Can he see or feel what my subconscious knows?  Things I don’t necessarily know?  (Oh, yeah…He said I’ll never know how many times he’s been out.)  [Either he didn’t answer or I didn’t write it down.]

“Is it wrong for me to want you more?…I mean, you are Phil, after all….”

“What do you want me to say, that it is?  Then you wouldn’t want me anymore.  I couldn’t come out anymore.”

“This is spooky.  How can the subconscious do something like this?  How can it ‘come out’?”

“It’s magic.”

“Magic?  What kind of magic?”

“Fate.  A miracle.  Don’t question it.  We were meant for each other.”

…How in the world is this whole thing possible? Sometimes I wonder if Phil’s just playing a trick on me.  Or going nuts.  Or if it’s not really Phil or his subconscious speaking to me through his mouth.  [I probably meant demon possession.]

I said, “Why doesn’t he want me to tell him what you say?”

He said, “He doesn’t want it from you.  He wants it from me.”

“Will he read it in my diary?”

“He’ll try.”

“What does he expect to find?”

“He wants to understand himself.”

“Have you told me anything he doesn’t already know?”

“Not much.”

“Should I write down what you’re telling me now?” (meaning, all I have written in this entry so far)

“That’s up to you.”

“What’ll he do if he reads it?”

I don’t even know that.”

So there you have it, what he told me.  I have so many questions for him….Am I right or wrong to keep wanting him out?  He is Phil, after all.  I love all of him, conscious and subconscious.



Phil’s “subconscious” explains why he’s coming out to talk to me

On July 24, I wrote the reasons the “subconscious” told me he was coming out.  One was that Phil “doesn’t know what he wants and won’t listen to him.”

I don’t want to publish everything here on the second point, but basically, Phil was clumsy and tried to get me to do things I found gross (oral) or painful (anal), which didn’t work, so he lost his passion.

He wasn’t passionate enough to satisfy his subconscious, so the sub. came out to rectify things by going more slowly and teaching me to do the things I didn’t want to do.  Once I was ready and able to do these things, and Phil became more passionate again, the sub. would stop taking over.

Looking at this with more knowledgeable eyes, it basically sounds like the “subconscious” was yet another attempt to coerce me into doing things which grossed me out and/or caused excruciating pain.

Especially since me doing these things, was the way to get Phil more passionate so the subconscious would no longer “need” to come out….

Basically, it was my “fault” he was losing his passion.  And if he could behave so “tender” and “passionate” and “gentle” as his subconscious, why not drop the act and just do this as himself?

Also, the subconscious said he could tell from my “aura” that my own subconscious actually wanted to do the things I didn’t want to do.  So Phil’s purpose in this big hoax was to manipulate me into things I did not want to do, in every way possible!

Then I wrote,

He says Phil’s forgetting about this diary, but that it’s probably better if I don’t tell him things.

Last night, Phil told me he felt his subc. was more intriguing and “neat” to a person like me, and that when it’s me and his subc., he can have no part of it.  Even in dreams, he can have a good dream and remember it when we do something.  He doesn’t like that his subc. is with me.

So now there’s guilt-tripping, when in reality Phil was awake and present the entire time, playing a joke on me.  He was practically accusing me of an affair–with himself.

And, from this and the parts I’m not quoting, he used this as a ploy to get even more sex than usual, so “Phil-awake” wouldn’t miss out.  A couple of times I sent the subconscious away because I needed sleep; the third time, guilt came out again, as he said, “Please don’t send me away again, or I’ll never come back.”

Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you.  When he came back, maybe the first time, I told him Phil feels like he’s competing with his own subc.

“So?” he said.

“Don’t you care how he feels?  He is you,” I said, upset.

“No.”  But later on I found that wasn’t because he was bad, but because he wanted Phil’s passion to return, and this was the way to do it.

…After [the subc.] left again, Phil woke up once while I slept, and sat whispering to our stuffed rabbit-son Benny, “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?  Yes, she is!”  I heard him and woke up.

On July 25, I wrote,

He, the subc., whom theory says cloaks the messages into images in dreams, really doesn’t know what they are, either.  They aren’t always messages, either.

Phil does still dream when “he’s” around, sometimes, and whether or not the sleep is refreshing depends on the sleep, not on the subc. who’s visiting me.

Phil [in the van], as I tried to explain the subc.’s purpose in coming, said, “My subc. is a jerk.  He’s seeing you behind my back.”  I hooted with laughter.  “Hey Jealousy” was playing; I said, “Hey, Jealousy, you sound like a house divided against itself.”

Later, I said to the subc., “I suppose you know what Phil called you today.”  He laughed.  “What do you think of it?”

He said, “If only he knew what I’m doing for him.”

I paged through books and encyclopedias looking for any references to the subconscious coming out, often while sitting right next to Phil at the computer.  On July 27, I wrote:

This is no deception by Phil, neither is it him dreaming.  I’ve talked to him both ways, grilled him, watched him, and detected no tricks, no lies, nothing but what points to it being as he (subc.) says.

Here’s what the subconscious does all day: He takes in what the five senses detect.  He prioritizes things, puts them in order, tries to tell them to Phil.  He can’t see me unless Phil can.

He has no part in dreams, despite all those dream “codes” they talk about and all those theories that dreams are cloaked messages from the subc.  (As a matter of fact, he called those codes “a bunch of hocus-pocus like fortune-telling and astrology.”)

He’s awake pretty much all the time.  (I asked when he’s not awake, but all he said was, “How should I know?”)  He’s got so little to do, so few jobs, that he has a lot of free time on his hands (so to speak) and likes to fantasize.  And what about?  Me, of course, and a lot….

He needs me so badly that if I don’t have sex with him almost every time he appears, he may not be able to come back to me ever again.  He says he’ll probably disappear for a while during my fertile period.

And I can’t wake up Phil directly; he has to do it, or else the shock of jumping from one mind to another could make him mentally and emotionally unstable, or make him forget years of his life, or even kill him!

So he’ll have to be very careful with his appearances back at his house, where family members like to burst into the room unannounced and make life very perilous for us.

He says I’m the ember for his fire; he needs my passion; he needs my carnal desires.  Without them, he can’t return.

He also says he’s the part that comes out under hypnosis.  I told him I got hypnotized a couple times, and that a link [with Peter] was set up for a while which I’m glad no longer exists.  Maybe I’ll tell him more details later.

Oh, yes, I mustn’t forget what he said the other night: That the love he felt at first sight was the knowledge that I was the one.  We’re meant for each other, meant to be together for our whole lives.

