Though the residents of each apartment had been given a bucket with cleaning supplies in the fall, the supplies were woefully inadequate. One of the many inadequacies: There was no drain stopper for the sink, making it hard to do dishes.
So after Thanksgiving, along with the other cleaning supplies I brought, I brought a plastic drain stopper. Unfortunately, while making mac and cheese one Saturday morning, I thoughtlessly poured the hot water into the sink with the stopper in it. It melted one side of the stopper and warped it, so we couldn’t use it anymore.
But after Christmas Break I brought back a new one, so our water wouldn’t drain out anymore.
After Thanksgiving Break, I also cleaned the bathroom before my roommies returned. We heard rumors that the cleaning people would do that over Break. But I, the first person back, saw they didn’t.
I turned on New Rock 102 as I used my newly-bought bottle of Lysol and washable bathroom rags. Before, all we had were glass cleaner and sponges to clean the toilet and sinks, so horribly unsanitary!
When Tara and Pearl came back, I unpacked in my room and waited for them to notice the clean bathroom. Tara soon cried, “It smells so clean!” They thought the cleaning people did it, but I told them it was me, and showed them our wonderful new cleaning supplies.
One day, I tried to vacuum the apartment, but the vacuum just spit everything back out again. None of us knew at the time that this just meant the bag was full and needed to be changed. We thought the vacuum was broken, and stopped using it. So forget the stereotype that housecleaning is genetically programmed into women.
In the weeks that followed, dust bunnies and hairballs collected and multiplied on the floor, until we were finally told what was wrong with the vacuum.
Mike kept playing classic/90s rock stations in his car as he drove us around, so I began to get a taste for that. I liked it somewhat before, but not as much as I did now. Some of it I still didn’t like much, but I got into songs by Ozzy Osbourne and others. “No More Tears” kept playing, and I thought it was new, but later found it was actually from 1992.
I couldn’t stand WIXX anymore. I had to play dance station Hot 102, or (its new name and format) New Rock 102.1, or Lazer 103 or 93Q, or my Christian tapes and CD’s. I couldn’t stand what they called pop music in those days: It was so inane, dull, slow or strange (and not strange in a good way).
Sharon watched Babylon 5. I saw my first episode of it with her, the one in which Lando wants to choose between his three wives and divorce two of them. I thought it was funny.
I was also surprised, because when the show first started sophomore year, I looked at the promos and thought it was just a rip-off of both Dune and Deep Space 9. I saw similarities in the concept, the name, Lando’s look, etc.
Clarissa watched it and tried to tell me it wasn’t like that, that it was actually very good and won awards, but I still didn’t want to watch it. I don’t remember if I watched it again with Sharon, but I did start watching it later on with Cugan. I loved it now.
Sharon and Tara kept having little “spats.” One jokingly yelled at the other, and they got into a big, fake argument. Or, as they sat on the couch, Sharon, who loved to put her head on people’s shoulders, put it on Tara’s. Tara cried out and told her not to. Sharon just laughed, and here came another “spat.”
Then there was Sharon herself. She’d often hum, sing or sigh. She had a funny sigh, which went from a high pitch down to a low pitch. She said it often came while she was sad or deep in thought. It was the Sharon sigh, a Sharon-ism, as we called it.
Every once in a while, Sharon got into giggle fits. Though nothing particularly funny happened, she started giggling. Sometimes it was infectious, and Pearl or someone else giggled with her. She couldn’t explain it.
After one of our recent snows, Sharon started the habit of throwing snowballs at her roommates as we went to the Campus Center for meals. Whether we all walked together or met each other on the way, the threat of getting hit with a snowball was imminent. We often tried to retaliate.
I don’t know where it came from, but we took on a new catchphrase: “Rude, crude and socially unacceptable!”
Mike was now my major crush–and Sharon’s. The girl he liked didn’t like him back, which made us both happy. We were in a friendly rivalry, and if either of us won, the other would be happy for her.
At the beginning of the semester I wanted to live in S– after graduation, but now I decided to return home to South Bend instead. I wanted to get away from Phil and Persephone for good, leave their memory in the dust, and go somewhere where they would never be. Life would go on as if they’d never existed. No South Benders would know them, and they would have no effect on anything.
Tara started calling Sharon “Aron-Shay,” her name in Pig Latin. She’d walk into the apartment and yell for Aron-Shay. (It sounds even better with Sharon’s real name.)
Sometime that year, Sharon the Psych Major spoke of reinforcing a person’s behavior by rewarding the good things he does. She said she would do this with her future husband: If he did something she liked, she’d reinforce his behavior with sex.
Ever after, whenever any of us spoke of “reinforcing his behavior,” it was a metaphor for sex, and we laughed. If someone spoke of reinforcing the behavior of someone other than her future husband, even if she didn’t mean sex, our reaction was, “Eww!” or “Ooo!”
I already dressed nicely, but now I did it for Mike, to get his attention. I was starting to want Phil back less and less, and want Mike instead.
