I want my abusers to apologize to me

Today I read a thread on Twitter explaining that most men have done something to make a woman uncomfortable, or have even assaulted her, without realizing it–like, for example, drunken hook-ups.  But it said NO!  Don’t track her down and apologize to her!  You’ll only re-traumatize her!  And you’re only doing it to absolve yourself!

WTF?

I want all my abusers–whether it involved mental, emotional, verbal, threatening, or sexual abuse, or sexual harassment–to track me down and apologize to me.

It’s not for him.  It’s for me.  It’s to hear from him that I did not deserve this, that it was all his fault.  It’s to make it easier for me to forgive him.  It’s to ease my mind from all the trauma and endless circles of thinking over the years that kept leading me back to the thought, Maybe I did something to deserve it.  Maybe I was the real abuser.

I posted on Twitter:

TBH, I’d love to hear an apology from various people who abused me in the past. It’s not to make *them* feel better, but to hear them finally say that I did not deserve what they did. That would be tremendously healing. I long to hear this from Richard/Tracy/Shawn/Phil.

I keep hearing people say “Don’t contact the person you abused to apologize! It’ll re-traumatize them!” But that is NOT the way I feel about it at all! I even try to friend them on Facebook, open the lines of communication, hoping to hear this from them.

I told Richard/Tracy on my blog that they can apologize to me. I long to hear this from all my abusers. I’ve heard a version of it from Phil, but he never mentioned the sexual abuse. Ex-bullies have apologized; I welcomed it and became friends with them on Facebook.

I finally got Shawn to friend me on Facebook a few days ago. I’ve tried for years. I hoped he would see who I really am and not the distortion he had in his head 30 yrs ago.

Years ago we reconciled, so I thought it was okay for us to contact each other, yet I’ve heard nothing from him for 15 years despite a few attempts over that time.  This friending on Facebook was important to me.

Two days later, he unfriended me without a word. I have no idea why.

Once again, it felt like that apology from him had escaped my grasp, like he still blamed me for everything, had still made me into a monster in his head, despite the reconciliation years ago.  And yet he was the one who did the abusing, based on a patriarchal view of relationships and a prejudice against introversion.  Phil and I also made peace with each other years ago, yet I still can’t get him to respond to me on Facebook just to find out how he is, make sure he’s still alive during COVID.  Meanwhile, I’ve been friends online with Peter for many years.  He messaged me recently to make sure I hadn’t gotten the plague.  I want to find out the same from my other exes.  Because no matter what they did 25 or 30 years ago, I still care.

This idea that abusers/rapists should not apologize–This is not universally held! I wonder how many of my abusers have held back from that apology I long for, because they’ve heard this.

Here’s someone else who welcomed that apology from her abuser years later: My abuser apologized, and I forgave him.

Another writer says that the #MeToo movement should demand apologies, that they are important to make the patriarchy start to crumble: Men need to stand up and apologize for sexual abuse, says Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler

A therapist explains how to properly make such an apology: Dear Therapist: Is it possible to apologize for a sexual assault?

In a way, seeing threads like the one I saw today, telling men to NEVER EVER track her down to apologize, feels like a new violation, a new invalidation of my feelings about past abuse.  It feels like yet another denial of those apologies I so crave, like I’m wrong to even want an abuser to apologize to me.  It’s good to do a quick Google search and see that no, I’m not wrong, that many people do actually feel the same way I do about apologies from abusers.

Danny reached out to me a few weeks ago for the first time in almost three decades to apologize, and I had no idea how much I needed to hear that from him.

Of course, an apology doesn’t change what Danny did to me and hearing it didn’t instantly wipe away the suffering I’ve experienced throughout my life because of it. However, Danny taking ownership of his actions, acknowledging how wrong they were and expressing his deep sorrow for what he did has helped to begin healing a wound I thought would never heal.

We aren’t sure where we go from here, but we are both better for having made contact again and the reconciliation that occurred as a result. My story is mine alone and every other survivor has their own personal tale to tell ― or not tell. That is up to them. And, if someone else’s abuser reaches out to ask for forgiveness, there should be no expectation that the survivor in that situation should accept the apology. Every experience and every survivor and every abuser is different and everyone needs to do what feels right to them.

However, Danny and I hope that as we as a nation continue to grapple with domestic violence, sexual assault and other incredibly personal and consequential traumas, our story might provide an example of what can happen when people take responsibility for their actions, even if it’s 30 years later. –Donna Thomas, My Abuser Contacted Me After 30 Years. Now We’ve Both Agreed To Tell Our Stories. We need to hear stories from men who have taken responsibility for their actions.