And he says he loved me first [instead of Pearl], he loved me when he first laid eyes on me; Phil-conscious loved me when he decided he did.

And when Phil-conscious told me he wasn’t the guy who called my name from an upper window in the library [happened junior year as I walked by, and I never knew who or why], he was right, but he wished it had been him.

On August 2, I wrote to Clarissa,

Speaking of minds, the following is something I only want to tell a few people because I don’t know how the hearer would react to it.

There were some times that Phil himself didn’t really believe it, and I’ve had to test to see that it’s true and not him tricking me or talking in his sleep.

Don’t tell anyone about it, or they might get the wrong idea or think I’m crazy.

But lately truth has certainly been stranger than fiction.  I don’t know how, though I’ve tried to research it, but Phil’s subconscious has been using Phil’s mouth to talk to me while Phil’s asleep!

I figure I might as well tell you because, for one thing, you’ve been my roommate for two years and I’ve told you a lot of things, and for another, I don’t think you’d decide I’m just either gullible or nuts.

But this happens without any hypnotism; “he” comes out on his own volition, or when I call to him in a whisper.  Phil has to be asleep because both can’t be “present” at the same time, and I can’t wake Phil up myself when his subconscious mind is “out.”

“He” has a theory for the why, why he comes out, which is too personal for me to tell even you, but has no idea about the how.

I’ve been asking him about the subconscious, what it’s like and what it does; it doesn’t have a whole lot to do, so in its spare time it likes to fantasize about things.  At least, he does.

And forget all that stuff they tell us about dreams being messages cloaked by the subconscious mind.  He says he doesn’t even know what dreams are, and that those dream interpretations are a bunch of hocus-pocus, like astrology.

I’m going to have to talk to our psychology major, Sharon, abut some of this, and probably my Intro to Psych teacher as well.  Suddenly I’m quite glad I’m taking Psych, and that I’m taking it this next semester.

So you see how Phil’s hoax was beginning to spread, how I even planned to discuss it with my Psych teacher.

The lies unravel as Phil admits to conning me; also, fright as my periods turn wacky

On August 4, I wrote in my diary,

I’ve just been with “him” [Phil’s “subconscious”] again, after several days of being apart….

Anyway, he tells me he’s not the soul, the soul is the life-force; that he doesn’t know if his part of the person survives after death; but that if Heaven, Paradise, is him with me, he’ll be there, whether apart or with Phil.  If he’s apart or if he’s with Phil also depends on my version of paradise.

…I asked why Phil’s always saying I get my own way, if it’s true or not; he said, sometimes it is, and sometimes Phil just thinks it is.

He says there are many different levels of consciousness, along with the conscious and the subconscious, and that they just don’t understand them all.  I’ll have to ask if he knows what those levels are.  And if animals have a subc.

On August 9, I wrote,

I believe I’ve just had a miscarriage, before I even knew the child was alive.  If you look at my temperature charts, you’ll see that my period was four days late, and that by now I’ve been bleeding for ten days straight.

I thought it was a normal period when I first saw the blood but it took forever to stop spotting before it went to heavy flowing.  My periods never go like that; the pattern is pretty predictable, and doesn’t deviate a whole lot.

The thought of a soul in Heaven now, belonging to someone that Phil and I created only a couple weeks ago, is so sad.  The only good things about this are that it is in Heaven and that I won’t be having a child quite as early as that.

Maybe this explains why my “thermal shift” ended up going down to very low temperatures instead of up to the more normal, very high temperatures it’s supposed to, or even the normal ones I myself had been recording–97.9, 98, 97.8, etc.

Phil is sad because he expected, if he were to make a child, it wouldn’t die–at least not so soon, especially not so early in the pregnancy.

When I told him it was quite likely that was the source [of this weird period], according to a book I read about it in, he said in his “kiddie” voice, “Ben-ny!” and made surprised, dismayed faces.  He tells me that at least we know we’re both fertile.

I wore a black T-shirt and hair tie yesterday, the day after the night we found out; I’m wearing a black hair tie again today, in honor of the probable child, now dead.  I’ve wept a little, but I haven’t gotten to sobs.  [The subconscious said he was sad about it.]

Nowadays, I think I never actually was pregnant, but had already started my strange irregular bleeding.  Such bleeding began happening periodically.  See my essay on this here: In 1997, I once bled for SIXTEEN DAYS, and was put on the Pill; doctors confirmed that I did not have a miscarriage.

Since my first abnormal uterine bleeding happened a few months after our first time (when I bled above and beyond what is expected), I suspect it’s somehow related.  Phil may have “broken” something.  I don’t know, but I do know this was when the excessively long periods began.

On August 11, I wrote,

After all that, he finally admits it [his “subconscious” coming out to talk to me] was all a stupid, elaborate joke.

[He said that at times he thought, “She isn’t really buying this, no!”]  I told him he was a good actor, because, after all, I watched him closely and I was quite certain it was real.

I told him he made a fool of me.

And he says all those dreams he’s had that he’s acted out in his sleep–all of them–even the one where he thought he’d taken my innocence away while I slept, and he felt so terrible–all were a trick as well.

Even the one where he thought I was dead–he wanted me to know how he’d feel.

I know I should forgive him, but only God can give me the strength and–as the prayer I use for forgiving people goes–the forgiving love it takes.

I believe he told me that the night before I wrote the diary entry, while lying or sitting on his bed.  He admitted to playing a trick on me.  I said, “Well, I’m sure it wasn’t a nasty one,” but he said, “It was.”

He told me other things as well.  He told me about this party he went to the year before at a college in Texas, before he transferred to Roanoke.  The hostess was a girl he liked.  He started drinking what they were serving, thinking to stifle his moral senses.

And why did he do this?  Because he thought he might sleep with her, and he wanted to deaden his conscience and make it easier to do.  Of course, he believed her friends would not have let anything happen.

I couldn’t believe this.  My respect for him drained away.

“I wish you hadn’t told me that,” I said.

There were other revelations that summer and maybe September that helped drain my respect: That he went skinny-dipping the summer before with girls, but didn’t see it as immoral.  That he saw nothing wrong with taking whatever was passed around at a party, even if it was illegal (he was still underage) or bad for his health.

That night, I still slept next to him.  I don’t think there was any sex.  I was upset, sad, but for some reason, I didn’t want to leave his side–maybe he, despite causing my hurt, was a sort of comfort.  I couldn’t tell my parents about this, and who else could I tell?  God, of course, but He wasn’t a warm, physical presence, and the cat was in the basement.

