Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fear of verbatim

As part of a pastoral course we were required to do a verbatim. That is, we had to make a record of a pastoral conversation, then bring it in to be scrutinized by or peers.
The idea filled me with trepidation, but I couldn't quite tell why.
I brought in a fairly intense conversation from my workplace, though at the time of the conversation I felt fine about it. But after the verbatim I welled up tears, and a couple of hours later when my wife asked about it I was cagey and aggressive and then sobbed uncontrollably for some time.
I just figured out why.

Last year I had to report someone for covering allegations of abuse and for abusive behavior themselves. This person was always changing their story, always shifting..basically always lying. And so at the end there I got into the practice of trying to keep exact notes of our conversations..much like a verbatim.
Of course no one has an exact memory, and so as you make notes you are reconstructing the conversation. As you reconstruct, you are faced with the choice of remembering yourself in the best it worst light. In the abusive situation, I tended toward viewing myself in the worst light. I realize now that I did the same with the verbatim, portraying myself as the worst possible pastor, because who wants to construct themselves to look good?
And then there is the panel of your peers...who assess and judge the situation from outside,
Very much like the stressful situation of explaining yourself to a bishop/mediator/warden who doesn't seem inclined to believe claims of abuse.
So now I know... Verbatims trigger me... Not quite sure how I will get through another semester of them

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