I carried around my secret, Shawn and I acting around others as if nothing had happened, me telling none of my friends.
It made me happy and amused me to have this secret, not just around my friends but around Peter as well (since I had to see him at meetings for the school newspaper staff).
But there were still fits of crying which I couldn’t explain:
Had my heart grown cold? Had my love for Peter finally left? Was my heart now made of stone? Was I sad that my relationship with Shawn would probably go no further than friendship?
Even while I was with Peter, I was attracted to Shawn, and occasionally pondered asking Peter if we could have an open relationship so I could date Shawn as well as Peter.
I also had thought that whole time that Shawn was attracted to me, that it made him uncomfortable because I–as he told me once–reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, and I was with another guy.
So it would make sense for it to sadden me that our makeout session ended as “just friends.”
Here is an interesting little tidbit in my diary, considering that “friends with benefits” was not a widely known concept back in 1992:
I wonder if I should suggest to Shawn the possibility of filling his occasional want of a girlfriend without actually being one: ‘blowing off steam,’ going to the dances?
The trouble was, for all the times Shawn would scold me over the following year of being hung up on Peter for so long, Shawn himself was still hung up on the girlfriend he had the summer of 1991.
And it was his idea to break up because he didn’t like that she–like me–had trouble opening up and talking to people, including him.
Yet I had no trouble opening up to him.
The summer of 1992, he even tried calling her up to get back together, but she had another boyfriend she was happy with and could talk to.
I think the biggest problem between us is that not only did I believe Peter was meant to be my husband, but Shawn was still hung up on his ex-girlfriend.
I wish we would’ve just forgotten about those two exes and had fun together. Don’t let the past keep you from living in the present.
Most of the following diary entries were about Peter, talks with Latosha about Peter, trying to get “words from God” (as Pat Robertson termed it on The 700 Club in his Charismatic heresies) about Peter, drama with seeing him around campus and various other crap that was going on, his new off-campus girlfriend, my emotions going here and there, wanting a break from serious relationships so I could “find myself” as Latosha recommended–
–stuff that interested me at the time but is rather boring now (especially since that “word from God” was totally bogus and hindered me from moving on, as I so desperately needed to do–so mark that, all you lovelorn teenagers).
Peter was treating me like scum, while I had not been through this kind of heartbreak before and had no inner intuition telling me what I should or should not do, so kept making mistakes and relying heavily on the support and advice of my friends. There was drama with his new off-campus girlfriend, but I don’t want to get into that.
I saw him at newspaper staff meetings and around campus, he was cussing like a sailor again, my friends kept telling me he had started smoking and underage drinking–When we were together, he had stopped cussing and thought smoking and underage drinking was stupid.
Also, my Nazarene faith was very strict, saying that cussing, smoking and drinking (period–even of age) were sins; up until college, I had always just assumed that all Christian faiths taught the same thing (he was Episcopalian).
But because these were not just “sins,” but bad for your health, my friends and I saw him as going down a path of teenage rebellion into things that would hurt him.
I was still struggling with my feelings for him, and now saw him as backsliding (as Nazarenes call it) from Christian behavior into a life of sin and depravity which could lead to his eternal damnation.
So he was no longer the kind of guy I wanted to be with anyway (I wanted a good Christian–like Shawn), and my feelings for him were starting to wane and transfer to both Tom and Shawn, but I was afraid to let my love for him go because I might stop praying so fervently for him to turn away from his sins.
But that wasn’t my only problem. On 3/10, I wrote the following, which I believe is directly related to either NVLD/Asperger’s, selective mutism, and/or introversion.
Keep in mind that all my other teachers liked/loved me and never spoke to me this way, even though I was quiet in their classes, too, only speaking on occasion.
But my favorite teacher, my World Lit teacher sophomore year, told me that teachers would talk about their students, and they said about me that “She doesn’t say much, but when she does, she says good things.”
So apparently Ruth was the only one who took my quietness as some sort of stubborn behavioral problem:
Ruth [my German teacher] said something about how she keeps telling me to participate, and it’s her final warning. I’m so sick of this. That’s why I always hurry out of class when it’s over.
I mean, does she know how many times I’ve been about to say something when someone else says it? My mind just doesn’t work as quickly verbally as it does when I write.
I try and try to give her what she wants, whatever it is, but I never get any credit for that. I’ve gotten better, I tried to tell her once, but she didn’t seem to listen.
I’m glad I’ve begun to confide in T— about my frustration, especially today when Ruth left the room soon after the “incident.” She gives me advice, and now someone else can know how I feel so dumped on (or whatever).
What is this “final warning” stuff, anyway? I wasn’t aware of any punishment. I’m not acting up in class. I never saw it as a warning. I won’t be referred to the Dean. And it’s so unfair. I don’t know if I can stand it much longer.
I guess I’ll have to study T— and R— and see what it is they do to keep “her” off their backs. What is this magic formula? What am I doing that’s so wrong??
Oh, by the way, last Friday, I began to say what a word meant just as she turned to me and said “—,” so I didn’t even have a chance to say anything before she’d started up again! Just as I began to say something to keep her off my back, she got on it!!
I hope [usual German teacher, who was in Japan setting up a satellite campus] comes back next year. I feel so threatened.
I have to keep telling myself, “She’s got her good points,” to keep myself from hating her. It usually works, especially when she’s in a good mood.
But today, as she said those things to me, I was so angry I couldn’t even look at her, just kept flipping through my German dictionary to find words.
I was so glad for the chance to talk to T—, who, by the way, has been a victim too just recently. I guess I just have a trait that doesn’t want to let people think they’re forcing me to do something, but that what I’m doing is what I independently think is best.
Again on the 14th, at 2:52 am, I wrote, “I have no idea what the German teacher’s problem was today [Friday, 3/13]. I’m not conscious of having done a thing to get her on my back again.” Then,
Shawn stopped over unexpectedly, and we chatted for a while. I said when he came, “I didn’t expect to see you here tonight,” and he said, “Neither did I. I was out walking….”
… I didn’t mind the company at all. He looked terrible; I don’t know if he’s been sick, or what. He was about to leave, when I asked him when he’d like to meet [for prayer partners], and he decided to do it right then.
We chatted for a bit–we were both into similar TV shows and science fiction–then he left.
I’ve also found references to giving the proper “noises” when someone is speaking, to show that you’re listening. Ruth, who was Swiss, also scolded me because I never made these “noises” while she was speaking, that I was the only person she knew who didn’t, and she couldn’t tell if I was listening.
I was indeed listening, but had absolutely no clue what she was talking about with these “noises.” I thought it was her problem, because nobody ever mentioned such a thing to me before.
I wondered if there was something about Swiss culture that made her (and my suitemate Heidi, who was also Swiss) keep getting annoyed with me when other people were usually nice to me.
Heck, just having to stop and remember to nod your head or say uh-huh or any of these other things, can be rather distracting when you’re trying to focus and keep your mind from wandering.
Heidi once asked me why I didn’t say “hello” to everyone in the lounge whenever I came into the suite. It just never occurred to me.
At home with my family, I never did it there, either, or responded when people came home and said hello. It just never occurred to me.
And well, it seems like at home, you should be able to relax some of those social rules that are so exhausting because you have to keep remembering them and forcing yourself to do them.
On Saturday the 14th, in the evening, Shawn happened to stop in the suite with Heidi and at least one other person. I was in the bathroom at the time, but had been sitting in the lounge watching TV, so I had gone back to the couch.
Shawn walked through the lounge and said something to me. He was leaving, but I stopped him to ask if I could tell anyone what happened between us on the 29th.
We had a “longish” conversation, but afterwards he stuck around, watching some documentary with me. It was on PBS during a pledge drive, so it lasted two or three hours.
Yet he still stuck around, finding the last part of a James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever. Heidi came along and gave us a carton of Rippin’ Good cookies, saying to leave her one, and they’re not expensive like bread, so we could eat as many as we wanted. As I wrote in my diary,
Once she said “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” and Shawn [remarked that] a man’s best friend is a dog–warm and fuzzy, etc.–and a girl’s is cold and hard. You don’t say things like that to Heidi! She got after him, and I threatened to throw my (half-eaten) cookie at him.
Latosha came in once and remarked on the cozyness of having cookies, etc. Heidi came in several times and remarked on how late it was.
Once, while the girl in the movie wore a bikini, Shawn asked if I looked like that. I asked him what he meant, and acted shocked at such a question.
Once, probably during the documentary, I fetched two Hershey’s kisses, and offered him one. That was probably when he asked whose boots those were (mine, in the corner by the door), and threw his balled-up wrapper in one! He didn’t think it went in, but I found it when I shook my boots out later on, giving him a look.
After the movie, he found Mad Max, and we kind of watched that (a channel-flipper, he is [though not as bad as my suitemate Tom, who flipped so fast you couldn’t see a thing]), and, later on, another movie about a post-apocalyptic car race (a stupid comedy).
The latter movie had a “scene” in it, and another movie we saw a few minutes of had upper nudity in it. I kept looking away and making faces, remarking on the kind of things they have on late at night, but Shawn kept looking, not even turning the station.
[I kept noting how late it was, almost 3am, but he didn’t get the hint, and I finally got so hungry for chocolate that I got a couple more Hershey’s kisses and offered him one.] “Want another one?” I said.
“Is there a message in this?” he said, and I acted like he’d said some shockingly funny joke (which I considered it).
However, I did subconsciously mean it another way, which I knew as I offered the kiss and said what I did. After all, I was longing for him to kiss me again….
Around 3, I got so sleepy that I moved so I could rest my head on the couch cushion and close my eyes during commercials….Once, he leaned back against my legs….
About 3:00, he got up, lifted me up–afghan and all, carried me into my room, and put me on my bed, me crying, “What’re you doing?!” Then I got up and began folding the afghan….
He said, “Need a hug?” I took it, then wondered, “What a long hug.” It wasn’t much of one on my part, I guess, since I was so tired. I didn’t know he was waiting for me.
[He had a guy-view of hugs–short and pound the back–while I had a girl-view–hugs can last as long as either person wants and be platonic.]
I ended it, thinking it had gone on long enough. But he didn’t move. “I could’ve left several hours ago,” he said, then began stroking my sides. He does like me now? I thought.
He went up too far, so I crossed my arms as protection. I could hardly look at him, because I didn’t want to be disappointed again.
Somehow, we ended up sitting on the bed, me trembling as his talk turned to something ambiguous–the “scenes.” He asked me about them, and I said I turned away because they were disgusting and I didn’t want them to affect me.
He said, “So you’re afraid you’re human after all?” [Er–no, I was trying to follow my Christian values and not think of sex before marriage! Which you should know, fellow Christian!]
He saw me trembling. I told him I felt nervous and anxious. He checked how fast my heart was beating, but it wasn’t as fast as he wanted. Somehow, we ended up sitting like before, his arms around me, me resting my sleepy head against his chest.
He asked, “If I kissed you, would you kiss me back?” and I said, “Maybe,” and did. He kept trying to stir me up, trying to get to second base, while I tried to stop him….
I finally made him stop, saying I didn’t feel comfortable with him doing [that]–and he said he didn’t feel comfortable, either, though he meant he didn’t feel comfortable doing it to me.
We tried to sort things out until after 5 in the morning! Then he left me to think and to sleep, saying to look in my [Bible] concordance for what was making me so gloomy. Now, I think it’s quite obvious I’m just upset and stressed and loaded down.
Once, I said, “I just want to know what you want!” “I want to be friends,” he said, but we’re both totally confused. What do we want? (He did tell me I’m kind and caring.)
The next day at lunch, I found Shawn sitting with Pearl, Julie and another girl. No trouble figuring out who to sit with! I saw Shawn looking very tired, and wondered if anybody noticed that we both were, or how strangely we acted around each other–uncomfortable.
He had specifications of what he wanted in a girlfriend; apparently I didn’t meet them. He said if he went out with me, it would ruin his chances to go out with someone else.
He said I was gloomy and had lost my joy, but that was because of what I’d been going through lately. A 30ish lady from church, whom I’d known for years, said I’m not a gloomy person, but serious.
He had this idea that he was more mature than I was, but he had two siblings with cystic fibrosis and suffered breakdowns because of it, so how could I possibly reach his level of life experience?
On March 26, shortly after a long talk I had with that church lady about Peter and Shawn, I wrote,
V– was so right when she said I’ve got a guard up against love relationships right now. I’ve known it for at least a little while, but she’s the first person to say it so concretely….
I don’t want anything serious [with Shawn] because I don’t want to be hurt again, but a friend is “safe”–he wouldn’t leave me. I want someone male who’ll always be there, though not necessarily a boyfriend….
A deeper relationship is, for the moment, undesirable and unwanted because of the possibility of future rejection and hurt, which would probably cause the guy to leave me.
Stefan was a lawyer, not a student, and he soon went back to Germany. Travis rarely went to Swiss meetings, even though he stayed in the German suite all year. Latosha did not attend Swiss meetings, so she eventually had to leave–and chose the African suite, which was just being established.
So when Candice left, it was just Heidi and me.
One day, Heidi and I decided to make some cheese. You’d put the cheese in salt baths, let it sit, cut off bad parts, etc. I don’t remember how the cheese itself was originally made; maybe it was milk in a mold or something. Whatever the case, this was a fun project over the next few weeks.
When it was time to get salt for the salt bath, I went to dinner and sat with Shawn. Shawn soon said goodbye and left me sitting there all alone.
Some guy I’d never met before got upset at Shawn, and invited me to sit with his group instead.
At some point, I began shaking salt from a salt shaker into a napkin for the salt bath. He and his friends laughed and asked what I was doing that for. I told them about the cheese, and they thought it was cool. They also said the people in Food Service would probably give me whatever salt I needed.
I don’t remember if I got to try the cheese before it turned moldy and became something it wasn’t supposed to.
For Swiss meetings, Heidi would pick out German folk tales for me to read. Or she read them to me, and I tried to understand.
I had a bit of trouble getting everything, though I seemed to get the gist of the story, and that frustrated her. She said I shouldn’t try to translate every word in my head, because that affected my understanding.
She said that when she came here and had to understand native speakers, she wouldn’t try to understand every single word, and that helped her to grasp the main idea of what was being said. Otherwise, she would have been lost. Now, by the way, she spoke much more quickly and fluently.
The stories came from a big, old library book of German-language stories. One was Undine by Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué. Heidi told me to read the chapters and then report on them.
I used her big, Langenscheidt German-English dictionary to translate it, but many of the words were obsolete. I don’t remember if they were in the dictionary. It took me quite a while to read the chapters because of this.
When the end of the year loomed close, Heidi decided to read the remaining chapters and report on them to me. She wrote and read the report in (modern) German.
Undine was a water fairy who had to marry to acquire a soul. When I heard the report, I thought it said that Undine was evil and turned on her adoptive parents and her husband Huldbrand. When Huldbrand tried to escape to a girl named Bertalda, Undine killed him and, I believe, her parents.
When I wrote my story “Bedlam Castle” the following summer and mentioned Undine, my descriptions of her and what she did were based on this understanding.
In 1994, I found the big storybook in the Roanoke library, copied Undine, and began to translate it page-by-page. Though I still could not translate many of the words, I understood what happened.
As it turned out, Undine was actually a good person, betrayed by her husband. I had to change a few details in “Bedlam,” including the name of the water fairy who harassed Beth.
Spring Break was a time to get away from school and be safe at home. The four-and-a-half-hour drive home was usually enjoyable. Of course, this time I was depressed on the way home because of Peter and possibly Shawn.
But usually, it was fun to sit there listening to my jam box with headphones, the radio tuned to whatever station was coming in: first WIXX from Green Bay, then Hot 102 in Milwaukee, then B96 in Chicago, and U93 on the way to South Bend. B96, the dance and rap station, especially seemed to fit the big city of Chicago. As I listened, I would stare out the window and daydream.
Often, the drive home would be at night, and I talked on and on to my dad (usually the person driving me) about happenings at school. Then if we had to stop in Racine for the night and drive on the next morning, in the morning I listened to music and gazed out the window. I guess I got all talked out.
I loved looking at the sights in Milwaukee and Chicago. I was also quiet on the way back to school again.
In some ways, Milwaukee seemed cooler than Chicago, with its German spires and churches, and Laverne and Shirley feel.
In other ways, Chicago seemed cooler, with its clean-looking, futuristic architecture downtown, the Sears Tower, the triangular-shaped roof of that one building, culture, and the best radio stations. It would take about an hour to drive through it, longer if the traffic was backed up.
My parents liked to take the quickest way around the city, but to humor me they would often drive through it so I could see the sights. It didn’t take three hours to get through downtown back then, like it does now.
Whether or not my cat Hazel acted happy to see me depended on her mood, and how much she wanted to punish me for leaving her for so long. But she usually warmed up to me eventually, and I had my kitty to pet and get my cat-fix from.
Now that Peter no longer wanted to even be friends with me, I couldn’t go to his house and pet all the cats. I kept going through major kitty withdrawals.