Phil was so depressed the next day, probably the eleventh, because of what he did to me, and because he didn’t think I’d pardon this grievous sin of his.

I left him lying in the bed and took a shower.  He wondered if I’d have anything good to say when I came back upstairs.

I pondered the words of Christ, that we must forgive.  And the verse that says if you don’t forgive your fellow humans, God won’t forgive you of your own sins.

We were married, and I took the vow seriously; I had to forgive my own husband, no matter what–providing he didn’t cheat on me or abuse me.

But then–could this be considered abuse?  I’m not sure I even thought of that, and I know I, like many abused women, didn’t realize I’d been suffering his abuse for months, because he didn’t hit me.  Back then, emotional and psychological abuse was not talked about much, just physical abuse.

But I did come back upstairs to him after my shower, and told him he could stay, he wouldn’t have to leave, and I would try to forgive him.  It was my duty as a wife to forgive my husband.

He was so happy that he hugged me.  However, I was still sad, and the hurt still fresh.  Part of it was the loss of a friend and lover, someone to discuss Phil with, someone who truly cared about me–his subconscious.  Another part was the betrayal, the practical joke on his own wife, the childish game that made a fool of me.

Remember the episode of MASH in which Hawkeye sleepwalks around the camp, dreaming and talking as if he were back in Crabapple Cove?  Phil’s “dreams” could get that elaborate.  What if Hawkeye had turned to the psychiatrist and said, “I was just playing a joke on everybody”?

How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse

Phil feared my parents didn’t like him so much anymore.  I didn’t want to believe it, but they did complain about him at the dinner table while he was off at work, and grumble about something he was doing or not doing. They seemed more and more irritated with him all the time.


Once, Phil admitted that he didn’t like to be wrong, said that men don’t like to be wrong, even when they are wrong.  But my dad wasn’t like that, and Phil acted as if he should keep being right.  He projected this onto me, accusing me of doing it.

Of course, I had faults of my own; I was still young, and did not understand many things about men and effective arguing.  But this did not excuse Phil’s emotional, verbal and sexual abuse.

Though it took some time for me to recognize it, his treatment of me fit the necessary traits for abuse, not just “borderline abuse” as I called it for a few years.  It wasn’t everything on these lists, but a good share of them:

What is abuse?

(I also give many more links here.)

Remember the traits listed in these links.  They will come up again and again over the next several chapters, and you will recognize them.  All the articles list various things Phil did, but to simplify, the last article’s section on Overt Abuse is a basic list of what he did, bolding the traits I remember:

The open and explicit abuse of another person. Threatening, coercing, beating, lying, berating, demeaning, chastising, insulting, humiliating, exploiting, ignoring (“silent treatment”), devaluing, unceremoniously discarding, verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are all forms of overt abuse.

Going further in that article by Sam Vaknin, Impossible Situations can also fit the tricks he played, pretending to talk and act in his sleep and the big “subconscious” hoax, fitting the requirements I bolded:

Impossible Situations

The abuser engineers impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely needed.

The abuser makes sure that his knowledge, his skills, his connections, or his traits are the only ones applicable and the most useful in the situations that he, himself, wrought. The abuser generates his own indispensability.

After all, if you are intrigued by supernatural, psychic or psychological phenomena and your significant other begins displaying such things, you won’t want to leave him, because any other guy seems boring by comparison.

I don’t know if Peter did this, too; I can’t say one way or the other, because he did believe in UFOs, ESP and other psychic phenomena, and could have actually believed what he told me about his psychic abilities, our Link, and his ninjitsu training.  Or it could all have been an elaborate fabrication, as some people believed.

Another means of Phil’s Impossible Situation is obvious: our secret marriage.  Since I believed in the lifelong bonds of marriage, he had an easy way to hold me: Every time he screwed up, I decided to forgive him, so I would not divorce him and “commit adultery.”

I was the one who came up with the idea for a secret marriage, not him; for him, the idea and the means of control dropped into his lap, just the same as Clarissa throwing herself into Lovelace’s protection when her family tried to force her to marry the “odious Solmes.”

(As an aside, the last link‘s sections on Impossible Situations and Control by Proxy are the basic plot of Clarissa.  Also, the Abuse of Information section matches the character Scott in my novella All Together Now, part of the Lighthouse collection.)

The Control by Proxy section also applied in September, when Phil used his friend Dirk as a tool to control me:

If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, the media, teachers – in short, third parties – to do his bidding.

He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target.

He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

In 2006/7, I found an article which discussed the reasons why women stay in abusive relationships.  It’s not about low self-esteem or lack of assertiveness, as many people might think.

I disagree with the advice given out by some of our advice columnists and popular TV counselors (like Dr. Phil): It’s false that you “teach people how to treat you,” that continued abuse is your own fault for staying in the relationship.  That’s victim-blaming.

No one is to blame for abuse except the abuser.  If it were so easy to pick up and leave, the abused spouses would have done so long before.  Sometimes, the abuse worsens if you try to leave, and you could end up dead.

In my case, it was a combination of the marriage vows and “honeymoon periods,” or times when the abuser apologizes, the abuse stops and everything seems wonderful.  According to this website, “the moral courage of targets is demonstrated by their ability to withstand abuse for months, and sometimes years, but still remain determined to resolve the conflict.”

Many of the reasons listed here are similar to why a spouse will stay in such a relationship.


Over the months of our relationship, Phil often said he was a woman trapped in a man’s body.  One Sunday afternoon in the van on the way to church, he started talking all macho.  I don’t remember now what he said, but I said in disgust,

“You don’t sound like a woman trapped in a man’s body.”  I said he sounded more like one of those macho men he always harangued against.

He said in a temper, “Okay, maybe I am one.”

I didn’t like that, of course, because I didn’t want a macho man.

At least once when I wanted to get something I needed, or that we needed, he refused and chided me for not driving there myself–no simple task for many of us with visual-spatial and other learning disorders: Driving and its visual bombardment scares me.  I get lost easily, and then panic, especially going somewhere I’ve never been to before.

It seemed that practically every day I was in tears.  Mom sometimes noticed my red eyes, but said nothing.

More and more often, Phil yelled at me, I defended myself, and he disappeared into the guest room, stonewalling me.  This bugged me to no end.

It seemed like, in his eyes, I could never be right or disagree with him over anything.  It was like he thought he had to be in control and I had to submit, and he’d get upset if this didn’t happen.

During the spring semester, Candice heard him yelling at me in Krueger lounge, and didn’t like that one bit.  (She told me this a couple of years later, after I’d long since forgotten what he yelled about.)  Now it happened more and more often.

Of course I don’t remember now what we argued about, but I do remember arguing at least part of the time about sex, whether or not to have it some night, whether or not it would be anal or oral, and that we’d also argue about religion.

He didn’t like that I refused to convert to Catholicism or say “obey” in the marriage vows.  (When we said them before in our secret wedding, he tried to prod me into saying “obey,” but I didn’t do it.  And I wasn’t going to do it legally, either.)

We probably argued about moral issues as well, and underage drinking may have been one issue.

There was the issue of when he was to get up in the morning: He slept until two p.m., so he had no time for breakfast (besides a Little Debbie snack cake), a shower or brushing his teeth before work.

We had no time together before he left, and he wouldn’t do any of the things he could only do in the afternoon (like getting his brakes checked).

I’d want to be with him after a long evening with my parents, and he’d want to be alone.  I expected that he wanted sex every night, just as before, and he seemed to want it all the time.  But how did he tell me different?  Not with some gentle, loving explanation, but with a spat-out, “Not every night!”

I’m sure there were other things, things I no longer remember.

St. John Chrysostom said “a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other, but of both partners obeying each other.”  While “the husband giving orders, and the wife obeying them” is “appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage” (p. 72, On Living Simply).

Chrysostom says they are obedient to each others’ needs and feelings.  He also said that a harsh master, using angry words and threats, causes obedience but not attachment in a slave, who will run away the first chance he gets.  “How much worse it is for a husband to use angry words and threats to his wife.”

Chrysostom goes on to describe the situation that, even in our modern age, still plays itself out every day: a husband shouting, demanding obedience to his every whim, even using violence.

But this treatment turns wives into “sullen servants, acting as their husbands require out of cold fear.  Is this the kind of union you want?  Does it really satisfy you to have a wife who is petrified of you?  Of course not.”

Such behavior may make the husband feel better for the moment, “but it brings no lasting joy or pleasure.  Yet if you treat your wife as a free woman, respecting her ideas and intuitions, and responding with warmth to her feelings and emotions, then your marriage shall be a limitless source of blessing to you” (p. 74).

Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games

In an August letter to Clarissa, I described a headache which two of those mail-order music companies put me through, Word and Columbia House: I sent my May cards back in plenty of time to refuse the month’s latest “tell us no or we’ll send it automatically” selections, almost a month before the due date, along with address changes from Roanoke to my home.

Yet for some strange reason, they kept sending cards to Roanoke–along with the selections I rejected!  Then when the selections were forwarded to my house (one was COD for some unknown reason!), I sent them back.

Then I got letters scolding me for either (Word) not paying for a CD I’d already sent back, or (Columbia House) not telling them I wanted to reject the selections.


I was furious, annoyed and irritated, dealing with this all summer long, when I had done everything I was supposed to, and had done nothing wrong.

I don’t recall when I finally cancelled these accounts, after all these years.  This probably had something to do with it.

Sometime afterwards, I tried BMG, which eventually moved everything to a website, sometime between 1998 and the 2000s.  I used the website to reject a selection, only to get it anyway.  Or to order another, and not get it.

I finally washed my hands of music clubs completely, and now get my stuff from Amazon.  This “tell us no or we’ll send it” method is ridiculous.  I recommend staying away from clubs like this.

Another thing I wrote in that letter:

You won’t believe what station just drowned out Q101 (Chicago) for a few minutes and came in quite clearly: WIXX!  They identified themselves as WIXX–Green Bay, and I about freaked.  That station that you can’t pick up past S–, drowned out a Chicago station across the river?!  (8/3–Phil tells me they were going to boost their power.)


Phil almost lost his legs one day!  He came home and said his friend at work was driving the forklift (or some other kind of machinery) and didn’t see Phil there, picking up metal strips (or tubing or whatever it was).  At the crucial moment, one of them saw the other and tragedy was avoided.

I felt that if I hadn’t prayed for him every day when he went to that factory (always fearing such incidents), and if they hadn’t seen each other in time, Phil would have lost the lower half of his legs, at or below the knee.  He was glad I’d been praying for him.

His legs were in pain for a few days.  After this, I prayed even more fervently for his safety at the factory each day.

Phil didn’t think he’d have to work the next day, but that he would just go in, report the incident, and come back home to recover.  I expected to see him again within the hour after he left.

But his foreman said that because he didn’t report the incident right after it happened, he wasn’t eligible for compensation, and had to stay and work.  I guess it was harder to prove it actually happened on the job, though his friend could back up his story, but the foreman should at least have let Phil take a sick day.  It just didn’t seem fair.


Probably in July, Phil made up some character sheets for my new character, Phoena Palindrome, and we started playing Dungeons & Dragons with her.

She was a half-elven, bard meistersinger, with gold hair like the Crayola crayon.  I wrote up a whole background for her.  Phil found that strange, though I hear that’s common.

We went around the house looking for dice, since Phil didn’t bring most of his, just his players’ handbook, bard’s handbook, big Monstrous Compendium notebook and maybe a few other books.

We had to improvise with six-sided dice, though I do remember a cool, red, twenty-sided one with pink flecks, and possibly a gold nugget.  Maybe he used these for his Dungeon Master rolls.  There were big ones, small ones, red ones, tiny ones I found in a game.

Phil had to type up character sheets on the Microsoft Word Processor, because he had no real character sheets.

Later, I started a new character, Fury, a druid, meant to complement Phoena and be her more sensual cousin, so I could have a little more fun with her.  (Phoena was saving herself for marriage.)

She had proficiencies Phoena lacked, and few of Phoena’s proficiencies.  (If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it.)  Their first and last names, by the way, were Phil’s idea, since he said he knew what kind of names an elf might have.  Phoena’s name was spelled “Ph” because I liked it better.

I faithfully recorded every adventure Phoena had, and noted I didn’t like the many fights she had with other creatures.  She didn’t like fighting, but it seemed the only way she ever had adventures to write songs about.

Phil said that as Dungeon Master, his games were battle-oriented.  He was proud of this, but I found it boring.  Phil soon brought in Darken, a dwarf, to help Phoena get out of fights alive.

He told me once that I was better at this and getting the hang of it faster than anyone else he knew.

Finally, something of more interest than constant fighting happened: Phoena was sold as a love-slave.  On the way to her master’s home, she rode along in a cart with his other slaves, all male, not love slaves.  One, a cute elf, took a special liking to her.

