Struggling to move on despite the pain

At an Open Mike session one night, Dr. Nelson read a story, a long one with tons of pages, but very funny.  It was a conversation between two people.

He read quickly through each page–not too fast for comprehension, and apparently on purpose.  When he finished reading through a sheet, he tossed it on the floor.  That, as well as the story itself, was part of the hilarity and amusement of the story.

The Open Mike gatherings seemed to be quite popular that year.  I’m not sure how long they’d been around, but I believe they started in my underclassman days, when they were held in the Muskie.

They’d been well-attended in past years by students and teachers, but maybe even more now, probably because they were in the Pub where people liked to hang out day and night.

Many different people participated now, and it was no longer just a treat for writers: Singers and musicians were now welcome.  Two married teachers, who also had a band, played Celtic music one night, when the husband taught my Celtic class over Winterim.

One night, as my friends and I found seats, I caught a glimpse of Persephone sitting at the bar and Phil standing or sitting next to or behind her, his hand on her shoulder.  THAT was something I didn’t need to see!

I suppose I don’t even need to mention how incensed and upset and sick this made me.  But I just walked by them, ignoring them both, and went to a table with my friends and enjoyed the readings and performances.

I didn’t want Phil to think he could spoil my evening just by showing up with another girl.  I had to be stronger than that.

****

Most of my friends didn’t hang around with Peter much and didn’t know him very well, so didn’t often talk about him.  With Phil, however, things were very different.

My suitemates and possibly Astrid all went to town one day, Mike driving.  We stopped in a parking lot and Mike said before we got out,

“I’m mad at Phil O’Hara.  You know what he told me?  He said I shouldn’t wear my key chain necklace because it makes me look like a girl.”

This was the Roanoke Key Chain Necklace, a big blue thing, which was “high fashion” around campus.  You know, the sort of thing you see in any club or institution which gives out key cards.  Lots of people wore them, both male and female.

Pearl said, upset, “I wouldn’t trust anything Phil says about what’s manly.  What does he know about it?”

Another time, Charles said he didn’t like people forcing friendship on him.  He said Phil did this.  I believe he meant Phil always trying to talk with him when he didn’t want him to, or things like that, and people trying to be friends with him even though he sent out signals that he didn’t want to be.

****

We started giving Mike time-outs.  Whenever he got too weird and his jokes got way too weirdly dirty, someone called out, “Time out, Mike!” and he was supposed to settle down.  I didn’t do this myself, maybe because I have a high tolerance for oddballs–so much so that I married one.  🙂

A popular college myth, which we all believed, got exposed as a myth one day, probably senior year.  It was, if your roommate dies, you get straight A’s because of the emotional anguish.  It may have been the Mirror which revealed this wasn’t at all true.

I learned in 1998 that this is apparently a popular myth in colleges all over the country, because a comedy movie came out about a kid who tries to kill his roommate and make it look like a suicide so he can get straight A’s.

One Sunday evening, when snow covered the ground, Mike drove Pearl, Sharon or Astrid, and me to a church in S–.  We got lost.  Finally we found the church, but the service was already halfway done.

We found the congregation watching a movie (an actual projector-movie, not a VCR tape) about Dave Roever, who lost half his face in Vietnam but now uses this as a witness to how Christ helped him go on.

Since the lights were off, we could sneak in and hope nobody noticed us.  When the movie ended, people saw and greeted us and asked who we were.  They were excited to hear we were college students.  Did they know we came late?

Some guy called Mario became the target of cafeteria tray jokes.  I think he was in a frat.  I don’t know if he was a freshman pledge or what.  But people kept writing these awful, explicit jokes about him on the cafeteria trays.

My group tried to avoid the “Mario trays,” but it wasn’t always possible.  When we failed, we’d say, “Uh-oh, I’ve got a Mario tray.”

Our InterVarsity sweatshirts, ordered earlier in the year, now arrived.  They were dark blue with gold lettering.  The front said “InterVarsity Christian Fellowship” and had an alpha, cross and omega.

The back said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.–Isaiah 9:2.”

They seemed to be a fashion statement for our group: One day I went to a meal and found everybody at the table wearing one, even Charles.

****

Apparently, a lot of things bugged me that semester.  I guess Phil put me into a bad mood that lasted until December: I could feel myself getting dark and maybe even turning into less of a nice and caring person than I was before.  I didn’t like it, but didn’t know what to do about it.

Phil kept sitting at our table at meals–surrounded by people who he knew disliked him–and getting cutesy with Persephone, rubbing his new relationship in my face.

Apparently his ex-wife was not worth what respect and sensitivity he once showed to his ex Tracy when he was with me.

I was mad at Phil and getting madder, a typical response to abuse of any type, and it seems this affected my attitude toward life in general.

It took time to pull out of this, and the help of a man who treated me much better, teaching me I didn’t have to be on the defensive all the time in case another guy turned out to be a Phil.

By 1999, I started to feel more like the type of person I was supposed to be.

****

As you may have noted with the story of the Halloween party in the last chapter, Pearl was finally back, but now she had to use the wheelchair again.

When she could use her scooter she was very independent, but this was the second time she had to depend on other people to get her around the campus.  Sometimes it was hard to correlate schedules to get someone to push her wheelchair.

We’d do it for her because she was our friend and we loved her, but it did make it harder for us and, I’m sure, for her.  I know I wouldn’t like having to be dependent on somebody else every time I wanted to go across campus or even to the next building.

She couldn’t go anywhere on her own because she just wasn’t physically capable of using her scooter until she got better.  (I believe this is the time they removed one of her hips, and later they gave her a replacement.)  And that wheelchair was heavy and hard to push!

I hated seeing her in this situation, and I’m sure everybody did.  We worried about her because she had to go through so much.

She was able to walk once, long ago, and she was supposedly going to be able to walk again by this year, but there were complications and it didn’t turn out that way.

(I believe her problem was rheumatoid arthritis in the legs, which caused her not only to need crutches and the scooter, but also kept her at a childlike height.)

****

It was sometimes painful to work on my novel Jerisland, but I had to because it was now my Senior Writing Project.

When I broke up with Peter, I couldn’t work on it because I had imagined the hero Stefan was like Peter.  Stefan and Jeri were supposed to be happy together forever.  Now, all summer I had imagined Stefan was like Phil.

Before, I put the breakup with Peter in Jerisland and made things happen the way I wished (at the time) that they would have happened.  Though Stefan did awful things to Jeri, he apologized and made up for them.

In this latest rewrite, Jeri became the dumper, not Stefan.  She listened to Stefan’s best friend, who tried to convince her she belonged with Stefan.

Since Stefan reminded me of Phil, and some of the things I wrote in the story came from my relationship with Phil, it was hard to write that Stefan and Jeri had a happy marriage that lasted forever.

But I had to because there was no way I wanted those two to break up.  It seemed I could never have a happy relationship that lasted for the rest of my life, but dang it, I wanted Jeri to have one with Stefan!

****

Apparently we were supposed to read shelves in the library.  I had never heard of this rule before, or that any of us had been assigned to certain shelves.  But Sharon and I started doing this together.

We basically scanned the Dewey decimal numbers to make sure the books were in order.

It could get boring quickly, but we talked about life, and the cool and old and weird and German-language books we’d find.

We even found one on Egyptian hieroglyphics.  We checked it out of the library.  We were supposed to draw up our own copy of the Egyptian alphabet, but never got around to that.  I loved working with Sharon.

I enjoyed re-shelving books.  Pulling or pushing along the book cart, going upstairs in the elevator (the only one on campus besides the one in the Wehr Center), going in among the stacks putting books away–it all made me feel so important: “I work here!”

We put the books in numerical order before taking the cart away from the circulation desk, to speed up re-shelving.

Re-shelving took me away from the desk and from life in general, sticking me in among the stacks, where I wanted to be.  I still had no clue where Tara and Sarah’s “haunted bookshelf” was.  (They said books would fall out of it.)

Sometimes I felt a little creeped out in the juvenile section, a tiny room at the very top of the building.  My friends told stories about it being haunted.

But I’d find the most wonderful and obscure books in the library, and often come back with books on the cart, to be checked out.  I loved checking my own book out rather than waiting for a clerk, writing my name on the card, putting it in the card box, and putting a date due card in the book.

Sometimes I felt light-headed and dizzy in this room.  Sometimes I wondered if I felt this way because I was pregnant.  At various times in my life, I’ve had these sudden bouts of dizziness, though they don’t last long, and I go years without feeling it again.

Of course, nowadays I am aware that my dizziness in that room could’ve been caused by elevation and an old structure.  This can also explain dizziness people sometimes feel in old houses, which they attribute to ghosts.

But it wasn’t as bad as when he first divorced me and I could barely get through my two hours (dazed or numb, Helene called it), trying to go through the card catalog doing a project we’d been given, and not go crazy with the pain, fear of losing my husband forever, and sadness.  The working day took forever in those days.

But in November, trying to get through the work day wasn’t quite so bad anymore.  Being in the stacks alone or with Sharon, though sometimes hard to handle when sad thoughts returned, was often a solace, reminding me that I belonged among books.  My purpose and calling was to read and write.

I confront Phil about his abuse

On the third, Persephone and I joked about how Phil squanders his money.  I mentioned the tithe-disagreement when he said he’d handle our finances, and she said, “I’m never gonna marry him.  I’m not crazy!”

On the fourth, I wrote in my diary,

“I’m a better person when I’m not around you.”  Hogwash.  [And also, from accounts of his next girlfriends, not at all true.]  You’ve got to take responsibility for your own actions, since nobody makes you act cruel unless they hold a gun to your head or something.

If you treat me like dirt, if you feel like a bad person around me, that’s your problem, not mine.

On the fifth or sixth, Saturday or Sunday, my roommies and I were walking back from lunch when lo and behold, I saw Phil and Persephone off in the distance, walking on the drive over by the marshy field beyond.

I couldn’t believe it.  I have recorded many different times when Phil and I somehow “happened” to be in the same place at the same time, no matter how unusual.

When we had class at the same time and in the same building, it was understandable, but this often wasn’t the case.  It was as if Phil knew where I was at all times and made an effort to be in my sight.

If, in those days, American society had already grown paranoid about stalkers (which they were in the late 90s), I probably would have asked the question, Is Phil stalking me?

As it was, I was very upset, seeing yet again a reminder of how quickly he threw me away and looked for a replacement chick, after having insisted for months and months that we were truly man and wife.

On November 3, I had just prayed for help forgiving Phil.  I had also just written in the Journal to my friends the day before about the hurt and anger I didn’t know how to deal with.

I had to shelve new books in the Religion section of the library.  So I looked around for books on knowing God’s will and other spiritual questions.

Then I saw this little, white paperback with the title, Forgive and Forget: Healing The Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis B. Smeade.  (Here is an interview with the author which describes the book’s philosophy.)

I snatched up the book and put it on the cart to check out.

It said hatred was stage 2 of forgiveness.  It said that in order to forgive, first I must confront the person who wronged me–say how he wronged me, and that I hated him for it.  It had to be done, or I wouldn’t be able to release him in my heart, and he wouldn’t know that he did something wrong.

On pages 141-2, the author described a college teacher who trusted the chairman of her department to put in a good word for her.  Instead, he stabbed her in the back, and she lost her job.

She knew about it, but he didn’t know she did.  She pretended each day to day that it hadn’t happened; each night she’d go home and throw up.  Finally, she told him he’d done her wrong, “and I hate you for it.”  After that, she stopped throwing up after work.

Dr. Phil McGraw also says that sending a letter is sometimes necessary:

As you consider your own triggering event and the nature and degree of the suffering you’ve endured, what is your MER [Minimal Effective Response]?

Maybe you don’t feel the need or have the courage right now to do either one of the kinds of things that were contemplated for Rhonda. Maybe what you need to do is write a letter and write down all your thoughts and all your feelings. Maybe that does it for you.

Maybe you even need to mail the letter, if your event involves another person. Perhaps, like Rhonda, if you can’t mail the letter, then you might need to go to the offender’s grave and read it to him or her in the cemetery.

Whatever your MER is, you need to identify it and you need to do it. You need to emit that response until such time as you can say, “OK, that’s it. That’s enough. My lens is clean. My emotional business is finished and I am free to go back to being that person that I now know that I am.”

So I confronted Phil in a letter, which I let sit, told my dad about, and then showed to Pearl for advice before sending.  It’s often said that we should confront people rather than just complaining about them to other people, that the pain of confrontation is brief in comparison to the pain of having a problem continue.

The letter went into detail about the emotional abuse Phil had put me through.  

It made clear that I saw him with my last letter coming out of Muehlmeier, and that I felt there was nothing about that letter to upset him.  It chewed him out for showing it around rather than considering it.

It gave my perspective on the marriage, which is that it was real and valid.  

The letter explained that I had to confront him if I ever hoped to forgive him.

I prayed a lot over the letter, asking for guidance, for the proper words and content, for God to work his will through it, soften Phil’s heart for it, convict him through it….I felt it was God’s will for me to send it.

Phil never responded to the letter–probably because I told him not to unless he sincerely repented.  I didn’t want to talk about it.  I’d already had quite enough of his dismissals any time I tried to tell him he did something wrong.

I wanted him to stop sitting with us at meals and getting mushy with Persephone, to stop greeting me in the halls; I wanted to be left completely alone so my anger would cool down.

I wrote, “No more will I be walked over.”

Persephone found the letter accidentally, but after talking with me about it, decided she had nothing to be angry with me about.

After reading this letter over again almost 20 years later, I would have deleted some things, though I put them in there for a valid reason.  But they could be misunderstood or seen as arrogant.

But I understand them: I was furious with him because, as I have shown over the course of these memoirs, he had emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abused me since we started dating.

I expressed so much anger because he ripped my spirit in two with his constant psychological abuse, gaslighting, playing hoaxes, and attempts to force me into painful or disgusting sex.

He sexually assaulted me.

He tried to change history on me and lie to me numerous times about my own behavior, to make me think I was bad, when I never did what he accused me of.

He shamed me and cut me down over and over again for things which were not wrong, such as solving a puzzle on a game differently than he would, simply so he could control me with his fury and verbal abuse.

The pain was still raw, and immediately after breaking up with me, he started up with a new girl.  He sat with my friends and me all the time to be with this new girl, and got cuddly and cutesy with her right in front of me, deliberately rubbing in my face that he had moved on already.

He told lies about me to his friends, a smear campaign to make others think I was the abuser.  He was still trying to control and abuse me after the relationship was over.

5 years later, I still saw it as an excellent letter, though I already saw the things that needed changing.  Even 12 years later, when I posted these accounts on the Web in 2006, I still thought it was a good letter, with nothing to be ashamed of.

In any case, the letter never threatened or begged; it gave my point of view completely, and told him to stay away from me so I could calm down my anger.  It was brief, only about 4 typed pages.

I did not yet know the terms emotional abuse, sexual abuse (forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do), psychological abuse, or gaslighting.

But this and the previous letter described many of his abuses, and begged him to get counseling for himself.  It even directly accused him of abusing his authority as head of the wife.

It’s a relief to read this many years later, because I did indeed confront my abuser with his abuses, and do not have that “unfinished business.”

This part I would not touch; it is the best part of the letter:

During our marriage I may’ve done a few things I shouldn’t have, but you’ve done your own things that make me think you just don’t know how to respect or love a wife.  Some of the things you say to your own mother were warnings to me, but I hoped you wouldn’t treat me the same.

And your refusals to respond to my needs in so many situations–only your “subconscious” really knew the proper way to treat a woman, and that’s why I fell in love with him.

Then I discovered he wasn’t even real, and that it wasn’t easy to get you to act like him, even though you said it was.  He was you, you said.  Yeah, right.

He was reasonable, unaccusing, cool-headed.  He could compromise.  He didn’t demand his wants over my needs, nor make me feel like I had to be a meek little slave to please you. 

He wouldn’t flat-out refuse to do something I needed done just because he didn’t want to, he’d have a legitimate reason. He wouldn’t force himself on me in ways that pained me, he’d slowly get me to want them. 

He wouldn’t take and take all I was willing to give, which was a lot, and then not give me what I asked for. He wouldn’t be chauvinistic nor treat me like a silly and naïve woman, when really I could often reason better or was better informed. 

[At first this seemed arrogant, but then I saw that he treated me like “a silly and naïve woman.”  It wasn’t about arrogance, but protested being treated like an idiot.]

He didn’t abuse his authority as head of the wife, or be a tyrant.

This isn’t a question of being meant for someone, this is a question of examining yourself and the way you treat your wife, changing what you can change and not taking the defeatist attitude that you can’t, learning to compromise, and thinking how your stage of rebellion (which really isn’t against me) can be gotten through without hurting and alienating the people who love you the most.

I feel sorry for Persephone, who has yet to learn these things about you.

Since he never apologized or repented during that time (at least, that I ever heard), and carried on his behavior to subsequent relationships, I was probably talking to a brick wall.  But somebody had to confront him.

Persephone also confronted him, calling him an a–hole for things he did to me and told her about.  Knowing her, she probably also confronted him about things he did to her.

So there you have it: First, I went to him directly with my concerns.  Then I discovered that Persephone told him off for the things he did to me.

Yet he did not repent.

Since we had no church in common, and he no longer went to InterVarsity meetings, there was no way to “tell it to the church.”  The next stage, adapting Matthew 18:15-17 to my situation, was to stop associating with him.

On the 8th, praying on the way, I pinched the letter as a symbolic “laying on of hands,” then dropped the letter in the Campus Center mailbox.  I went into the Campus Shoppe for a bit, then started out.

But who should open the door for me, but Phil!  How did he, a commuter on a campus with more than 1000 students enrolled, always show up in the same place and time as me?

I stared straight ahead and walked past him.  As I wrote in my diary the next day,

It is done.  It makes me nervous, but there’s also that consciousness of doing the right thing–facing up to my tormentor, taking no more of this abuse.

Pearl also has a theory on why I keep running into him all the time: Maybe God’s trying to teach me endurance.  Hm.

Breaking up with Charles

I admit I skipped a few Intro to Christianity classes.  But sometimes I just didn’t want to get up and run off to a 9:15 class.  I’d either be tired or depressed about Phil again.  Once or twice I actually felt under the weather.

(Maybe this is a symptom of depression; after all, up until this time, I wouldn’t dream of skipping class unless I was sick or had a bout with insomnia or had to tend to Phil’s nervous breakdown.)

So I’d skip it, and copy the day’s lecture notes from Mike.

I followed the syllabus, read the assignments, did the research essays and studied for the tests, so I didn’t miss much.  Since I knew the material, I made an A or B in the class.  And I didn’t have to tell the teacher where I’d been.

I did show up to most of the classes, though sometimes I think I barely made it on time.  (I don’t remember now how often I was late or on time.)

But then, after all, I just took this class for the credits anyway.  It was interesting, but I’d taken all the required courses and only needed a certain number of credits so I could graduate, so I took whatever looked like fun.

****

Sharon began giving us all titles, all in fun, not because she really felt this way about us:

Pearl was sometimes the Slut.  I was also the Slut, but I don’t remember if I had another title.

Pearl was also the Druggie because of all the prescription drugs she had to take after her surgery.  There may have even been a hypodermic needle involved.

Tara was the Alcoholic.  I forget why, exactly–maybe because she sometimes liked to mix up Sloe Screws and drink Daiquiris and Sex on the Beach.

Sharon kept torturing Tara and me with the song “Zombie” by the Cranberries.  She’d sing, “In your head!  In your head!” until we pretended to hit her.  One of us would say, “It’s in my head and I can’t get it out.”  So Sharon would sing, “In your head!  In my head!” and laugh.

****

Over the weekend, Mike joined us for a meal.  Charles saw a picture of his sister Wendy.  Mike told her age, which was closer to Charles’, and Charles said, “Could you introduce me to her?”

At another point, he said he was “twenty-four, and still not dating anyone seriously.”  He smiled at me after he said that.

A twinge of insult lasted only one nanosecond.  I didn’t feel insulted after that, just wondered what was going on.

Charles hadn’t been coming over much, I had given up on trying to be in love with him (I guess I no longer felt that “spark” as he called it), and after his comments I started to feel like we weren’t really seeing each other anymore.

I tried to work up the courage to break up with him.  I’d even been depressed lately, wanting more and more to be with Mike (or Phil if he repented of his abuse) instead, so depressed Clarissa even noticed one day before dinner and asked what was wrong.  (I didn’t tell her.)

We also had different political opinions: We were both Republicans, but his opinions were much farther to the right.  One evening, he turned on Rush Limbaugh’s TV show, to my dismay.  I kept my mouth shut to avoid trouble.

