- Whiteheart Concert–Phil Meets Shawn
- Controversial Play Tears the School Apart
- Phil’s Emotional Manipulation and Gaslighting Begin in Full Force
- We make wedding plans; more of Phil’s fake dreams
I first started to listen to WAPL (the Apple in Appleton), Lazer 103 and 93Q and their mixes of classic and new rock because I thought it was Phil’s kind of music, and I kind of liked it. (93Q was the best mix, playing songs the others didn’t.)
Now that I was all into that stuff, Phil said, “The only reason I can handle your music is because of a certain friend I have who’s into that stuff.” And he said that otherwise, he might have broken up with me because of it!!!!
Breaking up because of music, when you are with the person you’re meant to be with???? It made me feel bad to think that he would’ve broken up with me if it weren’t for that one friend.
The Whiteheart concert was on March 4. Phil agreed to drive us. He was not a good driver; for example, once Mike, Pearl and/or others told him to turn at a certain spot. They told him as we neared it, and again as we got to it, but he kept on going. Then they got annoyed, and said he was supposed to turn back there!
I believe that nearly all my InterVarsity friends were in the minivan with us, and at some point they began singing various hymns, some old and some new. (I didn’t join in because I didn’t like singing.)
Phil recognized none of the hymns, and tried to start a song he knew from his church. Nobody knew it, so nobody sung along.
He took this personally, even though it had nothing to do with how they felt about him: They just didn’t know the songs. Protestants and Catholics sing different hymns.
We stayed in the room of one or two of Pearl’s friends, in a Whitewater dorm. We were amazed and impressed by the numerical keypads on the locks. Instead of always having to remember your key, you just memorized your number and punched it in to unlock the door. No more worry about locking yourself out of your room or dorm! No more lost key cards!
We slept on the floor, Phil and I next to each other. We were happy in love and a cute couple, probably gag-cute to our friends.
We got to the concert. Shawn was there with another group, probably his youth group. Pearl had not been able to get Phil and me tickets for seats with the rest of our group (though now I wonder if she did this on purpose because people in the group didn’t like Phil).
Soon after we found our seats, Shawn found us. He talked with me for a few minutes, and I introduced him to Phil. He shook Phil’s hand. He laughed and smiled, but I wasn’t sure how much he wanted to talk to me. Then Shawn said he wanted to go find Pearl, and left.
I had told Phil about Shawn. I had felt that when I got engaged, I should tell my future husband about Shawn.
You see, in the Christian Evangelical/Fundamentalist world, we are taught as teenagers that our bodies belong to our future spouses, not to ourselves. Even if we have not met them yet, if we allow ourselves to be touched sexually before marriage, we are betraying our future spouse.
For us, it is irrelevant that we had not even met yet if we were sexually active with someone else beforehand: It is still a betrayal that we must repent of, the same as if we were married at the time.
So even though we’re the ones currently dating our girlfriend/boyfriend, if we touch them sexually, we are, as Christian pop singer Eric Champion put it in the song “Don’t Touch That Temple,” touching the temple of the Lord. As the song goes, when you’re with your date, “What would you do if you knew that somebody had their hands on the temple God made for you?”
So when an Evangelical feels guilt when confessing his sexual history to his fiancée, this is why. And when a friend advises the fiancée, who is now upset that they won’t be giving their purity to each other on their wedding night as she has dreamed of since childhood, “But he slept with those girls before he even met you,” the friend’s words have no meaning or consolation to her.
Of course, as it turned out, Phil had had oral sex with his exes, so he’d gone farther than I did. But in any case, he was disgusted because Shawn would touch me but then say he didn’t want me.
So now, after Shawn shook his hand and left, Phil turned to me and made sure I saw him wipe his hand on his pants, like he’d touched something gross and wanted to wipe it off.
He later asked if I’d known Shawn would be there, and why didn’t I tell him? (Pearl had told me, but I didn’t think it was important enough to mention. Shawn was going to be with another group, after all, not ours.) Did I not tell him because I was afraid he wouldn’t drive us to the concert? He said if he had known, he might not have gone to the concert.
WHAT? Would he have really left us all without a ride just because of one person he might see but who wasn’t even near us during the whole concert? (I believe Shawn was somewhere way in the back, while Phil and I were near the middle, in the same row as my friends.)
Would he really have disregarded my longtime desire to see a Whiteheart concert? I’d been a big fan since 1986, but had never been able to go to one of their concerts before!
I’ve been at the same SCA event as a woman who I knew had once slept with Cugan. I also knew that she had been like Shawn, playing with Cugan’s mind and doing all these things with him, but it was all fun and games for her, no love, no desire for a relationship. I even danced along with her, taking her hand during the jigs and reels. It was rough, and jealousy did flare up.
But I still went to these events, knowing she would be there. It was comforting and validating that Phil found Shawn’s actions disgusting. But for Phil to behave in such a fashion, to not even want to go if he knew Shawn was there, to even refuse to drive us all there if he had known–What does that say about him? I think it’s more evidence of a desire for control.
During the concert, I didn’t clap during the whole thing like other people did and like I used to do as a teenager at Christian rock concerts. But then, I was getting older and not as into clapping anymore. Phil thought I wasn’t that into the concert, but I loved it. It was heaven.
I loved the setup on stage (a Scottish castle); to begin, a guy (dressed as on the album cover) came out and played the bagpipes. I wasn’t expecting him, and then all of a sudden, he was there with the spotlight on him.
The tour was for the Highlander album, and this Scottish theme made me, the descendant of Scots, even happier than I was already.
