A few weeks ago, a guy who I dated briefly a very long time ago, got in touch via Facebook.
We aren't 'friends' - so i took a while to notice the missed messages.
In our time together he was manipulative and sleazy and prone to violent outbursts when he didn’t get what he wanted during sex. Mostly he'd be sort of enchanting and playful, then out of the blue, suddenly aggressive and cruel. It was an unpleasant head-fuck of an experience. He said he had had a diagnosis of a specific personality disorder - which at the time I didn’t know anything about. So subsequently got a bit educated around.
So out of the blue he gets in touch wanting to be ‘friends’ asking if I’d like to meet up (he’s in London now) to talk about our mutual professional connections and interests. He wants to become a therapist.
I ignore the message for a month, then eventually find some words for him.
I write a letter and re-write it many times. tweak it and tweak it. And eventually cut most of it out and arrive at something that is very simple.
I don't get into expressing anything about the reaction I'm having to the idea of him being a therapist. Who knows what he's been through in the past 15 or 20years! Maybe he's a new person! So i let that lie. Suffice to say it reminds me of this hilarious article on the Daily Mash. The other side of this coin though is that healing things in ourselves naturally means we want to extend the opportunity of healing outwards. 12 step fellowship programs understand this. The crack that lets the light in etc etc.
I think wounds can become super powers if we can work out how to heal and transform them. It is all possible.
Anyway, I decide to focus instead on my feelings and what i want to be true now.
I’m going to leave the letter here.
Not in a quest to humiliate someone in public (I have changed a few details)
I leave it here because it represents a new leaf for me: finding language that represents my experience with out tipping into emotional drama and blame. I doubt prior to the #metoo movement, i would have responded to him at all. I just would have just blanked him, buried my feeling and hoped I never had to deal with it.
I have gained the courage to leave it here because i first posted it earlier today in a private group i created for people to share delicate things they want to grow: shy and uncertain hopes and dreams, however unrealistic. It is a safe space for this kind of thing, called The Cathedral of Fragile Hopes. It is private, but you can join if you answer the membership questions...
Anyway, the incredibly human atmosphere there and the beautiful heart-led people, gave me encouragement to share this more broadly here.
I made a promise to myself a few years ago, that I wasn’t going to post anything on social media that wasn’t hopefully good for more people than just me. So posting this became part of that.
This kind of thing wants to sit in the shadows right next to shame & it needn’t.
My hope is that by sharing this here; by shining attention into these shadowy areas, some healing can happen.
• • •
‘Hey [person’s name]
Thanks for getting in touch.
Yeah sounds like you are moving into some material that is related to where i am working these days.
In terms of meeting up, I don't feel i want to. I didn't like how it went between us and i felt a bit used by you for sex if I'm honest. The whole thing left a bad taste.
In the end, I don't think you treated me very well. I felt manipulated into doing things I wasn’t comfortable with, then when I expressed my discomfort, you were angry.
I found it a very confusing experience.
Perhaps you were dealing with all sorts of unprocessed pain. I’m sorry for that. But at the time, I was left with the feeling of not being sure you were a kind person.
People change and it sounds like you are working with some of the challenges life has given you to turn it towards helping people.
I'm not bitter about it, I just don't want to be mates or colleagues or anything. I have plenty of people in my life who do that job really well.
Good luck with everything.’
• • •
How do we stay kind when things are triggering, with out dissipating our power?
I am looking forward to exploring this more.
I wonder if I dealt with it as well as I could have... It was an extremely uncomfortable edge for me to write this at all and i felt all wobbly and jangled afterwards. Relieved though and grateful for the new language arriving. But shook up and like i might somehow get in trouble.
What the fuck is all that about?!
I've had worse experiences.
But I'm thinking of this is a beginning.
Special thanks and shout out to Dave Rock, and Bella Kirkus for staying blisteringly true to their uncomfortable edges and daring to report back from their hearts.
Photograph - my bare feet in the grass at the end of summer.