Phoena, by the way, never wanted to settle down with anyone, and kept breaking hearts.  Phoena got away from her master with her virginity intact, answered a sphinx’s question, and continued her adventures.


Phil began complaining about what he gave up to be there with me, reproaching me with it, as if it were my fault somehow.  He said he would’ve had steel-toed boots and not had to buy them, he would’ve had his own suits, he would’ve had this or that.

He mentioned an opportunity for doing a demo tape of his voice, which he would use to get announcing jobs on the radio or TV.  The sub for the theater director told him about this in the spring, while the director had heart trouble.  The sub was an accomplished actor, and loved Phil’s abilities.

I don’t know the circumstances, why Phil didn’t just go earlier or later.

Phil talked about these things as if I made him give them up, which I hadn’t.  I never forced him to come down to Indiana, had resigned myself to not seeing him all summer.  Then he said he wanted to take me down there, take my mom’s offer for him to stay with us, and find a job.

He defied his parents to do this, even though my mom said she didn’t want him disowned over this, and I did not want him to defy or lie to his parents.  The true story is in the May chapter.

But now he changed history on me, trying to make me think I forced him into this against his wishes, so now it was all my fault he had to buy new boots and didn’t make that demo tape.

Did he seriously expect me to buy this?  This, by the way, is more gaslighting, a common tactic of abusers and narcissists.

In December, he told a friend that I made him go down there, that my parents wanted to see if we should get married.  When I confronted him with it in a letter, he acted to Pearl like he didn’t say that.

But you see here that he did say it to me, and that he was a gaslighting liar, so why should I believe he did not tell Randy that?

Also, he admitted to me in September that he manipulated people for his own ends, so why shouldn’t I believe that he told Randy this, then when it got back to me, pretended to Pearl that he never did?

A smear campaign to discredit the abuse victim, is another common tactic of abusers: If his friends all think I’m controlling and crazy, they won’t believe me when I tell the truth about what he did.

Also, all that time, over all those months since January 28 when we started going out, I thought Phil had been nice to Tracy during the breakup.  I thought she accepted everything, said she never expected he would stay with her, anyway, because she knew where his heart truly lay.

This was how he explained it to me.  He said he opened doors for her after the breakup and tried to be nice.  When she began hating him and told his mom he treated her badly, I thought it was spite, and wondered where it came from after she’d been so understanding.

(Typical abuser tactic: paint the ex as crazy or spiteful, so you don’t believe anything she says.)

But no.  This was not the case, after all.  One night in the kitchen, I found to my dismay that he broke up with her meanly.  He told her, “I’m sick of being a nice guy!”

Meaning, he was sick of being the nice guy who gave her a chance even though he was not attracted to her, but was in love with me.

Now, he also insulted me for “stealing him away” from Tracy.  He said if he saw a girl he wanted with another guy, he’d let them be.  He wouldn’t try to get her.

Never mind the fact that I only tried to “steal him away” because I asked him out first, he said he liked me rather than Tracy, and for his whole month with Tracy he kept showing and saying how much he wanted to be with me instead.  He did not love her; he just knew her better.  He loved me.

He spent all these months telling me how much he loved me, that he realized it before we went to Pearl’s party, etc. etc.  He also checked with her, and she said it was perfectly fine for him to date other people, because they were not exclusive.

All this is depicted in the December and January chapters, which include details taken straight from diary entries I wrote while this went on.

If he actually loved Tracy and not me, I would have left them alone.  But now he talked as if he were sorry I succeeded.

This fits with the abusive traits of gaslighting, berating, chastising and insulting.

And besides that, the timing was wrong, because he already liked me and already knew I liked him, so “going out” with her rather than choosing me was unfair to both Tracy and me.

It was unfair to me because I knew he liked me, and my feelings were hurt.  It was unfair to Tracy because it led her on, and set her up to get even more hurt by a breakup instead of a simple rejection.

In the spring, he also accused me of being responsible for her pain by not being “assertive” enough in going after him.

Um….First semester I barely knew him, barely ever saw him, except at Pearl’s parties.  He was a commuter, so I could not look him up in the campus directory.  Yet I worked up the courage to ask him out, a huge step for me.  I didn’t wait for him to ask me out.

The night we went out, I told him I was interested in him romantically.  So how exactly was I not “assertive” enough?

But this was his way of making me responsible for his hurting Tracy through his own careless behavior.  The latter part of summer was Phil putting one massive mindscrew on me, typical abusive and narcissistic behavior.

Here we were married, so we obviously belonged together, yet he insulted me for chasing him in the first place!  This is emotional and psychological abuse.


We’d been going to bed at about 5 am and getting up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon.  (Yes, you read that right.)  Phil came home, then we’d want to game, he’d play computer games, he’d have a frozen pizza for his dinner, we’d make love, we’d talk, we’d argue….It depended on the night.

Mom told me we shouldn’t go to bed so late.  It was weird to go to bed just when she got up, but Phil didn’t get home till after 11pm.  I slept when he did (though I got up sooner, since nine hours is a lot) so I could be with him when he was awake.

It was the only time I got to see him during the work week, especially since he woke up at 2pm or later and then rushed off to work, unwashed.

He said guys at the factory went to bed right after work and slept until about that same time.  Maybe they didn’t have wives or families, because their wives and/or children would want to see them sometime during the day.

Also, it’s hard to buy that, considering that midnight to 2pm is 14 frickin’ hours.  Responsible adults need to spend part of every day doing something besides work and sleep: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, going on errands.

And, yes, caring for children and spending time with the wife.  I suspect it was another lie meant to make me feel like a nag.


Phil picked up the game “Crack the Case” for the InterVarsity group, who loved playing board games at parties.  One person, the gamemaster, knows the solution to a mystery case and the other asks yes or no questions.  It sounded like fun, and you can see it has high marks.

But when Phil and I played it, he kept snapping at me.

If he was the gamemaster, he treated me like a stupid idiot when I didn’t pick up on some clue he gave.

Or, if I was the gamemaster, he yelled at me for not answering him “properly” with a yes when I thought it deserved a no.  He thought I couldn’t decide for myself what I could say and what I couldn’t without breaking the rules.

Another abusive tactic: trying to make your spouse feel like she’s too stupid to function without you.  And I have never wanted to play this game since, because it reminds me of him treating me like an idiot.


One night, he told me he’d been doing a “points” thing while driving to work.  He would think of things for me and things against me.

