6 months ago, I received an email from someone I have cut off contact with. I immediately cut off contact when I heard he had sexually abused several women he had contact with through his music ministry.
He is famous in church circles internationally. He dedicated a song to me once. At the time I was stunned. I thought it was bizarre as I only communicated with him through social media and my work is not exactly renowned. I’m a medium fish in a very small pond. I asked a friend in X’s circle what he thought. He said X was a little strange but harmless. My friend suggested I accept the honour and move on. And that is what I did. I continued to accept communication from X and even hosted his concert in my church.
A year later, spiritual abuse victim advocacy groups reported that several women had reported X for groping and kissing them without consent. I immediately posted a short and clear statement. I stand with the women. I bless their courage. I pray for them. I think I would be numbered among them if not for geography.
A year later, X emailed me. I did not email him back but, if I had, it would read something like this.
X: Hi Dawn –
X: X here. I know it has been FOREVER since you have heard from me.
Me: It hasn’t been FOREVER. Only 1 year minus 8 days. Or so.
X: I am sorry about that,
Me: Don’t be sorry. I take full responsibility for cutting off our communication so as not to give you the impression I supported you in any way. Of all the things, this is one thing you do not need to be sorry about.
X: but as you probably could imagine, this past year has been the most difficult year of my life. It has been very painful for a wide variety of reasons.
Me: I’d really rather not. My imagination is already full of the trauma and gross indecency you performed on women who were lured into your desires. I wonder how many most-difficult-years-of-my-life they have endured because of you.
X: Anyways … I am hanging in there. I just wanted to reach out and tell you that I miss you,
Me: You missing me makes me physically nauseous.
X: and I hope you are happy and well.
Me: That depends. If you are asking about my state before 12:30 pm EDT yesterday, I would have said I am happy and well. At 12:30pm I checked my email, read your email, and started to hyperventilate. My breathing returned to normal 45 minutes later. I stayed awake last night mentally cataloging every contact I had with you…again…with my gut remembering every time it twinged and I didn’t listen to it. So, less happy and well than I was yesterday, thanks to you.
X: I hope that I am not a big disappointment to you.
Me: If you were not a disappointment to me that would make me a frighteningly disembodied person completely lacking in empathy. Oh. Wait. That’s you.
X: I have been wanting to contact you for a long time, but I have been too nervous to do so … but here I am.
Me: Probably should have trusted your gut there. I wish I had trusted mine.
X: No expectation to get back to me – just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you and for the blessings you have given to me.
Me: This raises a theological question. Can I take blessings back? Probably not. I no longer lay claim to the blessings you have received. God can take the credit for them, if They want to.
X: I feel as though we were just beginning to become good friends
Me: Good friends. What does that mean to you? Were the women you abused also good friends? I expect so. I thank God and geography that we did not become “good friends”.
X: and then all of the s**t hit the fan in my life.
Me: This s**t you mention. It was not randomly produced and thrown into a fan to make your life hard. That’s your shit. The shit you threw into a fan and aimed at others. I am relieved you ended up eating at least a bit of it.
X: Anyways – bless you
Me: As with your friendship, I reject your blessing.
X: (PS – make note of my new email address)
Me: Yes, I have made note of your new email address. I have shared it with victim support and advocacy organizations so they can warn your other victims that you are embarking on a celebrity redemption campaign tour and you want to groom us as your defenders.
X: ALSO – I do a daily reflection/meditation (I blind copy people – the circle of friends who have been so supportive of me this past year), called AWAKENING. If you would like, I will add you to the list of emails (again, it is a blind copy – so no one knows who else is on the list).
Me: As if your email was not evidence enough of your narcissism and complete lack of regret or understanding of the harm you have done, you are now reclaiming the title of spiritual leader. Men like you are a blight. You abused women. You have lost your spiritual authority. You do not get to teach. You do not get to lead in music. You do not get to perform. You do not get to publish. You barely get to lead grace at dinner, and only if you are alone at a silent meal. Am I sentencing you to a life of isolation and misery? No. But that does not mean you get to just take whatever authority you had and wield it again. The absolute gall.
In case it is not clear, please do not add me to your email list.