And he could get vocal with people who disagreed with him on politics.  He recently embarrassed me when, to an innocent comment made by the elderly Southern teacher I’ve mentioned before, he blew up and yelled at her.  He said he was so sick of people saying such-and-such.

I don’t remember what she had said or if she meant it politically, but he made it so.  She was a sweet lady, and his elder, and didn’t deserve that at all.

I think that was when I first seriously considered breaking up with him.  I knew this just wasn’t going to work out.

(Ironically, my future brother-in-law would be just like him.)

On the tenth, the group walked back from lunch and got to where the sidewalk forked, one way leading to Muehlmeier and the other to the apartments.  Charles usually came along with us to our apartment, but lately he’d been splitting with us and going alone to his room in Muehlmeier.  I thought he did this because Sharon complained about him coming over every evening.

He said good-bye to us again on the tenth, and I thought about pulling him aside right then and breaking up with him, but wondered if it was really necessary: As far as I could tell, we were just friends now, no more.  Our dating status seemed to have dissolved without a word.  So my roommies and I just said “bye” to him and walked on.

But then Charles pulled me aside and said we should break up.  He could see the feelings I still had for Phil.  There were things he’d heard, though he didn’t say what, and he said something about Phil and I wanting to get back together.  The wording made me think Phil wanted me back and was about to come back to me.

My heart jumping, I said, “Why do you say that?”

But this wasn’t the case, to my disappointment.

Had he heard about the angry letter?  If so–well, I had to send it.  Confronting an abuser–whether by letter or otherwise–and cutting him off if he won’t repent, is common advice.

Did he mean the secret marriage?  If so–well, the practice is hardly limited to the young and foolish.  Couples far older and wiser, agree to secret marriages long before the public wedding.

I never did find out what “things” Charles “heard.”  All I knew was he said Phil and I needed to grow up, that he was older and knew better.

He said, “It seems to be a rebound thing for you after all.”

I said, “I didn’t mean it that way.”

“We can still be friends.”

“Of course.”

And we truly were.  I harbored no bad feelings, except for the “grow up” crack (which Pearl considered arrogant).  He didn’t appear to resent me, either.

As far as I was concerned, he didn’t break up with me: We broke up with each other.  It was mutual, the first time I’d ever experienced such a breakup.

Finally, I was free from trying to feel attracted to him, and from wondering if other guys realized I could still go out with them.

New definitions: Did Phil rape me?

My apartment building was now dubbed the Morland House.  The other was the Hill House.  I loved Northanger Abbey (by Jane Austen), especially the movie.  I would forever associate the name “Morland” with Catherine Morland, the heroine.  So it was funny and fitting to live in a building named Morland.

Pearl asked to use my phone one day, since her phone was out of order for some reason, so she sat on my bed (the lower bunk), where the phone was.  She told me later,

“I saw an Alice in Chains CD on top of a Sheila Walsh CD on your radio, and I thought, ‘That is so Nyssa!'”  She laughed.

(In case you don’t know, Sheila Walsh is a sweet, contemporary Christian music singer, once a rocker but now much more mellow.  It might have been the Dirt or Facelift Alice in Chains CD, and Sheila’s For A Time Like This, which is mellow but not too mellow.)

That night, I found another saying to use as Dolphin Philosophy.  It was taken from that wonderful show, My So-Called Life, and said by Brian: “How much more ironic can you get without vomiting?”

****

The following happened on Thursday, November 10, in the morning during the time I usually had Intro to Psych, since on that date I have a note in my day planner saying class would be in room 100.  This was the room I had for Botany junior year, and for entrance exams back in the spring of 1991.  In this room on the 10th, several classes filed in and a speaker told them about date rape.

He told us that if one person is drunk and someone has sex with them, it’s now considered rape because the alcohol impairs your reasoning abilities.

Among sober people, it’s also rape if she says no, if she feels it’s a rape, when he uses false pretenses or manipulation or guilt trips to get her to consent, or when she never actually says “yes.”  He gave examples of what he meant.

I don’t think he meant to stir up paranoia, but to make guys aware that they need to be careful what they do, and to help young college women realize they don’t have to be treated this way.

Soon after, I asked Pearl into my room, and we sat on my bed.  I told her this speaker’s examples and words made me realize that sometimes John did rape me:

There was the time we were having sex, and then he suddenly withdrew and tried to stick it in my anus, even though I begged him not to.  This was when he got upset because I said rape was grounds for divorce.  (I probably didn’t tell Pearl these details.)

He used begging, pleading, manipulation, guilt-trips and false pretenses as well, like with the “subconscious” thing and snipping “You always get your way” when I didn’t want to do it anally or orally.

(I’d heard about a guy who fought at the Alamo who’d pretend to marry a girl just to get her into bed; I now knew that would be rape.)

I didn’t even know yet that the time we got back together was just so he could get sex from me; that would be rape.

Pearl prayed with me, and said, “If you do get back together, you’ll have to deal with that first.”

We also talked about whether or not I should press charges, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pull this into a court.  Still, knowing I could if I wanted to, made me feel powerful.

I didn’t want my parents to know what was going on, though.  I didn’t want the details of our relationship being made so public.  I may also have feared that the judge would throw it out of court, just because I consented to have sex with Phil.  I wasn’t sure what to call it, but it did feel like rape for the reasons I gave above.  Phil had violated my trust as well.

I remember Phil and I talking over an episode of “Picket Fences” in which the judge threw a rape case out of court.  The judge said it didn’t count just because the guy got the woman liquored up so she’d consent.

I think Phil and I disagreed over this part.  I don’t remember if we were talking about rape in general and he brought up this episode, or if we were talking about the episode itself.  But according to the speaker, yes, it would be considered rape, both because she was liquored up and because she felt like she’d been raped.

Recently (it’s January 1999) a guy called up MTV’s Loveline and said that he got drunk at a party, so drunk he couldn’t remember anything.  Then a girl told him they’d had sex and she was now pregnant.  He said, “I think I was raped.”

This also related to a “Picket Fences” episode, in which the annoying lawyer Wambaugh said a raped man’s member was, after all, “at attention” when it happened.  But I believe a doctor said he could’ve been erect due to fear, not attraction.

On Loveline, they wondered if the guy could have been able to hold an erection while drunk long enough to ejaculate, but it’s also been said that all you need is one little sperm, and some of them are released even before ejaculation.  That’s one reason why the “withdrawal” method of birth control doesn’t work.

Apparently the caller wondered if he could have had sex with this girl while drunk, and if what she said was true, then because he was drunk it was rape.

[Written 4/25/14:] This shows how confusing this issue got in the 90s.  I know I felt used by Phil, and he did sexually assault me once.  But whether or not it’s actually “rape” to manipulate someone into sex–I don’t know.

****

Then right after this conversation with Pearl, Phil sat with someone else at lunch, but back with Persephone (and my group) at dinner.  I was angry, because I had told him in the letter to stay away from me.

Once I got up to take my tray up and go to the bathroom, just to get away from him.  Pearl said his eyes kept straying to me, which he didn’t do before today.