One thing against me was that I wasn’t Catholic.  That insulted me.  It shouldn’t be a point against to be Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox; they’re all Christian.

As Sharon later told me, once you’re engaged, it’s time to stop the dating “point system.”  It’s doubly time when you’re married.

My parents complained about him a lot at dinner these days.  Just various things, like he shouldn’t make so much noise at night, or he should do such-and-such.

I tried to quiet him at night, especially when we were in the kitchen, but he still often talked loud.  Sometimes I tried to defend him; sometimes I could think of nothing to say.


Sometimes we played D&D in the family room, sometimes in my room.  D&D was so much fun that I wanted to play it most nights.

I liked playing Phoena, though she had to fight nasty creatures a lot, and I wished sometimes that Phil would concentrate more on the little romances he put into adventures than on battles.

Fury, a peaceful druid, did not have the skills to adventure in dangerous territory on her own, yet Phil insisted on having her gain some skill levels before she met Phoena.

(Why didn’t he just let me roll her at a higher level, instead of starting her out at first?  That’s how now-hubby Cugan would have done it, and it makes more sense.)

Phil stuck her in a dungeon, and with the limitations of NVLD, I didn’t know what to do to get her out of it.

Phil gave me no help understanding how to play a druid.  Instead he got mad at me and yelled at me like I was stupid, then said, “She gets depressed and dies.”

I got upset and he took it back, but we no longer played her.  (I played her later in one of Cugan’s games.)

(Poor Phoena: Every game she’s in, dies.  First this game ended when Phil and I divorced.  Then I tried her again in a game with one of Cugan’s friends, but that game ended after one time.  Then I finally pulled her back out again to play in my friend Richard‘s game, only to be betrayed by him and discover that he was not really my friend, so that game ended as well.)

Phil spent all his free time just sitting and playing computer games.  It was boring to sit there and watch him, so I’d usually read, since I wanted to be with him.

Dad had the game Lemmings, and it was fun to watch Phil play it.

I tried to play it once, and asked Phil to help me learn it because he said he was great at figuring out the puzzles in each level.

I just asked him to help me learn how to play, but he told me how to solve everything, and got mad if I didn’t figure out the levels right away.  That wasn’t what I asked him to do!

One level was especially perplexing: This big column-thing was in the way of the Lemmings, and you could only bash it in the direction opposite the one in which the Lemmings were going.

Phil told me to time some bombers perfectly and get a bunch of Lemmings digging at perfectly placed intervals along the top of the column-thing, to obliterate it from the top down.

It was impossible to place them so well that there would be no leftover slivers to block the Lemmings, but he insisted I do it this way, and became furious with me for not doing it right.

On December 23, I played that level on my own, and discovered how much better and easier the game was for me without Phil standing over me and telling me how to think.

I came to the level with the big column-thing.  Phil had insisted I solve this the hard way, the nearly-impossible way–

–when all I needed to do was send a couple of crawling Lemmings over the column, make one of them a blocker so the other one would turn back around and become a basher, then the basher would bash through the column and make a nice tunnel for all the other Lemmings to go through.

Blow up the blocker, and all the other Lemmings will march through and make it safely home.

He tried so hard to make me feel like an idiot, yet once I got out of his influence, my true smarts became clear.

Phil says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers

One day that August, Phil said that if he went to the computer right away and didn’t come upstairs after work, it meant he needed some space.  I wasn’t terribly happy about it, because after a day away from him and with my parents, I liked to see him and talk to him right away, and greet him.  But I understood, so I let him have this space.

He did like to say good-bye to me every day and kiss me at the door, and another day that August he said that was special to him.  He liked knowing that someone cared for and loved him.

I said now that I’d like to kiss him hello, too, but when he came upstairs to my room after work, he didn’t often come over to me while I sat on my chair.  He said he didn’t want the kiss to lose its meaning.

It was hard to take, and he did have all that time away from me during the day, but I thought it was a guy thing.  I gave him space whenever he asked for it, but he had to let me know he needed it, or else I wouldn’t know.  My alone time came while he was gone and I read/wrote in my room.

Despite my best efforts, in September (probably during the fateful first Friday back, which you will soon read about), he complained that I didn’t give him space!  But as this shows, I did give him his space.

From August until September, I let him play on the computer alone; once or twice he asked to sleep alone in the guest room, and I let him.  I actually liked having the bed to myself for once, though I was lonely.  It was a good switch, and I didn’t mind so much.  Yet more gaslighting and changing history to justify a breakup!


One Sunday, Phil said what I never thought he would say:

Once before, he threatened to hit me; this must have been after the miscarriage, because he later said he didn’t mean it and, “How could I hit the mother of my child?”

But this time, in the van on the way to the evening church service, somehow the topic of abuse came up in the conversation.  I don’t remember why, probably after some threat, I told him if he ever hit me, ever abused me, I would divorce him.

He said petulantly and angrily, “It takes two people to sign the divorce papers.”

Somehow, I think the law would be on the side of the abused wife.  I remember telling one of Cugan’s friends about this in 1996 or 1997, and she said it does take two people, but the wife could still divorce an abusive husband.  She should know: This happened to her.

I had yet to recognize that Phil already did abuse me in other ways quite often.  That’s the danger of emotional abuse: not recognizing it because it’s not hitting.  If I’d known better, if we hadn’t said those marriage vows, if I had no trouble finding dates, I would’ve sent him packing before the end of the summer.

He was also dead wrong:

Can he keep me from getting a divorce by refusing to sign the paperwork?


No, he can’t. He doesn’t have the legal right to dictate to you whether or not you can obtain a divorce. His response is not uncommon for someone who thinks it is OK to beat a spouse but, he is misguided in his belief that he has that kind of control. –Cathy Meyer, Can My Spouse Refuse to Sign Divorce Papers?

Wisconsin is also a no-fault divorce state, so only one person needs to want the divorce, without having to prove grounds for divorce.


Phil had become immovable, intractable, willful, obstinate.  One Sunday afternoon in August or maybe September, I tried to tell him I needed to go look for pH paper so our natural family planning could be more accurate and I wouldn’t get pregnant.

He kept saying he wanted to sleep, but I said the stores might close soon.

“I can’t have my parents take me, for goodness’ sake!”  I cried.  How would I explain it?

He said, “You have a license.  Borrow the car.”

I hadn’t driven since 1992!!  I hadn’t driven very often in the first place, and I didn’t know if I’d remember everything now.  I didn’t want to drive again without someone with me to make sure I did it right.