I hadn’t had enough time to get emotionally attached to the songs on the new album, as I told Phil, but they did play a few older songs. One was “Fly Eagle Fly,” which Rick Florian barely even remembered. It was the first Whiteheart song I ever heard, back in 1986, a gorgeous, ethereal ballad.
I whispered to Phil that I loved that song, so he paid close attention to it. I wasn’t sure if he was impressed with Whiteheart or not, but at least he wanted to know what was important to me.
Florian also told something I didn’t know, that there were albums before Don’t Wait for the Movie, and that there was another lead singer then, a guy who left because of a scandal involving him and two underage girls. This was a shock. I didn’t want to hear the pre-Florian songs after that.
After the show, I got myself a concert T-shirt with the album cover on it. This T-shirt became one of my favorites, a reminder of the wonderful time when I finally got to see Whiteheart in concert. Yet because of one person, Phil would not have taken me there.
I tried to tell Phil about the time I went to Mammoth Cave, and even offered to show him the copy of the letter I wrote about it to my Luxemburg pen pal, but he refused to see it.
He didn’t like hearing about people’s lives that were more interesting than his, since, as he said, his was just sad and nothing ever happened to him.
I wanted the man I was to marry to know about my experiences, the weird and unusual as well as the merely mundane. They were a part of me, and knowing me fully meant knowing about my experiences. I couldn’t see how a person could love someone and not want to know everything about her.
Phil told me he wanted to read my diaries, and everything I’d ever written. So I pulled out my first diary (started at age 9) and let him read it. However, he soon complained, saying he didn’t want to read things like “A spider crawled across the ground,” but more important things.
This hurt me, because I wrote those things when I was a child, and they were important to me then. I thought my first diary was cute and interesting, but he thought it was boring. He said he wanted to read everything I’d written, but when I showed it to him, he didn’t want to read it.
Now for the defining event which essentially ruined what InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) fought so hard to set up at Roanoke:
You don’t have to agree with the people who were against the school play, but I do want you to understand that nobody was trying to stifle women’s voices or fight against women’s empowerment.
Nor was it IVCF trying to censor people, which is how it was misrepresented to the student body. This is what really happened:
In March, there was a huge controversy over the school play that was to be put on that semester.
“Lucky Spot” had already caused controversy fall semester because it had nonstop cussing and was shown on Family Night without a warning; the language really should have been toned down out of sensitivity to the audience and any Christian actors.
The language added nothing; the play would have been perfectly understandable without it. It didn’t seem right to make actors use language which may have been against their personal Christian beliefs. It was, however, a good and funny play.
This next play, “Uncommon Women” by Wendy Wasserstein, caused controversy because of the often vulgar subject matter. Many people considered it inappropriate at a Christian college.
The year before, my World Lit class had said that we could be pretty sure the old guys who ran Roanoke would never agree to showing the old Greek play, “Lysistrata.” But “Lysistrata” was tame compared to this play.
Some of the controversial scenes: A girl runs in and says, “I did it! I’ve tasted my menstrual blood!” (I have a low tolerance for gore.) There was also a scene in which a girl shows a virgin the different penis sizes. I don’t remember more concrete examples from the play, so you’d have to find a copy or video of it.
In Googling this play just now, I discovered that this play was shown on TV back in the 70s, to critical acclaim. I had never heard of this play, however, and I doubt that many people at Roanoke had, other than the older generations, such as the theater director.
(No doubt my parents did not want me, a 5-year-old, to see it. As Nazarenes, they probably did not want to watch it themselves.)
A critic from the New York Times called the sex talk funny and believable, though it becomes excessive. But to me, it wasn’t at all believable, and was all excessive.
As Phil explained it to me, a former member of our IVCF group, Dori, also a theater major, got a copy of the script (hoping to try out), but was irate.
She wrote letters to the churches that supported the college financially, quoted the vulgar parts of the play, said it had no business being performed on a Christian campus, and that IVCF was behind her in this.
But I don’t know why she wrote this about IVCF. She was on the outs with our club president Pearl, she had not been in IVCF for a while, and IVCF had never even heard of this play.
The rest of the school, however, got wind of this by March and believed a rumor–namely, that IVCF was against the play.
The members of IVCF had never read the play, and had no official stand on the play, not then or, as far as I remember, ever. But they were seen as censors.
The Mirror staff showed a grave error in judgment by making a certain Kelly, the most vocal and adamant supporter of the play and foe to IVCF, the main writer of articles about the controversy.
Rather than do actual, professional, journalistic research, he wrote rumors and opinions and inaccuracies as facts, and fueled the fire against IVCF. Basically, he was our own Rita Skeeter.
IVCF was ridiculed and verbally abused.
Many of the people, organizations and churches who funded Roanoke threatened to withhold their money because of the play.
I have since learned that Tracy was involved in this play (to my surprise because I believe she was a Christian), and that the actresses made T-shirts which said, “Who’s afraid of Wendy Wasserstein?” Which really made no sense; nobody was “afraid” of Wendy Wasserstein. We didn’t even know who she was.
I had no individual stance until after the Play was shown. I wanted to see it for myself before making up my mind.
I went around listening to people’s various sides of it: I had long talks with Phil about it, since he had the one male part in the play: an announcer offstage.
He said this year’s theme was plays by Pulitzer Prize-winning women, but this play had not won the Pulitzer.
(After just now checking out the plot of the Pulitzer winner, The Heidi Chronicles, I bet it would have been far better received at Roanoke than Uncommon Women.)