Persephone left, but he stayed–making Pearl and me both fear he’d confront me right there at the table.  He sat there a few moments, head down, fists on his temples, said something to Charles, then finally got up and left.

****

The school play, Measure for Measure, ran from November 10-12 at 8pm each night.  I didn’t go to the first showing.  A guy in one of my classes said he went to the opening night performance, but the acting was bad and the words were all muted and unintelligible.  He couldn’t tell what was going on.

Pearl and I went to the play on Friday the 11th.  It was weird to see Phil in it, playing the role of Vincentio, Duke of Vienna.  I tried to remember that other people I knew and liked were in the play.  One of these days I’ll have to read the play and find out what happened, since that guy in class was right.  Even Phil didn’t sound convincing.

I dreaded having to sit and watch this guy I’d been trying to avoid and ignore.  He even had the lead role, so I had to see him most often.  During an intermission, I heard a girl near the bathroom say “Phil O’Hara” with a smile.  I think she was a freshman.  I cringed, wondering if she had a thing for him.

I wondered if he even knew I was there, if he could see me in the audience.  I suspected he could, but I’d also heard somewhere that with the lights off you can’t see the audience that well.  Later, I admitted to Pearl that while watching I discovered I did still love him, after all.

Usually, the actors and actresses in each play would come out in the lobby so you could congratulate them on their performances.  After Lucky Spot, Pearl and I had stopped to congratulate Phil.  This time, I don’t remember if we stopped to talk to our friends in the play, which we might have done, but we said not a word to Phil.

****

Sharon and I went on many walks that fall through the woods and down by the lake together.  We talked about many things, such as childhood games and friends.

We spotted the covered Friendship Bridge, which had been partially destroyed when a tree fell on it.  It later collapsed.  This might have happened in a storm.  The tree was still there when we saw it.  The school knew about this, and the Zetas were to build a new one.

I believe this was also the first time I ever saw the Friendship Bridge.  I know I saw this in the fall of 1994–though a Mirror issue says the Zetas built a new bridge in the summer of 1994–so they must have left the old one the way it was.

I discovered that Sharon agreed with me on people banging on the bathroom door, like Dave’s fiancée did to me.  Things don’t always move along for me like they should, or it comes continuously for a long time; one day, Tara came along, banged on the bathroom door, scared me half to death, and yelled, “Would you hurry up in there!”

Why didn’t she just lightly knock and politely ask, “Are you going to be in there much longer?”  I wasn’t in there for my own amusement.  I was so ticked.  And I later found that Sharon agreed with me: She called that “intimidation” and dysfunctional behavior.

Thus was cemented a lifelong friendship.  We still see each other now and then, though we’re in two different cities.

****

I wasn’t attracted to Mike when I first met him, back when I was in love with Shawn.  But now, he was so cute and sweet and moral, and I wanted to date him so bad. I dreamed of being with him, and wondered what it would be like to be a pastor’s wife.

I’d always admired spiritual people, like pastors and missionaries, and thought it would be cool to be married to one (unlike my mom, who protested back when Dad started studying for the ministry because she’d never wanted to be a pastor’s wife).

I also saw them on TV and movies, and wanted a man like them (for example, How Green Was My Valley and an episode of The Campbells in which the Campbell girl thinks a traveling, young pastor wants to marry her).

Back when I had a crush on Phil junior year, I also had a crush on Mike.  I couldn’t decide which one I wanted most.  They both showed signs of possibly liking me back, though Phil’s were stronger.

I can remember walking next to Mike in the parking lot at the Susan Ashton concert, feeling like I belonged there.  At the same concert, as Susan told us all about her pastor-husband, I thought how cool it would be to marry Mike and have my own pastor-husband.  At that point, my crush on Mike was stronger than the one on Phil.

As Dad drove me home from Roanoke at the beginning of Thanksgiving Break, I thought of both of them as we rode through the darkness.  Finally, there was someone besides Shawn or Peter for me to dream of, someone I might actually get to date.  Not some elusive dream, like James, whom I’d also tried asking out.

But by December, a lack of signs from Mike and an abundance of signs from Phil, plus Phil’s physical appearance and oddness and Christian beliefs and apparent niceness, tipped the scale in Phil’s favor.

(Mike’s niceness was real, but not Phil’s, but I didn’t know that yet.)

You know what happened next.

Around that time I heard some guy call “Nyssa” from an upper library window as I passed, but I couldn’t see who it was.  I always wondered if it was Phil, but he insisted it wasn’t him.  I even asked his “subconscious,” who said it wasn’t him but he wished it was.

I wonder now what it would’ve been like if I’d asked Mike out instead of Phil.  I was afraid to ask Mike out senior year because at the beginning of the year he told Pearl, “I know she likes me, and I don’t know what to do about it.”  Phil had told him, as I mentioned before.  But I kept hoping he’d change his mind and decide he wanted to be with me.

I kept trying to attract his notice by dressing well (he said he liked this in a girl), taking off my glasses in his presence to clean them and show him what my face really looked like, talking with him about Intro to Christianity, things like that.

Once or twice I had to pass him in the apartment hall in a T-shirt nightgown and my robe, which was hot pink and really nice-looking.  I wondered if this would stir any passion in him.

Yet he never made a move, and I wondered if it was futile.  But I have to give him credit: He was nice to me, but without leading me on.  Some guys will be mean to you.  I also never “threw” myself at him, so he had nothing to rebuff.

****

Those brown Dodge Caravans were everywhere that fall!  Phil’s model was very popular.  (They were popular in 1993 and 1994, but Phil’s was from around 1984, which confuses me now because how could a 10-year-old van be suddenly popular?)

I used to like it, and there was another one on my street that past summer, which we thought was funny.  We always had to check the license plate in a parking lot because it was easy to get confused.

Now, they reminded me of Phil, which I did not want.  One of the other students, a female non-trad, also owned one.  So I saw them a lot, and always had to check the license plate or the driver to see if it was his.

Even worse, Phil kept parking his minivan in the lot next to my apartment building, in view of my window.  I knew he was probably either in Muehlmeier seeing Persephone (doing who knew what) or in my own apartment building seeing Dirk.

Did he park there deliberately so I’d know he was there?  He wasn’t supposed to park there, but by Grossheusch, according to campus rules.  I kept hoping he’d get a ticket.  He rarely parked by Grossheusch.

Was he trying to upset me?  He knew I lived there.  He knew I had to walk right by the parking lot to get anywhere on campus.  And he usually parked right next to the sidewalk.  It was all I could do to restrain myself from kicking the tires.  But I forced myself to restrain, because I knew it was right.

On the 12th, I wrote this to friends:

I also want to say I’m feeling happier now than I have for a while.  And the day after I wrote in the journal about this hate and anger I didn’t know how to deal with, I had to re-shelve some books in the religion section of the library.

I had several spiritual questions, and started looking over the titles to see if there was a book that could help me.  And there was a little white paperback called Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts you Don’t Deserve.  So I snatched it up and checked it out at the desk.

It’s been quite helpful, and even though I still think what’s-their-name is an idiot and a jerk, it seems my hatred has lost some of its intensity.  The problem is that I keep wanting to hang onto it, but the book says, hatred’s power is short-lived.  It may give you power, but it won’t last as long as the power forgiveness gives you.

The book also told me to confront the person who’s hurt me, and tell them just what they’ve done to me.  I did just that in a letter, and I feel so much better now because of it.

They had been going on their merry way like they didn’t know the damage they left in their wake, but a day or two after they got the letter, I could tell they now had a better concept of what they’d done.  I now pray that God will convict this person, because He’s the only one who can.

Persephone confronts me about the letter

The following is adapted from a diary entry, which I copied and added many extra details to about two years later.  Those details were as accurate as I could still remember:

11/15/94–12:23 AM

Blackness again.  The letter is known to Persephone, but I’ve cleared things up with her, and she’s not mad at me anymore.

It still angers me that she even knows about that or the one before it.  She refused to see the first one–he offered to show it to her!  What a creep.

I thought, after the Tracy letter, which he didn’t show me out of respect for her, that he was more trustworthy than that.  But no, he is not to be trusted.

The spiritual marriage has entered the grapevine–probably through Dirk, Persephone says–and is known to people who have no business knowing.  She says, “Tell a world, tell a Dirk.”

She herself heard it not through Phil, but through a freshman girl in Muehlmeier who said to her, “I’m really not supposed to tell anyone this, BUT…”  I have no idea who all it’s spread to.

I feel weird and indignant at everyone, just when I’m walking around the cafeteria!  I feel like they’re all looking at me and judging me now.  This could even reflect on InterVarsity.

I don’t like these small-town grapevines.  People always have to know other people’s business.  Well, get your nose out of my affairs, you busybody!  I feel so humiliated.  I don’t even like to leave the apartment.

I’m beginning to think about pressing charges, even–breach of contract plus rape. Yes, there have been several times he’s raped me, and only once did I realize that’s what he did.  It took a speaker here at school the other week to help me realize that.

God, convict him!  That week we were back together, engaged, married even–he apparently wasn’t intending to honor the marriage contract–that’s rape because it was false pretenses!

Persephone pulled me aside after lunch on Sunday to talk to me, and to give me a letter she had written to me.

As I sat there reading it, I felt more and more indignant, and had plenty to say on it because it seemed written by someone who didn’t even know what my letter truly said.

It sounded more like Phil had totally distorted everything for her.

It talked about forgiveness as if it never even entered my mind!  I explained that the purpose of the letter, as clearly stated in the letter, was so I could forgive!

There were other things, too, which I’ll mention later, though I won’t necessarily say if they were in the letter or not.

I was mad that Phil had told her about it, but she said that some things should be told.  I don’t think this was one of those things, though.  I said that nowadays I do nothing without God’s okay, and this I felt had God’s okay.

Persephone thinks Dirk thinks he knows everything.  Considering the things he’s told Phil (who listens to him) and me (who doesn’t), I agree.  She doesn’t like him, and doesn’t like having to see him all the time because he’s Phil’s best friend.

There have also been things Phil did to me or that we went through that he told her about, without respect for me, thinking she would take his side.  Instead, she told him he’s an a–hole.  He also doesn’t like that she’s friends with me!  She thinks he’s afraid of something.

She says her dad … is very much like Phil.  Her mother wonders why she’d want to date someone so much like her father.

She said if I think what he did to me on certain occasions was rape, there are people I should talk to about it.  [I didn’t because I didn’t want my parents to find about the spiritual marriage/sex.]

I never told him I could sue him for breach of contract, and he didn’t realize I could until she told him, and that shocked him.  [I didn’t want to, but felt empowered simply because I could do it, but didn’t.]

She said it probably wouldn’t work anyway because, in this day and age, people break engagements all the time.  But I saw a promo for a news story recently that said people can sue for it, and my dad had brought it up in the first place.  I’d never heard of it myself until then.

Persephone said in her letter that, in the Old Testament, when the husband put the wife away, they were divorced.  I don’t know why she thought it necessary to say this.  I’ve never said, and I don’t believe, that Phil and I are still married.  It’s a divorce, and I admit it.

But, though I’m allowed to marry again, having been put away for no fault of my own, if Phil were to marry another, he’d be committing adultery.  [I was following Christian rules on divorce, which are different from legal ones.]

Persephone says she doesn’t intend to marry anyone because she knows she herself is grounds for divorce.  Phil doesn’t like this.  Apparently, so soon after throwing aside his wife, he’s talking about marriage with another woman.

She says Phil says he loves her and she says to that, “No, you don’t!”

She says she knows from her parents (actor-father, maybe?  I forget) what real comedy is, and that Phil doesn’t.  (Phil makes constant jokes and references that are often lost on others.)

After the Bible verses in my letters were mentioned, the things I said about sin and such, Persephone said, “One thing I’ve seen is that when a person starts using the Bible as a defense, they’ve lost the argument.”

That’s a load of hooey when you’re dealing with Christians.  Christians are the ones who usually respect the Bible–who count it as the Official Guidebook, the Final Authority on anything.

When you use Bible verses taken in context, you use the strongest argument you could possibly use with another Christian.  That’s the thing that I have seen.

I remember Phil telling me at the beginning of the semester that he was starting to practice better hygiene so he’d be attractive to other women, but I guess he hasn’t kept that up.  Persephone keeps having to throw soap and a towel at him and tell him to clean up before she’ll let him in her room!  (In some ways, I do admire her spunk.)

He shaved his beard soon after we broke up the first time, I guess as another way to appear more attractive, but probably not until after he tried out for a part in the play and knew whether or not he’d need a beard for the part.

I think he looks silly without a beard and Anna agrees with me, but Persephone says she won’t let him grow one because he looks like a scuzzball and kind of scares her.

When I mentioned the time I snubbed him in Jubilee, she said she heard about that.  She thinks that the way to effectively ignore a guy is not to treat him differently from other guys–not snub him completely, because that makes him feel special, set apart from other guys.

I’m not so sure this is true.  Mom always tells me not to talk to the guy who’s done me wrong, but to ignore him–first Peter, now Phil.

And Dad thinks the effectiveness of the “snubbing” method you choose depends on the guy.  He doesn’t think anything else would get through to Phil but to snub him completely.

In the letter she says that instead of “marrying,” we should’ve just called it premarital sex and taken the responsibility and consequences “like adults”–an unfair judgment of something she wasn’t even a part of.

And Phil and I had agreed with each other that just being engaged doesn’t mean you can sleep together, so if we hadn’t been married, we would’ve been wracked with such guilt if we’d had sex!  This way, there was no guilt or shame, because it’s not a sin to have sex with your own spouse.

She tells me that the first time we got “married,” Phil really thought he’d marry me.  The second time, he was just horny! Isn’t that rape?–

–Oh, gosh, and I remember how pushy he was, too, that second time!  How he’d push me on the bed as soon as we got into my room and we were alone, without a “how’d you do,” and cover us with my afghan. 

Once or twice, when I was preparing for the usual position, he poked his thing in my face–and it was smelly this time, unlike before–for me to suck, and held onto my head so I had to do it.

I told Persephone how he’d also say last summer, when I didn’t want to do anything but vaginal sex, “Sure, have your way, you always get your way!”–Persephone said, “It’s your body!”

She and I both agree he lays on guilt trips all the time.  She also says he gets horny and says to her what he often said to me: “Don’t you want a beautiful baby?”–

But she doesn’t even want kids, she wants her tubes tied at a certain age (twenty-two or twenty-five, I believe), so whenever he tries anything with her, she hits him in the balls.  She says he’s “an idiot, sexually.”

I told her about the time Phil threw a tantrum and I thought it was his dream-self, not his real, conscious self.  I spoke of how awful it was, how awful he acted.  Persephone said something like, “Well, that’s over now,” and I should get over it.  Her words seemed callous.

[I thought we were sharing? Why did she say this about this particular incident, but not about the others?  That makes no sense at all!]

She spoke of Phil’s increasing troubles at home and called his mother a dragon.  (Later, she would tell me he practically lived with her in Muehlmeier for a while because of his bad homelife.  I remembered I didn’t allow him to stay overnight in my room in Krueger, for two reasons: 1) It was against the rules, and 2) Clarissa wouldn’t have liked it.)

She says even Tracy agreed to do something with him and Persephone recently.  It shocked us all–Persephone, me, probably Phil.  He ended up driving so erratically that Tracy (obviously when the minivan was stopped) got him to go down on his knees, and demanded his keys from him!

What’s really odd is that Persephone says she doesn’t even like Phil!  At least, not as a boyfriend.  She rips on him whenever he’s not around, and would have preferred dating James, whom she liked at the beginning of the year.

She said she’d just sent James a letter saying how she felt when Phil asked her out, and then James tried to talk to her but Phil came over.  She thought James was sullen after that because: “I think I was the first female to get through to him, and then he saw me with Phil, and he didn’t like that!”

I liked him once, too, and thought he liked me, and then finally ended up with Phil; I wonder if he ever knew I liked him?  I know I started dating Phil maybe a few months after I first tried to ask James out….

She thinks it’ll take me at least a year to forgive Phil.

She also says she was taught to believe in the Bible, but be wary of it because it was written by man.  I don’t agree, since I believe it was written by God through man….

She also thinks that she, the freshman, knows more about human nature than some of us in the group who are older, but I don’t really think that’s true.  She doesn’t even know some of the things I’ve gone through in the past, and I don’t think she should judge us so quickly.

Persephone says Phil had another nervous breakdown after he got my letter….Two breakdowns in seven months?!…Why doesn’t he get help?  He doesn’t need a girlfriend, he needs a psychiatrist!

Pearl says so, too; she says he totally doesn’t seem ready for a girlfriend.

Dad already thought he was psycho and on the edge, and he said the other night that he didn’t even know about the first breakdown!

Persephone didn’t even stick around to take care of him–she stuck her roommate Trina with him while she went to do something with the Mirror!  I thought it was so very un-loving of her.

I gave up a review for the Botany lab final to take care of him, a review in the woods that sounded like so much fun, and Mrs. Rev understood and said he was lucky to have me!–I held my tongue, though, when Persephone told me what she did.

At the end, she said that not only does she have no reason to be mad at me after all–she took away her letter, which no one else had seen, and started folding it up, like it wasn’t needed anymore–but she will also try to steer Phil away from me, out of respect for my feelings.

Also, I said that, as I told my friends, the breakup with Charles didn’t bother me at all.  I mentioned my crush on Mike, and she said he must be an acquired taste.  She said she’d like Jim Carrey, and I said, “He must be an acquired taste!”…

I find my observations on Phil are the same as Persephone’s on many counts.  She knows exactly what he’s like, things it took me months to find out.  For example, he rips on things important to her–i.e., the Mirror–like he did to me–i.e., InterVarsity [and my friends].

There are plenty of other things, too, but I really must go to bed.  First class is canceled tomorrow, but not my 10:30.–1:43 AM

I heard later on that, the next school year, Persephone chased Mike!  She must have acquired the taste.

So at first, I was the victim being blamed, the victim being told to shut up, the victim being told it’s wrong to confront my abuser. 

But by the end of the conversation, she realized there was nothing for which to be angry at me.  She took her letter back.

Also, on November 30, I saw in action how Phil ripped on the thing important to Persephone: He wrote a letter to the editor about how terrible The Mirror was, with inaccuracies, proofreading problems–and even accused the staff of lying about addressing student concerns, and only printing letters from staff members!

His letter was often confusing.  I wonder what Persephone thought of this baffling and flaming letter against her important thing.

As far as I’m concerned, though she kept telling him he was an a–hole, Persephone knew what Phil did to me, so every moment she stayed with him she was telling him through her actions that it was OK!

As for what she said about knowing more about human nature than my friends and I did–She was dating a guy she didn’t like, she didn’t even seem to like him much as a human being, and knew full well what he was and what he’d done to me, but stayed with him–and she said she knew more about human nature???

I certainly was reassured to hear she took pains to keep from sleeping with Phil.  I didn’t like to think of Phil sleeping with anyone else, not while my body still remembered what it was like to sleep with him and still longed for his touch, and physically hurt to think of him with any other woman in his bed.

Phil had argued that I should find someone with my own ideas of fun and partying, as if that somehow determined lifelong day-to-day happiness.  Well, he found someone who liked to party, but seemed to forget about the things he said were most important to him in a wife.

Phil refused to use birth control for religious reasons; Persephone did not want children and planned to get her tubes tied.  I had agreed to use natural family planning because it meant so much to him, but she would use a permanent form of birth control.

After he complained so much that I would not convert to Catholicism, I don’t know why he wanted to date someone who would have obviously refused conversion even more fervently than I (she was Methodist and later became Pagan, even using spells and seeing ghosts).

He didn’t want “one of those feminists” who didn’t want to obey her husband, but she was far more of a feminist than I was.

Phil followed the Catholic teaching on birth control, but no longer wanted to follow the Catholic teaching on premarital sex.  Those two things together are a recipe for trouble, as he learned the hard way eventually.  (He had to marry his next girlfriend.)  This is probably why Persephone called him “an idiot sexually.”

She hadn’t realized how soon after our breakup they started dating.  Apparently he lied to her.

So, just walking around the cafeteria, I felt like everybody knew about the secret marriage and was judging me.

Of course, now that my friends, Phil’s friends, and who knew who, knew about the secret marriage, you could say that we met another important criteria of marriage: common knowledge that we were married.

(There are those who say a marriage isn’t valid unless it’s public–discounting even a legal elopement or Romeo and Juliet’s marriage.)

Pregnancy Scare–for real this time

Along with Mike, I liked Peter’s former friend Randy, and wondered if he liked me.  As for Phil–I didn’t like him all that much.  I hated him, in fact.  It would take a lot for him to get me back, if he were to try.

I couldn’t wait to go home for Thanksgiving Break and get away from all this, all these problems.

