My brother sent me quite a long reply this morning. He’s concerned that I haven’t ‘moved on’ after all this time and might still be in victim mode. He fully expected I had scar tissue and has always believed me (he didn’t at first) so it’s no news to him, although he did say it matters to him. He wanted me to understand that I could choose to move beyond the abuse and release my abusers power over my life.
Non-survivors are pretty clueless aren’t they? Nobody ever tells someone with a physical injury that they just need to move on and forget the past so they can move forward if they point out they still have some pain or scars at time.
His responses are typical and don’t upset me much. I’m just happy he’s willing to talk about it.
I spent about an hour crafting a reply explaining about the cyclical nature of healing, the difference between dissociative memory and regular memory, the importance of integrating the pieces and the difference as I see it between being a victim and a survivor. And then took a page from Harriet Lerner the family systems therapist and decided to go minimal, warm and friendly. I thanked him for the thought he’d put into his response and said the following:
Thanks for the thought you put into responding to my email.
Don’t be concerned that I’m putting some energy into this right now. I’m well and happy and living a full and creative life, much like the survivor you describe and for many of the same reasons. Although bits of healing pop up from time to time and need looking after, in general this issue hasn’t gotten much attention in the past decade or so.
With [abuser’s name] cancer recurrence last summer, I believe that he is likely to die in the next while, and the death of a parent makes a person wants to revisit and tie up some loose ends, which I’ve been doing. I have some gyne issues I’m trying to resolve, so the more thorough exam was part of that, and gave me the opportunity to ask about something I hadn’t had the opportunity to ask about before this.
I’ll respond in a little more depth when I have the time to do it justice.
I feel so mature and clever, responding this way, like I stepped around a big hole. The long self-justifying explanation was only feeding the pattern of him seeing me as a victim, as someone who wasn’t in charge of her life and living it responsibly. At some point we’ll have that discussion, it’s not yet the time.