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Book Beginnings - Chapter 1.1-1.8

Chapter 1.1 - In the Beginning

“Bridal College.” That’s what they called it. That’s what everyone called it. There was no way I was going to be one of those statistics about young people that went to Bible College and got married. No way. Not me.

That was the mindset I had for the whole summer before I began my time at Central Pentecostal College. I made a determination to get a Bachelor of Religious Education degree and nothing was going to stop me. I guess you could say that I was stubborn. I knew what I wanted and although I was preparing to attend the place where God called me to go, I wasn’t going to give Him any more control. I felt that way until a week before moving into the College dorm. That's when I decided to choose to be open to all that God had in store for me, so I quietly and quickly prayed, “Okay-God-if-it’s-Your-will” and never spoke of it again… until my wedding day less than a year later.

The day before moving into college dorm, a friend of mine invited me to join her and her friends at Kelsey’s Restaurant. I was excited to meet some new people, so I accepted her invitation. I dressed in cream-coloured corduroy overalls with a deep red, shiny, body-hugging shirt, and brown shoes, and headed for the restaurant. 

I met a guy that night who would change my life forever.

Chapter 1.2 - Let the Grooming Begin

There were about fifteen of us at Kelsey’s that evening. It was the first Sunday in September, the weather was beautiful, and we all sat outdoors on the patio.  There were only a couple of people that I knew in the group, but the conversation was pleasant and I was happy to be meeting new people.  The majority of these people were ones I would become close with over the next year – they were also headed to College.

I sat in the middle of the three teal and white stripe covered tables that were pushed together so we could be one big group.  I sat across from a young guy who had a big laugh.  He was joking around with a lot of the people there, so it was obvious he knew a lot of them.  I was so caught up in the whole experience that I did not say a whole lot.  I sat back listening to the fun conversation and thinking how blessed I was to be in that place at that time getting to know my future College mates.

By the time we finished our food and fellowship, it was dark out.  There was a group of us standing outside the restaurant waiting for the others to pay their bill.  I started talking to the guy I sat across from on the patio and before I knew it the majority of the group had left and it was just the two of us standing there.  We officially introduced ourselves to each other; Paula and Theo.  The few who were still making their way to their vehicles suggested we go to the train bridge. I had never been there and I was excited that I was asked to join them. 

I don’t recall whom I got a ride with that night. In fact, I can’t remember anyone who went to the bridge that night. The only thing I do recall is that I spent most of my time walking with and talking to Theo. He seemed to show up beside me everywhere I went.  When I was with him, it felt like there was no one else around. I was the centre of his attention. All his focus was on me and he didn’t let me out of his sight.

When I got home that night, all I could think about was how happy I was that a guy paid attention to me.  Theo was interested in me.

Little did I know that the grooming stage had already begun…

Chapter 1.3 - Then Came Fall

The next day, I moved into the college dorm.  Somehow Theo found out that I needed a screw to put up my mirror on the back of the door.  He came marching into the girl’s dorm, knocked on my door, and put my mirror up for me.  I thought that was so sweet.

Within the next few weeks, we saw each other off and on.  Fall had set in and the trees were absolutely gorgeous wearing their autumn attire of red, orange, and yellow. Theo and I would go for walks together, just talking and getting to know each other better.  I remember one walk in particular.  I was looking at him as I was talking and suddenly a branch hit me right in the face.  Theo started laughing.  He told me that he saw the branch, knew I would walk right into it, and thought it would be funny, so he just kept walking and watched it happen.  There was no physical injury, but my pride was bumped down a notch.

Theo liked to tell me about another girl at college who, according to him, was showing interest in him.  He wanted to make me jealous.  His plan was that if he could get me to believe that another girl was competition, then I would step up my game and insist he choose me over her.  I remember one story he told me about this other girl, Tess.  A group of students from the college went out for a meal.  Theo and Tess were two of them.  Theo told me how demanding Tess was, telling him where to sit and insisting he sit beside her at the table.  He told me did not like that she was so “bossy”. Not that I was the bossy type, but I decided at that moment that if I wanted Theo to like me, then I wouldn’t tell him what to do. 

The first part of my assertiveness was chipped away that day.

Another story he told me about Tess happened just before I walked into the sitting area at the dorm entrance of the college.  Theo said that Tess was sitting beside him with her hand on his leg, and she took it off right before I entered the room.  He told me that story in hopes of making me upset that she would that, and jealous enough to try harder and prove that I was the one for him, not Tess.

In only a few weeks, Theo had already turned things around. Instead of him pursuing me, I was pursuing him.  I was reeling myself in and all he had to do was sit back and watch.