We also talked with others about it, such as Julie. She and Darryl were to change their position after converting to Catholicism a few years later, and feel mortified that they took the stance they did. But at the time they felt that Roanoke was a liberal arts school, and showing the play was part of being liberal arts.
Kelly apparently didn’t know that I was in IVCF, which he mistakenly thought Dori still belonged to (an example of his lack of research before writing articles).
When Phil and I somehow ended up talking with him about the play after lunch or dinner one day and the cafeteria was nearly empty, he railed in a loud voice against Dori. He was graphic, crass and embarrassingly loud.
He said he bet she had done things to herself that were like things spoken of in the play, and then moved his hand down to his crotch and started yelling out female cries of orgasmic pleasure.
Phil and I said nothing at the time, but both agreed that what Kelly said and did was far over the line of decency.
Others, such as Astrid and Pearl, thought that a Christian school should not be showing plays with vulgar content. If this were a secular college, they would have let it go.
Different people in IVCF had different opinions. Some thought it should be banned; some thought it should be shown; some didn’t know what to think and preferred to stay out of it (that would be me and probably my roommate).
The rumor mill made us sound like a powerhorse, but IVCF was merely a handful of hardworking friends with no real influence in anything, who just wanted to get a group going for Christians to come together and hang out and have Bible studies.
The majority of people against showing the play did not attend IVCF meetings at all, or rarely attended. Some of us, regardless of our individual stances, were disgusted at how our little group of IVCF had been dragged into this.
Pepper Steak Derek had started doing a campus talk show in Bossard called “No Holds Barred.” One night, the topic was the play.
On the panel were four people who he said represented InterVarsity–not representing the people against the play, but IV, though it had no stance: It was just a group. They were Pearl, Mike, a guy who I don’t think came to IV that often, and Dori–who wasn’t even in IV.
I didn’t go to it for some reason, but Pearl later told me that it was like being in Hell itself. There was yelling and jeers (people against IV), and people accusing IV of things it wasn’t even doing.
Pearl and others tried to explain their positions, and I believe they got rudely shouted down. Once a girl stood up and started rambling on about it, and her thoughts were disjointed and made no sense so the unnamed guy on the panel said, “Excuse me, but what is your point?”
The rumor mill had made IV sound like Bible-thumping censors and jerks, but that was nowhere near the truth. IV, in fact, never did have an official position on the play. Kelly, of course, also wrote a biased article about “No Holds Barred.”
Pearl, Mike and Rachel all wrote excellent letters to the editor.
Pearl thought the college should decide if it was Christian or secular, and on that base its decision whether to show the play.
Mike thought that people in the local towns were sheltered; nowadays, after forgetting all about the play, he says he’d be interested in seeing it.
Rachel, who was not in IVCF and was certainly no prude, thought the play should not be shown. She tells me now that the play embarrassed her, that women can be crass and vulgar, but portraying them that way shows their foolishness, not their strengths. It doesn’t do women justice.
Somebody, I don’t know who, started a petition to ban the play. I don’t believe the petition had anything to do with IV. If anything, it was just one or two people who wanted to do it. I don’t believe I signed it, either, if I ever actually saw it.
Since Phil was the voiceover, I got to see parts of the script beforehand. Some made me laugh, so I thought maybe the play would be fine. The date I went to see the Play: probably April 22. I don’t know what I did with the program. I may have tossed it.
I felt the acting was often exaggerated, done to shock and to play to the supporters, done to emphasize the controversial bits, rather than to amuse.
During the intermission, I went out into the foyer to go to the bathroom, and Phil soon found me. He took me into the entryway, which was separated from the foyer by glass doors, and asked me what I thought of the Play. I said it was just awful. Then and/or after the play was over, I said I hated it. I didn’t care who heard me.
From what I could see, with everything in context now, the Play had no plot or point, and just took whatever chance it could find to be as gross, offensive, or vulgar as possible. It glorified promiscuity. And why on earth would anybody want to taste her menstrual blood?
I didn’t consider myself prudish–after all, I liked Lysistrata, The Monk, the Black Adder series and Are You Being Served, and had been addicted to Tales of the City and Melrose Place. But there was a line I did not like to cross, a line which went past “provocative” or “naughty” and on to “obscene.” As far as I was concerned, Uncommon Women was on the “obscene” side.
It was like it had been written by a teenager who wanted to shock their elders, or a shock jock, or one of those shock comics we had in those days. Such things may make adolescents giggle, but they’re not true, lasting art.
Maybe it was making some kind of point about society’s views of women, but that was in the 1970s when the Sexual Revolution was a new thing. In 1994, it wasn’t at all unusual to hear teenage women talking about sex, or for Christians to be mocked for believing in God and for abstaining from sex, drugs and alcohol. All through my childhood and teen years, I had been mocked for my beliefs. I came to a Christian college to find a safe haven for four years where I could hopefully find a husband among a huge pool of men with the same values I held–but instead I found almost none who shared them. The ones who did, weren’t interested in me for some reason I never could understand. The guys I did date, kept pushing me to compromise my beliefs. And now here was this play telling me that my beliefs were wrong, that chastity was weird, as if I hadn’t already heard enough of that every day.
Everybody gave the play a standing ovation, but I thought it was the worst play I’d ever seen. I later wondered if it would be better to read it, because the acting itself was so terrible, with little attention paid to things like emoting and sounding natural, sacrificing quality to say shocking lines as loudly and mockingly as possible. This wasn’t artistic–It was nothing but a big F**K YOU.
It was possible that the play would have been much better in the hands of skilled actresses with comedic timing. I had seen much better acting on that very stage, even from the very same actresses. For example, if you want to see shocking, controversial subject matter done well with excellent comedic timing, I recommend watching the show Titus from around the turn of the century.
I figured the standing ovation could only have been for putting on the play in the first place despite opposition, and not for artistic value. I stayed in my seat and only made a couple quiet, cursory claps–even quieter than my soft, shy claps usually are.
This may have been when I decided that the play did not belong on a Christian campus, though I didn’t support Dori’s actions, either. (It was too late to join one side or the other, however, now that the play had been performed.)
Reading works in Lit class was one thing, often necessary to get a full grounding in Lit education; performing them was another, because it essentially endorsed whatever work was performed.
None of the campus plays I’d seen before this were specifically Christian, especially Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But here was a Christian college putting on a play that openly mocked people who wanted to save themselves for marriage and resist looking at others as sex objects.
IVCF did go to the Play, an effort to show that we were trying to be fair and had been given a bad rap, and held a discussion on it after opening night. However, no one even came to the discussion, which surprised us.
(I don’t believe I saw the Play on the opening night but on the second, though my day planner suggests I did. I think my not going to the Play that night was the reason I didn’t go to the discussion.)
The lack of anyone at the discussion was a slap in the face, especially considering that lots of people on campus thought the play should not be shown. Gary’s Christian girlfriend, Diana, not a part of IVCF, had the part of the virgin, and was the only character I liked. I wondered why she wanted to be involved with such a play.
The memory of this Play was still fresh in our minds when senior year began, and the strange hostility to our group didn’t seem to dissipate much.
Once during a prayer (when once again we prayed at each of the buildings around campus), two girls walked by and began singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of their lungs. (We countered such rudeness with humor, which you can read about when I discuss this in the senior year chapters.)
I was so furious with the rumors and what they did to our hard work that, years later, I still burn to tell people what really happened. [This part was written and posted online in 2007.]
Years later, I discovered that the play director’s wife misrepresented the opposing point of view in the Summer 2007 issue of the alumni magazine, in an article about her husband, who had retired:
Tracy and the rest of the cast of ‘Uncommon Women,’ remember the controversy about the play? You suffered as a group because at the time the college didn’t know anything about women’s studies.
I’m still proud of you for responding by wearing those ‘Who’s Afraid of Wendy Wasserstein?’ shirts. Thanks for supporting [the director] and the idea of empowering women’s voices.
This just re-opened the wound I thought had closed, by making it sound like the people against the play–some of whom were my close friends, and women writers–were ignorant anti-feminists who didn’t want women to have a voice.
First they were accused of censorship; now they are accused of stifling women’s voices? Come on, now!
This had nothing to do with woman’s “struggle against patriarchal society” or “empowering” women. This had nothing to do with knowing nothing about “women’s studies.” (Heck, we’d read Toni Morrison and other women authors in Lit classes.)
Many of the people against the play were women writers, even feminists.
This had everything to do with a Christian college putting on and endorsing a play which glorified promiscuity and made it impossible for many Christians to even try out for it. For Rachel, it was about women being depicted as foolish.
This was about people refusing to listen to both sides of an argument, instead shouting the other side down and allowing slander to run rampant, and then mocking the opposition after you have effectively silenced them.
How is it “empowering” women to talk about penis sizes and tasting menstrual blood? Women are struggling with much more important issues than finding a good lay. We have everything from unequal power structures to abuse and murder to contend with.
How about being “empowered” in positive ways through good, unselfish, equal marriages, children raised to respect others, equal pay for equal work, equal respect, women (and men) choosing to work or stay at home as they wish, women dressing how they like instead of how others tell them to? How about being empowered by fighting for a society that rejects sexism and rape?
Do we really need vulgarity to accomplish this?
The victors really do write the history books, so we have to be careful. And journalists do not always tell the whole story, whether through deliberate yellow journalism or through getting facts wrong or through getting their stories chopped up.
And this does real damage to lives and to groups. Not only did the effects of this slander and libel follow us through the rest of the year, but they continued to follow us through senior year, as I will show.
As far as I know, IVCF lasted only a little while after our last founding member (Astrid) graduated several years later. And all this fuss was over what–something noble? No, it was over a play about tasting menstrual blood. I still hear about “Hair,” but I never hear about this play.
One heartening thing is discovering that, in 2007, the college now has four specifically Christian organizations, where once it had none. Once IVCF was the only one, and it struggled to survive; now there are others in its place.
Those groups must have enough support and members to survive as four groups instead of one. It makes me wonder if the atmosphere there has finally changed, if perhaps it has become the Christian college we had once prayed for.
But I have no way of knowing, since I haven’t attended for twelve years now. I also couldn’t tell you if the college ever put on another controversial play. [Note this was written in 2007.]
On Tuesday, March 8, I began reading Samuel Richardson‘s novel Pamela. It was a lighter version of Clarissa, not as psychological but still good–for the first half. Unfortunately, the story was all in the first half, and the second was basically Pamela getting used to life as her master’s wife. The parts with her trying to convince others that they were really married, that much was interesting, because they had a private wedding, but the family did not believe it ever occurred. I didn’t even try to read the sequel, because it appeared to be more of the same.
The first half, however, was a great story, with Pamela attracting the attentions of her young master, refusing them because he wanted sex, and then him locking her up in a room until she would agree to have sex with him (which she didn’t). I loved that part.