I write here about the trouble I’ve always had with driving, and how I believe NVLD is the cause.  NVLD is a visual-spatial disorder.

I’m afraid and not a good driver.  I have trouble steering and judging when it’s safe to turn.  I easily get confused on unfamiliar roads, or on road construction detours.  I have gotten terribly lost, or completely turned around, because of poor visual memory and trouble reading a map.  I don’t know what to do in unfamiliar situations.  I have a poor sense of direction.

All of this meant I should not just go out on my own, especially since I had no idea how to get any place in the city, despite growing up there.  I wouldn’t know how to get to our usual pharmacy, let alone any other place which might have pH papers.

But he showed no desire even to understand or sympathize, just wanted to throw me out on my own where I would probably get hopelessly lost or have an accident.

The drivers’ ed class I took when I turned seventeen had no machines to teach us how to drive before going out in traffic.  The instructor took our permits to make sure we’d never be without them in the car, so I could get no practice outside of class unless I broke the law.

It took at least two tries before I passed my final test, and the instructor gave me a DOT driving test waiver, but begged me to practice.  However, I was still too frightened to practice much.  Then at college, I didn’t have a car.

I’d always been afraid of cars, and got a lot of bad-natured ribbing for it from classmates in junior high because I wanted to be absolutely sure I could cross Ewing Street to my bus stop.  That was a very busy street, too busy for young kids to cross every day for the bus (even Mom said so), and it frightened me.

Those kids were very cruel to me.  And now, I was scared of driving because cars can kill.

If you have to do something, you have to do something, and in this case, it was finding pH paper.  The books I read said I was supposed to check the pH of my cervical mucus, but didn’t say how.  All I could think of was that you do what you did in school: use pH paper.

As far as either of us knew, it was vital to success with this kind of birth control.  He didn’t want me getting pregnant on Monday because I didn’t know if I was ovulating, did he?  And some stores closed early on Sunday.

On weekdays he stayed in bed during the only time in the afternoon when we could go to the stores, and then I had no transportation at all after he left for work.  Even if I were more used to driving, there would be no car for me to use.

I sure didn’t want to borrow my parents’ car or have them drive me, and have them find out where I was going and, possibly, why.  What the heck did he expect me to do?

We slept late Sunday mornings, often getting up in the afternoon, so it wasn’t like he was suffering from a lack of sleep.

Oh, yeah, it’s so frickin’ unreasonable to ask, on one of your very last weekends in a big city for some time, to ask to be taken shopping on the only possible day of the week since you sleep till 2pm every day, because you’re so frickin’ tired in the middle of a Sunday afternoon after sleeping 9 hours until probably 1 or 2 pm!

In fact, his obstinance makes me wonder if he was trying to sabotage the very birth control he insisted we use. 

Or if he had decided to resist every single thing I’d ever ask for, to punish me, manipulate me into anal/oral sex, and establish his dominance as the king of our household, while I was just a lowly female who had no right to get anything she wanted.

If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, I would say,

“Are you sure you want to marry him legally when he won’t even do anything for you without you nagging him, if he resists every single thing or bit of help you ask for, if he criticizes everything you do, but then tries to force you into things that hurt or disgust you?  This is a bad sign!

“If he’s engaged to you, if he even says he’s your husband, if he truly loves you, then he has a certain obligation to you.  If you need something, it’s his place to help you.  He doesn’t want to face up to any of his responsibilities.  Are you sure he even cares much about you anymore?”

Anyway, finally he took me out.  I saw him looking at the condoms, and said, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to use those?”

He said that actually, he wished he could use them, because he wouldn’t have to worry so much about me getting pregnant.  So….Why didn’t he change his mind and let us use condoms instead of this weird natural family planning we didn’t even understand?

We found no pH paper anywhere.  I didn’t know if you could even get it anywhere.  I thought you should be able to, because chemistry sets are common childhood toys.

According to the parenting book I mentioned in the June section, kits for checking mucus were supposed to be available in any drugstore, but we found nothing but one-time-use kits that were very expensive (about $20) and hardly practical for daily use.

I didn’t know how I was going to test the cervical mucus without pH paper or kits, because just testing the consistency didn’t work.  It all looked the same to me.  I had no one to tell me I was doing it wrong.

(I finally got ahold of some pH paper in 1997: Cugan found it at a science surplus store in Milwaukee, and got me five vials, because we wanted to use it when we got married.  But then, in the universe’s typical ironic fashion, I was diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance and had to go on the Pill to regulate it.)

In May or June, we tried calling a local natural family planning clinic (something we looked for but didn’t find in S–) but there was no answer.  Plus Phil was afraid to call them now, because we weren’t legally married.  He thought they wouldn’t want to tell us until we were, because it would encourage us to have sex before the wedding.

But turns out, that fear was groundless: You have to get used to the routine and your cycle and know what you’re doing, before you start depending on natural family planning.  I wonder if he really feared this, or was, again, trying to sabotage the NFP.

One day he said to me, “Maybe we should have sex less often–there’s less risk of pregnancy that way, and it’ll also be more special.”

It seems innocent enough, right?  Like a sweet idea?  Yet no more than maybe two weeks later, I found out from his actions what he really meant: that he was tired of me not being submissive enough to my master husband, and wanted to divorce me.

Another thing that, looking back, was fishy: In August we watched Mrs. Doubtfire.  I expected Sally Field’s character to fall back in love with Robin Williams’ character, the usual Hollywood happy ending, and was shocked when this didn’t happen.  I also didn’t like what she said, that, “I’m a better person when I’m not around you.”  I didn’t like that Williams’ character told a child that, “Sometimes parents are better people when not around each other.”

To me, who had grown up in a strict religious background, this all sounded like the Devil’s lies, trying to justify divorce and breaking up the home, putting a warm-fuzzy, happy-sounding, new agey appearance on divorce, when what’s needed is counseling and work to save the marriage.

I talked about this a bit with Phil, who always agreed with me that divorce should be avoided at all costs, and is a sin except in extreme cases (i.e., adultery, desertion, abuse).  He said the movie was trying to be realistic by not showing the couple getting back together, because that often doesn’t happen in real life.  That seemed reasonable enough.  But then he said, “After all, sometimes people are better people when they’re not around each other.”

I said that it just wasn’t a good enough reason for divorce.  It wasn’t biblically based: Christ never said, “But then, if you don’t get along, if you’re annoyed by the person, it’s okay to leave them in the dust and divorce them.”  No, he said quite the opposite.  His change of mind about divorce made me nervous.  Keep in mind that he was a Catholic, which is even stricter about divorce.