I believe it was over Spring Break when Dad told me he had already installed a new Windows program on the computer. It was probably Windows 3.1.
Peter had just put Windows on the computer over Christmas Break, but it was already obsolete. Dad was always upgrading and putting more memory into our computer–and buying new computers.
Some people tried to tell me that I should be over Peter by a certain time. You can’t tell a person when they “should” be over someone. A heart takes however long it takes, and will not be rushed. It’s an individual thing. And, well, it had only been two months.
During Spring Break, I found my high school yearbook and flipped through it. I especially wanted to see if S.G. signed it, and he did. I was sure he had. S.G. was a friend in my Economics/Government class. We sat near each other all year, and chatted a lot before class started.
I always wondered why he didn’t ask me out, and figured he just saw me as a friend. In 2010, I found out I was very wrong about this, because on Facebook he told me he’d been deeply in love with me. He didn’t have the courage to ask me out, then after graduation, he didn’t know how to find me, then went into the Navy.
It’s sad because I would have gone out with him if he’d only asked, and it would have been wonderful to be with a guy I liked who liked me, because I had very little besides unrequited love and no dates in high school. I have been told by many different people that I’m pretty, so it was probably because I was painfully shy, socially awkward, and dressed very modestly, hiding my curves.
On the 29th, when my parents brought me back to school, we brought my TV and VCR back with me, now that both were fixed. After Dad hooked them up and my parents left, I watched a movie version of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, satisfied to do something I enjoyed which finally took me away from my troubles.
It was also good to watch this VCR because, for years, it had been good for nothing but changing channels on my TV, which was not cable-ready. (The VCR became mine when it got old and my family got a new one.)
But Dad had finally figured out how to clean it, and it could not only change channels, but could also record, play back, rewind, and fast forward. It was fixed so well that it still worked when I graduated from college!
Of course, it occasionally got hungry for tapes, so Dad would have to fix it again to keep my tapes (especially rented ones) from getting ruined.
During the deep winter, Candice and I wrapped up in blankets during the day, and shivered under the covers at night. Now that Candice was gone, her pillows no longer blocked the heating vent–and that room would get hot, even on cold nights.
I believe the heater control was broken–or maybe we didn’t even have one–so I couldn’t turn it down or off. Instead, I had to open a window. This was weird, sleeping with the window open on cold nights, but it was also wonderful to smell the winter air and hear birds singing.
I mentioned to Tom once how strange it was to hear birds that time of year, and even at night. I couldn’t remember hearing winter birds or even night birds back in South Bend.
One time that Shawn came over to visit, he said I was always so sad, that “It looks like you just lost your best friend and your dog–and your best friend shot your dog.” He smiled when he said that.
He didn’t seem to realize that, with what I was going through, I had every right to be sad all the time. I wasn’t the “negative” person he thought I was: I was just going through depression.
I had lost my best friend, Peter, and less than two months previous. What did he expect me to do, dance, laugh and sing? That would be unnatural!
Shawn didn’t help when he refused to say–to the world or to me–that we were seeing each other, despite acting like we were.
Now that I often went places alone after dark, such as to get dinner, I had to keep an eye out. I’d watch the bushes and everywhere where someone might hide in wait. Nothing ever happened to me, but at least I was watchful in case anything ever did.
I made several note cards and printouts to hang on the little bulletin board above my desk, with inspirational sentences and quotes. They weren’t the typical “Hang in there, baby” clichéd phrases. There were two note cards about God working, and one page full of quotes about the relationship between Catherine and Valancourt in Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.
To some extent, this relationship mirrored the one between Peter and me, since it seemed perfect and then broke up. Catherine broke up with Valancourt when she heard he was doing various immoral things, such as gambling and visiting a certain woman who I believe was married. An old woman chastened Catherine and told her that since she and Valancourt wanted to be together, they should be.
Catherine went through so much pain after the breakup that you would’ve thought he broke up with her, not the other way around. The ending gave me hope. I also identified with Catherine, who was called “melancholy.” However, for her “melancholy” was a compliment, not a criticism.
By the way, this book was about 600 pages long, roughly 300 pages per volume. I read it because the heroine of Northanger Abbey filled her mind with it. An old copy was in the Roanoke library.
I’m not sure if the song “Just Another Day” by Jon Secada came out in spring or summer of 1992, but I identified with it. The persona wondered how he could make it through another day without his love. And the music was lovely.