It was astonishingly kinky for an eighteenth-century novel! (Of course, I hadn’t read Dangerous Liaisons yet, but then, that was French.) It also fit the definition of Gothic, the woman-locked-up definition. I told Barb about that one day as we waited for World Civ to begin, and she said, “I’d better read that book!”
One night, Phil and I went to the movies. I said I wanted to see Schindler’s List, which Phil hadn’t heard of, and he went along with it.
During the scenes with the incinerator towers, I discovered the wonders of wide screens in the theaters: The stacks filled the screens vertically, and I actually had to put my head back and look up and up to see the tops of them. It was as if we were really there. This part amazed me the most.
The movie was a masterpiece, an instant classic, because of the story and the various elements: music, coloring (black and white except for the little girl’s coat), filming. I came back to school and raved about it as often as possible for the next day or two.
Soon after this, on an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry went to Schindler’s List with a new girlfriend. They could barely keep their hands off each other, and somebody saw them. This somebody knew his parents, and told them. His parents went to Jerry and berated him with, “You made out during Schindler’s List??!!”
I saw this episode in my room with Phil and probably my roommate Clarissa, and was so glad that I’d already seen the movie and could understand the references–and why making out during it would be considered gauche at best.
Phil began telling me I should cut my hair short, and in the summer he would even say that he liked my hair at Christmas at Roanoke (two braids wound around my head) because it looked short! (I’d often wear it that way because he liked it, but I thought he liked it because it looked elegant.)
I loved my hair long, and hated the look of short hair. My hair had been my pride and joy for the past several years. I had waited a few years for it to grow down to my waist like I wanted it to, and there was no way I wanted to have to wait that long again.
I only had it short once, in Kindergarten, when my mom heard it would grow back thicker. She held me up to a mirror; I frowned at the sight.
Telling me to cut my hair was, to me, the same as telling me he didn’t like me for me, because long hair was me and short hair was so not me. I was hurt by it, but he kept on hounding me.
At my house over Spring Break or Summer Break, Mom showed Phil all my school pictures. He said the Kindergarten one was his favorite because of my short hair, though I hated how I looked in it and preferred one in which I had long hair and a little cut from the cat on my face.
(I liked it despite the cut, not because of it. I thought I looked cutest in it, and liked the smile.)
One day, when I stood at the full-length mirror on the back of the door and he was on my bed and Clarissa was somewhere in the room, Phil said to Clarissa, “Wouldn’t she look good with short hair?”
“No, she wouldn’t,” Clarissa shot back.
I was grateful to Clarissa, who knew how I felt about my hair.
Another time, he got upset because my friends wanted to all dye our hair red at the same time, and I almost went along with it. I don’t recall if anybody actually dyed her hair, but he claimed that if I dyed mine red, it would drive him crazy sexually, so he didn’t want me to do that.
One night, Phil and I rented Men In Tights and Much Ado About Nothing at Blockbuster. We watched Much Ado first–big mistake. Much Ado was a masterpiece of comedy and class, with Kenneth Branagh directing and his wife, Emma Thompson, playing his character’s love interest (how cute). Phil gushed over Branagh’s genius, such as when two of the characters sat down at the same moment in perfect comedic timing.
Then we saw Men In Tights. Though it was funny in its own right, after Shakespeare it just looked awful. We started telling people to never see it right after Much Ado.
Though I loved pickles, Phil hated them–like he hated practically every food, it seemed, except for mac and cheese and fast food. (Yes, he was unhealthy: skinny somehow, but anemic, always getting nose bleeds.) Once, I even chased him around the kitchen with a pickle. I forget who was standing there laughing, but it was either Dave or his mother. I believe even Phil thought it was funny.
In March, Pearl and Sharon told me they and Tara were trying to get into one of the new apartments, and they needed a fourth person (you had to apply in groups). They needed someone who might actually qualify, since the requirements were very strict: They were honors apartments. You had to have a certain number of points, which were based on things like grades and activities.
I agreed to try. The applications were available around the fourteenth. I feared I might not be socially active enough to qualify, but I was, and we all got into an apartment.
During this time, Phil began showing me his true colors, bit by bit. He’d blame me for things that weren’t my fault, or chew me out for not doing something that I had actually done.
The things he said to me should have been huge hints that he was emotionally abusive and manipulative, but I didn’t see them. Maybe I just didn’t know any better; maybe I was blinded by NVLD or love.
For example: Phil and I went to the IVCF Lock-In in the Ley Chapel basement, March 18 to 19. As we walked over to the chapel, I don’t remember what we’d been talking about before this, but Phil said,
“If you’d been more assertive, Tracy wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”
Basically, he blamed me for his playing with Tracy’s affections! He talked like Tracy had been more forthright with her feelings and more assertive, and that if he’d known how I felt, he would never have gone out with her.
For one thing, he already had feelings for me, and he certainly could have asked me out himself. For another, I had asked him out–a huge thing for a shy girl to do–and told him, when he asked me, that yes, I meant for the date to lead to a relationship.
He said a date wasn’t considered more than a friendship date unless somebody says so, but I’d never heard of this. On the contrary, unless two people had already been good friends for a while, I and others I knew considered it to be an actual date-date when one of them asked the other out.
And besides, before the date was even over he asked and heard exactly how I meant it. If he’d had any doubt at all–which was hardly likely–he could have waited for me to come back from Christmas Break to ask me.
He was trying to gaslight me for some reason I still can’t fathom; what could possibly be the purpose of making me doubt my memory, of putting the blame for his own failing on me? Or was this just part of a larger campaign of gaslighting, each part meaning nothing on its own, but all together meant to make me think I was crazy?