Now, I see it as him making the decision to divorce me several weeks before he actually did, then using a movie to justify it.

Pearl reveals that Phil is costing me social invitations

Some good things still happened in the Summer of Hell.  I was proud of Phil’s abilities: acting, math, memory.

One Sunday in August we got a pizza from Little Caesar’s for dinner.  In the little shop was a game that looked like an arcade game.  It had different-colored buttons, each of which lit up and played a different note when pressed, like Simon but with different colors.  Also like Simon, it played a one-note tune at first, then each time you repeated the tune properly, it added on one more note.

Phil played it while we waited for our pizza.  Because his memory was so darn good, he stood there playing it and getting more and more notes added.  There were no other customers, and the pizza was in the oven, so all the workers stood and watched, mystified.  They’d never seen anyone get that far along on the game before.

This was why I stayed with him despite the way he treated me that summer:

  1. I loved him.
  2. I didn’t see that, even though he wasn’t hitting me, he was still abusing me.
  3. We were married, and I took those vows very seriously.
  4. I didn’t know where else to find a Christian man who had so many things in common with me.
  5. He was my first lover, and I always intended him to be my last, my partner for life.


As for “Undine,” I’d sit down either on the couch or on my bedroom chair with German dictionaries and paper, and slowly write a word-for-word translation.  Then I re-wrote it in more intelligible order.  Phil often came home and found me in my room, working on “Undine” while watching All in the Family.

There were still so many words that needed to be found, archaic words in neither of my dictionaries.  (In 1998, I found a German newsgroup on the Internet and got translations for the words I never found.  In 2002, I found an English translation on the Internet.)  The translation took about sixty days, roughly, then I typed it up on Microsoft Word.

Phil and I often went to parks on the weekends.  Sometimes I had to talk him into it, but I liked walking for hours in the middle of forests.

Unfortunately, he was getting just like his brother was with his Pearl: Whenever she wanted to do something, Dave treated her like a nag and just slept.  Phil complained about this once, the way Dave treated Pearl.

But now, Phil started doing the exact same thing with me, but blamed me for it, even though he blamed Dave for the exact same behavior.  Yet there seemed to be a block in his mind, preventing him from seeing his double standards.

We went to Rum Village, other little parks we found, and Memorial Park.  I think we also went to Potawatomi Park.  In a park alongside a street, we sat on the swings, sometimes swinging, and had a great time talking and swinging.  We walked in the little wooded area, with its sitting areas and little paths.

We went to Wilson Park, with its giant hills and wooden pyramid.  We even went past the hills and the electrical tower (the kind you must never touch or you’ll get electrocuted, but there’s no fence around it), into the woods nearby.  We went as far as a little residential area, but Phil thought we should turn back there because it might be a private area.

After visiting Wilson Park, the scene of so many of my childhood memories (both church and school), we spoke of the wooden labyrinth we’d build around our mansion when Phil became a famous actor.  We wouldn’t need alarms, because we’d have this maze to deter thieves.  It would be in a hilly or wooded area, just like Wilson Park, and the wilderness around us would be stunningly beautiful.

I had a nagging notion that these were just “castles in the sky,” like the ones the girls built in Little Women, but didn’t voice it.  We believed we would actually do this, one day.

The Saturday before we planned to go back to Roanoke, we went to Memorial Park.  We walked all through the park–the woods, the playground area (playing a bit on the swings and the merry-go-round), the woods by the hill where I once ran up and down as the church softball team played, along the St. Joseph River, and along a path that leads beside the road outside the park.

There were fascinating places I’d never seen before or had forgotten, like the path.  There was a tunnel full of graffiti, some of which had probably been there during my childhood, when I last was there in the park.  The roadway path was grassy and beautiful.

The times we went to the parks, and this experience especially, seemed to make us closer, and I believed they should live in our memories together forever.  I told him of my times in that park as a child.  I think I told him, at every park, just what I remembered of it.

For example, at Rum Village I told of the boy who said, after my class went there, that he dragged a stick along the pathways and arrowheads kept popping up out of the ground.  Safetyville was at Rum Village.

I told my many memories of Wilson Park and the leather swings and getting exhausted running up the hills.  Since I was a tiny child when I first went up the hill, during a church picnic, it took forever; I looked out from the top of the hill, and saw what looked like water in the distance.  It may have actually been the city.  The hills didn’t seem quite so big now as they did when I was a child.

At Memorial, I probably told of Squirrely, the squirrel I saw playing nearby as I played on the swings with the rest of my class, and later wrote a little book about.

I told him these things because I wanted my husband to know all about me and my life.


Pearl and I both tended to use letters to confront people and deal with problems.  I read some of my letters (one to Peter, one to Phil that fall) to her, for her opinions.  I won’t say who she wrote to this time or why, just that it reminds me that we both did this, unpopular as the letters were with the recipients.

I also see from this mid-August letter that she and I both did the whole “listen for God’s voice” thing, feeling we got strong impressions about this or the other.  I wasn’t the only one!  The funny thing is, what she got a strong impression about, that it was God’s will, is not what actually happened.  Which is the same problem I had.

But this letter also held a shock: that Pearl, Sharon and some others planned to go to Florida over Winterim.

(This did not actually happen, because of Pearl’s medical emergency, but it was the plan for a while.  I was invited in September, but did not have the money to go.)

She assured me that my not being invited, had nothing to do with me.  Rather,

I think I owe you an explanation, though, so, honestly, it’s Phil.  I’m really glad you’re so happy with him.

However, everyone doesn’t get along with him so well.  There are people who are going to Florida (myself included, frankly) who don’t think they could spend three weeks in close quarters with him.

She didn’t think I’d want to be away from him for so long, so didn’t invite just me.  She said, “There are just some people who you know better than to force to live together.”

She’s right about that; not only had she once spent a “weekend from hell” with the wrong people, but I have gone through that myself, being forced to spend six weeks with a woman I could not get along with.

Pearl spent a lot of words begging me not to be insulted by this, saying she likes Phil, etc.  Of course, at this point she knew nothing about the emotional, psychological or sexual abuse.

I don’t remember how I reacted.  I don’t think I told Phil, who already felt my friends did not like him, and already tried to separate me from them.

Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage

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.

September 1994
Life at Roanoke: My College Memoirs–September 1991 through May 1995

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:

Junior Year
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

May 1994:

Senior Year
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

September 1994–Divorce: The Long, Dark, Painful Tunnel:

October 1994:

November 1994:

December 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995: