There are many kinds of abuse
X: “Why won’t you spend more time with me and Y?”
Me: “This thing happened. It happened and it was very bad for me. It made me angry and sad and scared. It didn’t hurt me physically but sometimes, even years later, I flash back to it and it can make me sad and angry for hours. “
X: “No it didn’t. That never happened.”
Me: “Yes, yes it did.”
X “Give me one example of when that happened.” … Me: “in Location H, Year 19-. June or July.”
X: “I remember that. But it didn’t happen that way. I never said those things. Neither did he.”
Me: “Yes, yes you did.”
X: Well I don’t remember it. You’re crazy.”
Me: “But you just-“
X”Tell me a specific time it happened!”
Me:”Location H, June 198-, Location K, February 199-, Location Q, December 198-, Location Z, 20-“
X: You’re just obsessed with the past.”
Me: “YOU ASKED!”
X: “I don’t know where you get this.”
Me: “Would you have believed me if I’d listed it chronologically?”
X: “No, because if I don’t remember it, you CAN’T be right.”
On the surface, this could be a lot of things. Hell, in the right context it could be Holmes and Watson, on BBC’s Sherlock. It could generate laughter.
Here’s the thing. It could also be a wide variety of very deep cutting hurt and pain. This could also be a husband who called his wife a hideously obscene word and belittled her in public. It could have been a parent who made a sexual advance toward their child. It could be a mother who backed up her almost-husband while he screamed at her adult daughter for telling him he was wrong about something. It could be a stepmother who stood by as her muscular, six foot husband called his teen daughter a bitch and a whore and a piece of fucking trash, and shook her by the front of her blouse.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been in these conversations after the fact. I’m not even a minister yet. Their existence, and what they feel like are among my motivations to be ordained. Maybe I can’t stop the ones who don’t leave marks, who leave their targets wondering frantically: “Am I really crazy? Am I? Am I?”
If I can’t then so be it. I can be there when the target remembers they are human and that they need help, a safe place to heal and someone who will hear what they say without making them ask if their own memory is on permanent reboot. Please the Gods I can be there for them then.