- 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
The following quote from Psychopath Free explains everything that happened during this month and the following months, changing “online” to “on a college campus,” where I saw Phil and Perspehone constantly–especially when they both sat right there with my friends and me at lunch–getting all cuddly and cute with each other.
It explains Phil’s behavior, refusing to accept any of my complaints as valid or anything but a shrew who has to cut him down.
While I was supposed to accept everything he wanted or complained about as gospel truth or my wifely duty, no matter how cutting, no matter how painful, no matter how it slandered my character.
The friend he talked to, was Dirk, whom he manipulated into thinking I was an abusive shrew, and who then became Phil’s tool of controlling me by proxy.
Now for the quote:
The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.
They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy.
In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.
Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.
After the breakup, they will openly brag about how happy they are with their new partner [Persephone, whom he dated immediately after the breakup], where most normal people would feel very embarrassed and secretive about entering a new relationship so quickly.
And even more surprising, they fully expect you to be happy for them. Otherwise you are bitter and jealous.
During this period, they make a post-dump assessment. If you grovel or beg, they are likely to find some value in your energy. They will be both disgusted and delighted by your behavior.
If you lash out and begin uncovering their lies, they will do everything in their power to drive you to suicide.
Even if you come back to them later with an apology, they will permanently despise any target who once dared talk back to them. You’ve seen too much—the predator behind the mask.
This is why they constantly wave their new partner in your face, posting pictures and declaring their happiness online. Proving how happy and perfect they are.
It’s a final attempt to drive you insane with triangulation. To make you blame the new target, instead of the true abuser. —Torture by Triangulation
Probably on a Thursday night while my parents were at the store, and probably on September 1, 1994, I saw the first episode of My So-Called Life. Since no one else was home, I was free to watch it in privacy in the living room and have my own opinions about it.
I loved it. Angela, Claire Dane’s character, reminded me so much of myself at 15: insecure, feeling out of place at a party, all that stuff. They sure dressed weird, though–and Ray-Ann’s hair! Where did she get those ideas?
Phil’s brakes needed to be fixed. Back in May, he had them inspected, and they needed new pads. We went to Firestone together to have them checked. The service man gave him a paper with everything listed that was wrong with the brakes. It wasn’t just the pads, but that would help at present.
It was understood that Phil needed to have the brakes fully fixed before we went back to Roanoke. That was a 4 ½ hour drive, including Chicago and Milwaukee interstate traffic, and we sure didn’t need the brakes going out somewhere along the way.
Phil installed the brake pads himself with the help of Dad and my brother Jake. Jake said proudly, “I knew he could do it!”
But in September, he still hadn’t gotten the brakes fully fixed, yet I had such trouble with him! I believe that on Friday, September 2, he still hadn’t told his employer he was quitting, no two weeks’ notice, and he had to go in to work that day and tell them. We were to return to S– that weekend.
So on Friday he would have only a few hours, if he got up early enough, to get the brakes fixed. Doing it on Saturday was probably out of the question: Shops tended to close on Saturdays.
Phil wouldn’t take me anywhere without me begging. He wouldn’t take responsibility for himself and get up in time to take a shower before work, even though he set my old clock radio for 1 p.m. each night.
So even though he had plenty of time to get the brakes fixed, he slept through every chance to do it.
Then on what was most likely Friday, September 2, was his last chance to take care of the brakes before we went back to school.
Yet what did he do? He insisted on sleeping late, despite my trying to get him up, and snapped at me for trying to wake him!
But if he didn’t take care of the brakes that day, the brakes could give out while we were on the road, and we both could die! I didn’t know about him, but I wanted to live a while longer.
But finally I got him to get up, and he FINALLY got his brakes fixed. I could not believe him sometimes!
On probably September 3, we left in the afternoon. Finally, I got to sleep in, rather than waking up in the wee hours of the morning to go back to Roanoke, like usual when my parents took me.
On the way, Phil said, “This has been the best summer of my life because I spent it with you.”
Though I didn’t say so, for me it had been one of the worst. For quite some time, I cried every day because of Phil’s words or actions.
For the past week or so, we had been in another honeymoon period, which I hoped would continue.
But as September wore on, Phil kept doing and saying things which showed he no longer cared for me or my well-being, even though he kept saying he loved me. Even his family seemed to turn against me.
I also found myself having feelings for other guys, one I knew (Mike) and one I met during the first week of the school year (Charles). I couldn’t imagine breaking up with Phil, but these guys seemed sweet and decent, especially Mike.
Considering the summer I just endured, it’s no mystery that my heart latched onto a nice guy so quickly after we returned to school and out of the bubble of home. Mike gained my respect, which Phil had lost.
But back to September 3. When we got to Chicago, we had an argument. I don’t remember now what it was about. All I know is it had something to do with Phil having me look at the map to figure out where we were.
(Keep in mind that I have NVLD, which makes map-reading more difficult, especially when rushed. We didn’t have Google Maps to make it easy with specific routes, street views, and text directions.)
We must have gotten off track somehow. He got mad at me for something, maybe for not finding things fast enough or for not finding a certain street. I got upset with him for getting upset with me over something like that, which I couldn’t help. We may have made up later on during the drive, if we ever really did.
When we got back and unpacked what we needed for overnight, his mom threw some sheets at the bed.
He never used sheets before while I was with him, just blankets, while we slept directly on the bare mattress.
Sesame seeds (from fast food) and dirt got on it all the time. Since he never put sheets on, it never got cleaned off except with a swipe of the hand.
Before, I was so much in love that I barely noticed. But now, after spending the summer on sheets I washed weekly, I couldn’t stand getting on that icky mattress again without sheets.
Yet he even made that into an argument. He looked at me like I was ridiculous and a shrew for wanting sheets on the bed. He said if I wanted them, I could put them on.
Why on earth was he so petulant over putting sheets on his bed? He obviously wanted to pick fights on purpose, somehow finding a way to make me the one to blame, even though I did nothing wrong.
Here is the inspiration for a couple of scenes in my novel Tojet.
Sunday, September 4. Phil wanted to do nothing but play with Dave’s new sci-fi football game on the Nintendo. It was a weird, funny and interesting game, but I didn’t want to sit around all day watching Phil play it.
I had nothing else to do, not with everything still packed and in the van. My projects Undine and Jerisland and probably all my books were still in the van.
As for the game, it had all these different types of alien creatures, from which you chose for your team. I believe the field was in the air, and the sides were either fire pits or nothing but air. When you called up a picture of a player, some alien announcer spoke in gibberish, saying, “Bleh-BLAHH! Bleh-bleh-BLAHH!”
Then Dave and his Pearl asked if we wanted to go to the S– County Fair.
Soon after we got to the fair, Phil and I walked by a booth with posters you could win. Phil kept saying he wanted me to win him one of the babe-posters. Fed up by this and his ogling of girls all summer, I pointed to a beefcake poster and said, “I want you to win me that.”
He, of course, said no, and shooed me away, good-naturedly. Finally! I found a way to get back at him instead of just getting mad at him.
I thought the fair would be fun, and bought enough tickets for twenty rides. The first ride was Phil’s favorite, some sort of box that spins around as the big wheel goes around.
Sometime during the ride, not only did the stuff in my pockets fly out into the box, but the side of the box hit my forehead. Or my forehead hit the side of the box. I had no way of knowing what happened or how it happened. I’m almost certain I had my hands on the bar at the time.
The box moved so fast that the G-force and the speed kept me from crying out. I hated the ride and couldn’t wait for it to stop. Endlessly, the box kept spinning and moving around. Finally, it ended. I picked up the things that fell out of my pockets, and stepped out.
Phil saw the bruise on my forehead, and said a bump was rising.
Though I felt okay at first, a few minutes later my head started aching worse and worse. I turned lightheaded and queasy. Phil got me a cup of water from a vendor, and sat me down at a picnic table under the vendor’s big awning. At first, he seemed attentive and sweet.
I said I needed to rest for a while.
“Should we go home?” Phil said.
“I want to wait a while before deciding that, to see if I feel better,” I said.
Dave and Pearl soon knew about my injury.
I kept feeling worse and worse–more painful headache, more powerful nausea. Finally, I said I wanted to go home. I had to get away from the fairgrounds and into some quiet, comfortable place where I could be tended to.
On the way out, we passed a parked ambulance. I asked to go there, but we didn’t. Phil even smiled and said,
“Are you sure you need to go to an ambulance?”
I wanted to find a first-aid station, but all I saw was the ambulance. Phil and the others thought there was no need for either.
If I’d known just how serious a concussion can be, I probably would’ve insisted they take me more seriously and get help or take me to a doctor. Of course, a person with a concussion is in no condition to be forceful. Just check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.
This page recommends emergency medical attention if the bump results in a worsening headache and other symptoms I experienced.
According to a doctor I consulted by e-mail in 1999, I had the symptoms of a Grade II concussion! Cugan also said it sounded like a secondary concussion.
My headache got worse and lasted at least until the next day, possibly longer; I should have been closely watched and, because of my severe headache, taken to a doctor immediately. But none of the people with me took me seriously, not even Phil, my own husband! They actually called me a party pooper:
We left the park and went to Dairy Queen for dinner.
During dinner, Phil told them about Undine, that I had been translating it, and how big it was and how difficult. Dave said, “You’re nuts!” Contrast that to a person from a German-speaking country who said to me in 1998, “I tip my hat to you.” Apparently Dave didn’t understand the value of taking on a difficult project just to challenge yourself.
They began to talk about going dancing that night, and asked if we wanted to go. I said I’d better stay home: I thought I had a concussion. Phil said he would go.
What? Here I was, injured with a Grade II concussion, needing someone to watch over me and take me to a doctor, and he wanted to go dancing? Not only did he refuse to take me to a doctor, but he showed no sign of concern for my condition!
Through my pain, I was upset. I turned very quiet. Phil tried to say something to me once, but got no response.
Back at his house, I confronted him about this, but he insisted he wanted to go out dancing.
“My parents will be here, and you can lie on my couch, watch cable on my TV, and relax.”
I don’t think anyone told his parents about my concussion, because they never came into the room to check up on me. With my nausea and overpowering headache, I was in no condition to go walking around telling people I was hurt; Phil should have told them himself.
Phil went on, “You can find things to do, as you always do.”
Yeah, like I could do anything but sleep or watch TV with my head pounding. But that wasn’t the point.
I would’ve gone dancing, if I were feeling better. It sounded like fun. I hadn’t gone to a dance in a long time. We later planned to go to the Friday dance at Roanoke so I could finally see Phil’s dancing.
It was such a major and odd part of Phil’s personality that Pearl, on the way to the fair, said she was surprised I hadn’t seen him dance yet. She said you have to see him dance to really know him. I hadn’t had the chance because the junior year dances had no good music.
Phil whined, “Other people always say, ‘Oh, you go ahead and have your fun. Don’t mind me.'”
Oh, yeah, I wanted him home with me because I was a selfish twit.
I was miserable. Phil was my husband: He wasn’t supposed to go out and enjoy himself while I lay on his couch, suffering from an untreated injury. He was supposed to take me to a doctor!
His parents had just gotten two new puppies, little black and white ones, and kept them in a cage when they were inside. I sat beside them. Their names were something-Dave and something-Phil. They loved the attention and wanted my petting. I tried to comfort myself with them, and tried to hide my tears.
After Phil left, I watched some true-life TV movie about sharks attacking servicemen whose plane went down in the ocean. In one scene, a man seemed to be asleep while floating in the water in a life preserver; it turned out his lower half had been bitten off. The whole movie horrified me, especially since it really happened. Watching this all alone sure didn’t help. I tried to rest, but couldn’t with my awful headache.
This movie was probably Mission of the Shark, about the USS Indianapolis in WWII.
Phil later told me that Dave and Pearl thought I was a party pooper for wanting to leave the fair early! They didn’t know how I could have gotten hurt. They blamed me for getting hurt!
But it was a traveling fair, getting taken down and put up all the time, and people do get hurt on amusement park rides, especially in traveling fairs. This fact was given on an episode of the Sally Jessy Raphael show in 1998.
Also, the September 13, 1999 edition of US News and World Report stated on page 59, “[G]etting banged on fingers or head by a safety bar are common.” The article Fatal Attractions described the risk of injury at amusement parks, especially at traveling carnivals, which “are constantly dismantled and reassembled” (p. 58).
A few weeks after the incident, my friend Pearl said their remarks were uncalled for. She and my other friends would have respected that I was injured.
I did ask that Phil not drink while dancing, at least. If he came back with alcohol on his breath, that would finish me. I was already upset enough. I didn’t want him getting drunk while I ached both inside and out. Besides, as I’d joked before with him and Dave, he was still underage.
He recently told me that he drank or smoked whatever people passed around at parties (never mind his health or if it was illegal). I would never do that. He called me a pooper. I lost more respect for him.
After Phil came back from dancing, I told him I needed to talk. But instead of staying with me in his room, he left again and disappeared for a long time. I finally went looking for him, and found him talking alone with Pearl in the computer room. I asked if he’d come back soon so I could finish talking with him. Then I turned and left.
He soon came back, a smile on his face, and said, “Jealous? She’s a nice person, but Dave’s fiancée.”
I knew he liked her back before he dated me, but I thought this was over now. Still, seeing him there with her made me uneasy. Besides, how is it “jealousy” to want to finish a discussion about how he’d been treating me?
That night or maybe the next day, Phil said, “I would love to be allowed to have three wives instead of just one. You’d be one, Dave’s Pearl would be another, and that high schooler who likes me and keeps calling me at the wrong time–she’d be the third.”
Did he think I’d find this funny? It only made me feel worse. So he did still want Dave’s Pearl! And I wasn’t enough for him!
Just like all summer long, he’d tell me he lusted after this or that girl, and when I got upset, say that other people’s girlfriends just laugh when their men do this. He’d see a young woman and say he wouldn’t mind taking her in the back of his minivan. A big-breasted and blonde high-school girl would hand him Dairy Queen sundaes through the drive-up window, and he’d tell me how much he loved the sight. I’d say my breasts were big enough, and he’d say he saw bigger on previous girlfriends.
How dare I object? As some drunken guys later told him, I was so “possessive”!
Phil also told me, “Dave and Pearl think you’re a party pooper for not wanting to go dancing tonight. They think you’re a pooper because you never want to go dancing with me. They remembered a time last semester when they asked us to go dancing, and you didn’t want to go!”
HUH? What time was that? I didn’t even remember it. If it even happened, I probably just wanted to spend a quiet evening alone with Phil. Or maybe I wasn’t feeling well or had a lot of homework.
Phil went on, “I used to go dancing every weekend, but I gave that up for you.”
This was news to me! He never mentioned going dancing every weekend. He never asked me more than once or twice–if at all–to go dancing on the weekend. We went to Roanoke dances whenever possible, but they never had good music.
But then, abusers will make up things you’ve done or said that you never actually did or said, to make you the bad guy. The gaslighting from this guy was unbelievable! Did he really think I would fall for it when I knew it was a lie?
When I wrote the first draft of this account of the S– County Fair in 1995 or 1996, I showed it to my future husband Cugan and asked if I was being unreasonable. He said,
“No. Yes, people do often say, ‘Go ahead and have your fun,’ but they’re rarely taken at their word. Usually they don’t really mean it. Tell me something: What did you really see in this guy? He didn’t seem to take this marriage seriously.”
Not only that, but I had a Grade II concussion and they were calling me a party pooper because I needed to go to a doctor, not dancing!
All during our relationship, Dave, obviously influenced by what Peter had told him about me, said nasty things about me to Phil. When Phil said he wanted to date me, Dave said, “Don’t date her. We don’t get along.”
Don’t get along? But I didn’t even know the guy! We’d never met before Pearl’s party, and got along quite well, flirting all evening!
Dave also kept telling tales about me to his parents. This started way back in the spring. His Pearl did it sometimes, too.
They accused me of all sorts of things: calling Indiana on the O’Hara dime (I always used a phone card), telling Phil not to take a one-day job (Phil decided not to and I supported his decision because of a major history test the next day), and probably other things I’ve forgotten now.
Dave’s parents seemed to listen to them far too much, because I began to get the feeling that they didn’t like me as much anymore. For example, one day during the spring, as Pearl and I both sat in the living room, Maura called Pearl her favorite future daughter-in-law. Was Maura trying to make me feel like dirt?
Phil thought Pearl was nice, but I considered her just as mean as Dave. Not only did she go along with Dave’s smear campaign, but she did something else nasty as well:
I don’t remember when this was, May or September, but probably May. It was a Saturday, no classes, nobody with work. It was the middle of the afternoon, and long after I heard Dave take his shower. I found a deserted bathroom, so I took a shower. Because it was the middle of the afternoon and everyone else had already showered (including Dave), and because there were two bathrooms, I saw no reason to hurry.
I did the various things I always needed to do after a shower, such as shaving, moisturizing, putting cover-up on my face, combing my hair. I didn’t dilly-dally around in the bathroom: I only took as long as I needed to do what I needed to do, and then I got out. I was just about done.
All of a sudden, Pearl banged on the door and yelled meanly, “Hurry up and get out of there! Dave needs to take a shower!” No, she did not politely knock and ask if I could please hurry up. She screamed as if I were deliberately holding up Dave.
How could I possibly have known that he needed to take another shower for soccer practice or whatever it was, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, when nobody else was around when I started my shower?
I’m so glad to be out of that family: too many nasty people with absolutely no respect or consideration for others. And I was being bullied by everybody together, a mob bullying!
On Monday, it was finally time to move my stuff into the new apartment on campus. After I got my key card, Phil and I started unloading the minivan.
The doors were supposed to stay shut even while people moved things in or out of the building, and were not to be propped open (all the residence halls had signs posted saying this). Since the doors had automatic locks, I was forced to unlock the door each time we brought something in.
So, naturally, I would go on ahead with whatever I carried, and try to unlock the door before Phil got to it.
But he actually snapped at me for not waiting for him before going to the door!
I said, “I have to go before you do so I can open the door with the key before you get to it!”
But he wouldn’t listen to reason. I seethed inside. It seemed no matter what I did or didn’t do, in his mind it was just cause to yell at me, even for being considerate and practical!
Sheesh, what a jerk.
But other than that, it was fun to see my friends again and hear their jokes as we went in and out of the apartment. Mike was there, being his usual muppet self: bouncy, goofy, weird, loud, childlike, sweet, outgoing, hilarious.
(He danced like a muppet, and “muppet” just seemed to fit him in general. Still does, 20 years later, especially since he loves posting muppet videos on Facebook.)
After we finished moving my stuff into my room and the living room (my room was too small to hold all the boxes), Phil may have left again for a little while.
