Judy was ready for a fight. She had come prepared. All her ammunition was stacked up and ready to be fired. She had had a bad day at work. She had gained three pounds over the past week without eating anything wrong. Besides, she had the perfect excuse — her period was only a few days away. Tense and angry, she felt ripe to explode.
A couple of days earlier, Judy’s husband had made an offhand remark about a dress she was wearing looking a little tight. Granted, she had asked him what he thought of it. Ever since, she had been stewing about his answer.
When he walked in the door from working outside, she hit him full blast. “Get those muddy shoes off my clean carpet this minute!” Jumping back as if stung, her husband looked down at his footprints, barely visible on the rug. “Aw, come on, Judy; it’s not so bad. Here, I’ll take them off for you.”
“You never care about the house! All the work I do around here you just take for granted!”
“No, I don’t,” he began to protest. “Besides, how many times do you compliment me on the yard work?”
“I did two times last week. Once on Thursday morning, on the way out to the car, and the other time was Sunday when you brought in the bouquet of flowers.” Judy lobbed two shells in his vicinity. “When’s the last time you said anything nice about the house, huh?”
“I always tell you how nice the house is!” her husband replied, confused. “I don’t remember every single time I say something nice to you.”
Judy followed, relentless in her anger, sensing she was gaining the historical upper hand. “Well, I remember every mean thing you’ve said or done to me over the past ten years!”
“You remember everything!” her husband fired back. “It doesn’t matter how insignificant, or how much I said I was sorry, or how much you provoked me. I don’t even remember saying or doing half of what you say I did!”
It seemed to turn out like this every time they fought. He would get so turned around he couldn’t even remember why the argument had started in the first place. All he could remember was the sickening feeling of dealing with Judy in one of her rages. He felt lost and out of his element. She would bring up stuff he had said years back. He couldn’t remember why he had said it or if he had even said it at all. Judy never seemed able to let go of the past. And her version of the past was always so much worse than he remembered.
Historians are people who, like Judy, remember every bad thing you have ever done or they think you have done. With computer accuracy, all your bad moments are logged and recorded to be brought up in full detail at any future time the historian deems appropriate. There is no getting beyond an event, no putting the past behind you and going forward. Like a heap of heavy luggage, historians drag all of it along with them.
Historians’ view of the past is decidedly one-sided. They never seem to remember their own faults or mistakes with the same clarity they recall yours. If you bring up one event in your defense, they can come up with a multitude of others to bury it in a verbal barrage.
This type of emotional abuse is dangerous because historians seem to be presenting facts. They back up those facts with details: dates, places, and actual conversations. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the information and give in to the demands of this type of abuser. But often the “facts” being presented are actually the abuser’s opinion of what you said and why. A word, a phrase, an intonation can be changed to produce a completely different intent than the one you had when you said it. It isn’t so much history as it is historical fiction, based on the truth but altered for dramatic reasons.
In healthy relationships, the positive and happy memories are those that survive. The others are dealt with and forgiven, and the relationship is allowed to continue on. Each of us makes mistakes on a daily basis. If these mistakes were merely piled up on top of each other, they would soon bury us. Historians can’t forgive and forget, nor do they want to. Their manipulation of the past helps them to control people in their present and future.
If you are struggling with emotional abuse, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.