Phil cuts down whatever is special to me (Bits of Abuse Here and There)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 5

Soon after quitting his job selling vacuum cleaners, probably late June or early July, Phil found a job at a Mishawaka factory, second shift.  Second shift in Wisconsin, he said, usually meant two to ten p.m., but in South Bend it meant three to eleven.  (I think those were the times, but my memory could be a little off.)

Since he now missed Picket Fences on Friday nights, he had me tape it for him.  Whenever he wanted to see it he said, “Ficket Pences?”

June 22, my 21st birthday.  It wasn’t celebrated some mundanely typical way, like my friends taking me out to get smashed.  No, it was quieter and what I wished.  I said if I got any special drink for my birthday, it would be sparkling grape juice.  I didn’t get that, but I don’t think I cared.

I did get a pleasant dinner at a restaurant with my parents.  To my surprise, Phil gave me nothing, despite having a job, but gave no apology or explanation.  I just let it go, but it seemed odd to just dismiss your wife’s 21st birthday.


I loved Q101.  U93, and every other Chicago and South Bend station which played pop, played Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You)” every hour or two.  Even good songs can get on your nerves if they’re played too much.  But Q101 played it maybe once, if at all, each afternoon.

My favorite song that summer: “Shine” by Collective Soul.  I didn’t care how much it got overplayed on U93.  I told my parents about the line “Heaven, let your light shine down” to impress them with its spiritual content, since they hated rock music.

Other good songs from Q101: “Millennium” by Killing Joke, “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails (though I didn’t like the lyrics), “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Sinead O’Connor, “Possession” by Sarah McLachlan, “Everybody’s 1” by God’s Child, “It’s Over Now” by Cause and Effect, “Burn” by the Cure, “Insanity” by (Oingo) Boingo, “Come Out and Play” and “Self Esteem” by Offspring.


Once, Phil and I took an IQ test on the computer, which claimed to be the fairest and most accurate you could find.  It wasn’t: It was biased in favor of mathematical brains like Phil’s, not NVLD brains like mine.  The questions I missed were all math questions, and Phil got the same ones right.

He bragged that he scored around 140 while I scored only around 130, but I said it wasn’t a true test of my abilities.  A year or two later, Cugan and I would take another IQ test.  This time, I scored around 150, and Cugan scored around 130.


My old jam box’s CD player had been broken for quite some time, since just before I got the newest Alice in Chains CD, Jar of Flies, in the spring, so I hadn’t heard it yet.

I had that box with me since my junior year of high school; sophomore year I had to spend a few months without it because my dad kept it at home and had the radio and antenna fixed at Radio Shack.  (That’s when I got into MTV and a Walkman.)

I really missed playing my CD’s, since some of my best music was on them, such as my other Alice in Chains CD’s.  I’d been waiting and waiting for the new jam box my parents got me for my birthday.  It had everything I asked for: CD player, tape player and recorder, radio.

I was desperate to listen to my new CD, and I guess I didn’t get a chance until late that night or the next, when Phil was home and we were about to play D&D.  I’d waited for months and I just couldn’t wait any longer.

But Phil hated Alice in Chains and kept saying, “If you play it, I’ll go somewhere else.”

I kept trying to make him understand how important it was to me to listen to it, and I wanted him in the room because I hadn’t seen him all day and because I wanted to play D&D.  I finally did get to play it, despite what he said, and I think he gamed with me at least part of the time, though he may have left the room for part of it.

It was strangely mellow all the way through.  He protested so much and it wasn’t even the hard “made in hell” stuff he protested.

But note the way he tried to withhold from me something I very much wanted.  He also hated my music, something that was important to me, and criticized it.

He even said that, had one of his friends not introduced him to some of the harder music and gotten him used to it, like hard rock and heavy metal, he’d break up with me just because I listened to it!

He said in the spring that in time he might learn to like alternative, because of me.  But he didn’t like it much.  However, once he said it was the popular trend in music.  I smiled in surprise and said, “Really?”

He said the alternative songs crossing over into Top-40 were the best ones on the radio these days, because regular pop music had become so dull.  But as a whole, he didn’t like it.

(Note that the following spring, when I was out of the picture, and alternative was popular with everybody now, he claimed alternative was his “favorite” music.)

I told him why I liked Alice in Chains, that the music took me to another place.  He said it was a place he didn’t want to go.  But I thought/think of it as a good place, a place in the mind or another part of consciousness, which only in-the-pit music can reach.  That place was special to me, but all he did was cut it down.

He also told me that the only good Christian music was a tape he owned by Michael W. Smith.  Obviously he had never heard much of the genre.

I had been listening to Christian contemporary, rock and pop for 8 years; there was far more, and once you sifted out the wheat from the chaff, real talent began to come through:

Mastedon, Undercover, Guardian, Whiteheart, Holy Soldier, Matthew Ward, Charlie Peacock, Steve Taylor/Chagall Guevara, Mike-E, The Choir, etc. etc.–bands which I bet he never even heard of.

But of course, he had to be right–and cut down whatever meant something to me.  Just as he cut down my friends, or my religion, or my Sunday School, or the church I liked best in S–, or even said my beloved childhood diary was “boring” because it talked about 9-year-old things like spiders walking across the ground.

It wasn’t just my perception: His next girlfriend, Persephone, went through the same thing, him always cutting down her participation in the campus newspaper, which meant a lot to her.

As Dad suggested, Phil said he was going to read the Bible so we could talk about it on an even level.  But he started and didn’t follow through on that promise.

Yet he wouldn’t even let me quote verses to him or tell him anything about the Bible, because then he wouldn’t see much point in reading it if he already knew what it said.

How could that even be likely, considering how much is in there and how little of it I could/can actually quote, in comparison?

Dad told him devotions can be just prayer, but of course, Phil used that as an excuse–that, since it doesn’t matter if you don’t read as long as you still pray, he didn’t have to read the Bible.

I don’t think Dad meant it that way.  It is important to read it, and Dad did so every morning; he suggested Phil read it so he and I would be on the same level of knowledge about the faith.

Phil’s flippant disregard of this advice, while also forbidding me to talk about the Bible, showed how little he cared about resolving our religious differences in a healthy, equal manner.

Phil even took issue with my use of the word “current,” though I checked the dictionary and found nothing to say it was wrong.  Phil said you can only use the word in the present tense, and can never say a song “was current in the past.”

But when you say a song “was current in the summer of 1992,” I see nothing wrong with the usage.  Songs are current, then they’re old and not current anymore, but at one time they were current.  I’ve never seen anything that said I can’t say “current” in the past tense in this context.

Phil’s objection sounded pedantic and nitpicky.

A quick Google search shows that people use it my way all the time.  On 3/11/14, I found it used my way in Green Suede Shoes by Larry Kirwan, page 217: “To my surprise, I already knew them all, for they [19th-century songs] had still been current in the Wexford of my boyhood…”  HA!

Trivializing and undermining: abusive behavior which makes light of your work, your efforts, your interests, or your concerns. —The Verbally Abusive Relationship


Verbal abuse can include:

  • yelling or shouting at you
  • being sarcastic or mocking about or criticising your interests, opinions or beliefs —Emotional Abuse


I read The Thorn Birds that summer and found, to my surprise, that I wasn’t alone: Meggie, on page 329, had a similar experience to my own–a horrifically painful first time, plus terrible pain that she felt every time she had sex with her husband.  Mine went away eventually.


On the 25th, I wrote to a friend that

Phil’s been spending a lot of time at the computer, beating my brother L–‘s scores at one-player and two-player games.  My smug brother has finally met his match, and he’s not happy about it….

Phil beat him at computer Risk, so L–stayed up late one night with his friend D–, trying to win before the night was over.

…My little Hazel [cat] has been glad to have me around, but I don’t know what she thinks of Phil.  I think she likes him, but not always.

The other day Phil, who was asleep, started petting me and calling me Hazel.  I said something, which surprised him.

He talks in his sleep too, and said, “Hazel, I didn’t know you could talk!  Why do you hate me, Hazel?” and I said, “I don’t hate you.  I just don’t like it when you tease me.”

We kept trying to contact a natural family planning clinic here, but nobody ever answered.

It was beginning to look hopeless, like I’d be forced to go by that rhythm method that doesn’t have a good rep, and end up the stereotypical Catholic wife with a brood of children.  But then I found the information I needed in a book right in the house!


Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995: