Monday, May 21, 2007

Normal Everyday Stuff: Phone Call 2 to Abuser

I really didn't want to make this call. I couldn't gather my thoughts and even as I talked with Tom and my husband, I was unsure of my need. Part of me wanted Bob's response to be "no" and part of me wanted it to be "yes". It was neither.

I had no idea what I wanted to say, for one last time, if he denied my request to see him face to face. Yes, I deserved an explanation ,but the only thing I could think that I had to know was "What happened to the dogs?"

I told my husband, "No mumbling. No comments. No angry retorts." No reply. "You are ignoring me."

"Ok, I promise."

Tom asked if I wanted him in the room or out in the reception area and I simply pointed with some vigor to the chair he was standing in front of and then cracked a smile. He smiled back and sat down.

After taking the phone number out, I dialed and Bob's wife answered. I didn't remember what she sounded like. I hadn't remembered what Bob sounded like. I asked to speak to Bob and she asked who it was, and I told her. I had made the decision to talk with her if she wanted, but she hesitated and moment and simply said, "Hold on." and went and got Bob.

I wanted Tom and Robin there but I purposely looked away from them when Bob came to the phone. I especially did not want to pick up on my husband's anger or protectiveness if it arose. I did not want to deal with anyone's emotions but my own. They were enough to sort through and listen to.

When Bob said hello, I told him I was sitting with Tom and my husband in Tom's office calling him back as I had said I would. Bob responded with something like this." "Well, I just got back from Argentina and we haven't had time to all sit down as a family. I am not sure when that can happen. Michael's family is due into town tonight . I am afraid it might be a while...... before we can work anything out. I am still open to it but it might be quite a while before we can all talk and well it might be quite a while if we decide to do this - like several months. You do know what Michael does don't you? And I was thinking maybe you and Tom and Michael and I could sit down after the summer."

"Yes, I know Michael is state youth director and works the camps for the summer... and I thought you might be more comfortable with him joining us and I'm ok with that."

"Well, between that and his and (his daughter's) going out of town for a week and a half and the national conference in August, it might be late summer or fall if we decide to do it."

"Ok, well when do you want me to touch base with you again? How am I going to know?"

"Well, its going to be a while. Maybe just call back if you don't want me to call you." We both paused thinking about the options.

"How about if you get Michael to email Tom, and Tom can tell me, and I'll call you then?"

"Ok, Michael can call Tom, and then you can call me." He was sounding relieved.

"How is your son?" he suddenly threw in.

It was such a fast change of subject that I was trying to mentally wrap my mind around his question. I was wondering how he knew anything about my son. "Which one?" I replied somewhat confused while Tom leaned over to Robin and said "He is trying to normalize the conversation."

"The one I met at Al's (my brother) funeral. Do you have more than one?"

"Yes I have tw0. You met my oldest. Our youngest just got married."
"Which one did I meet?" he asked betraying the fact that he might be a little more nervous than he was letting on.
"The oldest and they are both doing well."
"I still have that picture you took of (my daughter). The one with the bubbles." We both said "the bubbles" simultaneously. "I had it in my office at work for years and when her daughter was born I framed one of her and put it beside it."

"Do they look alike?" I asked.

"Yes, they look a lot alike. And Di, (wife) has taken up photography." He remembered I was really into it.

"I still take pictures. I like closeups a lot now." I said realizing it seemed ok having this sort of normal, human conversation with him, though I was aware of what he was doing. It was ok.

"We went out to Yellowstone this past year to see the wolves." he shared. "Mostly (wife) takes nature pictures."

"That sounds really fun."

"It was. Seeing the wolves was really awesome."I just got back from Argentina, went down to hunt dove. Dove are pests to the people of Argentina. Someone here asked me if I was going on a mission trip, knowing I was a pastor, and I told them the only mission I was on was to rid the world of some pests." He had a lot to say and at first I was hesitant - but why not? I figured it was ok to just be human this time. I didn't think it could hurt. I need to see the whole picture of who he is and has become. Seems to be healthy as long as I don't lose myself in that part of it.

"My nephew used to run a quail farm down in Thomasville." I shared.

"Really!"

"Bob, can I ask you one thing before we go?"

"Ok," he said rather hesitantly with a change in voice tone, but my question wasn't a hard one.

"What ever happened to the dogs?" Tom looked at Robin and Robin looked at Tom and they both had this exasperated look and shook their heads in disbelief.

"Well, I took them with me when I first moved and they stayed in the back of my truck at the little parsonage and then when I came back down to get the family, I left them with a friend who had quite a few of his own dogs until I could get the kennels built and went back to get them." He seemed quite relieved and surprised that my question had to do with Mack and Preach. "Preach died one hunting trip when I had taken him out. Mack lived to return to the state here, but was way past his hunting years. He eventually died and I buried him in my dog cemetary - lots of sand and easy to dig. I have always had dogs."

"Well, I always wondered." I explained.

"We carry things with us. Life goes on, doesn't it? We continued in areas and things that we shared," he seemed to think that was a comfort, and in a way it was. He had introduced me to backpacking and though I never continued that avenue, we have as a family enjoyed many wonderful camping expeditions. He doesn't know that though. Yeah, I guess there were things we shared that were ok and even some positive. I can handle that.

"So, you'll get Michael to touch base with Tom when you are ready, and then I will call you to see what you decided, right?" I changed the subject and aimed at ending the conversation.

"Yes, I will do that late summer or early fall."

"Ok." I had little choice and it felt fine.

"Take care."

"You too."

Upon hanging up, I gave my rendition of the other side of the conversation to my husband and Tom. Hubby was quiet and not very comfortable with the shallowness of the conversation. Tom asked me how I felt.

I responded by telling him I wasn't sure yet and I wasn't sure I trust myself enough to know. I explained that, "It is easy for me to fall back into the 17 year old. It felt ok talking about normal stuff though I wasn't expecting it, but I could feel myself doing the old 'put aside the reality of the abuse' and try and get from Bob the relational dynamics that I had wanted at 17. I am going to have to be careful to find the full reality and humaness of life, and I think that is a good thing to see the fullness and not just the abuse, without letting the human parts make me susceptible to old patterns. I can feel myself reaching into Bob like the 17 year old. Isn't it amazing that after all these years, I still tend to do that."

Tom nodded for a few moments and then said something that really touched me. "Di, I think you are healthier than you would be if you had not gone down this path. I mean we all have our dealings, but not many of us reach the place that we understand the dynamics of what we feel and why, the way you do. You just see them and share them and put them out there in the light .......... and that is so healthy."

Wow. Now that is being known and cared for and shared with in a righteous and loving, agape way. I am blessed.

10 comments:

Monalea said...

Di, I know this is hard for you....but I'm so glad you choose to share.

I love you!

Monalea

Di said...

Monolea, sharing is the easy part. It feels good to share and be supported.

What was really hard happened last night. I was sitting here thinking about stuff and I suddenly realized that Bob may not even remember having sex with me that first time - when I gave him my virginity.

I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of non-existence. I pictured myself asserting "I gave you myself, and you don't even remember it!"

I felt so sick that I just had to get up and go outside and water the grass to spend a few moments with my thoughts. It really felt awful. The idea really hurt -almost as if it erased me. I had to work at both letting myself feel the pain and telling myself he does not define me.

The fact that he had sex with me was bad enough but the thought that it mattered so little that he might not even remember that first time......tough, but faceable.

Di

Monalea said...

Di,

Your comment 'I gave him my virginity', doesn't seem to fit. In my eyes you 'didn't give' he took.

I hope it is ok that I gave you my opinion.

I love you!

Monalea

Di said...

Monolea, comments and disagreements and challenges and thoughts, etc. are always welcome. Sometimes it is discussing the hard things that brings the most light. Kathy has challenged me several times and our discussions have led to some growth on my part and hopefully on hers as well. That is what this blog is for.

I definitely hear what you are saying. Thinking about it one way, he did take my virginity, yet the physical way it happened.....well, let me explain.

It was the third week that I babysat for their daughter when it occured. By this point we had been intimate at least 3 times. Twice in the house while (daughter) slept and once when we went to play tennis.

This week we were in his and (wife's) bed. I don't remember getting there but I was not in the least bit resistant. Bob was on his back and I straddled him and lowered myself onto his penis. I remember it hurting a little but not much. I remember it being my choice - I wanted this. I felt that I gave freely.

So...we are back to how much responsibility I carried. How freely can a child of 17 give themselves in a power relationship? Physically I made the motions of giving him my virginity. I don't remember him doing anything to pressure me or encourage me. Neither did he do anything to discourage me. Unlike the oral sex or when he partially entered me the week before - this time I was physically in charge. In outward action, I took the initiative. I was the aggressor.

Yet, I understand the complexities of professional misconduct and the power he carried that I did not carry. He abused me regardless of whose initiative it was. The aspect of abuse was there even though I made the physical advances in this case. Emotionaly, he was very much the one in charge.

At one time, I carried enormous amounts of shame over the fact that I did that to myself, climbed on top of him and skewered myself, so to speak. I hated myself for it. The way it happened made it even more difficult to see it as abuse.

The really cool thing in the present is that there is no shame there anymore. When I say "I gave him my virginity." I can say it as a fact, but without taking blame or feeling condemnation or shame.

I could be compared to a child who took a $100 bill out of their parent's wallet and gave it to someone. The child physically gave the $$ away, but it would be very wrong for someone to accept it. They would be abusing the situation if they took it. Nevertheless, they could say that the child gave it to them.

I wonder had I not been such a willing sexual partner if it would have progressed to this point? (Amazing that I can now ask myself this question without taking on blame.) Bob's hesitancy on the day he discovered I was a virgin and only partially entered me, and then withdrew, has always caused me to wonder what he was thinking.

He could have taken me that day. Why didn't he? Perhaps I will ask him.

For years I wished he had, because then I could fully blame him and not hate myself. Now, knowing what he was thinking, does not define me or my value, but I am curious to know how this defined him. Somehow allowing him to be fully human, granted with some major issues, feels as it if is imperative to my healing. Perhaps because I hope to soon be sharing my story with pastors in a formal setting.

So, does this help? Do you still disagree? What about the rest of you out there?

Di

Monalea said...

I'm glad you explained. I understand what you are saying. If he had been your age I would know you 'gave' but because of the age difference and his authority position he used and took advantage of you.

I have been in a similar position and it took me a long time to see I just wanted love, not abuse at any cost to me. And that I had been groomed, set up and manipulated for his self use, not because he loved me. I was the means to and end for him. It was not personal to him, I was just there and if I hadn’t been there he would have found someone else to use and abuse.

If you had any responsibility, control or power in this situation the guilt and shame would not cut so deep nor cause so much damage!

Di said...

Hmmmm. Your comment that if you hadn't been there he would have just found someone else to abuse, is a big dose of reality.

Wow, what a negating kind of statement as to one's value. This is why it is so important to remind myself that my value is not defined by what others do or think.

To make it personal...Bob would have found someone else to sleep with if I had not been available.

With a pastor, it wouldn't have matter if I was older - he still had the power.

Can you explain that last paragraph? I get the feeling there is something you have learned that I am not seeing.

Blessings to you, Monolea.

Di

Monalea said...

Di,

I haven't forgotten you, just trying to explain carrying the guilt for someone else’s sins in letter form is more difficult. To carry the guilt of someone else is a big responsibility. When you carry their guilt and shame, it keeps you in control of an out of control situation. It keeps you locked into a victim situation caring guilt and share that are not yours but the abuser. It is a familiar area that after years you have become comfortable with. It is like picking up an extra suitcase of bricks that was never yours to pick up and then after years not quite knowing how to put them down and yet you have become very secure in your job of carrying the suitcase. In someway it keeps you connected to the abuser, and makes you feel like you have power, although the truth is that the guilt and shame are not yours, have never been yours and they have begun to cut deep and cause such deep damage until accepting the real truth of the matter. Please, if this just seems to go in circles and confuses you I’m sorry. My hope and prayer for you is that you will grasp the truth and run with it.

I love you 2-3-6

Monalea

Di said...

Monolea, you are very clear. The analogy is a good one - and I have known this for some time. When I say "know" I have to clarify though.

I knew it in my head soon after beginning therapy almost 7 years. Gradually I came to know it in my heart. I came to internalize the knowledge in a deep way.

By year 3 of therapy, the shame I carried was not for his sin but for what remained in me of my own emptiness and neediness that still led me to do things to please others and get their attention and also left me open to the affair I walked into.

That shame was a bummer too. Shame always is. Shame blocks God's healing. As I came to accept myself with my limitations, healing came. Perhaps the shame itself was the culprit of the damage to my soul and once I "put it down" as you so well described, nothing remained to inflict the cut into me.

The greatest shame in my life preceded Bob, and was carried through that relationship, magnified by it, intensified with Minton, and fertilized by the other's poor responses when I told them of it. Once the shame for the relationships was dealt with, I faced the reasons that I wanted acceptance so badly that I accepted the abuse for the crumbs of "acceptance" and "love" I could find.

Perhaps it is time to post "the rest of the story".

Let me assure you first though, that while I recognize the existence of patterns in my life prior to the abuse, the abuse was not my fault and I know that fully.

Di

Monalea said...

My dear Di,

You are so precious to my heart. My counselor told me once, (I was beening very stubborn) "Let us pretend all of this was your fault......Guess what? Christ blood would cleans this sin also."

My counselor always had a way of making me look at all sides of the box. Most of the time he would plant the seeds for healing and they would eventually take root and grow.

Love you 2-3-6

Monalea

Di said...

About forgiveness, I have been wondering what God does with folks like Bob. I am not sure Bob is capable of true remorse over his behavior. He has a major character disorder according to my shrink. He has lived so thickly in denial that he befriended my brother and never felt guilty about it. He kept a picture that I took of his daughter on his desk and it never bothered him. He said to me that he "had no idea" that I had been so hurt. Did he not attend pastoral ethics seminars like other pastors are required to attend. The bet is that he did and still managed to not connect the two.

John once said that knowing Bob had a daughter and that he still abused me and never came to grips with the damage, says a great deal. Having a daughter and not facing it is worse than someone without a child. The fact that he could abuse me and be a father makes him a lot sicker.

I'm glad I am not God.

PS. What is the 2-3-6 stuff?

Di