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Don’t force me to share a common spoon during COVID

First the American archbishop said that we should use separate spoons.  Then regional metropolitans, including ours, began to direct their parishes that no, we will NOT change any communion practices.  When people praise these metropolitans, I think, “You’re praising people for making it impossible for people like me to take Communion for a year and a half; you’re praising people for possibly condemning thousands to contract COVID.”

Yet GOARCH has published articles (see below) explaining that sharing communion spoons is NOT the unchangeable from-the-beginning Tradition people think it is.

Meanwhile, I’m stuck knowing that established science is FACT–confirmed by experiment and reproduction of results, not subject to what you think about it–and how disease spreads.  Social distancing–wearing masks, not kissing the icons, not wiping your mouth on the communion cloth, no coffee hour, sitting apart–seems all for naught if you stick a spoon in your mouth that somebody else just had in their mouth.  That’s the way germs spread!  In an article I link below, Fr. Alkiviadis C. Calivas writes,

Some who wish to retain the common spoon believe it is sufficient to teach the communicants to tilt their head back and open their mouth wide, so that the priest may drop or pour the sacred elements into the mouth of the recipient. The aim of this method is to avoid touching the communicant’s mouth and lips. However, this model is not fail-safe; it does not guarantee the desired outcome.

I’ve tried that, only to have the altar server tell me to close my mouth on the spoon.  And my mouth is small, according to my dentist; my jaw has TMJ; I simply can’t open wide enough.  The priest nearly always seems to dribble the wine all over my face, and now they say they don’t want us to wipe our faces on the cloth.  If there is some “special” way to receive that avoids all this, I’ve never been taught how to do it.  I greatly miss the communion cups I grew up with.

It feels like many in the church insist on sacrificing health for the sake of “tradition”–and will end up killing many of us, while this disease spreads without any sort of vaccine or reliable treatment expected for another year.  Even for those who survive, yes that’s most people, but we don’t know yet what all the long-term repercussions will be.  We’re already seeing the body adversely affected in other ways, in children, the young and healthy, middle-aged, and elderly.

I do know that many times I’ve come home with some kind of illness that somebody at church had.  How do you KNOW it didn’t come from sharing a spoon with them?  You’d have to do an actual experiment using the scientific method to prove this.  Has anyone ever done this?

Before COVID, I shared the spoon because I could count on my vaccinations and strong constitution to keep me safe from dying from something spread at church; not this time.  This puts us in the same camp as the Evangelicals who went to church during the shutdowns saying they’re “covered by the Blood”–and then they got sick with COVID and many died.  We have many stories of churches around the world holding services or other meetings during COVID, only to have large numbers of the congregation get sick and even die from it.  Obviously, God is not miraculously keeping these people safe after not following health guidelines.

During the Spanish Flu of 1918,

In the deeply pious Spanish city of Zamora, for example, the local bishop defied the health authorities by ordering a novena – evening prayers on nine consecutive days – in honour of Saint Rocco, the patron saint of plague and pestilence. This involved churchgoers lining up to kiss the saint’s relics, around the time that the outbreak peaked. Zamora went on to record the highest flu-related death rate of any city in Spain, and one of the highest in Europe. —The Guardian

This Thing isn’t over yet, and a second wave is expected.

Catholic churches have changed their practices to reflect the COVID risk.  They’re the closest church to us in theology and practice, and even they are taking this seriously.  The Protestant churches I was in as a young person, all had individual cups with grape juice in them.  Only the Orthodox are forcing people to share a spoon to commune, with some people making it a litmus test of faith to browbeat those of us who don’t think this is safe.  It’s not HOW the communion is given to us that is the absolute unchanging Tradition-That-Must-Never-Change: It is the elements of the communion, the bread and wine, that are important.  Everything else is subject to change.  Remember that when people started doing this, they didn’t know about germs.

From this article by Fr. Alkiviadis C. Calivas, I’m surprised to learn that the Orthodox church hasn’t even been doing this for 1000 years.  The practice used to be more like the Catholics, with bread distributed into the hand and then the chalice offered by the deacon.  In fact, using a common spoon was initially seen as an Innovation, which is frowned upon in Orthodoxy.  He writes,

The method by which Communion is administered is purely functional. It serves a practical purpose. Thus, as warranted by needs and circumstances, a local Church in its collective wisdom and authority is free to adapt, modify, and manage the method by which Holy Communion is distributed. Whatever method a Church chooses, the single most important concern is that it does not violate any dogmas and that it is appropriate; that it upholds and maintains the dignity of the sacred act of communing.