Every once in a while, all during this time, I heard the sound of a plane overhead. Since I had been born in the 70s, I had heard and loved this sound all my life. It connected me with the years of my past. (This made 9/11 even more poignant, when the planes stopped.)
What were Shawn and I to each other?
On the one hand, much of our relationship was a horrible mistake. Christian Girls, be careful of guys who keep trying to push you to do things you don’t want to do, physically or through persuasion, telling you it’s not sinful as long as you don’t do such-and-such–especially if they don’t even love you. My next boyfriend, Phil, did not like Shawn at all because of what he did.
On the other hand, however, it was a perfectly ordinary rebound relationship spoiled by too much talking and analyzing. We were both lonely and kept visiting each other alone, so it’s no wonder we kept making out.
The problem was, afterwards, he would go on and on for hours about how he didn’t want a relationship with me, and seemed to blame me for starting the make-out sessions–even though I never did. He seemed to use me for a couple of hours and then treat me like a cheap whore.
He kept trying to change me: my hair, my clothes (which other people complimented), how I spent my time, my lack of makeup, how I acted. I got sick of it.
We had no name for our weird, twisted relationship, having never heard of “just friends” making out. Now, I hear, it happens all the time in the younger generations. Many probably would see nothing wrong with it (except for the overanalyzing and criticisms). There is even a trend of “just friends” having sex, or “friends with benefits.”
Were we officially “boyfriend/girlfriend”? No. But if Shawn had realized how much simpler it would be, that it would not require a commitment or passionate love, “seeing each other” would be a perfectly fine description. There was never any doubt that we could see other people.
Sure, I had a huge crush on him, but at the same time I got crushes on other guys. One was a young and single teacher; one, James, I didn’t know but he seemed to know everybody I knew; and one was part of a little group I had breakfast with each morning sophomore year.
I figured the teacher was off-limits, especially after another (single) teacher lost his job over a relationship with a senior girl.
As for James, since I didn’t know him, I didn’t get much chance to say anything. We both worked in Food Service sophomore year, but not together, and just passed each other occasionally.
As for the third guy, we were always with two other girls, so the subject never came up. (I should have spoken up when he asked if any of us wanted to go see Bram Stoker’s Dracula with him.)
Once, I even met a guy at a campus play; he asked me out, and I said yes. He was Cindy’s friend, and went to a different school. Unfortunately, he got back together with his ex-girlfriend, and never called me to set up a date.
But then, maybe it was “fortunately,” since I heard he was into the same things as Peter (drinking, smoking).
I saw him occasionally, since he knew Cindy; I’m sure he remembered what happened between us, because he would always look at me when I walked by. I could tell he was still attracted to me.
But I had decided no, not again, so I didn’t talk to him much. (He seems to know all my Roanoke friends, and now we’re Facebook friends. LOL)
But back to Shawn. Shawn once said he would love to go on a date with me, but when I asked him, said no.
If he had just stopped hedging and said, “We are seeing each other, we can go on dates like normal people, and we can see anybody else we want,” this would have been much simpler.
Instead, he strung me along for the next year, never putting a proper label on things. I never said we had to get married; I just wanted our relationship to have a more respectable name, to let things go however they would go.
The whole campus seemed to know there was something going on. People would ask if we were going out; guys would go to Shawn and say, “You should see Nyssa today. She looks really pretty.” It would’ve been nice to tell people, “Yeah, we’re seeing each other, and we can see other people, too.”
Do I regret kissing him? No, though I do regret certain things that happened. (Once again, be careful, girls: Guys, even Christian ones, can use all sorts of persuasive arguments to convince you that it’s not a sin to do what he’s asking for.) Before things turned bad, we had a lot of fun, and he helped me get over Peter. (The funny thing is, our twisted relationship lasted longer than my serious relationships with Peter or Phil.)
Neither of us drank, so we did this with all our faculties working.
I do regret the constant arguing and overanalyzing. (Heidi knew Shawn, and told him he was too analytical.)
We never had vaginal intercourse, because that was “wrong”–but he lured me into doing plenty of other things. Every weekend he would come over, or ask me over; he would start cuddling up with me as we watched a movie, or massaging me, then eventually turn it into doing other things, getting me to do the things he wanted.
His hand would go places that Peter’s never went, shocking me because Shawn was a Christian who should know better; then Shawn would tell me how it wasn’t wrong, that his ex-girlfriend told him breasts were just another part of her like her arm.