Chapter 1.4 - Three Kisses

It was Thanksgiving weekend 1998.  Many of the college students went home for the weekend, but Theo decided to stick around even though his family lived less than a 2 hour drive away. He stayed to spend time with me, which I thought was pretty sweet.  On the Friday or Saturday, Theo and I decided to walk over to the plaza that was not too far from the college.  I believe that was the first time he held my hand. It was a little chilly that day, but the sun was shining nicely.  We were hanging out by the Great Canadian Bagel.  I sat down on the window ledge while Theo and I talked.  After a few minutes he leaned down and gave me a quick kiss on the lips.  I smiled.  We took one another’s hand and headed back to the college.

The hallways and public areas were nearly empty.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves.  We sat together on a couch down by the mailboxes. Theo put his arm around me and we chatted for a few minutes.  As he looked into my eyes, he put his right hand on my right cheek and slowly leaned in and pressed his lips to mine.  It was the most passionate, genuine, perfect kiss I ever had.  Little did I know that he would never again kiss me quite like that.

As we were about to head back down the hallway to where a few students were, Theo pulled me in for one more kiss.  This time the kiss was hard and rough. He exerted his physical dominance over me.  I did not like how it felt and I just wanted it to end.

That, however, was just the beginning…

Chapter 1.5 - Red Warning Lights

The few students who remained at the college during Thanksgiving weekend decided to get together in the lounge downstairs and watch “City of Angels.”  The lights were out and Theo and I were snuggled up together.  We were sitting on the couch behind everyone else, so they did not notice when we kissed.  At one point during the movie, Theo asked me to officially be his girlfriend. The answer I gave him became the word I used the most when he asked me, or forced me, to do something… “yes.”

Having a boyfriend brought up a lot of feelings associated with being sexually assaulted when I was in grade 8.  When Theo first started to touch me, I would completely freeze up.  I did not have a voice to tell him to stop because I would be instantly be taken back to being grade 8 when an older guy would put his hands on my body without my permission. That guy stole my innocence and my God-given ability and right to stand up for myself. After piecing together that the fearful and tense emotions I experienced when things were getting physical with Theo stemmed from the assault, I decided to go to counselling.  I needed to get over what happened in my past so I could engage appropriately in this new relationship with Theo.  My counsellor gave me handouts about assertiveness, and after only four sessions, she said I didn’t have to go back anymore.  What I heard was, “You’re cured.” There was one statement she said to me during our sessions that gave me the ability to put aside my feelings and move forward with Theo… “Not every guy is the one who hurt you.” That statement rolled over and over in my mind and granted me the power to let my guard down.

On our one-month-iversary, November 11th, we attended a Hokus Pick concert.  I got dressed up, Theo picked me up, and we headed to the concert to celebrate being together for 1 month. On our way back from the concert we had our first big fight.  I don’t remember what the fight was about, but Theo was yelling at me in the car.  When we got back to the school, I got out of the car and headed straight upstairs to my room.  Our dorms were separated into male and female sides, so Theo could not follow me upstairs.  I heard him yelling, “Come down here” and “I want to talk to you” but I went to my room.  I was scared, and upset that he was yelling at me. After a few minutes, one of the girls from dorm came to my room and told me that Theo was downstairs looking for me.  I said, “I know.”  She went on to say that he asked her to come up and get me because he wanted to talk to me. Eventually, I went back downstairs.  He said, “Let’s go to the car and talk.”  I was apprehensive, but I decided to go hear him out. As we walked out the door, I said something to him that I had never said to any other human being in my life… “Just don’t hit me.”

Let me stop here for a moment. I grew up in a loving household. I was never hit or abused in any way.  I had relationships with other guys, but I never feared for my physical safety. I was never punched, slapped, kicked, or physically injured. I had no prior experiences that would initiate those four words, “just don’t hit me.”  Perhaps many of you are asking, “Why did she ignore those red flashing warning lights?”  The only answer that I have been able to piece together after all these years is that I had no idea what could happen if I stayed in the relationship. And, from that statement, it portrays the idea that I would be okay with anything else he decided to do or say, as long as he didn’t hit me.  It is evident that I had developed a warped view of what a relationship should look like.  I did not know my basic rights as a human being.

We sat in the car talking for over three hours. Well, it wasn’t all talking.  After we had worked through the issues at hand, Theo wanted to “make up.”  We kissed a lot as he fondled my body.  I knew he wanted me to touch him but I just couldn’t do it. He eventually put my hand where he wanted it.  My mind was working overtime.  I didn’t want to say “no” and upset him again, since I just got him calmed down, and I didn’t want him to think I was angry with him.  I told myself that it was easier to push down all the emotions I was experiencing and just go with the flow, then to risk upsetting him again. After all, not every guy is the one who hurt me.  I began to train my mind that what Theo was doing was okay because he loved me, not because he wanted to hurt me. I forced myself to be okay with what he was doing.  After that night, I found myself doing that a lot.

Chapter 1.6 - Let's Get Physical

Our relationship began to move quickly, and it didn’t take long for things to get physical.  We both believed that sex before marriage was not the way God planned, so we didn’t have intercourse; but we did almost everything else. 

(Because of the nature of my audience, I will not go into details.  I will say that I did not want to make him mad, he wanted to be happy, and I did what ever he wanted to make him happy – forced or not.)

One weekend in November, Theo brought me out to his adoptive parents house.  The drive took us about two hours, and as much as I tried to stay awake, I just kept dozing off. His parents were an older couple who lived on a farm.  They no longer had any animals around, except for a border collie named, Cindy. We knew what the rules of their house were for married people not sleeping in the same bed, so after Theo’s parents went to sleep, he would spend time in my room.  We started planning our wedding that weekend…

Being coerced to do things out of the fear of repercussions is not love.  It is manipulation, control, and abuse.  Perfect love drives out fear, and there was nothing perfect about the type of love that Theo had for me.  I could easily beat myself up for “allowing” him to take advantage of me, and for the times I “led him on.”  I certainly take ownership for my part, but I have recently learned that I have no guilt in being abused.  Regardless of MY actions, he still had to choose HIS actions.

And, his actions just kept getting worse.

Chapter 1.7 - The Engagement

Theo and I would go for a walk almost every day.  There was a park that we went to that was not far from the college. It had a little playground and some benches.  One afternoon we walked there and took some pictures of us.  It was our first photo shoot.

On another walk, I was looking at Theo as we chatted and suddenly I got hit in the head with a tree branch.  Theo burst out laughing. He told me that he noticed I was heading right for the branch but said nothing to me because he thought it would be funny for it to hit me.  I did not think it was very funny.  Now, looking back on it, it was actually really inconsiderate of him to allow me to get hurt.  He knew I was going to get hurt, watched it happen, gave me no warning at all, and then laughed about it at my expense.  Not exactly a “knight in shining armour.”

On December 15, 1998, I was having supper in the cafeteria at the college.  Theo arrived and joined me at the table.  He was acting really strange.  He said he needed to talk to me, but “not here.”  I suggested that we go for a walk and he agreed.  After getting my coat and boots on, we walked to our favourite park.  Everything was covered in snow, so we just stood there together.  Theo was still acting strange and I wondered what he needed to talk to me about that was making him so nervous.

A couple of minutes later, Theo pulled a box out of his pocket and opened it up.  Inside was beautiful gold and sterling gold ring with a diamond in the middle. I threw my arms around him and was screaming.  I couldn’t stop jumping up and down and screaming.  After a few moments, I calmed down long enough to ask him if he had actually asked me to marry him.  In my excited screaming, I didn’t even hear him ask the question. He assured me that he asked, and then put the ring on my finger.  It fit perfectly.

After I calmed down, Theo and I walked over to his place and made some phone calls to his family and friends and shared the good news.   We held off calling my family because we wanted to tell my parents in person before letting the rest of my family know.  On December 17th we got on a Greyhound bus together, left the city, and started the 18-hour journey to my parent's house.  Their reaction to our news was not at all what I expected…

Chapter 1.8 - A Truthful Soul

The “engagement” policy at the Bible College was that we speak to the Dean before anyone popped the question. Needless to say, we did not do that.  Instead, the morning after our engagement we went to speak to the Dean. He was not at all impressed that we were engaged, and he was very clear about it.  He said, “Obviously, you are coming in here to tell me, not to ask my permission.”

Dr. Green had known Theo for about three years before I came into the picture.  He knew more about Theo than I did.  I will never forget what he said to me that day.  He looked at me and said, “I will tell you what I would tell my own daughter; I don’t think you know what you are getting yourself into.”

He was totally right. 

I was already so entrenched in the thought of a life with Theo that the only thing Dr. Green’s words did was upset me.  Why would he say a statement like that and not tell me more? Probably because he knew I did not want to hear it.  He knew this game – he had been dealing with students for years that believed it was “God’s will” for them to get married.  He knew what we were thinking better than we did.  Would it have made a difference if he would have taken me aside and had a heart-to-heart with me about what he knew about Theo’s behaviour in the past? I don’t know.  What I do know is that I was a very naïve girl back then.  I was innocent and I saw only the best in people.  I believed that I could fix the few flaws that I saw in Theo up to that point.  I believed that my love was enough for him, and that once he understood just how much I loved him then his behaviour would change.  

What I couldn’t believe and certainly didn’t see was that I was already tangled in Theo’s web. Now that I had his ring on my finger, I was going to be loyal, supportive, and stand up for him all the time.  What I also started doing was something that would last for years and years… making excuses for him.

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