Sometime in December, after driving our group somewhere, Mike drove us around H– so we could see the lovely Christmas lights on the houses. He also showed us the house of a Roanoke teacher, who was his uncle.
Once, possibly after we stopped at the Buschwood Bar for a while (more on Buschwood later), he drove us on a lonely, country road. We got lost. It was great.
One day, we passed the cars in the parking lot, which were covered in snow. Pearl drew a smiley face–her “signature”–in the snow on the window of one of the cars.
Sometime that year, the show Friends began playing on NBC. Having no idea that it would be wildly popular the next year, I began watching it. I thought it was funny and liked the theme song. (Of course, a couple years later, when it became omnipresent on the radio, it began to annoy me.)
When Ross said how much he wished Rachel would realize he was the kind of guy she said she was looking for, I began hoping they would start dating. I also liked the monkey. It was several years yet before the show jumped the shark and started annoying me.
I’m not sure when exactly it jumped the shark, just that the jokes became forced, Ross became a dweeb, and even Phoebe turned mean. I think it was some time around 2001.
We wanted to give Mike a nickname, and decided on “Flip” because he was always, well, flipping, falling over, things like that. But his mom would have none of it. She said, “We named you Mike after Michael in the Bible, and we want you called Mike.”
Mike danced like a muppet, and years later I saw on Facebook that he loves the Muppets, so it all fits.
On the Friday just before December 4, I went out shopping with Pearl, Mike and Tara. After getting something to eat at Country Kitchen, we all went to Buschwood, a classy, yuppie bar. I remember it as the Red Bar, because everything was red and new.
My friends were excited about being able to go to bars now (no, they never used fake ID). I was curious, but I think they got more out of it than I did.
Mike (our driver) and I had Coke. Pearl and I went to the bathroom, came back, I tasted my Coke–and it tasted sweeter than it should. Mike, the future preacher, had gotten Tara to spike my Coke with her Blue Hawaii!
I liked it too much and didn’t want to start drinking, still being the Nazarene teetotaler, so I didn’t touch my Coke afterwards.
(As it turns out, I wouldn’t have liked drinking anyway. I recently tried some Zinfandel and a wine cooler. I can’t stand the taste of alcohol or the burn as it goes down.)
I think we went there at least one more time. We were shocked to not get carded, especially with Mike wearing his high-school jacket.
At least one of the times, Mike tripped, fell and even broke a glass–and he was drinking only water. It was as if he were drunk on water. One time he even said, “Don’t worry, I’m driving.” I think once my friends wanted me to drive instead, but I said they wouldn’t want that because I hadn’t driven in years.
Sharon and I took up the habit of “-ness”ing back and forth to each other when we walked to the Campus Center and it was cold. That is, we’d say, “Coldness!” “Freezingness!” “Brrness!”
Randy, Mike and I had Intro to Christianity together.
I liked both of them, sometimes one more than another, and I kept hoping, back when I dated Charles, that they wouldn’t think I was “off-limits.”
Liking Mike was frustrating, so instead I asked him to set me up with Randy. But he didn’t set me up, just gave me his number. I felt like, “Yeah, right, just call Randy up and have him think I’m a crazy woman, calling him up when we don’t even know each other very well.”
I’d known Randy since freshman year, but not very well: He’d always been Peter’s friend or Cindy’s friend (and now, apparently, Phil’s friend), and we never had classes together until now.
One day, when Sharon and I worked at the circulation desk together, I told her I liked Randy. He came in the library and talked with me about a class assignment, then said with a smile, “See you in class.” Sharon saw all this and said after he left, “Ooh, I think he likes you! Did you hear the way he said, ‘See you in class’?”
I sent him a Christmas card, not all gushy or mushy or anything or admitting my feelings, but a friendly card. I hoped it would be a first step toward dating him.
Just look at this difference: After Peter, I was afraid to actually pursue anyone except Shawn. But this time, after Phil, I pursued guys in various ways, rather than sitting around waiting for Phil to come back.
On the 5th, I wrote in the Journal,
I have been feeling better lately, but I do still have my down times. My dreams sometimes oppress me, and there’s a sad undercurrent much of the time for me.
But the weird thing is, I’m often happy, or at least cheerful, at the same time. It seems like I get rid of one guy-problem and then another one pops up.
I hope they stop popping up, one of these days. I’m really sick of them. My life here is such a soap opera, and just as twisted… I keep wishing P. would disappear from the face of the earth….
A paper I wrote for American Literature, “Richardson and Dickinson–Two ‘Feminist’ Writers,” shows the evolution of my thinking since marriage to an abusive husband:
First I agreed with voluntary submission, but not forced obedience. Now, I was turning more and more feminist, beginning to reject the idea of submission altogether, except when it’s mutual (the husband and wife submitting to each other).
My teacher suggested I turn my paper into my Senior Honors Thesis, for which he would be my adviser.
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