Dirk lived in the same apartment building. At one point, Phil and I walked away from the apartment, possibly going to the Campus Center. Dirk yelled to us from his basement window. (These windows were on the upper part of the lower-level bedroom walls; once you found something to stand on, or if you were on an upper bunk, they easily cranked open).
Phil talked to him through the window, and Dirk was surprised that I now had a fourth-level bard in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).
I spent some time with my roommies and Mike. We discovered the vents in the bedrooms were good sound conductors. You could hear practically everything from the upstairs apartment. Mike yelled up the vent to our upstairs neighbors, who were Phi-Delts we knew, and they yelled back.
We thought these vents could be a problem, because how much of our everyday lives and conversations would our upstairs neighbors be able to hear? I don’t know if they even noticed, but I was often paranoid about this during the year. And I think that, in my room, we did sometimes hear voices from their apartment.
It would be fun living there with my new roommies: Tara, Sharon and Pearl. (We called each other roommies no matter who shared a bedroom with whom.) I was happy to be back and with my friends again.
Phil and I had once spoken of marrying halfway through the year and then living in our own apartment on campus, since he heard they were supposed to be for married as well as regular students. When my roommies-to-be and I looked at the apartment the year before while it was being built, I thought I would live with them for only part of the year.
But now, I wanted to spend the whole year enjoying life with my friends.
My roommie-roommie was Sharon; my roommies in the other bedroom were Pearl and Tara.
The visiting custom of the apartments was the same as for the suites: Anybody, anytime. The only rules that applied were the ones your apartment-mates agreed on.
One rule we eventually made was that if someone wanted to let a friend/boyfriend stay overnight, she had to ask everyone else for an OK. The friend would sleep on the couch and not with one of us, but it made people uncomfortable to walk into the living room in a bathrobe, and discover someone sleeping there.
A dorm newsletter stated what we Krueger residents knew last year: The cold in the dorm was not our imagination. The newsletter read, “Last year the temperature in Krueger…Remained below 55 degrees during January.”
The windows were replaced, the steam heating system was repaired, and the floors were carpeted, all adding warmth to that cold dorm at last…after I moved out, of course.
Phil and Dirk discussed playing D&D that night and ordering a pizza, but I hadn’t decided whether to join them. At first I wanted to, but they were already playing D&D, we had no directories yet, and I didn’t know where to find them.
So instead, I settled down to a fun evening with my new roommies, Astrid, and Mike. Clarissa wasn’t there, because it was a day before move-in day. Mike lived nearby in H– and the others were to be freshman orientation leaders, so we were all early.
We sat around the big, fake-wood dining table in this small but lovely apartment. We played games, such as non-alcoholic Spoons. I had never heard of it before, but was told it was a drinking game. Our punishments had nothing to do with drinking. I forget what they were; maybe you were “It” or something like that. I also don’t remember how the game was played, just that it involved spoons.
Phil had made dirty jokes all summer and, with his influence, I had joined in on some of them. Some were in-jokes triggered by certain words or phrases. I heard some of these words while with my friends that night, but said nothing.
I noticed that Mike made few or no dirty jokes that night, and I found it refreshing. I admired him for it. (Not that this state of things lasted–Mike actually does make such jokes, especially now that he’s married–but this made my heart go pitter-pat.)
Finally, Phil came along and tapped on the glass doors, and we let him in.
I realized, as I later told Phil, that I was glad to be there instead of playing D&D with him and Dirk. My friends had been my family at Roanoke, longer than Phil had been with me. After dealing with Phil’s drama all summer, it was a relief to be with my friends again.
Maybe that night or the night before, Phil told me his mom made him give his summer money to her. He’d saved up all summer to buy my engagement ring from a catalog for $300, but she used that money on Phil’s car payments! We were both furious.
Phil told me to “Stay with your friends tonight” instead of going back with him to his house. At first I wanted to go with him, figuring I would miss him. But I soon changed my mind.
Before he left, I told him I needed a ride to go to the store and get milk and orange juice, since I had a box of cereal and would now be eating breakfast in the apartment. I didn’t have to go to Bossard for a normal breakfast anymore, because we had a kitchen.
All the rooms had white plastic wire towers with drawers. One wire tower was in the toilet room of the bathroom, and each of us took a drawer for various personal items.
I call it the toilet room because the bathroom was actually three separate rooms. In the main room were two sinks; to the left of them was the bathtub with its see-through glass door; to the right was the shower room; and across from the sinks was the toilet room. This was the handicap suite because of Pearl, so we had a huge bathroom.
Some time that first week, probably right around Tuesday, I discovered Hot 102 (dance) had turned alternative, so that quickly became my favorite station.
Of course, I recognized almost immediately that Chicago’s Q101 was much better, and that Hot 102 (now New Rock 102.1) was copying it. The signal for Q101 didn’t cut out until we got close to Milwaukee, so copying it was easy.
New Rock 102.1 used the same terms and did the same shows as Q101. Example: The Retro Flashback Lunch. Another example: “We give the name and artist of every song we play.” (That was a wonderful perk, but they stopped doing it in about 1995.)
However, New Rock didn’t play the same songs as Q101: I greatly missed “Millennium” by Killing Joke and “Insanity” by Boingo. But they did have “Undone (The Sweater Song)” by Weezer and “Snail Shell” by They Might Be Giants.
Now to give you the view from my window. The apartment was on one end of the bottom level, which was partially submerged by ground on one side (hence the high windows). My bedroom was on the submerged side. From my window, you could see the new parking lot for the apartments, a sidewalk, and the edge of Muehlmeier. Venetian blinds probably covered the window.
On the opposite side of the apartment, by the living room, there were glass, sliding doors and a view of the lagoon, the geese, the adjacent apartment building, and the courtyard.
Our side of the building was next to the other building. If you faced these glass doors, to your left was the wall we shared with the next apartment.
To your right was the kitchen and the back outside door. The outside door led to a ramp-like walk which curved to the right, up the hill, to the sidewalk leading to Muehlmeier and the Campus Center. Pearl kept her scooter inside this door. From this door, we could see the woods on the outskirts of the campus.
We had another door, which led to the apartment mailboxes, the little laundry room, and the next apartment. We went upstairs to get outside.
As I already mentioned, the door locked automatically and had to be unlocked with a key card. We weren’t supposed to leave this door open, but during move-in days, people often propped it open anyway with a heavy-duty floor mat.
The place had that new building smell.
Pearl put her new stereo system in the living room for us all to use. It had a radio, tape player, five-disc CD changer, and remote control! Everything you could wish for–well, except for a record player, but none of us brought our records anyway. Records were too hard to transport safely.
But the antenna was weird. It was this black, plastic, boxlike thing connected to a couple cords. I don’t know why it wasn’t the usual metal pole. By second semester, there were five discs in the CD changer at all times, so we could turn it on and play whatever came up.
On Tuesday, September 6, it felt weird doing my natural family planning in the apartment. Before, I did it secretly so my parents didn’t know about it, but Phil knew I was doing it. Here, nobody I lived with knew about it. I took my temperature while still in bed when Sharon couldn’t see, and stashed other tools in the toilet room in my drawer.
I set up my work schedule: On Wednesday, I started work, from one to three p.m. Once again, I kept my weekends and evenings free from work, just as I always avoided 8:00 classes. This left weekends free for laundry, cleaning, homework, relaxing, and sleeping in.
Junior year, Sharon got five hours done on Saturdays, but I preferred to spread out my ten hours over the five weekdays. Sometimes I had to do, like, one hour one day and three hours the next, but my ideal setup was two hours a day. It all depended on class schedules and other workers’ schedules. The librarians wanted only two people working the desk at one time.
I soon gave a class and work schedule to Phil. This is important later, because in my innocence of what was to come, I let him know where to find me all semester.
I didn’t know what time Phil would show up at the apartment that day, but I knew he would. I wanted to see him, and knew he wouldn’t want to go a whole day without seeing me, his beloved wife. Not only that, but he knew I needed milk and orange juice, which I couldn’t get on campus.
This new guy named Charles came to visit us, and sat in the living room while I unpacked boxes. He was loud, tall and huge. I didn’t know why, but I felt this strange attraction to him. He wasn’t handsome and I didn’t know him very well, so that wasn’t the reason.
He said proudly that he was of Sicilian ancestry. He had a strong, aquiline nose. He was 24 but a freshman, having been in the Air Force. He had a girlfriend named Trina, another freshman. My friends probably met them in orientation. Charles and Trina had only just met, but were already dating. Trina was about 18 or 19. She had glasses and dark, shoulder-length, kind of feathered hair.
Since many of my boxes had been put in the living room for lack of other space, I unpacked them within the first few days so as not to annoy my roommates. To my surprise, everything fit neatly in the closets and wire racks. I unpacked the porcelain bird as Charles watched, and told him, with a big grin, that it was my engagement ring.
That night, Phil still hadn’t shown up, so Pearl and I went to the semi-formal Opening Banquet in Bossard together. I don’t remember why nobody else in our group went, but I do believe Pearl wanted me along for company. There was a speaker, Bob Hall; his talk was called “Hands Off! Let’s Talk,” and the subject was dating and sex.
At the beginning, I said to Pearl, “I guess I don’t really need to listen, since I’m engaged.” (And married, I thought.)
Hall said to the guys in the cafeteria, “If she says no, let me introduce you to Mr. Hand!” And later, in an unrelated comment, “Guys, she always knows where that hand is!” Pearl went, “Mm-HMMM!”
Later that night, with still no sign of Phil, Pearl and I sat alone in the living room, talking. I told her Phil had been building up muscles from working at the factory.
She said, “Sounds like lust to me!”
I said with a smile, “I’m going to marry him–I can lust after him!”
But sometime later in the conversation, I told her, “I’ve been losing some respect for Phil, but hopefully now that we’re living apart I’ll be able to build it back up again.”
She said, “That doesn’t sound good. Maybe you two should try dating other people for a while.”
I said, “Well, I don’t want to see him with anyone else, and I know he doesn’t want to see me with anyone else.” Not only that, but you’re not supposed to date other people while you’re married.
We put the new, blue, all-cushioned couch along the wall in the nook by the inside wall, the chairs around the TV, and the stereo in the nook as well. Then the dining table went under the light in the more open, middle area.
And little metallic bears went all over the table and here and there in the carpet, Astrid-confetti from a party I missed on Sunday. (Astrid loved to send us letters with confetti or little bears in them. You learned to be careful opening her letters, or the confetti would get all over the floor.) For the rest of the year, we kept finding these bears here and there, even when we thought we’d cleaned them all up.
We had a stove, fridge, many shelves and drawers divided among us (one each of each kind of drawer or shelf), a sink (with no stopper), and even pots and pans given us by the school. Mom gave me an old dish drainer, which we needed.
The glass doors with their Venetian blinds were over by the dining table, and two other windows with Venetian blinds were along that wall. One of these windows was in the kitchen, the other in the living room.
There were bookshelves in the open area, opposite the glass doors. My bird sat on the top shelf, where it seemed a porcelain bird should be, to watch over everything. We put videos, tapes, CD’s and books on these shelves. We each had one or two shelves, and it was understood that anything on the shelves could be used by anyone.
On the other side of the apartment, opposite the bathroom, were the two bedrooms. First was my room with Sharon. We bunked the beds because they didn’t fit side by side. They were already bunked when I arrived, though at the end of the year I was told they were originally side by side.
We moved around the furniture in the rooms because the original arrangements, as usual, didn’t work either. Now we had the beds under the window. Sharon slept on the top bunk.
We each had a wire storage rack, and I put mine beside the bed. Our closets were a little small, but they had shelves, and with the many storage racks provided for us, we found places to put everything.
So the room, though tiny, didn’t seem crowded, but rather neat and tidy. (The living room was often messy, however, because we often left papers and textbooks lying around.) These racks were like a stack of drawers, because you could pull them out to remove your stuff and then push them back again.
Pearl and Tara had their room (with its answering machine) next to ours.
We liked the bathtub, but not the glass door. We started thinking of ways to cover up the door so no one could see us bathing, and may have even requested a curtain, which we never got. The glass door should have been on the shower, and the shower curtain should have been on the bathtub. The shower, after all, was in a separate room with a door.
Also, there would have been more room to pull the shower curtain wide open, and we probably wouldn’t have had quite so many mildew problems with it. It had to be replaced halfway through the year. So we never actually used the tub, except to store boxes, and it got really dirty by the end of the year.
Probably on Tuesday or Wednesday, I turned on my radio to change it from South Bend’s U93 to Green Bay’s WIXX. Lo and behold, there was U93! This happened only once that I know of.
I listened to U93 for a while. Someone called in from Milwaukee and said, “I used to listen to U93 in South Bend. I flipped on the radio here in Milwaukee and found it!” If I knew U93’s number, I would have called and said the broadcast was traveling even farther than that.
Once over the summer, WIXX had come in on the house antenna. Phil said they boosted their power, so that may be why it came in so far away. However, I didn’t want to hear WIXX: it was on the same frequency as Q101. I never heard WIXX in South Bend before or since that day.
Also, that same week I discovered Hot 102 had changed to an alternative format, which made the necessary break from Q101 much easier.
My first class of the year was at 9:15 in the morning, American Lit with Dr. Nelson, the teacher from New York. He’d been there only a year, and soon after I graduated, he would move back to New York. Yes, another American Lit class. This was probably American Lit I, and the previous class American Lit II, because this one focused on an earlier period.
As I’ve noted before, Nelson, with his funny, New York accent, pronounced “illustrate” as “ill-yoo-strate.” Whenever Phil imitated his accent, he always included “ill-yoo-strate.”
One day in September, Nelson said “ill-uh-strate,” like we say it in the Midwest, then stopped and corrected himself, saying, “ill-yoo-strate.” I don’t know if anybody else noticed, but I found it funny.
While working in the library on Wednesday, I found some German dictionaries, some old and some new, and spent my time at the circulation desk looking up the words from “Undine” that I hadn’t been able to find. Many of them were there. There were still many words I couldn’t find, but they were much fewer now. As soon as I saw Phil again that day, I gushed and exulted about it.
People kept seeing my bird, sitting up on the very top shelf of the bookshelf in the living room and looking out over us all, and they said how pretty it was. Then I got to tell them it was my engagement ring until Phil finally bought me a real one.
(How disappointing that I didn’t already have one, since his mom took all his summer money for car payments!)
Somebody who parked in the apartment parking lot had a white Ford Bronco. It was weird and funny because that was the same kind of truck in which OJ fled the cops. Whenever Phil and I passed it, we’d say, “No! Not OJ! OJ’s here!”
In a similar vein, one day during the summer, Mom wrote “OJ,” or orange juice, on the pad of paper she kept on the kitchen counter. Phil wrote next to it, “No OJ!”–meaning, no more OJ news. Just think, we were already sick of it, and that was only the beginning of the news saturation.
Apparently Phil met me at the library, or soon after I left it, and we must have gone over to Krueger lounge. We spent some time there, sitting with Dirk, a freshman named Sandy, and an elderly woman. She had come to teach at Roanoke for half a year. She lived in Krueger, since she was only staying in the area for a short time. She had a southern accent and was very friendly.
Sandy was a freshman who lived in Krueger but eventually moved into Dirk’s campus apartment. That sort of thing happened sometimes, though it wasn’t supposed to. I don’t know how they got away with it. Sandy was a dark-haired, pretty girl with glasses.
Phil and I were both confused about Dirk and Sandy. We both thought they were dating, until Dirk told Phil they weren’t: Sandy was his friend’s girlfriend. (Dirk later told me they finally realized they liked each other, and started going out; this hadn’t happened yet on Wednesday.)
But they certainly acted like they were going out! He would slap her backside, they would make suggestive comments to each other–this was no platonic friendship!
They got engaged either that school year or the next. Then in 1996 or 1997, I’m told, Sandy broke the engagement, complaining about how Dirk treated her. Then she wanted him back, but he had a new girlfriend, whom he eventually married. How could an obnoxious, plain know-it-all like Dirk keep getting girlfriends, while I had trouble getting dates?
You’ll remember that Phil vanished for an entire day, without a word to me of when he’d come again. He never called.
I expected him at any time, and he knew I needed milk and orange juice for breakfast. I had no idea where he was or why he never showed up. I had to borrow milk and orange juice for breakfast the next morning.
Now that Phil was finally back, I complained, rightly so. But instead of apologizing or explaining, he just said that one of my friends could have taken me for milk and orange juice.
Say what? He took the passive-aggressive route by vanishing without a word, instead of coming out and saying he couldn’t/wouldn’t do it?
After we got back from getting the milk and orange juice, before I got out of the van I said,
“I love you and I want to marry you legally, so why do I have such doubts?”
Once, junior year, Phil said that if either of us were ever attracted to someone else, we should say so. That way, if we were to break up because someone else came along, it wouldn’t be a shock to the “dumpee.”
He lived out this rule, constantly telling me who he was attracted to, even telling me he wanted three wives–and who they would be. One was his own brother’s fiancée.
Well, after several days of Phil disappearing for long periods of time–even a whole day–without telling me when he’d come back, I wanted him to be around more. When you’ve been married to a guy all summer and he suddenly vanishes, you feel like a part of you is missing.
Phil’s treatment of me all summer, and especially now, inspired the doubts. I may also have subconsciously wanted to get back at him for a summer of telling me he wanted all those other women.
So I told him my fears. I told him I was getting a crush on Mike. I tried to reassure Phil I still loved him, though.
I had a crush on Mike junior year, before dating Phil. I was attracted to his integrity.
He wouldn’t drink underage or smoke anything that was passed around at a party. He didn’t make everything into a raunchy joke (just some things). He was sweet. He wouldn’t play tricks on his girlfriend. He didn’t seem capable of making a woman feel like crap.
(In 2005, from e-mails and forum posts, I learned that he believed in total equality in marriage. Also, from Facebook I see that he’s a loving, devoted husband.)
Phil left me with a choice. We were both very sad. He said to talk to Mike, and if he felt the same, I could leave with his blessings. He didn’t want to see it, but he wouldn’t stand in my way.
I cried afterwards and decided I couldn’t leave him: I didn’t have the heart. I loved Phil, and had only a tiny, insignificant crush on Mike. Also, leaving a marriage wasn’t that simple. So I said nothing to Mike.
I didn’t see much of Phil after that.
Also note that when Phil found other people attractive and wanted to include them in his harem, the relationship was not over.
But as soon as I found someone else attractive–boom, the relationship is over and he’ll let me go with his blessing.
So it’s only a crisis and insult if I find someone else attractive, but not if he does, not even if he wants three wives?