Through it all, and because the last time we had met he always told me it wasn’t going to happen anymore, I believed that now, at last, he was in love with me and this was proof of it.
Then finally he would stop and it would turn into a long session of blasting me for everything, blaming me for what happened, treating me like some cheap whore, telling me all the faults in my personality, telling me how he wasn’t attracted to me and didn’t want to date me because of these faults.
He was very manipulative, but kept turning it around on me, making me into the manipulative one.
Things got so dysfunctional between Shawn and me that I eventually had to see a counselor to find out what was “wrong with me.”
I think if he had stopped hedging and analyzing, there never would have been anything “wrong with me” (other than nonverbal learning disorder, which probably fueled everything from my failed relationship and horrible post-breakup with the liar Peter to my troubles with Shawn).
We probably would not have gotten married, since we were incompatible, but there wouldn’t be nearly so many regrets or hurt feelings. There probably would still be some, since his attempts to change me made me feel like crap:
Why should I have started wearing makeup if I didn’t want to? Catherine didn’t wear makeup, but she was popular with the guys.
What was wrong with how I dressed? I dressed in attractive and modest clothes, which–from what I read in the Bible–is far more becoming to a Christian woman than dressing sexy, which Shawn said I should do.
His changes to my hair did not look so great day-to-day, because of my face shape and low hairline.
I was proud of myself for being more outgoing at college, but he said I was too shy and reserved, making me feel like the weird little girl in the corner all over again.
Shawn told me to stop watching the ground as I walked. I had only heard this complaint once before in my life; I thought it normal to watch the ground. It could be me compensating for NVLD by making sure I stepped properly, or it could be the state of the neighborhood sidewalks where I grew up, or it could be the threat of stepping in dead things and various forms of dung.
In any case, though I tried to fix this for Shawn’s case, I still do it.
As things dragged on, Shawn’s criticisms also showed a deep misunderstanding of the kind of person I was. He accused me of things I would not dream of. He told me things other people said, but I discovered these people didn’t know me well, either.
Yet he had a way of talking you down until you believed him. I had to talk to friends and my roommate to remind myself of my true character.
One of the articles I referenced in my page on nonverbal learning disorder lists things that NVLD people are often accused of, things that are not true at all. Others don’t understand the disorder, and the NVLD person does not understand where the accusations come from. I found at least a few things in that list that Shawn accused me of, things which were not true.
One was a manipulation of time. A reading of NVLD materials shows that he probably gave me nonverbal cues that he wanted to end a conversation and go to sleep, but I missed them completely–hence, I got labeled manipulative or rude.
This paragraph from Sue Thompson’s Nonverbal Learning Disorders sounds much like what I went through with Shawn:
Perceptual cues serve in the same capacity as traffic signals; they govern the flow, give-and-take, and fluctuations in our conversations.
The child who cannot ‘read’ these nonverbal cues is frequently determined to be ill-mannered, discourteous, curt, immature, lacking in respect for others, self-centered, and/or even defiant.
This child is none of the above. Like the color blind driver who cannot respond appropriately to traffic lights, this is a child who is utilizing all of the resources available to him in order to try and make sense of a world which is providing him with faulty cues and unreliable information.
Apparently, Shawn’s ultimate rejection of me was based on misperceptions–misperceptions he stubbornly held to even when I tried to set him straight. NVLD strikes again, ruining another relationship. After a particularly heinous criticism (which even plain-speaking Rachel vehemently disagreed with), I broke things off with him.
We did get back together, but not until after I told him how I felt. Things finally just blew up, and were not resolved before he left school early. (He was already going to be there for only two years before going to engineering school, but family issues forced him out several weeks early.)
For years, I saw this as a guy preying on my low self-esteem of the time. But after watching Dr. Phil and getting older, I realize it wasn’t just that. What was I getting out of it? Why did I let him treat me that way?
Apparently, even though I wanted his love, it didn’t matter. He helped me pass the time and stop thinking about Peter until I found a real boyfriend. Good boyfriend prospects were not so easy to find. So rather than low self-esteem, it may have been teenage hormones.
But Shawn found me an easy person to manipulate because of the NVLD. As I look back over my life, and remember people like Shawn, Phil (my fiancé junior year, story to come), and my ex-best-friend Richard (who manipulated me with half-truths and persuasion, and whom I trusted because I thought he was a pious Orthodox Christian)–it’s horrifying to me just how easily I was manipulated by these men.
I wish I had been less susceptible. I think it is my NVLD which makes me that way. I’m trusting, especially if the person claims to be a Christian. I thought this had all been behind me, until Richard’s deceptions became clear. I must be more guarded in future.
Table of Contents
- Meet the Suite
- Meeting Shawn–and a Ninja
- Campus Stories, Wisconsin, Campus Radio Station
- Campus, People, First College Boyfriend
- Dating a Ninja
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
- Classmate a stand-in for “Rudy”; Jigging at College Dance
- Library Tales
- Happiness Returns
- Living with Friends in Krueger
- Funny Library Stories
- Shawn Calls
- Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars
- Return of Rick
- Adjusting to New Dorm
- Spitball-Throwing Teacher
- Rat-Obsessed Teacher and Doctor Zhivago
- A Teacher Dated a Student; InterVarsity Fun
- Charlie Peacock Concert
- Random Stories
- Letter to Shawn
- Erotic Vampire Dream (Inspiration for Alexander Boa)
- I Ask Out James
- Peter Calls!
- The Fateful First Meeting of Phil
- The Birth of Dolphin Philosophy
- Our Group of Friends Splits Apart
- Spring Classes
- Big Red Flag: Phil’s Dysfunctional Family Life
- The Drunken Stork (Phil’s Controlling Nature Manifests)
- Idealizing Phase and Early Sign of Control
- Phil Tries to Control my Friendships, Unfair Accusations from his Dad and Brother
- Phil Gaslights Me with Fake Dreams, Ridicule and Psychological Abuse
- Another Pre-Engagement
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
- The Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell
- Phil rapes me anally
- Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene
- Phil’s cruel hoax on me: his “subconscious” coming out to be with me
- Phil’s “subconscious” explains why he’s coming out to talk to me
- The lies unravel as Phil admits to conning me; also, fright as my periods turn wacky
- How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse
- Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games
- Phil says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers
- Pearl reveals that Phil is costing me social invitations
- Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage
September 1994–Divorce: The Long, Dark, Painful Tunnel:
- Phil picks fights and avoids responsibilities to make me feel like a shrew
- My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion
- I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles
- Phil vanishes without a word of why
- Phil wants a divorce
- My friends tells me that Phil is controlling and possessive
- My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues
- Phil refuses to accept responsibility for the divorce
- Phil cuts off contact
- Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk
- Phil the narcissist admits to manipulating people and using them as pawns in his game with me
- Phil comes crawling back to me–and we put our marriage on paper
- Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again
- Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath
- Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse
- My friends tell me Phil is psychotic
- “Soul Ties”
- I return Phil’s things and he skewers me; consolation from friends
- My letter to Phil
- Phil shows my letter to his friends; I’m triggered by reminder of forced oral sex
- I start dating Charles
- Friends tell me Phil is controlling
- I feel stalked by Phil
- Poem about being stalked by Phil
- Fury at Phil stalking me and rubbing my face in his new relationship
- A Date with the Vampire
- Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull
- The Teddy-O Incident; Birth of These Memoirs
- We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life
- New Guy Begging at My Feet
- Life on TCB
- Meeting Cugan (Hubby)
- Learning my ex Peter was a love-fraud; New Men
- Before Tracy, There Was the Avenger (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 1)
- Torn between three men as Catherine pushes me toward Cugan
- The Love Rectangle
- Torn between FIVE men! Me?
- Persephone’s Own Outrageous Stories of Phil’s Abuse
- College-style living
- Online Shenanigans
- Phil Finds TCB; Meeting a Hit Man
- Gypsy’s Party: Healed friendship with Peter
- The Avenger Starts a Flame War (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 2)
- Meeting the elusive Speaker
- First Date with Future Hubby Cugan
- On Breaking Up with Kindness
- Loony Roommies and Flying Gargoyles
- The Goddess of Pleasure and Salt
- A Conversation with Oscar Wilde
- My First SCA Event
- Cugan: a vast improvement over Phil
- Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA
- Cugan breaks up with me
- After breakup: Phil’s return and trolls
- Cugan comes back
- SCA hippies; college senioritis: anxiety!
- Or should I move back in with my parents?
- Peace with Phil
- Defending my Thesis; Graduating with Honors
- Graduation: Trapped at school
- Epilogue and Apology from Phil