Over the summer, he even said I shouldn’t have chased him while he was with Tracy–as if they had been exclusive, as if he had feelings for her instead of me, and as if he had nothing to do with it. He talked as if it were a character flaw, “stealing” him away from someone who never held him. I’ve already told you how things actually happened.
The whole blame thing was ridiculous, and infuriated me, because my mind was strong enough to resist it–especially when I had recorded everything in my diary right after it happened.
It may have been just before the Lock-In that I told him some information about Catherine’s wedding. I’d been invited, saw that I was allowed to bring a guest, had no idea that she wouldn’t want Phil to come with me (since she didn’t like him), asked him to come with me, and answered the invitation by marking the return card to say that two people were coming.
He had agreed to drive Clarissa and me there. I forget if the point of contention this time was the time of the wedding or that we were going to the reception. I know both were at some point. He may have complained that I hadn’t told him before what time the wedding was, or (I think this is more likely) that I hadn’t told him we’d be going to the reception.
But to me, the very idea of having to tell him about the reception was silly. It’s generally assumed that if you’re invited to a wedding, you’re also going to go to the reception. I seem to recall Phil threatening to not take Clarissa and me there at all, which would have left us without a ride because our other friends were in one car and it was full.
At the Lock-In, the group may have taken care of some IV business, but what I really remember are games, such as everyone naming their favorite things or their pet peeves. The first one I answered with, “My favorite thing is Phil.” Phil answered the second with, “My pet peeve is when people don’t give me information about things that involve me.”
That was so obviously directed at me and so very unfair, that it infuriated me all over again. How could he embarrass me in front of my friends like that, and in such a passive-aggressive manner?
(I think my pet peeve was probably people spelling my name wrong all the time. Absolutely nothing to do with our relationship.)
Somehow, this got smoothed over enough that he still drove us. The ceremony was at five and the reception was right afterwards, in the church basement.
(I’d never heard of the popular Wisconsin practice of waiting a few hours for the reception, which in Indiana would have resulted in people leaving in disgust before the reception actually started. Fortunately, Catherine and Glen didn’t do that. In the late 90s, after I’d been to a few of those weddings which had the reception a few hours later, and wondered what th’heck we were supposed to do or where to go before it started, a friend explained that Wisconsinites like to go bar-hopping before they even get to the reception! Dang, what a hard-drinking state!)
Apparently in Wisconsin, several hours are scheduled between the ceremony and the reception so that the wedding party (and significants) could “bar hop” to the reception location.
What the heck were the other people supposed to do between the ceremony and the reception? Why would you want to get your nice white dress all mucky in a bar? Are bars even open at 11am?
It all seemed kinda weird to me, but I went along with it. We ended up only going to one bar, and thankfully, it was fairly clean with lots of other activities to partake in besides drinking. Weirdness I tell you, WEIRDNESS! —Blog post by a lady who got married in Fond du Lac’s Galloway Village, and is just as baffled as me at WI wedding traditions
We got lost on the way there, trying to find the Lutheran church, so the three of us walked in a few minutes late. We walked past Catherine, who was already standing at the door of the sanctuary with her beautiful gown and train billowing around her, her mother and family members all around her.
She looked at us, and I hoped she wasn’t mad at us. We didn’t mean to be late, but you can’t help it when you get lost. I believe we found some side door through which to go in the sanctuary.
The wedding was pretty. The bridesmaid dresses, worn by Rachel, Cindy and at least one other girl, were kind of a velvety red or magenta, with puffed sleeves. At the reception in the basement, Clarissa, Phil and I had to sit separate from Pearl and Sharon and the others because there wasn’t enough room at their table. (That seemed to happen a lot when I dated Phil. Hmmmm……
(In 1996, Cindy reported to me that in the year after I graduated and some people stayed at Roanoke, the group went to a restaurant. Cindy went along because she was in S–. A transfer student who was now in the group brought Phil, to their shock. She and Phil ended up alone at one table while the others sat at a different one. They later married, but are now divorced.)
We sat across from an old woman who smiled as Phil and I talked on and on about what we’d do at our own wedding.
Phil said that when he married he wanted to use Natural Family Planning, a more elaborate and (according to him) much more accurate form of the Rhythm Method. He’d done a paper on it once, and through his research read an article that claimed it was as effective as the IUD.
He and I believed the IUD tore you up inside, not knowing that improvements in its safety had been made. I believe the stat given for Natural Family Planning was about 99% effective, when done right.
It sounded good to me, since I didn’t want to use artificial means: They scared me. The condom would be a barrier between my husband and me, and the Pill might do weird things to my system. I may have already known that the diaphragm wasn’t as effective as other methods.
Eventually, he would tell me that if I used birth control, he wouldn’t have sex with me, because he would see it as causing me to sin–even though I was Protestant and did not see it as sin.
In World Civ I learned that I could stick out my tongue at an old memory: In eighth grade American History, we heard about a general named Hooker. I called a friend’s attention to the name, and giggled. She frowned and told somebody else I was laughing at the guy’s name.
Well, now Dr. Williams told us that the term “hooker” for a prostitute came from this guy, who was known for visiting them! I just loved the poetic justice of this.
Phil told me once, when I saw an open garage door and nobody around it, that S– had almost no crime because the populace was mostly made up of blue-haired old ladies. Soon after, Phil mentioned this to Dave as he drove Dave and me to school, and Dave told him that there was too crime in S–.
I have since heard that Dave was right. My current city has the same thing: We have crime, yet people keep leaving their garage doors up, or car doors unlocked.