He claimed my friends kept dissing him; I saw none of this. He claimed their body language showed it; I saw nothing but friends smiling at him and acting normally.
On Thursday, September 8, he gave me no word of when he would next come to see me. So I made plans with my roommies.
My roommies and I were getting ready to watch My So-Called Life, and had friends over to join us, a kind of party. I couldn’t wait to see it, and was excited to watch it with all these friends.
But then Phil suddenly dropped in and said he wanted to talk. I thought it was about Mike and that I would soon turn away his fears, tell him I wanted him and only him and couldn’t bear to go to Mike.
It was very bad timing on his part, which he should have respected, and I figured it wasn’t so pressing that it couldn’t wait one hour. After all, he gave me no clue when I would next see him, yet expected me to just drop everything and change my plans when he came over?
Not only was this unreasonable, but my NVLD made me resist changing plans on the spur of the moment like that.
But I did not yet know that he had this unreasonable and controlling attitude about it, that he expected me to submit to his every whim no matter how inconvenient. I smiled and asked him to sit down and watch with me and see what this wonderful show was like, and afterwards we could talk.
I don’t remember how many people were there, but there wasn’t much room around the TV in that little nook. All the chairs were taken, so someone suggested he sit on a cushioned milk crate, which my roommies and I often used as a chair or footrest. He soon went down the hall instead of sitting down.
I thought he’d gone to the bathroom, so thought nothing of it. My friends and I watched the show.
He took an awfully long time, so I wondered if he had diarrhea or something. I eventually went to look for him in the bathroom or my room, but he wasn’t there.
He’d left without a word, and never came back the whole night! Pearl and I both thought that was extremely odd, wondering where the heck he’d gone to, and why.
On Friday, while I worked in the library with Sharon, I told her I was sad and didn’t know what was going on.
My old Lit teacher Wesley came up to the desk and we chatted. Remember the crush I had on him? He looked a bit scuzzy now: unshaven, long hair.
He asked what I’d be doing after graduation, and I said I’d be getting married. (What a pity: He was now divorced and no longer my teacher. And the student he once dated, just told him she was married now. If I saw him a day or two later, who knows what would have happened?)
I saw Dirk standing by the copy machine, and felt uneasy. After a few minutes, Wesley went on his way.
Dirk, still by the copy machine, and silent till now, talked to me near the end of my shift, and said Phil was upset. I had no idea what he could be upset about, when he hadn’t waited around long enough for my answer, and it was good news. Dirk just said he knew what was wrong and we needed to sit down and work this out between ourselves. (So why bring it up, then? And why was I the last to know?)
He also told me Phil was pledging Zetas again. Phil knew I had problems with the Zetas, especially now that the cool ones had graduated. He gave me every reason to believe he wanted nothing to do with pledging after how they treated him as a pledge the previous year.
I said, “What? He knows how I feel about that!”
Dirk said, “He’s got to live his own life.” But wasn’t it our life together as man and wife? As if the opinion of his own wife didn’t even matter! How insulting! And how devastating.
I felt like crying, though I did not know what was going on, and had to choke back tears as Sharon and I walked back to the apartment.
Someone soon knocked at the inside door (I don’t know how he got in the building without calling me). Sharon went to answer it, then came back in our bedroom, saying, “Uh-oh, Nyssa, uh-oh!” She left us alone as Phil walked in.
He told me there were too many problems and he was breaking up with me. I couldn’t believe it. I was also upset because I had been faithful to the vows we made even when I wanted to break them, yet he just went ahead and broke them.
Now I finally learned that he petulantly thought no one wanted him to sit down when they offered him the little cushioned crate.
I don’t know what he expected to sit on, when there was nowhere else to sit. I did not see the milk crate as offensive, nor did I see sitting on the floor as offensive when all other chairs were already taken. It’s just part of college life; I sat on lots of floors.
I feel he overreacted big-time and took it out on me. I guess what was good enough for the rest of us to sit on, was not good enough for his majesty. (A quick Net search shows that cushioned milk crates are often used as extra seats.)
Yet he thought I should’ve stood up for him when my friends treated him “so bad.” But this was impossible because I didn’t even know anything was wrong. I’m not a mindreader, and I saw nothing at all amiss in the way my friends treated him.
He also said it looked like we were just watching some 90210-like “teeny-bopper” show, and he didn’t want to wait for such a show to get over with.
But this show was critically acclaimed, ahead of its time, and inspired the first-ever online fan campaign to get it renewed when it was prematurely cancelled.
Phil’s remarks insulted both my taste and my intelligence, and all my friends’ as well.
This tells me that because he didn’t consider the show worth his time, I wasn’t supposed to like it, either, or be excited about watching it, or do anything but jump to his command.
If he says now it’s time to talk, even though I have previously made plans and he made absolutely no effort to contact me about when he would stop by–oh, I’m just supposed to jump and do whatever he says right then because he said so.
I never had a chance to tell him I had chosen him over the other guy. Instead, without a word he had vanished to a party with Dave, where he told drunken party boys about our problems and lusted after some girls. He even wanted to get drunk and lose his inhibitions so he’d sleep with one of them.
Fortunately, he didn’t listen to the advice of drunken party boys, but tempered it with the advice of a married friend to give me another chance.
He said the drunken party boys told him, “Oh, just dump her.” He didn’t want to listen to them because they were selfish and drunk–
–but what was he doing, telling guys like that about our problems? These boys–
–who didn’t know me and only knew the slanted story of somebody who gaslit and abused me, and told lies about me to his friends–
–called me “possessive.” I wasn’t possessive at all. (Sharon, on the other hand, called him possessive.)
He said he’d been talking to a friend of his, a married man whom he often went to about relationships, and asked how he could break up with me when we were married.
This guy said it wasn’t long enough to be a common-law marriage. I think he said it had to be at least six months in Wisconsin. He also said he thought Nazarenes recognized it, but the Catholic church didn’t. (I had never heard of the Nazarene church accepting or not accepting common-law marriages.)
Phil conveniently forgot that this never bothered him before. He hadn’t cared who thought it was a “real” marriage so long as it was one in God’s eyes. We already knew that the church and the law would not call it a marriage, but as far as we were concerned, it was one.
At least, that’s what Phil always told me whenever I started to doubt. He was the one who kept having to convince me.
Also, we knew Wisconsin didn’t recognize common-law marriages in the first place, so what difference did it make how long we’d been together?
In a research frenzy, I later checked Pearl’s dictionary: It described two different types of common-law marriages, one based on length of time and the other based only on agreement. For the second, all you needed for a common-law marriage was an agreement to live as man and wife.
Phil’s confidant also asked if he loved me, and he did not hesitate before saying yes. Though after reading about abusers and narcissists, I now doubt that he ever loved me at all. You don’t sexually assault and emotionally abuse someone you love.
He complained about “us eating just because you’re hungry.” Say what? Was I not even allowed to say I was hungry and wanted lunch, not even in the middle of the afternoon, if he wasn’t yet hungry?
He said “I’m not your taxicab”–just because I was scared to death of driving and had no car anyway, so I asked him to take me places?
He complained about me telling him when to wake up and, supposedly, making his self-esteem drop.
–begging him to wake up in time to take a shower and have a decent breakfast, instead of sleeping until 2pm and not showering at all for weeks at a time, and begging him to wake up on the last possible day he could get his brakes fixed so we wouldn’t get killed on the way back to Wisconsin–
What a load of crap. I can’t believe I tried so hard to get this loser back.
All summer, whenever I doubted the validity of our marriage because it wasn’t legally recognized in Indiana or Wisconsin, he insisted on the validity and told me not to worry about it.
But now, he said our marriage wasn’t real. He could probably get away with that in his church because our marriage was never blessed by a priest (i.e., not valid in the Catholic church), but what about in front of God?
So, according to him, it takes two people to end a marriage if one is abusive, but only one to end it if the other person is not subservient enough.
And, apparently, Phil decides when a secret marriage is real and valid–which is when he wants it to be.
Well, I considered it real and valid, and this was not a breakup, not the end of an engagement, but a divorce.
All the anxieties of a divorced, conservative Christian woman came into play: Will I be an adulteress if I marry somebody else? Must I be reconciled to him or else never marry again? Will I be free to marry again because he deserted me–the Pauline privilege? Will he be an adulterer if he marries again?
I had spent all summer trying to be a good wife: supporting him when he had job trouble, vacuuming and dusting our rooms for him, washing and bleaching the skid marks out of his underwear, praying for his safety. And this was my repayment?
If there were any other reasons given at this time, I don’t remember what they were.
Basically, he blamed it on me. Yeah, right. I believe he just broke up with me because I wasn’t willing to give in to his constant emotional, physical and sexual abuse. (The physical abuse was, basically, the sexual abuse; they were intertwined in this case.)
By not letting him control me or make me the “victim,” I was doing so many “bad” things that I had to become obedient and change for him to come back to me.
If I were such a bad person, then why did I not act badly with my next three boyfriends? And why did I never cry with anyone as often as I cried with him?
Yet I hear that Phil, on the other hand, carried on to his next two relationships at least some of the things he did to me. He acted the same, he yelled, he manipulated, he controlled, he acted petulant when he didn’t get his own way, and he even slapped his next girlfriend Persephone (only once because she slapped him back).
Cindy later told me that she heard him yell at me in the Krueger lounge, so she didn’t like him. Then she heard him do the same thing with the girl he eventually married (and later divorced). My friends saw him be mean to her, and want his way, only his way, and that’s it.
Mike later wrote to me that abusers commonly blame their girlfriends or wives for their behavior. They’ll abuse and abuse and sometimes even go so far as killing them, yet still say their wives deserved it, that they did so many things wrong that it was their fault.
Phil fit the trait “unceremoniously discarding,” here: What is Abuse (“Overt Abuse”). For years, I wondered why an abuser would leave his victim, and thought that it must have been because I resisted. Of course, Dr. Phil might still say I allowed the abuse by continuing to stay with him. But now I see that abusers do discard, so maybe I don’t need to figure out a reason.
I could admit to doing some things I shouldn’t have, but he took no responsibility for his own wrongdoing. During the talk, I didn’t think of the things he did, of saying that he was no saint, but they began to come to me later on.
For some reason, the song “Insanity” by Boingo kept running through my head.
Like an idiot, I thought I’d be better off with him than without him (apparently forgetting all the emotional abuse of the summer), and begged him not to divorce me. I said, “But things were getting better!”
He said he had given me so many chances to change, and that I hadn’t done so, but if I changed within a month, we could get back together.
(ME? I had to change? I was not the abuser!)
He said we might change after seeing other people. I asked him for a parting kiss, but all he gave me was a peck on the lips. He said just before he left, “Keep the faith.” (What the heck did that even mean?)
After he left, I broke down and cried.
I told my parents, though I had to call them collect through the new 1-800-CALL-ATT because my phone card number stopped working for some reason. My mom could tell I was upset just from the way I said hello to her.
She had hoped I wouldn’t have to go through this again. I think she told me to eat something. She did tell me to go to that night’s dance with my friends, that it would be good for me, take my mind off things.
For at least a few days, I made a lot of collect calls, until my dad got a new number for me. I believe he switched long-distance carriers to Sprint, which was why the number didn’t work. The new number was very easy to remember, mostly made up of our home phone number.
I didn’t want to do a thing without my parents’ advice, for fear I’d mess things up if I did. I remembered how I messed things up with Peter when I acted on impulse.
Possibly at dinner, I met Persephone for the first time. She was a dark-haired girl with short hair, a freshman, Trina’s roommate.
Some of the other freshman girls had told her they came to Roanoke to get married. She laughed about it with us, having already discovered that Roanoke guys had a bad reputation.
She said, “That’s it, I’m not sleeping with any Roanoke guys!” This secretly made me glad, because then she wouldn’t be sleeping with Phil.
Either before or after I met her, Phil told me he was interested in a girl named Persephone. I soon found out this was the same one.
I went to the Friday dance, after all, even though Phil and I were supposed to go together and now we wouldn’t. This was supposed to be my chance to see him dance.
Well, I did see him dance, though it was across the room. It was hard for some time afterwards to hear the songs “Funkytown” (Pseudo Echo’s version) and “Delirious” (Prince) and remember his foot-stamping. He was a weirdo jumping-bean on the dance floor. Though I didn’t notice, he later said my friends kept giving him dirty looks.
Once, he danced over to me, and I said he did dance weird.
It felt good to dance and escape and work out some of my grief, though I couldn’t stay there long. I may have left alone, or with my friends.
I kept the engagement bird up on the living room shelf because I had nowhere else to put it. Phil told me to keep it.
Though tempted to break the bird into a million pieces, I dreamed that I did and began to sob over the poor bird. It wasn’t its fault. So I didn’t break or even chip it.
I later put the game Crack the Case, which Phil had put in my safekeeping, into a cupboard below the sink.
At some point, Phil told me on the phone about things people thought of me and the “advice” they gave. I objected. He said, “Are you saying that Dave doesn’t know you? That Peter doesn’t know you?”
What? Peter’s problems with me were old and very petty, and Peter said he treated me the way he did because it was hard to deal with his feelings. He hadn’t seen me much at all since freshman year.
As for Dave, he barely knew me. He hadn’t seen me all summer, and before that he only saw me for a few months and only every once in a while, when Phil and I weren’t alone together.
He saw me in Botany class and labs, but that’s schoolwork, and I believe I was more into the class or the lab than into being sociable with him. I still don’t see why he said “we don’t get along” when he had only just met me and I thought we got along just fine.
Dave told all sorts of lies about me, while barely knowing me.
Anyway, Phil used his statement (“do they not know you?”) to justify what his friends said about me: party pooper, Bible beater.
(Peter said nothing to him about breaking up with me, though, because Peter only knew we broke up, not why. I don’t know when he found out or how he heard. I believe he said in late winter that he hadn’t spoken to Phil in quite a while after the way the family treated him in early 1994.)
I said these people didn’t know me so well. Also, what they supposedly said didn’t fit me at all. I didn’t go to parties with drugs, alcohol, or sex, but usually to parties with my own friends. I had a great time, so who would call me a pooper?
What did “party pooping” have to do with our relationship or anything else, anyway? Nothing! Marriage is not about partying. (For him to even think so, shows he was not ready for it.)
And he only just said that I wasn’t a Bible beater “like Pearl.” Even if I was, so what? I was a Christian, and that was what mattered. My lifestyle had kept me out of tons of trouble, and eventually, my life would be very happy because of it.
Neither of these so-called “problems” were any reason to break up with a person, and there were many people who wouldn’t consider them “problems” at all.
Phil was probably talking to one of those boring partiers who just wanted to get drunk and do harmful things all the time. I had no patience with such people, screwing up their brains instead of protecting and using them.
My response was, “Maybe you don’t know me so well after all.”
He said, “Do you really want to be with a guy who doesn’t know you?” But this is faulty reasoning. The point is to get to know a person over time, not necessarily to know them very well at the outset. How can you? It takes time.
Now I understand that this is triangulation, as I describe here, a tactic used to make you think you’re the problem and that everybody agrees. But at the time, it just came out of left field.
Phil said on the way back to Roanoke that this was the best summer of his life because he’d been with me. Then, a few days later, THE END. How could I believe anything he said to me that week?
I went through almost two weeks of trying to fight away the misery and trying to figure out whether or not we were ever really married.
Phil now said we weren’t after all, that now he wasn’t sure he even believed in marriage anymore, that he no longer thought sex was wrong if the couple loved and were committed to each other, that he was getting desperate and thought it possible he’d sleep with someone in the heat of the moment–all things that crushed me.
I heard tell, and could see for myself, that the freshman class was about as big as the three other classes put together. And now the lunch lines went all the way back to the opposite wall, then doubled up and went all the way back to the outside doors!
The line seemed to take different routes every year: Freshman year, the line would go into the Muskie. I think at times it had even gone around the other Bossard walls. I believe sometimes it would also double up over by the Muskie.
Anyway, you had to be careful what time you went to Bossard for lunch, or else you’d get stuck in this line, whatever way it went. Sometimes we would just sit down and wait for it to get smaller, because it would, eventually. And what were we waiting for? School food! Ugh! (Though it was better than public school food by far.)
I loved goatees junior year, but senior year–I don’t know, I guess too many guys were wearing them now.
Sarah, Tara, etc. used to say, “PEO-ple! It’s PEO-ple!” (That came from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, one with a tennis-shoed, orange-haired monster in a scientist’s castle.) Now Tara got us all saying, “PEEP-hole! We want a PEEP-hole!”
We wanted a peephole on our outside door for safety reasons. The door didn’t have a window, and neither did that whole wall, so we couldn’t see who was out there before opening it. When Mike came along and banged on it in his own peculiar way, we didn’t know if it was him or a crazed Zeta.
I loved the honks of the geese by the lagoon. Though they would threaten me if I went near them, I considered them my friends: Their beautiful sounds consoled me.
Sharon said the choir director complimented her on never having “S– hair.” S– hair, in those days, was big, curly hair.
Now my friends told me the many reasons why they didn’t like Phil. I always thought they just found his jokes annoying.
I didn’t realize it was the way he treated me, that he treated me like a child, that he was too controlling and possessive. A couple of years late, Cindy told me she witnessed him yelling at me, and later at the girl he married, and she hated that.
After the divorce, he said the drunk guys at the party called me possessive. In reality, I only objected when he leered at–not just looked at–or made crass jokes about other women, and when he said he wanted two additional wives.
I never acted like he couldn’t be friends with other women. It’s not “possessive” to be suspicious of someone who gives you good reason to suspect him. Apparently, he was just projecting his own trait onto me.
My friends said nothing because they thought I could see it and was okay with it. But I’d been too blinded by NVLD to notice the things my friends noticed.
I can tell you for sure that this was not just them comforting me after a breakup, like friends sometimes do, telling you all the bad things to get you over him faster. As I describe later, one of my acquaintances–not one of my close friends–told a friend at dinner one day that she needed to “warn” Persephone about Phil. I never talked to this person about Phil.
Even after I graduated and got engaged, and no longer cared who Phil dated, my friends saw a new girl date and marry Phil. They saw him do the same things with her, hated him, even tried to warn her before she married him.
It wasn’t just our opinion, either. Even Persephone later agreed that he treated his girlfriends like children. “Sure,” she said, “he’ll be respectful to a girl when she’s just his friend, but as soon as they start dating, he treats her like a child!” She said maybe it was because he considered his mother a child, and was disrespectful to her.
Dad said Phil was very unstable, and a yo-yo, always going back and forth. In their talks together, Phil often seemed “stupid.” Mom said he made too much noise at night, and that in all the time he spent with us, he never lifted a finger to help with the chores, or to pay them back for things they bought him for work.
One day, I sat in my room thinking, I’m so depressed and I think I’d like to go to church this Sunday. The phone rang. Out of the blue, Anna invited me to her church. I thought maybe she did have a “direct line to God,” as Latosha used to tell her.
The most likely date we went to the church is September 11 (back when that day had nothing bad associated with it).
Anna’s church in S– was noisy, spiritual and full of activity. I didn’t feel comfortable joining in with shouts or claps or any of that, being a Nazarene (though Dad told me once that Nazarene churches used to be a lot like that). But a Pentecostal church is the perfect place to go when you’re upset.
Rather than the preacher leading them in prayer, for a time, the congregation was encouraged to pray privately–but out loud. Anna knelt beside me and prayed in tongues.
I asked her later what the words meant, and repeated what I remembered. She said she didn’t know, but she always looked them up afterwards in a special dictionary for people who speak in tongues.
I saw my old suitemate Tom there! After the service, a man told me, “When he came to us, Tom was a messed-up Catholic!” Then Anna brought him to her church, and there he was that day–a Pentecostal and (as they called it) full of the Spirit! I couldn’t believe it. He was so different from the partying suitemate I knew freshman year.
People found out I was a Nazarene (sort of a sister church), so they kept trying to convince me to turn Pentecostal, and that their doctrine on speaking in tongues is the correct one. But they did this in a nice way, so I was more amused than annoyed.
I must admit, their stories were surprising–like young children speaking in tongues–and I was almost convinced. But not quite.
Someone gave me a new King James Bible, the church’s usual gift for newcomers.
Anna and I went to school brunch together and talked about the breakup. I asked what she thought of spiritual marriages, if they were real. Her answer surprised me: She thought they can be more real than many “legal” marriages that are just a piece of paper. But she also said we should follow the laws of the land.
Then we went down the Campus Center stairs and saw Phil in the foyer. Anna left me with him, gushing about how wonderful it was that he was there and I could talk to him.
All weekend, though a commuter, Phil hung around campus and had long talks with me. They seemed productive. Once, Phil agreed to talk to my parents on the phone; they talked him into going with me to a counselor.
Dad told us to make out lists of each other’s faults, rather than letting it be one-sided, with only Phil telling me my faults. I started work on mine, and asked Phil to work on his–though, truly, he already gave me a verbal one.
Mom told me what he said to her on the phone. He told her I was so upset because relationships and break-ups were new to me. She didn’t like this. (It also wasn’t true: I was upset over the way he treated me, and it’s only natural to be very upset over a divorce.)
Shortly before we left for school, he seemed to brag to her that he’d had seven girlfriends before, and broke up with all of them himself. (Of course, one or two of them broke up with him.) She got a weird feeling from this, that he had something in mind.
She also felt he would throw a girl away when he tired of her–confirmation that he had the abuser trait, “unceremoniously discarding.” She said, “Oh, so he was going to spend the summer here, eat our food, take our money, then take you back to school and break up with you?”
I don’t want to tell everything Phil and I talked about, just summarize a few important things. Things he said made no sense, and I didn’t deserve the treatment I got that summer.
I didn’t intend to do the same things again that I had done wrong, but he had to change, too. He had to recognize his own faults, just as I’d recognized mine.
He even blamed me for him getting a cold, though I didn’t give it to him!
He even said, “I think I’m still in love with Tracy,” even though he never loved Tracy and never even kissed her. Back in January, if he’d loved Tracy, I would have backed off. But he made it very clear that he felt no passion for her, was not attracted to her, just thought of her as a friend!
Now he was changing history and telling me he’d been in love with her? What the HECK? (See here for what really happened.)
By the way, that school year I heard Tracy got a boyfriend who did want to be with her. She would have missed out on that if she’d been with Phil.
Phil said his brother Dave and his fiancée Pearl were acting like his parents, and probably headed for a breakup. (That, though he may not have realized it, sounded like our own marriage prior to the divorce.)
To my shock, Phil had asked this same Pearl to go to dinner with him. She “got very quiet.”
So a day after our separation, my husband asked out some new girl–who, by the way, was his own brother’s fiancée?
He said, “She’s giving, like me.”
Like him? Like him, who wouldn’t do anything nice for me when I asked? Who wouldn’t give me what I wanted or needed, no matter what? Who’d give anyone a ride but me?
(I later learned that he’d been offering to drive groups to Fond du Lac to dance on the weekends.)
Who wouldn’t do foreplay when I asked, go to Sunday School with me even once, or go to the classes in that one evening service? Who wouldn’t give me the right to have valid points, valid complaints about him?
In 1995, Sharon, Pearl, Chloe and Astrid held a Christmas party in the apartment, where they all lived at the time, since they hadn’t graduated yet. I was with Cugan now.
Persephone (Phil’s girlfriend after me) came to the party. She had broken up with Phil again. I must have asked if Dave and his Pearl had gotten married yet.
“They broke up a long time ago,” she said. “You didn’t know that?”
Nope, I was totally out of the loop of the O’Hara life by then.
“Phil tried chasing after [Dave’s] Pearl for a while, but she wanted nothing to do with him. In fact, all the women have been staying away from him!”
Just goes to show you that my complaints of Phil were real, not just me trying to make myself feel better with false memories. If I were the problem and not him (as he tried so hard for so long to make me believe), then he wouldn’t have such a terrible reputation at Roanoke that nobody wanted to date him, even long after I left.
Back to September 1994. I’ve heard that women who go through a break-up usually cut their hair, but I didn’t–especially after Phil kept badgering me to cut it.
I tried to talk to Phil over the next few days about setting up a counseling appointment, and gave him my list. Sometimes he was mean, and sometimes not. He also complained about my friends giving him nasty looks.
One day, we sat by the lagoon and discussed what would happen if we did get back together: I would have to give up my own ideas of what was right or what was moral, of how a proper wife should act, and take on his ideas, which were now far more morally questionable than before.
He had no backbone for refusing harmful peer pressure, and wanted me to be fine with that, forcing me to compromise everything I believed in.
But I was desperately stupid enough now to give in. The things he wanted made me lose even more respect for him. From the outcome of this interview, it almost seemed he would consider getting back together with me sooner than the month he had mentioned before.
He also wanted me to consider sex with him without commitment.
Clarissa came over to visit. We went to my tree to tell her about Phil breaking off the “engagement.” With the new apartments over there and the trimming the builders had done, the tree was now out in the open and stripped of shoots and such. I tried to sit in the tree, but it just didn’t work.
My tree! My tree! I used to wander out there, past the lagoon and the geese, sophomore and junior years, to sit in the tree and read and get away from the difficulties and pains of life. During sophomore year, it was a release from the situations with Peter and Shawn. I really needed it then. But now, there was no tree!
Since I couldn’t sit in my tree anymore, I started wandering in the woods instead, and doing this more times in one year than I had done in the last three years put together.
Sharon pointed to her ring finger once and said, “Next time, get a ring.”
Sometime soon after the divorce, Phil told me he’d been bathing now–soap and everything–and brushing his teeth, so he could attract women. Sometimes he even shaved.
He must have wanted to insult me, because he refused to do this during our marriage. (I think my nose got immune.) He also started watching a network for televised personal ads on S–‘s Marcus Cable.
Please bear with me: We’re now entering the longest, darkest, most painful part of this tunnel. But at the end we’ll find sunshine. And hopefully, the darkness will finally be purged from my soul so I can forgive. [I wrote this paragraph in 2006.]
Tuesday, September 13. I sat with Phil, Dirk and some other people at lunch, probably so I could tell Phil the time of our counseling appointment. Dirk said with a sneer, “Here’s your list, Phil,” and handed him a small piece of yellow, lined paper.
I blanched: It was the list I gave Phil of his faults! What a betrayal! Not only that, but Phil now refused to see the counselor with me, despite agreeing to it before.
I soon learned that Dirk had been feeding him the line, “You should be able to work things out without a counselor.” This is not true, and I did not appreciate this interference and sabotage of my attempts to work things out with my own husband. And this is the guy who later said he rooted for me to get back together with Phil! Sometimes counseling is the only thing to save a relationship, and it is certainly worth a try.
So Phil now had a minion who not only believed every bit of BS Phil told him about me, but poisoned Phil’s mind against every attempt I made to save our marriage!
Note this from Myndtalk’s “Emotional Abuse”:
However, if the abused person demands that the abuser participate in counseling or else–even if the abuser agrees to the counseling, it is likely to be short lived.
The abuser will be able to benefit from counseling when the abuser believes and acknowledges that counseling is critical to recovery. Why? Until the abuser owns the behavior and his/her obligation to end the abuse, the behavior continues.
Sometimes the courts demand counseling. Sometimes the legal weight of mandated counseling does have an effect. Sometimes the awareness that a loved one will leave the relationship in one way or another will jolt the abuser into an acceptance that the behavior must stop. And sometimes not.
Over the years, I hoped that Phil’s second wife, “K,” dragged him into counseling and changed him. She seemed like a nice person; I always felt sorry for her, being trapped into a marriage with him by pregnancy. (That could’ve been me!)
Cindy heard Phil yell at K the same way he used to yell at me. From what K said to Cindy, Phil told K I was this wonderful wife who did everything he wanted (the exact opposite of what he told me about myself). (So why did he divorce me, then?)
She tried to be like this vision of me, and admired me. Cindy considered this Phil manipulating K.
I kept wondering when I’d hear of their divorce. I kept wondering when I’d hear that he hit her or the baby, or both. I kept hoping she’d recognize abuse if he continued to abuse in any way.
I kept hoping his kid wouldn’t grow up just like him and carry on the chain, which I’d always hoped would be stopped by him not having children at all. (I told Peter I hoped that Phil would become a monk so he wouldn’t have kids or advise married couples.)
In 2007, Phil and K did divorce. Phil got a disorderly conduct charge in the early 2000’s which involved a “victim impact statement” (I have no details of who or what.)
And of course, on his classmates.com profile, he posted a whole description of the divorce, where he blames her for it, saying she was “not supportive.” The same complaint he made of me later in September, as you will see.
Sharon said in 1996 or 1997 that watching him and his new fiancée K, was like watching him and me all over again, only worse because K lied about where she was when she missed Phi-Delt meetings for him.
K, who transferred to Roanoke after I graduated, became my “replacement” in my group of friends. But when my friends called her this, they had no idea she would be my “replacement” in every way.
I bet Phil hated that each of his Roanoke girlfriends was in this group, with people he hated because they saw right through him.
Pearl wrote a long letter warning K not to marry Phil, but she didn’t listen. In 1996, Persephone had finally broken up with him for the last time and told me,
“I didn’t realize how dysfunctional we were until all my friends starting throwing guys at me to date.”
But K did not have Persephone’s spunk, so she probably would not slap Phil back if he slapped her. I always hoped that she got him into counseling. After reading the above linked article, however, I began to fear for her emotional and physical safety, and for what was being taught to their children.
They had passed out of the lives of my friends and their alumni records were outdated, so I had no idea if she finally tossed him out on his abusive butt–until now. Well, I don’t know if she tossed him out, but I do know they’ve been divorced since 2007.
But back to September 1994. Phil rejected everything on my list. I was expected to take everything he said were my faults, as gospel truth, and change; yet whatever I said, was untrue and he didn’t need to change at all.
How dare I suggest that he was not perfect, that maybe he contributed quite a bit to our problems.
I heard nothing from him but defenses of even the most blatantly disrespectful things he’d done, such as passively-aggressively staying away from me after I said I needed milk and orange juice.
Instead of telling me outright that he couldn’t (or just plain refused to) make it that day, he left me waiting all day and night, wondering when he’d show up. Yet even here, it was somehow “wrong” for me to complain about his behavior.
And his offenses, enumerated for you in the past several months of this memoir, were at least as bad as, if not worse than, anything I had ever done to him: He emotionally, verbally, psychologically and sexually abused me constantly, with the threat of future physical abuse and anal rape.
He also said Dirk called the list a stupid idea.
Which it was not! My dad, my intelligent, my wise dad, suggested it. He’d been married for over 30 years and had come through the inevitable rough patches with a stronger marriage; Dirk was a kid and had never been married.
I should think Dad would know what he was talking about. This was an insult not only to me, but also to my dad. (By the way, a marriage counselor also suggested it to Joe and Rhoda on Rhoda.)
Besides that, what gave Phil the right to call the list a stupid idea? He gave me a verbal list of my faults, so I had just as much right to give him a list as well.
And I have since read advice similar to Dad’s in advice books and columns. Phil listened to Dirk way too much, and Dirk was wrong about many things. He was the classic case of a know-it-all who knows nothing.
I learned in 1998 that it’s common for abusive men to blame everything on the woman and take no blame for themselves.
If I had known this in 1994, perhaps I would have seen Phil for what he truly was, and decided to have nothing more to do with him.
As it was, in Spring Semester I termed him only “borderline abusive.” I was thinking of physical abuse, and didn’t realize a man can be abusive in other ways as well.
This is a common reason why people don’t recognize non-physical abuse. I also didn’t know that verbal and emotional abuse often lead into physical abuse.
Anyway, I went alone to what was supposed to be our first joint meeting with the counselor. She was the same counselor I saw sophomore year. I told her everything that happened. When I told her the things Dad said, she said, “He sounds very perceptive.”
That night was awful. I tried to talk to Phil about what the counselor said. I didn’t yell or scold or anything.
But he stonewalled, suddenly abandoned me for a time to talk to Dirk, treated me like a stupid witch who had nothing worthwhile to say, then treated me like I had no right to wonder when we were going to get back to our conversation. These are abuse tactics.
They sat in the foyer of the library, while I was inside the library, on the other side of the wall/windows and glass door.
So Dirk, who knew absolutely nothing about marriage, became Phil’s choice of marriage counselor. So Dirk became privy to who knew what, while I was given no chance whatsoever to tell Dirk my own side of things, and was left out of the conversation about me.
Dirk basically was put in the middle of everything, and probably fed Phil all sorts of bullcrap.
But I wasn’t even supposed to wonder how long this conversation was going to keep us from our own conversation, because when I went to the windows/door and looked at them, he made a gesture toward me as if to say to Dirk, “See what I mean?”
What on earth he meant by that, I had no clue, because I’d been left waiting by myself for quite a long time already, and this was extremely rude of Phil.
Earlier, he had given me every reason to believe that reconciliation was possible. But now, after talking with Dirk, he suddenly said we couldn’t even be friends. It is interference like this that led to me loathing Dirk, so much so that 20 years later, I still won’t even friend him on Facebook.
This stunned me. I can’t remember why he said this. I doubt that I knew then what changed the course of the conversation, because he only communicated through yelling and stonewalling.
But now as I look back over this, I’m certain it was Dirk’s doing. I don’t know why on earth Dirk was so determined to split us up, since he did not want me for himself. Unless, of course, Dirk was actually Phil’s pawn, manipulated into believing that I was the abuser instead of Phil.
I have every reason to believe this is why. Abusers recruit others to help with the abuse, by making them believe that the victim is the abuser. This is called control by proxy.
When I first made notes of this argument a couple of years later for my memoir, I wrote that Phil probably either overreacted–or was only acting. He’d done a lot of acting those few days, as he told me a few days after this event–and as I realized when I contrasted his words to his actions.
All I could do was leave him and not talk to him again.
I didn’t realize yet that his actions proved he had never loved me, no matter what he told me before or his insistence that he still loved me. When you truly love someone, you don’t treat her this way.
In 1996 or 1997, as I worked with Cugan’s friend Laura on ideas for my wedding dress, she told me she knew Phil. He used to come into the gaming shop where she was a clerk, and buy dice and other Dungeons and Dragons items. She knew that Phil had to marry his girlfriend. And that shop was in M–, not S–! Small state, eh?
He used to go there with his high school friends, with whom he kept in touch after high school. Laura told me they were upset with him over something, and that he’d been ostracized for it, but she didn’t know what the thing was. I always wondered if they finally saw how he treated his women.
Laura used to think he was a nice guy, but she had been an abused wife herself, and stopped liking him as soon as I told her he was “borderline abusive.”
I’ll say this as well, in case any of you finds yourself in a similar situation. I have heard and read other stories of emotional abuse. In one, the guy made a date with another woman while lying in bed with his girlfriend, and then told his girlfriend she deserved that.
Many times, an abuser will hit his wife because she did something he thought she shouldn’t have done. She will then start to believe she deserved what she got. Don’t let yourself get into this trap.
In the following months, my friend Helene said, “It sounds like he’s trying to control you even after the relationship is over.”
Did he break up with me because he couldn’t control me? (Sort of like in the song “Control” by Puddle of Mudd: “I can’t control you/ You’re not the one for me, no.” Or in “Special” by Garbage: “I have run you down into the ground/ Spread disease about you over town/ I used to adore you/ I couldn’t control you.”
Also, in a letter to the editor in the 9/28/98 edition of US News and World Report, speaking of the Clinton/Lewinsky/Starr scandal and Hillary’s insistence on standing by her adulterous husband, a reader wrote, “Even women battered and bloodied will defend their abusers.” A typical response of an abused woman is, “He was right and I was wrong. I deserved what I got.”
In one way I was typical, in that I didn’t see the abuse for what it was. In another I wasn’t, in that I refused to say I deserved what I got and that Phil was right to treat me the way he did. This refusal to be a victim, to just sit back and take it, to act like a victim, may be a subconscious reason why Phil left me–which was actually a mercy.
Of course, some people might say I did sit back and take it like a victim, because I didn’t just tell him to leave. But it’s common for abused women to say, as I did, that I loved him and didn’t want to leave. After all the trouble I had finding a Christian man at a Christian college, and one who actually wanted to be with me, where else would I find one, especially one I had so much in common with?
Also, during the summer, even when I felt like telling Phil, “Go back to Wisconsin,” I didn’t because we were married. I saw marriage as a lifelong commitment that was not to be broken lightly.
This may be why he married the new girl, who had been abused by a boyfriend before. (We see the common trend of a woman subconsciously seeking out abusers, and finding them. Cindy said she probably thought Phil wasn’t abusive because he didn’t seem as bad as the previous abuser.)
Years later, April 9 and 10, 1998, what can I say? That he treated me like the bad guy when, all along, he was the bad guy. He was emotionally abusive, and didn’t listen to a word I said, didn’t treat my feelings or ideas or words like they were worth his attention or care.
He’d said he’d be my husband, said we were meant for each other, even said he was my husband–yet had no respect for his commitment, or for me. All he cared about was himself. Just before the breakup, he told his friends that he still loved me–but he didn’t show it.
He also didn’t talk to me about whether or not a breakup was necessary, or even try to work out the misunderstanding of the night before the breakup, but to other people. And then told me after he had already decided, all by himself.
(When did he talk to them? There wasn’t much time in between Thursday night and Friday afternoon. And how long did he take to process the things they said? Did he even give himself enough time?)
He talked with my parents on the phone, at their request, but didn’t listen to them; he didn’t even want to go to a counselor for help. It was all what he wanted, and he didn’t listen to any of my suggestions for what we could do to fix things.
He seemed to think I was the problem, but was too blind to see that very similar things would happen all over again with other girlfriends. He refused to see his own failings, while I was willing to see mine.
But when you look at why I did them–because he was so hard to deal with and I didn’t know how else to get through to him, and he was so irresponsible that I was forced to nag at him for things–you can easily see they were tiny compared to his own failings. (It’s called catching fleas from your abuser.)
Being forced to act like a mother and make a guy get up in time to go to his own job, being forced to nag at him until he gets his brakes fixed because this is the last day he’ll have a chance (before you go on a long road trip back to campus) and he just wants to be a slugabed–
These are nothing compared to the sin of emotional abuse, sexual abuse by forcing someone to do unnatural acts, and the threat of physical abuse if he finally decided to carry out his threats to hit.
He threatened me once or twice with physical violence (I have described at least one such instance to you), and really did slap Persephone while they were together. (She slapped him right back, and he never did it to her again.)
And my second husband, Cugan, considers some of the sexual abuse to be physical as well, because after all, it took physical force to do the things he did.
Phil said he was a better person when not around me–a convenient phrase taken from Mrs. Doubtfire–but this was not true. He was no better with Persephone, as I describe later.
Sharon said in 1996 or 1997, that watching him and his new girlfriend was like watching him and me all over again, only worse because she would lie about where she was when she missed Phi-Delt meetings for him.
Cindy heard him yelling at her the way he used to yell at me, and she was not happy with him at all. When the new girlfriend got pregnant, Pearl tried to warn her not to marry him; she didn’t listen. And in 2007, they divorced.
At a Christmas party at Sharon’s house in 1997, my friends, not me, brought up the subject of Phil, soon after somebody said they saw Dave working at Dunham’s Sporting Goods. Pearl said with a laugh that Phil and his new wife’s kid should be taken away by the SPCC, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
My friends told me he treated me like a child, and that’s one reason why they no longer liked him soon after we started dating–besides the fact that they considered him annoying.
But back to September 1994. When you’ve been married to and living with someone all summer and they suddenly cut off all contact with you, even though they’ve been abusing you, you feel like a part of you is lost.
Wednesday, September 14. On one of these early days of the week, Helene came to the library and saw me. That’s probably when I told her about the breakup, while updating the card catalog.
She said she had been engaged three times since her husband died in a plane crash, and each engagement had been broken. She was numb for the first few days afterward.
I felt similar, and could barely get through my shifts at the library. Time was molasses, so slow I could hardly bear it. Everything I did at the library, including updating the card catalog, made me restless.
I confided in Helene, called her on the phone once, and often sat with her at lunch during the next several months. I talked about my feelings and got her advice; we discussed a book she lent me about dealing with a divorce.
For both of us, a favorite part of the book described a counselor’s experience in his support group for divorcees. One woman saw her ex-husband having a picnic with a new girlfriend. She ran her vehicle over them. The people in the group said, “Ooh! Did she back up and run over them again?”
While I confided in Helene, Phil confided in her best friend Kay. He seemed to think of her as a sister.
I think it was Helene, or maybe Anna, who first said Phil seemed like good marriage material, but needed to grow up. But later on, Helene said his turning to Persephone confirmed her worst fears about him, that he would go on to somebody else right away rather than trying to work out problems.
I told her how Phil treated me during the marriage; she liked him less every time I talked to her about him.
I spent most of my time with my friends or working or in class or eating or alone in the apartment, trying to do homework and deal with things and get on with life.
As much as possible, I wanted to go on with my daily life without grief interfering. I lost very little, if any, sleep, and kept eating properly. I dealt with things much better than when Peter broke up with me.
And after what Phil said on Tuesday night, I kept my distance from him. No, I was never the stalker-type; if somebody told me to stop talking to them, I stopped.
I had been trying the past couple of days to get to Career Services, but they were closed each time I could make it. The problem was finding a time when they were open that fit with my schedule.
I was thinking of finding a job in S– so I could stay around there, which I used to think I would do anyway, unless Phil and I went to live with my parents after the wedding.
Anyway, since this was right after the split and it still seemed possible that he would cool off and call off the divorce, it made sense to make sure I could stay in the area until then.
And it was also to stay near my friends. I didn’t have many left in South Bend that I was still in touch with, but I had a bunch around S–. I mention this for a reason that will soon become clear.
Wednesday evening I went to the library to take care of some class business, and Dirk was there, working. He said he had a few things to discuss with me, if I wanted to talk to him. I agreed.
He asked another student worker to cover for him while he took me into the adjoining room, the one with reference books and oversized books. We sat on one of the couches by the oversized books, and talked. This spot seemed too public, so I hoped our voices were low enough to not be overheard.
We talked about all sorts of things. I could tell that Phil fed him all sorts of untrue things about me. He gave me advice I did not need; told me to do things I was already doing, chewed me out for things I supposedly did or didn’t do.
He knew everything about relationships, me, and Phil. He knew the real reason for the secret marriage (which he didn’t tell me). He knew Phil was upset about particular things, and why, though I did not. He knew how I could get Phil back.
He would tell Phil if I responded appropriately to this lecture. Red flag warning!
He knew how a girl should act to get men (apparently, my dressing in attractive but modest clothes wasn’t enough to “dress to impress,” even though a Christian woman should not be “showing her wares,” so to speak). He knew that I–Well, let’s just quote him:
“You’re the only girl I’ve ever thought I needed to tell this to,” he said, “but here goes: You’ll probably end up an old maid.” (Yeah, tell that to my husband and child.)
He knew everything about the Bible and what it really said about sex; if he were wrong, he’d be struck down for the things he’d done.
He knew that I should convert to Catholicism if I wanted to marry Phil–even though I would have ended up one of those reluctant, “bad” Catholics who don’t really believe it.
He apparently didn’t know that there are ways for Catholics to marry non-Catholics so that even the Catholic church recognizes it, even without a Catholic ceremony or Mass.
Such weddings can be blessed by a priest, even if not officiated by one. It sounds like Phil did not even bother looking into these alternatives, which is a shame, because they could have settled everything to the satisfaction of him and me.
Note how Dirk tried to shame me into abandoning my own beliefs and switching to Catholicism. Red flag warning!
Unfortunately, Dirk was just like Shawn, and could talk you into believing anything he said. Then later on, after talking to friends or contemplating, you’d realize, “He doesn’t know anything about me/the situation/reality!”
For one thing, it’s impossible to be an old maid when you’ve already been married. For another, without adopting any of his suggestions of how to get men, but by being myself, I got three more boyfriends that year, and married one of them.
He told me that Phil thought my friends wouldn’t let him sit down when we were watching My So-Called Life, just because they gave him the only seat left, a cushioned milk crate we often sat on.
But that wasn’t all. The time he came over after playing D&D with Dirk and his new girlfriend, and we were playing Spoons, Phil said he didn’t feel welcome, and no one let him sit down. Both times, I didn’t defend him.
Well, I said, I didn’t know I needed to–I saw no such thing! (Shows how much Phil communicated with me!) So now Dirk thought I was horrible, over something that didn’t even actually happen, that wasn’t even true.
And if Phil was so offended by something I had no clue about, why didn’t he speak up about it to my friends, instead of putting it all on my shoulders? Am I his attack dog now, too?
Dirk chewed me out for telling Phil about my crush on Mike. Apparently, Phil didn’t tell Dirk his rule that we confide in each other about attractions to others, or that Phil found it totally appropriate to tell me every girl he lusted after.
Apparently, what was good for the gander was verboten for the goose. How dare I be attracted to a sweet, non-abusive guy after a summer of abuse, and how dare I mention it after my husband’s been repeatedly telling me I’m not enough for him.
Dirk also seemed to think I didn’t know what love is or what it means, and said I needed to learn that. He asked, did I ever do anything romantic, like a candlelight dinner?–
While I thought, wait a minute, why in the heck is he telling me these things???? Why should he ask such a thing?
I stay faithful despite everything, and Phil leaves me without trying to work things out, yet Dirk says I don’t know the meaning of love? If that were the case, then why did I stick by men until they left me, instead of leaving them first?
And who ever said I was not romantic? I loved romance, and I liked special moments to be special however they could be.
I didn’t do candlelight dinners because I didn’t cook and I didn’t have any candles, and it wasn’t like we ever had the chance to anyway. There was no place in the dorms, where they were verboten, and we lived with our parents.
That didn’t mean I didn’t make up for it in other ways. Candlelight dinners are not the only romantic thing you can do.
I am a romantic soul, the one who writes about passionate love between aliens and time-travelers and such, and between humans and vampires. I fell in love so easily with the people I dated, and longed for romance. I didn’t/don’t know where Dirk even got the idea that I might be lacking in love or romance.
Phil abuses me in various ways all summer, fights everything I need or want, cuts me down constantly, even sexually assaults me because he refuses to respect my wishes that sex not involve excruciating pain, but I don’t know anything about what love is or what it means?
I don’t know what Phil had been telling him, but obviously it was a whole pack of lies. Phil had his brain so screwed over that Dirk thought he knew everything about me and what happened, but he knew absolutely nothing.
I could tell Phil didn’t listen to me, but Dirk listened to him. Dirk was a pawn in Phil’s Control by Proxy. Nowadays, he’d be called a Flying Monkey or a sycophant. I never had a thing to do with him after September.
For example, when Phil broke up with me, he kept saying, “You say you want to be a housewife,” as if that were a fault, as if I refused to ever work outside the home.
I’d tell him that’s not what I said, but he kept harping on it. Over the summer, I told him again and again that I wanted to be a housewife so I could have time for my writing, because I saw writing as my life, not any other career.
But I said again and again that after we got publicly married and moved out on our own, I’d do my share to bring in money until he got his acting break–even work in a factory if I had to.
But my wish was to one day retire from this and write full-time–once we could afford it. I also felt it was best to stay at home with our future children.
I never said I’d refuse to work no matter what. I just said I preferred a traditional role so I would have time to work on my writing career.
Now, Dirk started harping on my wanting to be a housewife. Phil must have ignored everything I ever said on the subject, and told Dirk I was not willing to contribute financially. Here’s the gist of what Dirk said:
“You should have plans for something to do with your life. You’re smart. You can do something, make something of yourself. Look at Margaret Thatcher–she’s a prime minister! Just because you’re a woman don’t think you can’t do anything important. Find a career goal.”
What I wish I would’ve said to Dirk: “I do have a career goal: I want to publish novels, as I told Phil many times. It takes brains to do that, and it’s important.
“And what the heck ever gave you the idea that I thought women could do nothing important? Do you think I could be born in the 1970s and grow up in the 1980s thinking that women were fit only to look pretty in the drawing room?
“And what’s so unimportant about raising children and running a household? Just tell a stay-at-home mother of three kids that she’s lazy, she’s not contributing and her work is meaningless–and see what happens.
“Once upon a time, women were expected to be housewives; now that the pendulum has swung the other way, women are often expected to go out and get a job along with taking care of the house, and derided if they want a traditional role.”
I have to wonder if Dirk knew that Phil treated me like a disobedient servant, not a wife, a throwback to the days when men thought women couldn’t handle intellectual pursuits.
Just so you know I meant what I told Phil:
After college, I got a full-time job in insurance. I worked for a couple of years, became a homemaker for a year after being downsized, then worked again part-time for four years to pay off some debts. Then I became a stay-at-home mother.
Just what I said I would do, and all perfectly acceptable. Despite how he and Dirk both scorned it, I’m living the dream, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
This article by Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Orthodox woman who used to be a feminist Episcopalian, describes how feminism–while certainly making good changes, such as the vote for women and more natural standards of beauty–also made some very bad changes. One was the idea that women should find careers more important than staying at home, that “staying home and raising kids was mindless drudgery,” that “housewives were dumb.”
There’s nothing wrong with mothers working. But the choice of a housewife should be respected, not derided. Housewives with children are very busy, and have to use their brains all day long; calling them lazy is ludicrous, as is saying that a housewife is wasting her brain. These jobs would have to be done by somebody, even if the wife didn’t do them.
And I certainly don’t waste my brain when I do finances, make out a menu, or act as the tech support for my household, since I understand computers much better than my engineer husband does.
But back to September 1994. Though ticked and confused, instead of what I should have said, I said, “Tomorrow I’ll go to Career Services.” (You’ll note I’d been trying to go there already anyway.) He said that was good, and he would tell Phil that.
I should have told him off. Of course, I don’t remember what else I said. I might have set him straight, or tried to.
Right after I said I’d go to Career Services, I said that the next day I would also talk to Pearl about what he said about InterVarsity. He was pleased with that as well, and said he’d tell Phil about that.
So you see, he got me under a bit of a spell, controlling my mind, getting me to think he was right even when his words made no sense and had no connection to reality.
Here’s what he said about InterVarsity. This is where it really got ridiculous–and threatening:
Dirk said that after the “stink” over the play last year, InterVarsity had really given itself a bad image on campus.
(Never mind the fact that we didn’t do it to ourselves. It was forced on us by others and by public opinion and rumor.)
There were a few other things, too. Supposedly new people did not feel welcome. Supposedly we were cliquish, though I don’t know where that came from.
But this was lie and rumor started by I have no clue who: Almost nobody but us ever came to the meetings to begin with! When somebody did show up once in a blue moon, they were lavished with welcome because we wanted the group to grow. We were also friends outside of the group, same as any other group of friends on campus.
Plus there was the way IV people treated Phil, and since Phil was his friend–and he was a very loyal friend–he hated IV for that. An enemy of Phil’s was an enemy of his as well.
He gave IV a month to shape up, or else he’d go to the school president and tell him what we were really like, and we’d be banned from the campus. The president would be surprised because IV was his darling.
But Dirk said I was not to tell Pearl who told me this, or he’d be my enemy as well: He was a powerful foe, as well as a powerful friend.
He said I should distance myself from IV, one reason being that “our friends are reflections of ourselves.”
But how could I do such a thing?
They had not treated Phil badly at all; it was all Phil’s imagination–or deliberate lying. What they objected to was how he treated me, which is a perfectly legitimate reason not to like someone.
They were my dear friends (and three were my roommies now), with me long before Phil ever was, and IV was my church when I couldn’t get into town.
I’d been called one of the “core” members, and I didn’t think IV or the people in it were bad at all.
They had been there for me and stuck up for me during the troubles with Peter and Shawn.
My friends supported me now and tried to help me out now that Phil had dissed me; why would I be ungrateful and walk away?
And how on earth were these good people a bad reflection on me?
Hmmm….What does it reflect on Phil to have a friend like Dirk?
I now see that this was actually Phil’s latest attempt, through Dirk his proxy, to separate me from my friends, fitting the question,
“Does your partner isolate you from friends, family or groups?…Or you may have been asked (or told) to reduce or stop contact with specific supportive people in your life“ (Lilac Lane, Symptoms of Emotional Abuse).
Phil’s actions since the separation/divorce, from unpredictability (one day he’d be nice, the next he’d be rude), to irrationality (suddenly telling me we couldn’t be friends), fit the “Unpredictability and Uncertainty” section here.
The depths of deception and lies coming from Dirk were staggering. All that hate he carried toward innocent people, over things which never happened! Where on earth did it even come from?
It must have been Phil, lying and manipulating his Flying Monkey into swooping in and manipulating me as well.
There were other things, too, which showed the black hole of manipulation into which Phil had put him: Ridiculous, baffling things with no anchor in reality whatsoever. Insults to my character, overblown reactions, accusations that I did things that I never did, recommendations to Phil which were absolutely ridiculous.
Obviously Phil had painted me to Dirk as some kind of psycho abusive witch who deserved nothing but scolding, nastiness, even legal action. Phil had put him into the rabbit-hole, and tried to use him as a pawn to get me down into the rabbit-hole, too.
It was a massive gaslighting scheme, meant to strike fear into me, and finally break me into a submissive puppet who would do anything Phil wanted.
Who would let him screw me up the backside even if I screamed in pain and couldn’t go to the bathroom for weeks.
Who would perform oral sex on him no matter how disgusted I was, and no matter if he had not bathed in two months.
Who would say nothing to him but “yessir.”
Who would let him go on and on about all the girls he wanted to screw, and say nothing in protest.
Who would somehow see my friends dissing him even when they were not, stand up to them for something they weren’t even doing, and cut them out of my life–
–allowing in only people like Dirk, whom he approved because he listened to everything Phil said and could be used to control me.
Dirk decided he needed to lecture me, and give me pointers on how to get a man, or I’d end up an old maid:
1) Learn to compromise.
(Which was odd, because I compromised as much as I could without endangering my principles. I liked to keep peace. Phil was the one who needed to learn to compromise, because he constantly refused to do anything I wanted or needed, while insisting that I do what he wanted no matter how degrading, disgusting or painful. What a mindscrew Phil did on Dirk!)
2) Dress to impress. Wear red, since that’s Phil’s favorite color. Wear great clothes.
(But then, I did that already, so I have no idea why he said I didn’t. I mean, I wore nice clothes, vests, even clothes that showed off my figure when I was feeling particularly daring–like that black knit vest. Two people complimented me on how nicely I always dressed, and Anna once said I looked dressed-up, a compliment to my sense of style.)
3) Go to more parties. Even frat parties. The kind I hate because they’re full of weed and alcohol. But he said guys wouldn’t find me unless I did this.
(I wouldn’t have liked those guys, anyway! The guys I wanted, would go to church picnics, NOT cruise parties for easy lays or sit around smoking weed with the Zetas.)
I want to make an impression my last year, don’t I? instead of being forgotten? Basically, go out with a bang instead of quietly passing, which he feared I would do.
(Though on afterthought, I’m not so sure I’m forgettable among the people who have known me, and I didn’t know or care much about the freshmen anyway. What business was it of his if I was a serious student and introvert, and didn’t like stupid, noisy, wild parties?)
4) Positive outlook. This one doesn’t need too much explanation.
(I’m not sure why he even said this. It had nothing to do with me.)
Dirk asked me, “Don’t you ever look at a guy and wonder what he’s like in bed?”
“No,” I said.
“Come on–everybody does–it’s not a man or woman thing, it’s a human thing to look around and wonder this!”
But I insisted that no, I didn’t. I was shocked at him. I was a Christian, and not supposed to be looking around and lusting after the guys I saw. So I didn’t.
Maybe what he said is a “human” thing is really a “young man” thing–or, rather, a worldly thing, and not fit for Christians to participate in, male or female. So now he was trying to tell me my moral views were wrong.
One more thing: Dirk said he knew about the spiritual marriage. I just wished he hadn’t said so in the library–there were other people in that room!
And he said I really didn’t know what was going on in Phil’s head when he agreed to it. He said Phil did it because it was so important to me.
But one must ask the question: If it was all an act, as Dirk seemed to claim, wouldn’t that make it the cruelest joke Phil could ever play on me?
That means he spent all summer telling me we were truly married whenever I doubted it, I bought into it, and lost my virginity to him under what were false pretenses!
Persephone later told me that at the time he thought he would marry me.
Though I don’t know who got the truth, and who got the lie, because Phil himself admitted to manipulating people during this time, letting them believe things that were not true. More on this later.
After Dirk went back behind the circulation desk, he asked me if Phil was any “good.” I didn’t want to tell him right there in the library, but he said I should be more open about such things. So I smiled and nodded.
Actually, there’s no “should”: If I don’t feel comfortable talking about sex in public, that’s my right. I should have remembered this and refused to answer his question.
Geez, Dirk was so frickin’ slimy, such a know-it-all, such a sycophant, such a tool.
He’s probably a narcissist himself, because he was able to “hypnotize” me into this trance where I bought into the crap he spewed, but later my friends snapped me out of it again.
After this I could not stand the guy, wanted nothing to do with him.
I heard he later married a nice girl, and that this disappointed Sandy, who dated him during this school year.
I could not understand why either one wanted him that much. He was, after all, unattractive, nerdy, obnoxious and slimy.
I’m not a nerd-hater and don’t mind plain features, but personality plays a large part in whether I like somebody.
So in his case, it all added up to a big WHY? What did the pretty girls see in him? If he were nice and sweet, I would see it. But no, he was obnoxious, a know-it-all, and probably a narcissist himself.
I see my old InterVarsity friends, friend him on Facebook, and I wonder WHY would they want to? If he hated them so much, thought they were so awful, then why did he friend them?
I even got a friend request from Dave and accepted it, but when I see Dirk’s name, I feel a big, fat NO. Dirk has not offered to friend me, but if he does, I might just block him in response.
But back to September 14. Late that night or the next, I spoke with Pearl about IV, as I promised Dirk. I didn’t tell her who said these things, but she guessed all by herself.
She was too shrewd not to, since she recognized his style. But I didn’t tell her if she was right or not, because I didn’t want to get in trouble with Dirk.
His ludicrous threats struck fear into me, when I should have laughed them off. I also told her what he said about Phil.
Dirk’s comments about IV angered her. She said, “He’s never come to more than one or two meetings anyway, and we always invite him to things but he never comes, so who is he to call us unfriendly or cliquish?”
Besides, we were all friends anyway, so why shouldn’t we do things together as friends outside of IV? We tried to welcome anyone who came to IV or wanted to sit with us at meals.
And, as I’ve seen in the years since, being considered “unwelcoming” is a problem common to all sorts of groups and churches, not just IV.
As for Phil, IV as a group was not ostracizing him. Certain people in the group just plain didn’t like him. It had nothing to do with IV or him being Catholic or any of that, things which Phil told Dirk were the reason. It was because of his annoying personality and the awful way he treated me.
Phil had tried more subtle means before of separating me from them–such as getting upset when I wanted to sit with my friends after dinner, and badmouthing them to me, telling me they hated him because he was Catholic–but now he was using Dirk to isolate me from them far more blatantly.
Dirk probably had no idea he was being used as Phil’s proxy, because Phil was feeding him all sorts of untruths about me, our relationship, and my friends/InterVarsity.
But I had friends not in InterVarsity who also hated him:
Why would Catherine hate him for being Catholic, for example? Cindy was not in InterVarsity, was Catholic herself, and hated him.
And I had friends in InterVarsity who were not Evangelical or Fundamentalist. Mike, Clarissa and Astrid were in the UCC, a very liberal church; why would they hate Phil for being Catholic?
Most of the people in InterVarsity, in fact, were not in churches which saw Catholics as somehow “not Christian” or the “enemy.”
Now Charles was both Catholic and in InterVarsity, and Persephone also, a Methodist and a liberal, had joined InterVarsity. So it was not closed off to Catholics or full of Catholic-haters.
Religion had absolutely nothing to do with Catherine, Sharon, Pearl, probably Tara, probably Mike, and others hating Phil. Tara was not even religious, though later she became Catholic.
It had everything to do with how he treated me, so that made them a threat, people he needed to isolate me from. Meanwhile, I didn’t much like Dirk, but Phil would be perfectly fine with me being friends with him.
Dirk told me how depressed Phil was, how desolate he felt, that he came to Dirk’s apartment recently (probably the night of the 13th) and said he had no friends. Everyone in the apartment tried to convince him otherwise.
So I pulled Mike into my room on what was probably the 15th and asked him to be a friend to Phil. I still loved him, you see. How could I just stop? I didn’t like to hear that he was desolate.
However, he sure didn’t sound depressed or desolate when he controlled the conversation with me that night, telling me we couldn’t be friends. And as I will describe later in the chapter, Phil told me this was actually a con he played on Dirk and the others.
I don’t think I told Mike a whole lot about what had happened, so I think he knew things from my roommates and from his own observations. He said he would be Phil’s friend, and he also said,
“If Phil doesn’t like you the way you are, if he doesn’t think you’re good enough for him, you should just say, ‘Screw you.’ We like you, and you’re good enough for us.”
His support meant much to me, though I couldn’t (yet) imagine saying “screw you” to Phil.
During the day on Thursday, September 15, still under some of Dirk’s trance, I asked Sharon if she knew of any parties around campus. She said she didn’t know and she didn’t care: She didn’t like the parties people had around there, nothing but drinking and drugs (marijuana) and loud music.
She shocked me back into reality, and then it hit me–Why did I even want to go to one, just because Dirk told me to? Sharon and I had similar opinions about such parties: that they were worthless, and you could meet people and have fun in other ways.
I didn’t know how I could have listened to Dirk about this. He was like Shawn, somehow weaving a web on me so I listened to whatever he said, but then I’d get away from him and with my own friends again, and realize he was full of crap.
My future “friend” Richard could do the same thing. Why was I so susceptible?
Then I saw Clarissa, and told her Dirk was like Shawn: He could talk me into believing whatever he said, no matter how wrong it was. I said, “I can’t believe I fell for it again!”
Clarissa also noticed that about Shawn. He talked her into thinking she should pledge Phi-Delts to make friends. She didn’t know why she’d listened to him, especially after seeing what happened to me when I pledged.
As for what Dirk said–Telling me to change myself. To “learn to compromise” when Phil was the controlling one who never would be reasonable and absolutely refused whatever I wanted, while insisting I do whatever he wanted, no matter how painful, gross or degrading.
And all the other stuff Dirk said, a ventriloquist doll for Phil. I had to keep a tighter rein on what I let myself listen to and believe.
By the way, all of these people are still my friends. We chat on Facebook, meet up every now and then, and I have grown closer to them through e-mail than I even was before. Before Facebook, we often shared group e-mails.
Mike has helped me through some difficult times, such as the trauma from abusive ex-friends Richard and Tracy, and opened my mind on religious and other issues.
He even advised me to report Richard and Tracy to CPS. Sharon also advised me to report Richard and Tracy to CPS, when I did not know whether or not the state would consider them abusive.
Pearl disappeared for a while, but has finally come back. I see Catherine every now and then as well. If I had done as Phil wanted, I would have missed out on all this.
My mom said Dirk’s opinions were bullsh**. Gee, Mom, don’t hold back! 😉
Also, the support of my friends and family, and an hour-long prayer with Pearl the night before, caused me to write in my diary that the 17th was a good day, that I was cheerful and enjoyed the day.
Sometime soon after the breakup, Phil told me he’d been bathing now–actually bathing, soap and everything–and brushing his teeth, so he could attract women. He even shaved sometimes as well.
I don’t know why he told me this, but it was insulting. So, he wouldn’t bathe more than once every two months for his own wife, but he’d bathe daily for complete strangers?
And he’d even been watching a dating network on S–’s Marcus Cable. He just breaks up with me, and the bed’s not even cold before he starts looking around for another girlfriend! Man, what a loser.
Before September 19, and probably around the 14th, Pearl told me about a journal that she and some others were going to start. I asked to be a part of it. It was going to pass from one hand to another, with each person writing a little something in it. It would be me, Pearl, Sharon, Tara, Mike and Astrid.
While Carol was still at Roanoke, she and Pearl did this with each other. When they wrote in it often, they got along just fine; when they neglected it, their relationship suffered. We carried on this journal for maybe 16 years using group e-mails and a Yahoo group, before Facebook made it moot.
Friday, September 16. It was odd to eat breakfast each morning at the dining table, because since late sophomore or early junior year, I didn’t get up for breakfast at all.
Junior year, my only breakfast was a handful of M&M’s from a big bag, which got me through the few hours before lunch. Of course, after a while they seemed to do odd things to my stomach, so I figured they’d gone bad and stopped eating them. I may have then started eating dry cereal from those little individual-serving boxes.
I loved eating breakfast from our own little kitchen on our own big dining table. I also washed my dishes each late morning or early afternoon, depending on when I had free time, since I only had one set and needed to use it each morning.
However, as I did I felt restless, alone, like a part of me was gone and I was waiting impatiently for its return. I think that usually, no one else would be in the apartment at that time.
At 11am on the 16th, I went to see Counselor Dude about my Senior Writing Project. This project was required for Writing majors to graduate. I told him I’d decided to work on Jerisland, the desert island novel I’d been writing and revising since 1988 (and periodically mention here), and I said,
“I’d better warn you that it’s a Christian novel!”–since, after all, his atheist beliefs were well-known.
“That’s OK,” he said, probably not too surprised–it was me, after all. “I’ve read Christian novels before.”
On possibly Saturday the 17th or the previous Saturday, Anna invited me into her suite room after dinner. It was homey to be in a suite again, if only for a few hours. We had a long talk, and I discovered, in some amusing incident with a fly in the room, that I could joke and even belly-laugh. We both noticed I was taking this much better than the time Peter broke up with me.
In fact, I might wake up in the middle of the night and feel despair and/or a restlessness, a sense that time was oppressive and I had too long to wait before Phil came back to me. But it didn’t make me lie awake all night. I could get a decent night’s sleep each night, even the Friday night after the breakup, instead of just lying there waiting for morning to come (as with the breakup with Peter).
Over the next few months as I read through the biblical book of Job, I felt the loss, the wondering why, practically everything Job went through. Job asked for a trial, him against God; I wanted a trial against Phil that vindicated me against Phil’s actions, claims and complaints. The ending of Job gave me some hope for the future, though I didn’t yet know what it would mean for me to be given back more than had been taken away.
Monday, September 19. I wrote in my diary that I’d just had a long talk with Phil, and things weren’t as bad as Dirk made them seem. He had the wrong idea about the situation.
Not only did Dirk have the wrong idea, Phil said he could act in front of Dirk and control what Dirk thought of things, what he thought was going on, how he thought Phil reacted and felt.
Even when Dirk said Phil was so depressed one night that he felt he had no friends, and everyone in Dirk’s apartment tried to tell him this wasn’t true–IT WAS AN ACT! Phil said, “I’m that good of an actor.”
Why would he manipulate his own friend like that? Unfortunately, this question did not come to mind. I was so much in love and grieving that I missed this huge red flag, that Phil was playing us all like chess pieces: Dirk, Persephone, the people in Dirk’s apartment, even me.
But now, Phil revealed that he wasn’t nearly as angry as I had been led to believe. Phil’s manipulation of Dirk caused Dirk to suggest he get a restraining order, but Phil said that was ridiculous.
Dirk, however, had been so controlled by Phil’s great act that he told me (probably as a scare tactic) that Phil was thinking of getting such an order (which Mom called the most ridiculous thing she’d ever heard). Phil reassured me now that he had no such intention.
So from Phil’s own lips, I got confirmation that Dirk was a pawn used for Phil’s Control by Proxy. This explains why Dirk would get such a daffy idea as a restraining order on a harmless person who would never think of stalking or harming anyone.
This is a tactic used by abusers and narcissists, controlling their prey using third parties, as you can read if you click on the above link.
Not only that, but months before, Phil admitted he was spoiled like his nephew Taylor at about age four. He recalled wanting a certain book, and manipulating his mother by throwing a tantrum until she got it for him. So he started this behavior early.
In my diary entry, I mentioned Phil was in the fall play. He got a part in Measure for Measure. He said the theater director chose Shakespeare plays this year to avoid the controversy of the previous year.
He said a relationship with him right then would be hell anyway because he’d have no time for me: the play, work, school, pledging Zetas, etc.
(Though that didn’t stop him from starting one with Persephone a couple of weeks later. That’s the second time a guy gave me the “I won’t have time for you” line. It proves that if you want something, you’ll make time for it.)
My leaving him alone completely after he told me to, probably influenced what he said now (and made an RO especially ridiculous).
Phil agreed that we could be friends and write letters to each other, so one day I wrote him a nice, friendly letter. He came to talk to me about it in the laundry room.
He said that even though we weren’t “engaged” (as he now called it, rather than “married”) anymore, I was still one of his potential “buyers,” and we could go on dates.
On Tuesday, he said we could only be acquaintances and I had no more chances; now, he reversed that, and began saying again, “Keep the faith.” He said, “I’m tempted to kiss you, but I won’t because it wouldn’t be fair to you.”
The outcome of the laundry room conversation was so wonderful and comforting and encouraging that it made me happy for a time. I felt Phil and I were now friends, despite everything, and told Dad about it. I told Dad why Phil wouldn’t kiss me, and that it was so noble, honorable, of him.
So far, it seemed that this breakup was much better than the one with Peter, not just because of how I took it, but because of how Phil acted.
Sharon said if Phil never came to see me in the library again, the librarians wouldn’t be sad: When he hung around the circulation desk when I worked, not only did he make it hard for me to do my homework, but he scared people away from the desk and annoyed everyone.
I tried to keep him from drinking his Big Slam Mountain Dew bottles in the library, and Seymour complained about it to him. He kept trying to get around this, drinking over by the chair under the window near the door to the lobby, saying it wasn’t actually “in” the library. But I kept getting after him for it.
Pearl didn’t think Phil was a Christian, because he didn’t act much like one. At least, not anymore. I said, “I think he is; he’s just misguided.” He was going astray and didn’t care.
“There are so many people,” Pearl said, “who claim to be Christians, but they don’t act like they’ve made God the Lord of their lives.” This isn’t about whether you drink or dance, but about how you treat people. And as an abuser, Phil gave Pearl plenty of reason to doubt his salvation.
I soon got to the point where I called my parents less and less often for advice on this.
My dad told me about fleeces, like in Gideon’s story in Judges, which I could put out to see what God wanted to tell me. It’s not really “testing” God: That’s something different.
Dad said I could ask God to open or close a door (not literally, of course), and He would do this. He also said that fleeces should be put out twice, as Gideon did his, to make sure that the answer was really from God and not just a coincidence.
What you do is, you either ask for your friends to do something a certain way, maybe something they often do, or you ask for something else specific to happen, and that will be a yes. The answer can also come at a time when you least expect it: It pops into your head.
You can also do a series of things: ask for fleeces, then ask God to open and close doors for you. (By the way, I am NOT recommending this, but telling you how it was explained to me, and how I used it. The outcome will come later. I also write about this here.)
On my dad’s advice, I prayed that God would open a door if Phil was meant for me, or close a door if he was not.
Dad also kept saying Phil was emotionally unstable, that he had better talk to a priest or a counselor soon because otherwise he was going to go over the edge. He said Phil was a yo-yo, always going back and forth.
On the 21st, I put out my first fleece–for my roommie Sharon to make a certain sigh she often made–and she did so.
I wrote in the Journal around this time, “If God means for men and women to be together and married, then why the heck did he make it so hard for us to understand each other??”
But something must have clicked in my head on the night of the 21st, because after going to bed, I wrote a diary entry by the light of my clock, which was fluorescent and gave out a lot of light: I was very angry with Phil at the time, and wrote it all down.
I won’t reproduce the entry here, which was a vent session, but I will quote the most interesting parts:
Me shifting blame, eh? I don’t think so. Up till now I’ve accepted just about all the blame that’s been heaped upon me. Well, I say, no more!…
If you don’t think I’m worthy of you, then screw you! You’re not worthy of me.
…You told me [many times during our relationship] to go find somebody better because you weren’t worthy of me. Well, you have your wish. I see your unworthiness, so off I go to find someone who is worthy.
“I didn’t treat you bad,” I wrote.
At the end, I wrote, “You take my virginity away and then say we’re not really married. What a scumball thing to do. Good-bye forever.”
The next morning, I was still angry, though a part of me wanted to see things work out.
September 22. Phil had once mentioned meeting Persephone, and sounded interested in her, which made me feel awful and jealous of her.
By this time she may have had a crush on James, which would have eased my fears a bit if I knew about it. (Odd—he wasn’t especially handsome, yet without even knowing him, girls just seemed to keep falling for him–me included.)
One day, possibly anywhere between Monday and Thursday, I overheard Phil talking to Persephone at the table right behind mine at lunch. I was all alone by then, and the cafeteria was almost empty. He told her about the time he almost lost his legs during the summer, working at the Mishawaka factory.
When you’ve been married to and living with someone all summer, and he starts chasing another girl right in front of you, you feel like a part of you has been ripped out.
Next thing I knew, Phil came up to me, startling me, and started talking about Mike. He asked if I talked to Mike about my crush yet, and I said no. (I didn’t want to talk to Mike.) Phil said if I didn’t, he would–which was a terrible intrusion he had no right to make.
But all the time he acted sweet and smiled. I didn’t understand what was going on. For me to be so surprised about it, it may very well have been Monday, when I still thought he hated me.
On the morning of September 22, I put out another fleece: that if Phil was meant for me, Mike would ask a question in class. If not, the teacher would cancel class. If no answer, both would happen, or neither.
I expected a no. I went to class in the Chase basement, thinking it didn’t matter if I was late because we wouldn’t have class anyway.
To my surprise, there was still class that morning. And Mike–well, he said one of those, “So you’re saying this is the case?” type of questions, more a clarification-question.
The teacher did let us out halfway through the class, so I thought maybe I got a “wait” answer, but then I thought, well, he didn’t exactly cancel class; he just let us go early.
So I sat in the chair in the little lounge under the steps there in the Chase building in the basement, and read the assignment for American Lit class.
I often went there that semester, when Intro to Christianity class let out early and I needed to kill time until Intro to Psych class the next period. Sometimes I saw Phil pass by or heard his voice, because he had a class just above mine.
From October on, I tried to ignore him when he passed by, and pretend he didn’t bother me at all. I liked my Lit books, and they, not he, would engross me. Or so I wanted him to think.
Then I’d go upstairs to class, and sometimes I passed him on the way or got a drink at the water fountain when he was just down the hall. Eventually, I ignored him and loathed the sight of him (you will soon see why).
I hated Phil in those days, sinning in my anger, and wanted nothing to do with him or his friends or his family (though I didn’t mind if his mom said hello and wanted to chat with me). But it was impossible to keep a constant distance from him on that little campus.
On the 22nd, I went to lunch straight from a meeting with the counselor at 12:15. Lunch closed at 1:30 each day that semester, since they expanded the hours on weekdays. So I could get lunch, but I had to take whatever was left.
I sat in an almost empty cafeteria. It was lonely, especially without my friends there, but I had to work not only with my schedule but with the counselor’s.
During the meeting, the counselor told me I was handling this much better than most people handle the breakup of an engagement. I figured this owed to my past experience with Peter.
As painful as it was, the breakup with Peter taught me a lot. When Peter broke up with me, I slept maybe two hours out of the first night–and that was part of my problem. Fatigue makes depression much worse, much harder to deal with, and my inability to eat made me physically sick.
The counselor said my anger, as expressed in my diary the night before, was a good thing, a healthy thing, part of the healing process, and I should concentrate on that for a while. I probably spent at least part of the meeting spewing out to her what I felt about Phil.
I still wondered, though, if I truly got an answer from God, or if I was misinterpreting it, or if it was just coincidence. One more fleece that day, and that would be it. I asked God to either open the door or to close it forever, whichever was in His good and perfect and wise will.
While I sat at lunch, probably thinking about the meeting and how enraged I was over how Phil had been treating me, the weirdest thing happened:
Phil came over to me, probably from the Muskie, and sat down across from me! I believe he had already finished his lunch.
I didn’t know what he was doing there. I didn’t want to see him. I also no longer wanted him, no longer wanted the fleece to really be a “yes.”
He started saying some things to me, some nice, conversational things, while I sat there ripping on him in reply with witty and caustic remarks. He didn’t seem to get it.
Then he said something insulting about me (I forget what), so I stood up abruptly and took my tray to the tray window. He looked stunned. I liked that.
However, I had to come back and get my stuff–my bag and, I believe, trusty duck umbrella.
I may have put on my light jacket, and was about to leave with my stuff, but he said something more to me, which got me to sit down again. I don’t remember what he said, but it seems to have calmed me down for the moment.
But I didn’t stay for long. I had to get to work soon, and I just didn’t want to be around him any more. I wrote to a friend, “And then last Thursday, when I was mad at him and had been wanting him to stay away, he kept coming to talk to me wherever I was.”
My Thursday shift started at 2:30 and went until 4:30. Phil came in the library while I worked. He came and went, but I don’t think he said a word to me.
I had a sort-of-fleece, but without actually mentioning it to God, because I didn’t want it to be an official fleece, because I wasn’t sure I should be putting out any more. But it was that he would come back down from the second floor, or wherever he went, in fifteen minutes or less, and that would be a “yes.”
He did so.
Near the end of my shift, Phil came up to the desk and started talking and joking with me. This annoyed my co-worker Megan, who said,
“Why don’t you just go to dinner with her and talk to her there?”
Phil said, “Why would I want to have dinner with her? I just broke up with her.”
He soon left, finally taking the hint. I said to Megan, “He is so annoying.”
I went to dinner right away, hoping my friends were already there. While I sat eating with them, Phil came over and took the empty seat across from me! Pearl and I were both surprised.
He talked and joked with me, while I kept putting him down in witty ways. After the others left, he still talked with me, even though I wanted him to go away. He asked me to go to his house and see a movie that night. I was like, Okay, whatever. I also thought, Is this the open door I was asking for?
That night, I went with him to his house to watch Omen. On the way, he asked, “Have you thought about my offer? To have sex without commitment?”
I said, “I’ve thought about it, but I’ve decided that it wouldn’t be right. Before, we thought we were married. Now, we don’t. We don’t have an excuse. And I’ll need a piece of paper saying we’re married before I sleep with you again.”
We sneaked into his room and started watching the movie. He hid me in his room, since he didn’t want the family to know I was there (why not?). I stayed on a little chair in a corner for some time, while he looked for the movie and his mother talked to him.
Then he came back in and we sat down together on his sofa bed, which was pulled out. He started to put his arm around me, and I cuddled up against him–all unexpected. Then he started kissing me. Then he wanted to make love to me.
I said, “Not without a piece of paper!”
He seemed so dejected, and so affectionate. He said, “Don’t tell anyone we’re back together.”
I said, “I have to. I’m not going to keep such a thing secret. Are we engaged again?”
“Yes, I suppose we are.”
“And the spiritual marriage is back on?”
“Yes. Everything is.”
“Well, I won’t do anything this time without a piece of paper.”
He got out a piece of paper and a pencil, and wrote words like this:
This is to show that Nyssa McCanmore and Phil O’Hara are married in the heart, the soul, and the body. It is a real marriage, and this is binding for us, even if it isn’t a legal marriage.
So you see, I had a written contract expressing that we considered ourselves married. We may have signed it; I have since forgotten.
I said, “Never do this to me again.”
“I’ve grown up a lot over the past couple of weeks, and I never want to lose you again,” he said.
I told him how I embarrassed myself with Peter and that I decided not to do that again. I also told him about the fleeces, and some of the things people said about him, wanting to get those issues out in the open and out of the way. I believe I also mentioned that they called him unstable.
I later wrote my high school friend Becky about all this. He wanted me to keep the marriage secret from her over the summer, but now all our college friends knew about the spiritual marriage, and I told Becky about it as well, in an October letter.
So for the next week, we were openly married. In some places, this would have made us legally married.
Laws aside, it was now a public covenant that we were married, which is more important in marriage than legal issues.
When Phil took me back to school the next morning, we walked arm in arm from the parking lot by the suites to my apartment. We passed Kelly, InterVarsity’s chief nemesis during the play fiasco.
I figured Kelly must have known about the breakup by now, and this must have been such a sight for him! I enjoyed it immensely. Look at us now! Back together and happy again! I imagined Kelly telling the tale to others, seeing their shocked faces.
I went to my room to shower and change for my 9:15 class. I saw on the message board: “It’s 8:30–Do you know where your roommies are?” Referring to my “disappearance,” of course. They were already gone, so I wrote a reply.
Blissful, I went to lunch. My roommies sat behind the south Bossard partition (which was up), and I sat with Phil, Dirk and Sandy. I saw Pearl come in the cafeteria; I smiled at her and said, “It’s on again!” She rushed over and told the others.
Dirk said he and Sandy were happy for us, and, “We were rooting for you because you make such a great couple.” (Heh, Dirk had such a way of showing this….)
I took the stuffed rabbit Benny down from the closet, and put Phil’s pictures and keepsakes back on my shelves and bookcases.
Phil soon told his family about us, but he didn’t think I should go over there again right away, because he wasn’t sure his parents would like it. He said it was because we had broken up.
But he soon talked to his mother, and she said she didn’t mind. He just wasn’t sure if his dad would mind.
Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again
The night after Phil and I got back together, my suitemates threw a party for us “summer birthdays.” Those of us with summer birthdays had to stay out of the apartment between five and seven, while the others got the place ready for us.
I thought Phil would show up during the party. He had a date for the following night with the sixteen-year-old (I guess she was now seventeen) who kept calling him when he had a girlfriend.
He made the date while we were broken up; he said it would be platonic, and he would tell her we were back together again. Because of this, I didn’t mind so much.
Possibly during the party, Charles saw my videotape collection (Dr. Who, Gone With the Wind, Monty Python, etc.), cried out, and wanted to know who owned it. It impressed him.
He also admired my book collection, which included Dr. Who and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books. (In October, he started reading my new copy of the fifth book in the Hitchhiker’s series. However, I don’t think he finished it.)
Phil was gone for an awfully long time.
We had a fun party. We even went outside on the little porch with the nice railing, tied balloons on Tara’s hair, and took pictures of her.
The Director of Safety and Security came by and said this was an “unauthorized social gathering,” too many people and not cleared by Memadmin, so we’d better go back inside and break up the party.
So we went inside, and instead turned on an audiotape of the Roanoke choir singing “The Messiah.” If he came back, we’d say we were rehearsing choir songs.
We later found out he thought there was alcohol, but there wasn’t. We could have as many people as we liked, as long as there was no drinking. Otherwise, it would have to be cleared with Memadmin. We didn’t drink at our parties, so this was funny.
Now that we were twenty-one, there might be a wine cooler or a strawberry daiquiri or the new drinks with the risqué names Sex on the Beach or Sloe Screw, but that was it. I only drank pop.
During this party, we also played Phantom of the Opera music. Mike turned on a Barry White CD to demonstrate to non-choir people what Derek had done on the last choir tour: Mike turned on the song “Feels So Good” and played the first few notes–Duhduh-duhduh-duh–then Barry’s words “Feels so good.” Then Mike pushed the reverse button, and did this over and over again, replaying that first part over and over.
Derek made a tape of himself doing this over and over and over again, and played the tape over and over on the spring choir tour. This drove everyone crazy. The choir people, Mike especially, adopted this as a catch phrase–or perhaps, catch tune.
There were other couples at this party–Jennifer with the same Jason whom Catherine and Cindy had dated, Charles with Trina. I felt lonely and depressed, almost as if I had no one, even though I was now back together with my Phil. I didn’t know why I felt that way.
When Phil finally came near the end of the party, he told me the date was not the next night but this night, so that was where he had been all this time–at a coffeehouse with that other girl.
The coffeehouse was her idea: Her generation seemed to like those old-fashioned beatnik turtleneck coffeehouses, which were now coming back in style. He told her we were back together, and she said she wasn’t surprised.
He looked odd in the black turtleneck he put on to “fit in” at the coffeehouse. He left soon after, and kept waving and waving to me from his van as he left the parking lot by the apartments, the kind of thing he used to do. It was funny.
One evening in the Pub, there was some sort of party. Phil and I were there, as were James and Persephone. Persephone came over to me, and smiled and looked surprised when I told her Phil and I were engaged. She also said she had a crush on James.
TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL FORCE DESCRIBED BELOW
At his house one day, Phil said he almost wished we’d never slept together (even though we were married), because now he wanted all the girls he saw, and there were way too many cute freshman girls this year.
The more he talked, the more it sounded like a sexual addiction, so I begged him to get help for it. It’s one thing to enjoy sex with your wife; it’s quite another to barely be able to restrain yourself around women!
I didn’t understand such a desire, myself, because I only wanted to have sex with one man my entire life: Phil, my husband for life! And how could I be sure he’d stay faithful to me?
I had a day or two of happiness, but then started to feel a wedge between Phil and me. He was very demanding, very pushy–and his ideas, plans and opinions about various things seemed a lot different from what they were before.
For example, he said he wanted to go to Thailand for a couple of years after we got legally married, to study martial arts for movie roles. Thailand? I thought we were supposed to go to Texas!
If I didn’t want to do something he wanted to do, it meant I didn’t care like I said I did.
I felt like I was walking on eggshells, and the slightest thing might push him away. I felt I had to align all my opinions with his, do things exactly as he wanted even though I couldn’t read his mind, or he’d divorce me.
He seemed like a different person. After he broke up with me, I was a broken, submissive person who was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again. That meant even oral sex:
One day, when he got me alone, before I had a chance to even talk to him, and without a word, he pulled down his pants.
He got a strange, angry, stern look on his face, and pushed my head down–forced, really, since I couldn’t move my head whether I wanted to or not.
I didn’t want to–it was smelly, I didn’t know if he had washed it recently, and I never liked doing this–but I did anyway, because of the unspoken but well-understood threat that he would divorce me if I didn’t.
Once, as a girl on crutches started to pass us on the sidewalk, I quickly moved to cross in front of Phil and get out of the way, so she could safely pass. But Phil put out his foot and tripped me, almost making me fall! The girl smiled at him (or maybe said “thank you”), and he smiled at her.
I didn’t understand what was going on. I complained that he tripped me, but he said he was “moving me out of the way” with his foot! He treated me like I was the rude one, like I wasn’t getting out of the way so he had to make up for it and move me!
He humiliated me in front of that girl. I burned with the injustice of being falsely accused–and tripped. I was furious with him, but he just laughed.
More gaslighting! And according to this website, tripping is one form of physical abuse.
How much farther could he have gone? How far has he gone in the 20 years since I last saw him?
Many of the emotional and verbal abuse traits in that website are also familiar, as you will see. It also says,
While physical abuse might seem worse, the scars of verbal and emotional abuse are deep. Studies show that verbal or nonverbal abuse can be much more emotionally damaging than physical abuse.
That explains why I had so much trouble getting over this, still struggling some 11 years later, when I finally wrote about it on my Myspace blog and got it out.
Once, either now or before we got back together, Phil told me his friends had been encouraging him to break up with me–something about keeping him down, not letting him do things, exaggerated junk like that.
None of which was actually true. It sounded like they thought I was the tyrant, when it wasn’t me, it was Phil.
The reasons were stupid and it sounded like they had no idea what was really going on. My dad told me on the phone that in these situations, “The worst thing you can do is listen to your friends.”
It’s also quite possible that Phil made this up, another common tactic used by abusers to make you think you’re the problem because everybody says so.
Either that, or he smeared me to them, too, a common abusive tactic to discredit the victim. I went into this earlier: It’s called torture by triangulation.
On the night of the 24th, Phil, Pearl and I hung out in the living room, watching Demolition Man, Three Weddings and a Funeral, and some other movie with Rutger Hauer, the guy who played the white-haired robot from Blade Runner, playing an escaped convict in the future.
At one point there was the Chicken Movie. I don’t know what its real name was, but it was terrible, something about a plague brought on humans by crazed chickens. We called it the Chicken Movie. I don’t think we could watch the whole thing.
Phil brought a plastic bowl and a spoon from home for soup, which was his dinner, but he left them there in our sink, dirty.
After Pearl went to bed, he said I was free from my vows, that I could go off with someone else if I ever wanted to.
I refused to accept the freedom. “It’s worse than any chains you could give me,” I said.
For some reason, he found this strange.
I wanted us to say our vows again, which we hadn’t done since getting back together, and I insisted so he did, but he left out the vow of “cherish” and the vow of fidelity.
He said he was having a hard time keeping to the vow to “cherish” all the time, that it might lead to infidelity, and if he was bound to those vows he might end up hating me. He wanted to be sure of them before he said them again legally.
He couldn’t be in my bedroom, but wanted to have sex with me on the couch. I didn’t want to because I thought the others would be disgusted if they ever found out.
But he laid on a guilt trip, when I was already afraid of losing him if I didn’t do as he commanded or agree with all his opinions: “That just means you don’t really want to sleep with me. Everyone else who’s ever wanted me didn’t care where it was.”
So I slept with him there, to prove I did want him.
You see how he manipulated me into going against my conscience, forcing me through guilt and intimidation (the ever-present threat of losing him again) to be inconsiderate of my roommates.
Ever after, I sometimes sat on that couch and remembered what happened. It made me shudder, so most of the time I blocked it out.
It was because of him staying over that my roommates decided we must all clear it before someone’s boyfriend or friend stayed overnight. They didn’t like seeing him there on the couch in the morning, and hadn’t expected it.
One day, as I sat with my friends, Phil came over and needed some money for lunch, so I gave it to him. He said with a smile as he sauntered off, “You’re a saint–sometimes.” What is this “sometimes,” another criticism because I’m not subservient?
Another time, while we were on the sidewalk by Muehlmeier, he got down on his knees and begged me for five dollars. I gave it to him–but never saw it again, and didn’t bother asking for it. This may have been Wednesday or Thursday.
On Tuesday, September 27, I had a meeting scheduled with the counselor at one p.m. I told Phil right before that I would go see her, but tell her it was the last meeting I needed, and it might be short or it might not. I might cancel it. I didn’t know how long it would be. I made this very clear to him–so I thought.
I told the counselor Phil and I were back together, so I wouldn’t need any more meetings. She didn’t let me go that quickly, though: She gave me tips on conflict resolution, and a name of a book: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. I had never heard of this book before.
Our discussion ended up taking the full hour. Once, we heard a deep voice outside the door, but I didn’t think it was his. The meeting ended and I left.
Phil came to me, furious. He chewed me out for taking so long. It was his voice outside the door.
I said, “I told you I might stay the whole time!”
“You took so long! You said you’d just go for a few minutes and cancel. I asked some people where the counselor’s office was, and they didn’t think anyone was in there because they didn’t see the light through the door.”
“I told you I might stay the whole time. I said I didn’t know how long I’d be!”
It didn’t matter. He stayed mad at me, and I didn’t deserve it. For being so affectionate the first few days we were back together, he had turned so distant–and no matter what I did, it was wrong, even if I had little or no control over it (the length of the meeting).
Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath
Intro to Psych was fascinating: It taught me a lot about such things as projecting your faults onto others, which I saw Phil doing.
The only problem was, it was an Intro class. Like Intro to Christianity, I took it just to get credits. For Christianity, I needed credits of any type so I’d have enough to graduate; for Psych, I needed Social Science credits.
But because it was an Intro, the class was full of immature freshmen. Only a few people weren’t, like Astrid’s roommate Chloe and me.
Intro to Christianity, which I attended with Mike and Randy, taught how Christian doctrine developed and split over time. The teacher, a preacher with the United Church of Christ, taught that Christ freed women, and Paul bound them up again.
We were also taught that the writers of the Bible saw a difference between Truth and Fact, which explains why, for example, the gospels have different versions of the same story, yet are still considered True. The Truth is that Christ arose; the Facts are how many angels were at the tomb.
Unfortunately, we skipped over the section on Eastern Orthodox theology, so I knew very little about it until 2005, though I knew about the Great Schism.
Probably on Thursday, I went to lunch, went through the deli line, and spoke with the cafeteria lady who was at one of the food stalls. (This may have been where the fries, or some other side dish, were.)
Sandy happened to be nearby as I told this woman I was engaged, and smiled and gushed about it. Sandy didn’t say a word.
Amazing how, both times I got dumped, I had just been gushing about my engagement to someone the same day, and Dirk or his girlfriend Sandy happened to be standing nearby, silent–as if they knew something I didn’t.
Thursday, September 29, Phil took a nap in my apartment, after agreeing to go to the IV Bible study in the lounge that evening. When it was almost time for the prayer group, I woke him up so he wouldn’t miss it.
Nothing at all unusual about that. It’s polite, it’s kind, it’s helpful.
But he said, “I thought you said you wouldn’t tell me when to wake up and when to go to sleep.”
Can you imagine such an irrational comment? I said this wasn’t the same thing. I wanted him to join us because it was important to me, and he also said he wanted to come.
But he was so–weird about it, and acted like a jerk, like I had no right to wake him up for anything, no matter how important it was.
You see I couldn’t even be a normal human being around him. Normal human beings wake up other normal human beings for things they want to go to. I felt helpless, like the tiniest slipup and I could lose him. (To me now, that doesn’t make him sound very loving!)
He finally got up, leaving some textbooks and pencils (some of the books were Dave’s) in my room.
(Just to clarify, since I’ve discovered that back in the ’70s, “jerk” often meant “stupid person”: I use the modern meaning of “jerk,” or someone who’s mean and nasty.)
We had a fun meeting with lots of people sitting on chairs arranged in a ring around and inside the TV nook.
After the meeting, Phil talked with someone; I believe it was the guy who came to InterVarsity once junior year, and wondered if Jews and Muslims, as People of the Book, would be saved. Somehow, they got to the topic of how many kids a woman could potentially have.
Phil came up with a hundred, and I said from the couch on the other end of the room, “I don’t want a hundred kids!” It was all playful and fun.
Later on, after the meeting ended it was just Charles, Pearl, Phil and me. Phil and I cuddled together.
Phil and Charles got into a political argument. I thought Charles was right and Phil was wrong, but said nothing at all about it.
Finally, the argument seemed to have ended. Phil later complained that I didn’t support him in the argument, but how could I when I didn’t even agree?
Wasn’t I allowed my own political opinions? And was I expected to back him up no matter what he said or how much I disagreed with it?
Soon, I quietly asked Phil to drive me to the store to buy milk and orange juice, but he said, “I’m not your taxicab.” So I’m not even allowed to ask for a ride now?
He then asked Charles and Pearl,
“Do you think a guy has to take his fiancée to the store if she asks?”
Charles and Pearl both said, “Yes, of course!” Charles said yes if they’re going out and serious, and especially if they’re engaged.
I felt vindicated, and very upset with Phil for trying to humiliate me like that, though I still said nothing.
There may have been a few more words said between them, but I don’t remember. He complained to me about people who don’t listen–though I thought the stubborn person here was him, not them.
I whispered to him, trying to be very calm and loving in my tone,
“Sometimes–I feel–you do the same.”
He said to me, “Thank you for being so supportive.”
Supportive? After he’d just slammed and embarrassed me in front of my friends? He treats me this way and expects me to support him? My friends have just vindicated me and he says I should support him?
He got up and left the apartment. I hurried after him, but couldn’t catch up with him, and he wouldn’t stop. Then I did something that to this day I’m very glad I did: I yelled down the sidewalk to him,
“So you’re just going to run away?” I used a tone that showed how cowardly I thought he was at that moment.
I went back inside and sat down on the armchair.
Charles had some choice words to say about Phil and his behavior that night. Pearl was mad at him, too, and she showed it.
They both thought his question about a fiancée was unfair to me, and that he was trying to embarrass me. One of them, or I, said he seemed to be taking out his frustrations in the political argument on me.
A few minutes later, he called me up and said, “You’re more than free. Good-bye.” Then he just hung up.
I tried to find him by calling Dirk’s apartment. Dirk’s roommate Carl answered the phone, and promised to have Dirk call if Phil came there. Unlike Dirk, he was very supportive of me. Later Dirk called or I called him, and when I told him what happened, he said, “It sounds like you two have broken up.”
I think Dirk was very kind to me despite the lateness of the hour (probably after 11), and didn’t want to see us broken up, but felt powerless to stop it–even though he had done severe damage to my attempts to work things out.
Phil’s behavior all week long, especially including this, is well described in the “Disproportional Reactions” section here:
One of the favourite tools of manipulation in the abuser’s arsenal is the disproportionality of his reactions.
He reacts with supreme rage to the slightest slight. Or, he would punish severely for what he perceives to be an offence against him, no matter how minor. Or, he would throw a temper tantrum over any discord or disagreement, however gently and considerately expressed.
Or, he would act inordinately attentive, charming and tempting (even over-sexed, if need be).
This ever-shifting code of conduct and the unusually harsh and arbitrarily applied penalties are premeditated. The victims are kept in the dark.
Neediness and dependence on the source of “justice” meted and judgment passed – on the abuser – are thus guaranteed.
I believe this was indeed premeditated, that he wanted nothing but a subservient puppet with no mind or will of her own, and as soon as I expressed my own desires, my own opinions, that would be “the last straw” and he would leave.
And somehow, it would be “my fault” even though the unvarnished truth is that he was an A$$HOLE and I did NOTHING wrong.
I talked to Phil on the phone the next day and asked him to come meet me and talk with me. At least he gave me that much. However, he insisted it be in the Pub, though it was public and often noisy. We set the time for 3 p.m., after I left work.
During these weeks, I read books–a book on the Psychology of Love, which I’d bought sophomore year, when it was used by a Winterim class I didn’t take, “Love and Hate.” I also started reading a book Helene lent me, on how to let go when you get divorced.
Both were very helpful to me. I read them while there was still hope, and read them after the second breakup. The first one I read when Phil and I first got back together. I read it in just a few days to learn how to deal with our arguments. The second one I read as I needed to.
I tried to set up rules to keep our discussion civil, probably using things I’d learned in these books. The rules were to keep me in check as well as him:
- Issues will be honestly dealt with–not turned into arguments or “clamming up.”
- Each will listen to the other–not interrupt or get angry–and really think about what the other is saying.
- No getting up in a huff and stalking off–issues will be brought to a resolution.
- Each will be calm–no yelling, hitting, raising voices, or the like.
- Honesty–but not cruelty (including jokes).
- If someone violates the “rules,” the other one will calmly tell them– the talk is not over yet.
- Any and all apologies will be accepted.
- No accusations–use words like “I feel” or “It seems to me.”
I showed these to Pearl, and she thought they were fair. I wrote them not only to protect me, but to protect Phil, because I could see myself breaking any of these rules quite easily.
Anna stopped at the library and gave me a pep talk about the meeting. I prayed hard that it would go all right. I think I even started to feel a peace about it.
3:00 came, and I headed over to the Pub with my books. Phil was alone there. I think I didn’t want to go there because I expected to find too many people, but only one person came in the whole time.
I showed him the House Rules, the pact I wanted to make with him. But he refused to go by them, so I ended up not going by them, either. What was the point, after all, if he wouldn’t play by any rules, to stick to any myself?
He was so pig-headed he wouldn’t even entertain the notion that I might have some good ideas about how to keep the talk at a reasonable, productive level.
Instead of sitting down and talking quietly with me, Phil played pool. It seemed he didn’t want to talk with me, didn’t want to listen to a word I had to say. He just walked around the pool table, shooting the balls.
It was frustrating. It was done to show me that what I had to say was unimportant because it disagreed with His Majesty.
I tried to work out some problems, and it didn’t work. He was so unwilling to listen to anything or even try to talk things over that we got into an argument. I said he didn’t know the meaning of love; he said, “You’re right.” Okay, for once we agreed on something!
Phil said cruel things; one thing was, he made me sound undutiful or uncaring because I didn’t confess to Mike that I had a little crush on him (and it was little–it had only just budded a couple of weeks before).
He yelled at me for never talking to Mike like he kept telling me to do, in those two weeks after the first breakup, and yelled that if I’d done so, I’d know it wasn’t returned. He’d talked to Mike, and learned that “he does not“(that’s how Phil said it) return my feelings.
Not only did he overstep his bounds by scolding me for not broaching a subject with a friend without feeling right about it–
but now he made me feel like crap by not only saying Mike doesn’t return my feelings–
but saying it in such a way that made me feel presumptuous to even think that somebody else would like me.
So now I was left with nobody at all, as he kicked me in the emotional side and made me feel like there was something wrong with having a tiny crush on somebody who didn’t return it.
But it hadn’t been right for me to talk to Mike, not while I was with Phil, and not so soon after the breakup.
There was also no sense risking Mike’s friendship over something that was so insignificant at the time.
But Phil had gone ahead and done that for me, a shocking betrayal, overstepping his bounds.
It was a blatant disregard and disrespect of me and my feelings on the issue. It also could have jeopardized my friendship with Mike.
He also said at one point, “I’ll probably do things with other people,” meaning have sex. I don’t know why he told me this, except to make me feel like crap.
I became furious, lost patience with his disregard for civility, and began saying what I felt. Phil kept saying, “You’re right.” This infuriated me even before, because it was an angry tone, and he’d once told me he did this to deliberately upset people during an argument.
All of a sudden, while I still had things left to say, Phil abruptly walked out of the Pub into the Campus Center lounge. I almost followed, but when I got to the door and looked around he was already out of sight.
Rather than waste my time looking for him, I picked up my bookbag and left. Sharon later said it was good I didn’t follow him.
I believe I said what I should have said, though it didn’t go very well. I’m not at all ashamed of the chewing-out I gave him, either then or in later letters–I’m quite proud of standing up for myself, of refusing to sit back and be the victim of his abuse.
Because Phil was a classic abusive monster, even without hitting me, and I was well rid of him. He was a narcissist, a sociopath.
He broke things off with me because I dared to have my own mind, my own thoughts, my own opinions, my own needs.
He was an old-fashioned chauvinist pig. He broke things off with me because I was not a subservient, submissive slave who never does anything but what the Master wants, even if he doesn’t tell me what he wants.
My anger was fierce because I knew I’d been mistreated and abused. I hated him.
My friends were disgusted with how Phil had been treating me. This included at least two guys–Mike and Charles–so it wasn’t just the female perspective saying he was an a**hole.
I later learned that James, too, thought he was a creep, and that Phil and Persephone deserved each other because she was the most negative person he ever met.
Sharon said Phil was domineering and possessive. It was funny because he or his “friends” had been saying I was possessive! I sure couldn’t remember being possessive. She (the Psych major) said he had a psychosis, and that his whole family was psychotic, so she tried to stay away from them all.
Though I still had trouble letting go of all my feelings, I think this time I got so angry that I lost all the love I ever had in my heart for him. Though at times the feelings returned, in my heart it was over.
The times I wanted him back, were probably denial of the truth, or fear of ending up alone. His true self had been shown to me in vivid technicolor.
I hope I haven’t done too much ranting in these blogs, but I felt I needed to show what happened, just in case one of you finds yourself in similar situation. You don’t have to stay there. I also wanted to tell people what really happened.
I’ve read that women who’ve been abused in some way often have trouble with anger management. That might explain why I got incredibly angry with Phil–more angry than I ever was with Peter or Shawn–and to this day still struggle with residual anger. My friends and family heard me say things about Phil that they never heard me say about anybody else, and it shocked them.
Quoted from Abuse in a Christian Marriage:
“The feelings you’re likely dealing with Crystal are anger, pain, betrayal, fear, trauma, sadness, shame and more. These are very common feelings for abuse victims, and in order to get past them they have to be acknowledged and dealt with.”
Also see later on, “Healing from past abuse.”
What also didn’t help me get over the anger: Recently [this was written in 2006], Dr. Phil McGraw said on his show that if a woman does not feel heard, she keeps saying it over and over until she does feel heard.
I did not feel heard, so I said what I needed to say in letters. Still, I got no apology, just a guy who acted like I had nothing to be angry about. Why on earth did I not want to say hi to him when he said it to me? Gee, why do you think?
It’s hard to forgive and let go when someone never acknowledges they did something horrible to you, when they never show remorse. Years later, it still burns you up, no matter how much you pray for the strength to forgive.
The only thing to make forgiveness easier is to finally receive an apology. Even if it takes many years, that’s still better than never.
When a bully is supported by his friends, when authority figures aren’t interested in stepping in–even resorting to blaming you for the bullying, when the bully “gets away with it”–this makes it much harder for the bullied to reach “closure.”
Here are listed traits of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and of psychiatric injury; I especially identify with these traits:
An overwhelming desire for acknowledgement, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience
A lack of desire for revenge, but a strong motivation for justice
A tendency to oscillate between conciliation (forgiveness) and anger (revenge) with objectivity being the main casualty
A constant feeling that one has to justify everything one says and does
A constant need to prove oneself, even when surrounded by good, positive people
An unusually strong sense of vulnerability, victimisation or possible victimisation, often wrongly diagnosed as “persecution”
Feelings of worthlessness, rejection, a sense of being unwanted, unlikeable and unlovable
A feeling of being small, insignificant, and invisible
An overwhelming sense of betrayal, and a consequent inability and unwillingness to trust anyone, even those close to you
The person is by now obsessed with the situation (or rather, resolving the situation), cannot switch off, may be unable to sleep, and probably has nightmares, flashbacks and replays
These things either have affected in the past, or still do affect, me. [This was written in 2006.]
“Sometimes Always” by The Jesus and Mary Chain played often before, during, and after the second time Phil and I were together: A guy breaks up with his girlfriend. He comes back, she refuses at first, then takes him back.
I liked to mentally sing along with the female singer when she said, “You went away; you can’t come back.” When Phil came back to me, I identified with the line, “You went away, but now you’re back.” I also liked the image of the groveling ex-boyfriend.
On the 29th, I wrote in the new Journal my friends and I started,
There’s also this emptiness, like a part of me is missing. Especially when I’m alone and doing mechanical, everyday things. “Meaningless, everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes)
It makes friends and (Mike will recognize this) “future hope” so important. [I think “future hope” must have been a term from Intro to Christianity class, probably meaning Heaven, hope that things will get better.] The emptiness starts to go away a little bit.
Maybe this is really a cry for help. You guys’ll have to keep an eye on me. I’ve found myself not caring how close the cars are on the drive[way]s, and it’s scaring me.
I’ve been through bad times before but gotten through them. [namely, Peter and Shawn] Things always get better. But how long until they do?
…Someone who accused InterVarsity of being a clique [Dirk] also said that maybe I should pull away from it. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
I need InterVarsity–an oasis of spirituality and learning how to get closer to God. My faith is really being tested since a couple nights ago.
I feel like God told me one thing but the exact opposite is true. Which can’t be, because God doesn’t lie. He wants me to trust Him, even in all this when I can’t figure out what He’s doing or if He’s even doing anything. I’m sure somebody should be able to relate.
For years, He’s been telling me time and time again, “Trust Me.” Which is so hard to do, when it should be so easy to trust someone as trustworthy as God is. That Psalm 13 really fits.
(For those of you who weren’t at Pearl’s Bible study last week, that’s what we studied. David crying out to God in desperate circumstances, and finally saying that he knows God will help him.)
…I saw a poster in Counselor Dude’s office that asked, If you couldn’t write, would you die?–In my case, I think so. There’s just something about putting words on the page that makes life worthwhile for me. Another reason why I think this journal is such a good idea. Probably also a reason why I write such long letters!
Written October 2011:
After doing more research into abuse and narcissism, thanks to dealing with two narcissists who abused and maligned me in 2010, I now believe that Phil’s first breakup with me was not intended to be permanent.
I believe it was actually his attempt to control me. Because I wasn’t submissive enough, he wanted to force me to submit, to show me that the consequences of not submitting meant losing him–to break my spirit.
And it worked, for a time. For the week he was back with me, I was afraid to do anything that would make him go away again. I was very submissive, giving in to anything he wanted, no matter how baffling (going to Thailand for a year), outlandish or distasteful (oral sex, which he knew I hated, and he had not washed himself, so it smelled awful).
Even during the two weeks between the first breakup and week back together, I was submissive during our negotiations:
For example, he asked if I would object if he started smoking and drinking, and I said I would not. During the negotiations, if I started saying or doing things he didn’t like, the rage wall went up again, and he would ditch me, go off and tell Dirk what I was doing wrong, etc.
During those two weeks, Dirk (Phil’s puppet) came to me and told me to distance myself from my friends. So Phil was, once again, trying to control me by separating me from my friends, the ones who saw him for what he really was.
And when we got back together but I “screwed up” by not “supporting” him as he bashed me to my friends, he left again. It disgusts me to think of how submissive I was just to hold onto this controlling man.
Table of Contents
- Meet the Suite
- Meeting Shawn–and a Ninja
- Campus Stories, Wisconsin, Campus Radio Station
- Campus, People, First College Boyfriend
- Dating a Ninja
- My Friends
- Food Service and Classes
- Frustrating German Teacher
- Roommate and Campus Stories; Shawn Screws With My Head
- More Friend Stories; Friendship with Peter?
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
- Friends With Sexual Benefits: Fun at First, But Began to Destroy our Friendship
- The Secret Gets Out
- Ill-Fated Pledge Class
- We’re Dating!–No, We’re Not. Yes, We Are. ACK!
- Pat Robertson Screws Up
- Peter Turns the Screws
- Peter is PW
- Obscene Phone Caller
- Shawn Goes Animal-House on Me During my Shower
- Selective Mutism Strikes at a Zeta Party
- InterVarsity Group is Organized
- The Fire Burns Hotter; The Dreadful Night (Shawn Almost Goes Too Far)
- Accidents Will Happen
- Confronting Shawn’s Psychological Abuse
- A Proposed Cool-Off
- Poems of Werewolves and Longing
- Reading Clarissa; My Drawings of Her
- Irish Writers Class
- Psychological Hell as Shawn Turns Dark and Moody
- Insurance Mix-Ups and Corruption in the Campus Administration
- Pregnancy Scare
- Spring Classes; Crush on a Teacher; Lit Teacher Becomes My Writing Mentor; “Ugh” Poem
- Sexual Relations with Shawn: The Downward Spiral to a Crash
- School Scandal
- Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits
- Spring Break; My Drawings of Ann Radcliffe Characters
- I’m Cold to Shawn and it Bugs Him
- The Power Goes Out–and the Water–in an Ice Storm
- I Meet Rick, My Admirer From Afar
- Ending Friends-with-Benefits for Good–After One Last Time
- Shawn Leaves: His Brother Turns Deathly Ill
- My Humiliation as Rachel Exposes How the Sorority Abused Me
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