The next day, the 26th, Cugan drove me home to South Bend.
On our way to South Bend, we stopped in Milwaukee in the suburb of Wauwatosa to see Cugan’s parents. This was the first time I saw them, and I was impressed. His mom was from Wisconsin and had a German background. His dad was from West Virginia and still had a Virginian accent.
They seemed like nice people, respectful of each other and Cugan, and glad to see me. Cugan’s dad seemed like a nut, constantly joking. This first impression turned out to be true, to my delight. That was where Cugan got his sense of humor from.
I told Cugan my impressions, and he said that he felt lucky with the parents he had. I had finally found a guy who didn’t have a dysfunctional home life, and that boded well for our future.
Now that I was at home, I finally felt the loss of my cat Hazel. I kept expecting to see her. Mom showed me where she was buried: beside my brother Jake’s garage. I think a tree or flower was planted over her.
As Cugan and I sat on the couch the night we got to town, my dad also in the room, my other brother left the family room, came over, looked at Cugan, then left, no words at all. He’s an odd one.
Though I felt secure in my relationship with Cugan with him around, during this week apart, I feared that I’d get back to school and he’d say he wanted to break up. I even wrote this poem:
Why does the thought of him scare me to death?
Will it last? Is he half of what he seems?
Will I do something to push him away?
God knows why I feel so terrified:
Failures in the past?
As if love’s a beautiful snake–
Within its coral stripes–venom.
Fear, fear, you beast,
Go away! I can’t breathe.
Let me be free.
I found my middle school friend Josh online again (“Modem Menace” on PanOptic Net), and told him about Cugan. Just before I returned home, Josh also called me on the phone. His voice sounded so different and deep.
I found Stimpy and Krafter on AOL, and sent them messages. Stimpy wrote back about the wonders of the Internet, connecting friends who are many miles apart.
I also read or skimmed many books I checked out of the library on Friday the 24th, and took notes. These were biographies on the authors I wanted to include in my senior honors thesis: Victorian women who broke away from society’s expectations.
I enjoyed the books, but the account of Louisa May Alcott‘s life was depressing. Apparently, Little Women expressed what Alcott’s family should have been, but wasn’t:
The sisters were plain, though the one who inspired Amy was the best-looking of them all. (Though a picture of Louisa, age 25, strikes me as pleasant, not plain. Not a great beauty, but “normal,” not ugly. She looks like she’d be your favorite tomboy bud in high school.)
None of them treated Louisa, Jo’s inspiration, very well, and neither did her parents.
Louisa’s father was just awful. He wanted her to become a little woman and not act so “manly,” so Jo became what Louisa’s father wanted her to be.
Reading Little Women with this knowledge now became bittersweet, because the story was so ironic.
Louisa also wrote sensational stories with murders, chases and melodrama just as Jo did, and these were always her first love, even though books like Little Women were considered much “better.”
In the February 1995 chapter, I wrote,
Despite one biographer’s thoughts that Louisa May Alcott deliberately took a passionate relationship with Laurie away from Jo and gave her a passionless relationship with an older man–which, to the biographer, couldn’t be passionate because he was much older than Jo–I thought those two had marvelous chemistry.
And come on, a young woman can certainly have a passionate relationship with an older man! Just ask Celine Dion.
Basically, the biographer (Martha Saxton) suggested that Louisa didn’t allow Jo to marry Laurie because Laurie was too sensual and Jo wasn’t womanly enough. It was her parents’ criticisms, carried out in the novel on her family’s idealized and fictional counterparts, in a strange psychological punishment of herself.
For an excerpt of Saxton’s work, the part which goes into this, see here.
Another take on this is here. I was disappointed that she turned down Laurie, but then again, in the 1995 movie, Gabriel Byrne was hot and I totally got that.
Since Cugan had gotten me Dido, I wanted to find him a gift, as well. Mom and I went shopping in a Walgreens one night. She pointed out some cute, stuffed bunnies. Though Cugan loved his two March Haire rabbits, I knew he’d think these were cutesy-cute, not just cute, and passed them by.
I found a key chain with a tiny Etch-A-Sketch attached to it, and decided to give him that. He was glad I passed up the bunnies and got him the key chain. A few months later, when he started his new job, he put the key chain in his cubicle and labeled it a back-up CAD tube in case the ones there stopped working.
When my parents took me back to college, we met Cugan at Marc’s restaurant in S– for lunch, so they got a good chance to get to know him better. He impressed them.
One day in Cugan’s apartment, we turned on a talk show with makeovers. We hated that the women’s long hair was cut and everyone was dressed in professional suits, which Cugan hated especially. We’ve noticed this since, that makeover shows are too annoying to watch because long hair is always cut when it should be left long.
Through this, I also discovered that Cugan liked my long hair. He said long hair is elegant. After Phil’s constant badgering to cut my hair, it was healing to hear two guys in a row (first Stimpy, then Cugan) say how wonderful my long hair was. Cutting it to please Phil, would have been a huge mistake.
Whenever Cugan came down to S–, he tried to catch 102.1. He didn’t have an alternative station in M–. I said to Catherine, “Whatever I like, he likes too–and turns up!”
This was quite a change from Phil, who kept ripping on my favorite kinds of music–alternative, modern metal, hard rock, Christian rock. He even said once that he would’ve broken up with me for liking hard rock and metal, if it weren’t for a friend of his who liked it!
(The strange thing is, I started listening to a hard rock/classic station in the first place because I thought he liked it, and ended up liking it myself, only to find that he didn’t even like such music.)
In late March and early April, Pearl and I read Hard Times by Charles Dickens for Brit Lit. We were interested in what happened to the characters, but with its lack of the usual Dickensian melodrama (which we loved), it seemed too hard to get into. It was also very depressing.
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
- Classmate a stand-in for “Rudy”; Jigging at College Dance
- Library Tales
- Happiness Returns
- Living with Friends in Krueger
- Funny Library Stories
- Shawn Calls
- Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars
- Return of Rick
- Adjusting to New Dorm
- Spitball-Throwing Teacher
- Rat-Obsessed Teacher and Doctor Zhivago
- A Teacher Dated a Student; InterVarsity Fun
- Charlie Peacock Concert
- Random Stories
- Letter to Shawn
- Erotic Vampire Dream (Inspiration for Alexander Boa)
- I Ask Out James
- Peter Calls!
- The Fateful First Meeting of Phil
- The Birth of Dolphin Philosophy
- Our Group of Friends Splits Apart
- Spring Classes
- Big Red Flag: Phil’s Dysfunctional Family Life
- The Drunken Stork (Phil’s Controlling Nature Manifests)
- Idealizing Phase and Early Sign of Control
- Phil Tries to Control my Friendships, Unfair Accusations from his Dad and Brother
- Phil Gaslights Me with Fake Dreams, Ridicule and Psychological Abuse
- Another Pre-Engagement
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
- The Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell
- Phil rapes me anally
- Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene
- Phil’s cruel hoax on me: his “subconscious” coming out to be with me
- Phil’s “subconscious” explains why he’s coming out to talk to me
- The lies unravel as Phil admits to conning me; also, fright as my periods turn wacky
- How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse
- Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games
- Phil says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers
- Pearl reveals that Phil is costing me social invitations
- Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage
September 1994–Divorce: The Long, Dark, Painful Tunnel:
- Phil picks fights and avoids responsibilities to make me feel like a shrew
- My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion
- I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles
- Phil vanishes without a word of why
- Phil wants a divorce
- My friends tells me that Phil is controlling and possessive
- My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues
- Phil refuses to accept responsibility for the divorce
- Phil cuts off contact
- Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk
- Phil the narcissist admits to manipulating people and using them as pawns in his game with me
- Phil comes crawling back to me–and we put our marriage on paper
- Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again
- Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath
- Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse
- My friends tell me Phil is psychotic
- “Soul Ties”
- I return Phil’s things and he skewers me; consolation from friends
- My letter to Phil
- Phil shows my letter to his friends; I’m triggered by reminder of forced oral sex
- I start dating Charles
- Friends tell me Phil is controlling
- I feel stalked by Phil
- Poem about being stalked by Phil
- Fury at Phil stalking me and rubbing my face in his new relationship
- A Date with the Vampire
- Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull
- The Teddy-O Incident; Birth of These Memoirs
- We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life
- New Guy Begging at My Feet
- Life on TCB
- Meeting Cugan (Hubby)
- Learning my ex Peter was a love-fraud; New Men
- Before Tracy, There Was the Avenger (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 1)
- Torn between three men as Catherine pushes me toward Cugan
- The Love Rectangle
- Torn between FIVE men! Me?
- Persephone’s Own Outrageous Stories of Phil’s Abuse
- College-style living
- Online Shenanigans
- Phil Finds TCB; Meeting a Hit Man
- Gypsy’s Party: Healed friendship with Peter
- The Avenger Starts a Flame War (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 2)
- Meeting the elusive Speaker
- First Date with Future Hubby Cugan
- On Breaking Up with Kindness
- Loony Roommies and Flying Gargoyles
- The Goddess of Pleasure and Salt
- A Conversation with Oscar Wilde
- My First SCA Event
- Cugan: a vast improvement over Phil
- Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA
- Cugan breaks up with me
- After breakup: Phil’s return and trolls
- Cugan comes back
- SCA hippies; college senioritis: anxiety!
- Or should I move back in with my parents?
- Peace with Phil
- Defending my Thesis; Graduating with Honors
- Graduation: Trapped at school
- Epilogue and Apology from Phil