We learn from St. Nikodemos that during plagues priests were known to use arbitrary methods to administer communion to the sick and dying.[7] In a comment on canon 28 of the Penthekte Synod, he chides the clergy for using unsuitable methods to deliver Communion to the sick. He recommends a more appropriate method. He writes: “Hence, both priests and prelates must employ some shift in time of a plague to enable them to administer communion to the sick without violating this canon; not, however, by placing the holy Bread in currants, but in some sacred vessel, so that the dying and the sick may take it thence with tongs or the like. The vessel and the tongs are to be placed in vinegar, and the vinegar is to be poured into a funnel, or in any other manner that they can that is safer and canonical.”[8]

St. Nikodemos’ brief note is significant in two ways. First, he insists the vessels used for Communion be sterilized with vinegar, a popular disinfectant from ancient times. This is an acknowledgment that the vessels or instruments used for communing could be contaminated by dangerous parasitic microbes. Second, he insists that the instrument be fitting for the purpose.

In the past forty years several worldwide deadly epidemics, AIDS, SARS, Ebola, and MERS provoked fear among the people. Presently, the world is experiencing another more frightening global threat: the pandemic coronavirus or COVID-19, a contagion with lethal force which has upended all social, economic, political, cultural, and religious norms. People are justly apprehensive and frightened. The disease has already infected millions of people and claimed the lives of thousands globally. As with the preceding epidemics, the highly contagious coronavirus has many people wondering and questioning the continued use of a common spoon for Communion.

The real fears, reservations, and apprehensions of the people should not be dismissed with an air of superiority or a call to greater faith, as if the act of communing is void of human considerations and the limitations of the created order. People want to feel safe, listened to, and protected by their Church. They do not want to be exposed to unnecessary risks, nor should they be.

Statements like, “the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, and the medicine of immortality,” or “the Eucharist is a divine remedy, a divine medicine,” may be true. But they are not sufficient to calm the fears and concerns of the faithful. People are not questioning the sacred character and identity of the Holy Gifts but the reliability of the instrument by which the Gifts are offered to them.

Orthodox sacramental theology, distinguishes between what is mystical and what is physical. The divine realities in each sacrament are distinct from the material elements by which they are mediated. We believe and confess that the eucharistic Gifts—the bread and wine—are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ through the prayer of the Church and the power and operation of the Holy Spirit. The change, however, is mystical and not physical. The bread and wine preserve their natural properties and qualities and are bound to the natural laws of their kind.[9] The mode by which the transformation of the Gifts takes place remains a profound mystery. But we know by faith that the change occurs, so that Christ may become our food in order to impart his life to us (John 6:56).

The communion spoon is an imperfect material object. It does not share in the incorruptibility of the risen and deified Body of Christ which is really present to us through the eucharistic elements. On its own, the spoon is simply a spoon, a utensil. Its dignity is derived from its use as the instrument by which the Body and Blood of Christ is offered to his people. Long ago, it replaced an older venerable form of communing. The use of a spoon to commune the people was an innovation.

From my Twitter last night and today:

ARGH–The Archbishop says to allow separate spoons, but our Metropolitan won’t let us do that. Even the Catholics aren’t doing this. >:(  ”

I guess I’m not taking the Eucharist until a vaccine comes out. I had held out hope that our Metropolitan would be sensible after the Archbishop directed the use of separate spoons.

And to be frank, I never did like the practice of sharing spoons. I have to avert my eyes to not get grossed out, have to block out from my mind where it’s been. I’ve always wished we’d do separate cups, like I grew up with.

I believe in science and the scientific method. I cannot believe that something is safe from contagion just because a religious leader tells me it is or that I have to have “faith.” We saw Evangelicals say they’re “covered by the blood” and then get COVID. Same thing.

The right keeps dismissing us as being “afraid” of COVID, of acting with “fear.” It’s not fear: It’s recognizing how disease spreads, and acting to prevent that. Sharing a spoon with a sick person makes you sick.

Fact: I have come home from church with an illness countless times.

In listening to the Archbishop’s comments about this, I am very relieved to find out that my views on sharing a spoon–not just during COVID, but generally–are actually very common among, as he termed it, the “younger generations.”