I had the same comfort as during the Peter-situation long ago–that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).

On the 18th, Dad was to pick me up to take me home.  He wasn’t supposed to arrive until about 6pm, so I asked Mike to study with me for Intro to Christianity.  Can you believe we had a test on the 28th, the first day of class after Thanksgiving Break?

When Mike showed up, he brought a high school friend, Brent.  He was all excited because he finally had a male friend again, not just us girls.  (I guess Phil no longer counted as his friend, after the way Phil treated me.)

I think Dad arrived more than ten minutes after Mike did.  Mike cried, “Hello, Nyssa’s dad!”  He amused my dad with his usual silliness.

Catherine later said that everyone in the world was destined to meet Mike, since he seemed to know everybody we ran into out and about.

I hoped to finally type up much of my novel/Senior Writing Project on the computer while at home for Thanksgiving.  I planned to do some major typing then and over Christmas.

I couldn’t get enough chapters to Counselor Dude because I forgot my Jerisland discs (3 1/2 discs, which the young people call old-fashioned, but we called newfangled).  I couldn’t type up the files for the first few weeks.  I was also still writing the novel.

Counselor Dude understood; he said we’d get the project done a little late, especially since he still would have to read it and it was big, but I would get a grade.

Writing the last chapters during the fall semester was burdensome and melancholy at times, but at the same time, a way to get away from the Phil-situation.  I could escape to the island.

While reading shelves with Sharon, not only did I find some interesting books on marriage and Egyptian hieroglyphics, but also Darwin’s book on coral atolls.  This was the book referenced by Collier’s Encyclopedia in the article “Atoll,” which I mentioned in the February 1994 chapter.

I also used my Botany books to find the identities of the trees and plants, which the article only called by their scientific names, and which were in no other books I could find.

And now, as of 2007, I can just plug any of these names in Google and find out what they are!  I love the Internet!

Benny was now brought home and put in my younger brother’s old room, where he eventually became my niece’s toy.  For several years, looking at this stuffed rabbit made me sad, even after moving on, and even though Peter’s presents no longer bothered me.  That’s how bad an impression Phil made on me.

Some songs from the time: “Vaseline” by Stone Temple Pilots; “Verse Chorus Verse” by Nirvana; “Love is Deeper Than Touch,” a Christian song from the summer by Andy Landis; “Over You” by David Meece; Gary Chapman’s “Heal Me,” which I could identify with.  (Check out these lyrics.  And that was long before the well-publicized divorce from Amy Grant!)

On the 20th, I spent many fun hours with my high school friend Becky.  It was good to enjoy myself and get away from the problems at school.  She’d had guy problems lately, and said I was better company than a guy.

Over Break I read Clotel: Or The President’s Daughter by William Wells Brown, the first novel written by an African-American black person, for American Lit.  The cover said it was “written and published by an escaped slave in 1853.”  Clotel was part black, the child of Thomas Jefferson.

She had a spiritual marriage with a white man.  This was the only way she could marry a white man, or marry anyone for that matter, since even slave marriages weren’t legally recognized.

The novelist considered her spiritual marriage a true marriage, and when the man left her to marry a rich white woman, he called him an adulterer.

I looked at this and saw my own situation: deserted by a man who said he was my husband.

I also considered Phil to be an adulterer if he ever slept with or married another.  This has since changed, of course, though I still consider him my first husband.

Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving.  I was so looking forward to Thanksgiving week, to being home and away from all the crap going on at school.  But since I got home, I kept remembering Phil being there, living with my parents and me.  This saddened me.

I kept wondering if I was pregnant, looking in Dad’s CD-Rom encyclopedia for definitions of “common-law marriage,” how I could tell if I was pregnant and what the baby would look like now if I was pregnant, reading medical journals, and wondering if it would harm the baby to sit in front of the computer too much.  This all saddened me.

And on Thanksgiving I saw my brother and his wife–still together, of course, having gotten married that summer while Phil and I were engaged.  Even seeing their happiness while I was so sad, saddened me.  I wondered if I’d ever be in their place.

This sucked.  Now I just wanted to go back to school, and was glad I soon would.

My period started on day fifty-three!!! of my cycle, the latest I’d been in the past calendar year.  My usual cycle was about thirty-five days long, so you can see why this made me so anxious.  It turned out to be a normal, five-day period.

No, I didn’t try to get pregnant.  I would never have done such a thing just to keep Phil in my life.  And I’d had a period since the last time I was with him.

But you can imagine that skipping a period makes you anxious, makes you wonder if you had twin eggs and only one came out as a period, makes you wonder if it’s possible to have a period while pregnant.  And, well, it has been known to happen, especially in the first trimester….

And, well, fraternal twins with different fathers also happen for real.  And I heard twins were in my family, and knew nothing about hormonal imbalances.

So it was within the realm of possibility for me to have had two eggs, one which was fertilized, the other not.  Or for me to still have a period while pregnant.  My fear was justified.

On the 21st, I wrote in my diary:

I think I might be pregnant…this is the 15th day–two weeks–since my period was supposed to start.

And, according to Becky, it is possible to have at least one more period while you’re pregnant, and she knows people who’ve had several.

It’s usually due to birth control pills, but her mom had gone off the Pill and still had several periods before she knew she was five months pregnant with Becky.

Pregnant with the child of the husband who deserted me.  What am I supposed to do now, if I am?  I don’t want to miscarry–I hope I don’t.  Unwanted pregnancy or not, a miscarriage is so sad.  And I certainly wouldn’t abort it.

On the 25th, I wrote:

My period finally started about ten minutes ago.  I did a bunch of research into the subject this week [ online and on the computer ], trying to see if pregnancy was possible or not, and could only come to the conclusion that maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t.

If I was, it was a twin; if I wasn’t, psychological stress pushed off ovulation.  [ I didn’t yet know about the hormonal imbalance which actually has caused me many period problems over the years. ]

On Sunday, November 27, my parents and I returned to Roanoke.  On my way out the door, I stopped at the top of the basement stairs and looked down to my little kitty Hazel, who sat and stared at me from the foot of the stairs.

(We now used the door there as a main door instead of the back door, because my parents put a new carpet in the family room and didn’t want it to get dirty.)

I felt I’d never see her again.  Was I going to die from sadness or in a car crash that day?

Back at school, I mentioned the feeling to Sharon; she said maybe Hazel was going to die.  As it turned out, Hazel and I both lived to see each other on Christmas Break, but after that, I never saw her again.

She died of an undetermined illness which made her bald and skinny, possibly diabetes.  (She did love those Twinkies, after all.)

Who did my parents and I see at Marc’s Restaurant in S–?  Persephone and her parents!  (They also would have been returning from Indiana.)  The wait staff seated us just a table or two apart.  Persephone and I looked at each other and laughed.

So now my parents knew what she looked like.  At least she was just with her parents, and not with Phil.  However, the sight of her reminded me of the pain I was going back to.  By the way, this Marc’s soon became Annie’s Restaurant.  I don’t know what it is now.

December 1994

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

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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