Maybe in junior year, the college installed a huge gumball machine in the Campus Center lounge. It must have been as tall as a person. There was a contest to guess how many gumballs there were in it.
I don’t know how often people used it, but it was quite a conversation piece. Astrid said on Sunday, October 17, 1999 that though people did buy gumballs from it, the same gumballs were in it the whole time it was in the Campus Center.
Since the rest of us didn’t remember it, it was obviously after 1996, when most of my friends and I had graduated, when someone punched a hole in it and started a fad of grabbing handfuls of gumballs. Twenty-five cents was hardly a lot, but being free seemed to make them more enticing. One of Astrid’s Phi-Delt sisters would take a bunch of gumballs to sorority meetings and offer them to everyone.
Bruce Springsteen’s song “Streets of Philadelphia” came out around this time, a song of haunting beauty.
Jennifer eventually broke up with Mike. Senior year, she began to date a guy named Jason, who had also dated Cindy and Catherine; Jennifer would one day marry him. They are still together to this day, posting pictures of their kids on Facebook. So I suppose it was just as well.
I heard “Generation” a couple of times on the radio, probably Lazer 103 or 93Q, but it was rarely played despite its musical superiority to most of the other songs they played.
Phil now had a confession for me: that he’d had oral sex with two of his girlfriends. He still considered himself a virgin and “oral sex” only a name; he explained that without penetration, it wasn’t really sex. I had always considered it sex.
There was no chance of pregnancy with oral sex, but he didn’t do anal sex (as much as he wanted to) because there was. However, his admission still bothered me. It was still intimate, nearly as intimate as sex–maybe more so.
I remember sitting in his parked minivan and saying, “It was supposed to be me!” He wasn’t supposed to even have oral sex with anyone but me, the one he was to marry (see above, and how Christian kids are taught that virginity is a special gift to be saved for your future spouse, and we were already planning to marry). I was hurt and devastated, and he felt bad about it.
I also told him that, whether it was really sex or not, I still didn’t want to do it before I got married. I believe he struggled with the question of whether or not he was really a virgin, and I didn’t want to go through the same thing myself. I wanted to be able to say unequivocally, “Yes, I am a virgin.”
I didn’t want to be what Ron Hutchcraft on Saturday Night Alive, that radio show for teens which I’d listen to on Christian station WFRN, called a “technical virgin.” He didn’t go into much description of what he meant, but I figured this fell under that heading.
(Of course, Shawn and Phil both had gotten me into things which made me already a “technical virgin.” But that’s already been covered in the sophomore year chapters.)
On Tuesday, March 22, Phil and several of my friends left for Choir Tour. They wouldn’t return until about the 29th. It was awful being away from Phil, and without many of my friends at school, it was even worse. I counted down the days until he’d return.
Barb, who I believe was now engaged (she’d marry during the short time we worked together at an insurance company in 1996), asked me in World Civ how I was taking it. She could barely take even a few days without her fiancé.
I was to stay with Phil’s parents when Spring/Easter Break (they were combined that year) began the evening of March 25, and when he came home, he’d take me to Indiana. We would go back to school on April 4, the last day of Break. Since his family had such odd eating habits and I didn’t cook, I was afraid no one would feed me, but they did.
I spent my days at his house playing 93.3 on my jam box and doing my homework in Phil’s room. Phil’s parents complained about me shutting myself away, but I had to get my work done, and this way had the least distractions.
It was also a special time for me, because the music and the sun barely coming through the yellow Venetian blinds (which I may have actually rolled up at times) and the book On the Road gave everything a particular, relaxed feeling. The song “Shine” by Collective Soul was brand-new and played quite a bit during those days. I loved it because the musical crunch seemed to fit On the Road so well.
When Phil finally returned one night, waiting for me on his couch as I came out of the bathroom, he was like a stranger to me, which was really weird. I almost didn’t want to look at him. But I was glad to have him back again.
He had stories for me, such as going through Indiana (the choir tour was in several states) and seeing all these Bob Evans restaurants. To me that was normal, but it reminded those Wisconsin kids of one of the guys on Choir Tour. He had the last name Evans, so this inspired jokes.
I also learned either from Phil or, more likely, my friends, that on Choir Tour, “Home” is the house you’re staying in that night with your tour roommate, “Home Home” is Roanoke, and “Home Home Home” is your home with your parents.
I had a yellow piece of paper with the directions to South Bend written on it, the ones my parents had given me over the phone while I was at Phil’s house. I kept it in my coat pocket. Phil’s dad said to me just before we left, “Watch him and make sure he goes where he’s supposed to.” Even his dad knew he had a tendency of going the wrong way.
When we stopped at the McDonald’s on one of the Tri-State Tollway oases, I got a map of Chicago. Phil said we didn’t need one, and chuckled at me for getting one, but I said we should listen to my mother’s advice and get one. (We did use it eventually. I don’t remember if we used it this time, but we did on our way through Chicago in September.)
Phil had these tapes–Monty Python routines and Jerky Boys routines–that he liked to play all the time. They were funny the first time, but he played them ALL the time. Then he wanted to play them on the way to my parents’ house. I said we’d play it some on my jam box, but after that, I wanted to hear my favorite Chicago stations!
He didn’t seem to understand that playing comedy routines over and over again is not quite as easy on the nerves as playing music. The jokes get old, after all.
We also played the song “Witch’s Invitation” on my Carman CD because Phil had heard of it and wanted to know what it was like. He didn’t like the part about a Dungeons and Dragons game set up on the witch’s table. I think it ruined how he felt about the whole song, which I thought was unfair because it was too good to be condemned just for that one line.