People have been condemning the archbishop lately for everything he does.  Whether right or wrong in other issues, I really don’t know (though I’ve heard some rumors).  But his support of hygienic practices during COVID is Correct, and his marching with the BLM protestors is Correct.  Supporting the closure of churches during COVID is also Correct, because churches are a prime spot for disease to spread during pandemics.

If you doubt this, just read the history of the Spanish Flu.  People complained back then about churches being closed, same as now, and when they defied the orders, the Spanish Flu spread rapidly through the congregation and lots of people died.  Science is not subject to your belief system; it is the way the world works.  We’re not supposed to test God by handling snakes to “prove” that He won’t let us get bitten.

WTF is wrong with this country lately?  Refusing to wear masks and even yelling at people who do?  Being safe from disease didn’t use to be a partisan issue!  Lately it seems like you have to check your brains at the door regarding illness if you’re a Republican–and also in some branches of Christianity.

BTW, yeah I know I haven’t posted here about the protests going on the past couple of weeks–but my Twitter is a completely different story.  I’ve been following the BLM protests and posting about them on Twitter and on Facebook.  If you want to keep up with my political retweets and rants, best to follow me on Twitter, where I’m much more active than I have been on my blog lately.  There’s just too much going on all the time, and I don’t have the time to blog about everything.  On Twitter, I can just share something or make a quick comment and get back to the multitude of tasks I have to do every day (like the housecleaning which I’m *supposed* to be doing right now).  So follow me here.

Update 6/8/20:

Eastern Orthodox priests from Russia, Belarus, and Georgia also have argued that sacramental wine contains strong alcohol in which diseases perish.

But most medical experts reject that premise.

They note that the very strongest fortified wine contains no more than 20 percent alcohol — and that most wine contains around 12 percent alcohol.

The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the ethyl alcohol found in hard liquor can destroy less aggressive viruses. But it says ethyl alcohol should be at a concentration of 60-80 percent in order to be potent against influenza.

The Federation of Hospital Doctor Unions in Greece — home to one of the oldest and most influential branches of Orthodox Christianity — has also weighed in on the spoon debate.

It warns that no exceptions should be made to state health warnings “for religious, sacramental, or metaphysical reasons.” —Source

Also see this letter from an OCA priest about the current situation.

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My Holy Friday Tweets–depression under COVID-19:

My tweets on Holy Friday, April 18:

It’s Holy Friday. I have 3 hours of services today in contemplation of the crucifixion. I just came here to retweet some stuff. The trend column looks scary. Can I skip it today? *sigh*

One of my BFFs from college just posted that she could DIE if people don’t follow stay-at-home orders. One reason why I find the trend column so scary today.  [It was full of bizarre things that suggested backlash in states with stay-at-home orders, along with Trump egging them on and inciting violent revolution.]

Gah, Evers is keeping our numbers down and some idiots want to recall him and protest.

I swear, it feels like some people on Facebook just want to argue with every frickin’ thing I post. I don’t do that to *them.* [The worst part is they seem to be listening to Fox News, so they’re not arguing rationally or with knowledge.]

I’m supposed to be doing the finances but I’ve put it off for hours to go through social media…. Could say it’s laziness, but I think there’s another reason: missing people!

I see I’m not the only one getting crazies on my Facebook posts. Which reminds me I made the right decision unfriending one couple a few years ago….I made a post today and didn’t realize I was stepping into it. One person tried to argue with me, but other people argued back.

Disturbed to see how, even in the middle of a pandemic with people’s relatives & friends dying, still so many people think it’s overblown. One called CDC “propaganda.” His wife made bizarre comment about being forced to take vaccine. Sounds like Richard during the swine flu.

This couple’s arguments on other friends’ posts confirm my impression that they are just as bad as Richard and Tracy politically. Sad, though, because I thought they were decent people in college, especially him. Another person who keeps arguing with me–I thought she was a Dem!

Meanwhile, I hear about cases surging in counties where exes live…and keep wondering if they’re okay…Even though they mentally abused me, I still care.

Have slipped into a deep funk last couple of days. Still sleep/eat/etc., but unhappy. Social media usually should help, but not today because everybody else is in funk. Nobody’s okay.

Watching Holy Week services in my church. Homey–but also depressing because the church is empty except for people doing the services. Made me homesick. My BFFs are there watching but not next to me.

This kind of reminds me of 2010 after we broke off friendship with Richard/Tracy, how lonely I was. I struggled making friends in this town–which is a common problem–so I had nobody for a while. Kept trying but struggling. Now I have friends, clubs–and can’t go there.

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