(Of course, in 2006, I listened to the song again and decided I didn’t like it, either, or the rest of the CD. The song stereotyped witches as Satan-worshippers when most of them don’t even believe in Satan, stereotyped witches as some sort of freaky horror show rejects, and lumped an innocent role-playing game with Satanic things. Then it presumed to say what will happen to the souls of witches (many of whom are peaceful and caring), when only God can judge that. The Eastern Orthodox say that we don’t know the extent of God’s mercy.)
I liked to influence the dreams of my cats and dogs, such as making them purr or barking at them. My ex Peter sometimes acted out dreams, and I’d do things like scratch a notebook to see how he’d react. Now, during Spring Break, Phil had a couple of interesting dreams which he acted out, while I helped. One night, Phil went to sleep and had a dream which he acted out in some ways, such as giggling and kissing. He dreamed that he and I had sex, though I didn’t help with that. Then he was so sad, even shedding a tear or two I believe, because he’d taken away my virginity.
So I woke him up, but he still thought it had really happened. I told him it was just a dream and I watched him have it. He said it was I who had been dreaming that he was dreaming, and that it had really happened. But I finally convinced him he’d been dreaming, not me.
Of course, I did not yet have a clue that this was all a ruse, that he was awake the whole time, pretending to be asleep.
One night, Phil and I talked about when we wanted to get married. We didn’t want to wait until I graduated. He was already taking on extra classes so he could graduate only a semester after I did, instead of a whole year. We talked about marrying during my senior year and living in the new apartments, which Phil said were meant to also be married-student housing.
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
- Classmate a stand-in for “Rudy”; Jigging at College Dance
- Library Tales
- Happiness Returns
- Living with Friends in Krueger
- Funny Library Stories
- Shawn Calls
- Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars
- Return of Rick
- Adjusting to New Dorm
- Spitball-Throwing Teacher
- Rat-Obsessed Teacher and Doctor Zhivago
- A Teacher Dated a Student; InterVarsity Fun
- Charlie Peacock Concert
- Random Stories
- Letter to Shawn
- Erotic Vampire Dream (Inspiration for Alexander Boa)
- I Ask Out James
- Peter Calls!
- The Fateful First Meeting of Phil
- The Birth of Dolphin Philosophy
- Our Group of Friends Splits Apart
- Spring Classes
- Big Red Flag: Phil’s Dysfunctional Family Life
- The Drunken Stork (Phil’s Controlling Nature Manifests)
- Idealizing Phase and Early Sign of Control
- Phil Tries to Control my Friendships, Unfair Accusations from his Dad and Brother
- Phil Gaslights Me with Fake Dreams, Ridicule and Psychological Abuse
- Another Pre-Engagement
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
- The Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell
- Phil rapes me anally
- Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene
- Phil’s cruel hoax on me: his “subconscious” coming out to be with me
- Phil’s “subconscious” explains why he’s coming out to talk to me
- The lies unravel as Phil admits to conning me; also, fright as my periods turn wacky
- How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse
- Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games
- Phil says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers
- Pearl reveals that Phil is costing me social invitations
- Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage
September 1994–Divorce: The Long, Dark, Painful Tunnel:
- Phil picks fights and avoids responsibilities to make me feel like a shrew
- My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion
- I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles
- Phil vanishes without a word of why
- Phil wants a divorce
- My friends tells me that Phil is controlling and possessive
- My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues
- Phil refuses to accept responsibility for the divorce
- Phil cuts off contact
- Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk
- Phil the narcissist admits to manipulating people and using them as pawns in his game with me
- Phil comes crawling back to me–and we put our marriage on paper
- Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again
- Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath
- Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse
- My friends tell me Phil is psychotic
- “Soul Ties”
- I return Phil’s things and he skewers me; consolation from friends
- My letter to Phil
- Phil shows my letter to his friends; I’m triggered by reminder of forced oral sex
- I start dating Charles
- Friends tell me Phil is controlling
- I feel stalked by Phil
- Poem about being stalked by Phil
- Fury at Phil stalking me and rubbing my face in his new relationship
- A Date with the Vampire
- Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull
- The Teddy-O Incident; Birth of These Memoirs
- We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life
- New Guy Begging at My Feet
- Life on TCB
- Meeting Cugan (Hubby)
- Learning my ex Peter was a love-fraud; New Men
- Before Tracy, There Was the Avenger (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 1)
- Torn between three men as Catherine pushes me toward Cugan
- The Love Rectangle
- Torn between FIVE men! Me?
- Persephone’s Own Outrageous Stories of Phil’s Abuse
- College-style living
- Online Shenanigans
- Phil Finds TCB; Meeting a Hit Man
- Gypsy’s Party: Healed friendship with Peter
- The Avenger Starts a Flame War (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 2)
- Meeting the elusive Speaker
- First Date with Future Hubby Cugan
- On Breaking Up with Kindness
- Loony Roommies and Flying Gargoyles
- The Goddess of Pleasure and Salt
- A Conversation with Oscar Wilde
- My First SCA Event
- Cugan: a vast improvement over Phil
- Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA
- Cugan breaks up with me
- After breakup: Phil’s return and trolls
- Cugan comes back
- SCA hippies; college senioritis: anxiety!
- Or should I move back in with my parents?
- Peace with Phil
- Defending my Thesis; Graduating with Honors
- Graduation: Trapped at school
- Epilogue and Apology from Phil