It is an essential method of maintaining our control over you by bringing up the past. We are always able to recall some past wrong which you have committed or some particular transgression which we will use to suit our current purposes. Being able to bring up the past allows us to deflect your attacks against us, deny the validity of what you are saying and instead enables us to put you under scrutiny. We have a formidable capability for remembering what has happened before. It is as if each event in our lives together has been recorded in my mind’s eye and in a moment I can locate the exact memory, circumstances and events in order to support my position and demolish yours. The pin point accuracy by which I can dredge something up which happened months or even years ago is quite staggering. It is all the more amazing because we always seem to forget about events which you try and rely on. Mind you, that is because you have such a tendency to make things up haven’t you? It is quite a terrible habit that you have, lying in order to try and make me look bad or feel worse. It is not something you would find me doing. Absolutely not.
You abide by the concept of that once something has been put to bed that is the end of the matter. It is done. It is concluded. It is finished. We do not subscribe to that point of view. In fact, anything that has happened between us, which we need to resurrect in order to advance our case against you, is never concluded. It may be buried, but it is never buried dead. All the discussions, happenings and events, even though they may have been discussed, dissected and mulled over to an extraordinary degree many moons ago, are ready to be brought back to life in the click of a finger and thumb. That argument about the one time in the last six months when you actually went out with your friends (although that of course was not without a monumental battle beforehand) began when you returned five minutes later than when you said you would return. The discussion rumbled on late into the night until finally tired and fed-up you conceded defeat, apologised and sloped off to bed. All delight from your enjoyable evening having evaporated as a consequence of our ranting and raging. You knew it had been done to death. There was not really anything to argue about, not that that stopped us going round and round in circles in order to frustrate you. This argument was complete and there was no need for it to be mentioned again. Except there was. You organised to go and see a show with your friends. It had been in the diary for at least eight weeks and you headed away looking forward to enjoying it. It was one of your favourites, one you had loved since you were a little girl. You knew that we were not pleased, you could see it in the frozen smile you gave when we came out to say hello to your friends. Not of course that we were interested in being polite to your friends as they waited in the car. No, we wanted to see who was going. Checking up to see if your story was true. We kissed you and wished you a delightful evening although you knew underneath we would be raging that we had to make our own meal and we were left alone for the evening.
The show was magnificent and your friends excellent company but the traffic leaving the venue was heavy and you returned home half an hour later than you had estimated. Note it was an estimate, not a guaranteed time by which you would return, not that this fact would make any difference to us. You sent us a text message (you did not want the embarrassment of a horrible telephone call as you sat in your friend’s car) advising of the delay and why it was. You received no response. That told you everything you needed to know. You entered the house and found us waiting, arms crossed and eyebrows raised.
“What time do you call this?” The accusation is launched. There is no hello, no asking how the show went or whether you enjoyed the evening.
“Sorry. The traffic was bad. Did you get my text?”
“Yes but that is not the point. You are late again. You do this on purpose don’t you?”
“What do you mean again?” you respond, a knee-jerk reaction to the unfair accusation but as soon as the last word has left your mouth you know what is coming. You can almost hear the vault door being opened and the relevant deposit box being selected, the tiny key being inserted and turned.
“You were late the last time you went out.”
“That was six months ago.”
“It was five actually. It was March. It doesn’t matter if it was yesterday or yesteryear, you are late and you said you would not be. You lied.”
“I lied. Oh come on, you come in late every week. Either from the bar or some work meeting and I never complain.”
“Yes you do. You complained last Friday and I told you that I had to meet those clients in the bar.It was a business meeting.”
“You didn’t tell me anything of the sort. I rang you six times to find out where you were.”
“It was eight times actually and I did not answer because I was busy with the clients. As I told you. I remember distinctly explaining that to you.”
“You didn’t. You really didn’t. Look, this is the first time I have been out in an age, I am home now, let me tell you about the show.”
“No. You are not distracting me with tales about songs and dance routines. I am sick of your disrespecting me in this fashion. You always come back late when you are with those harpies.”
“Why say that?” you ask hurt by the remark about your friends.
“Because they are a bad influence on you. They got you drunk that time. Do you remember? You threw up in the sink when you got in and then on the floor.”
“No I didn’t, that was you!”
“Don’t try and twist things around. I remember distinctly seeing you stagger through the door because I was sat in that chair watching the news.”
“You were asleep upstairs and I was not drunk. I don’t get drunk.”
“Oh really, I can remember at least five occasions when you have come home rat-arsed, banging into the walls and crawling up the stairs. There was that time you went with Sandra to that new bar, Apartment it was called.”
“What are you going on about. No I didn’t.”
“Yes you did. Are you calling me a liar? Remember, I have a far better memory than you, yours is obviously addled by all the drinking that you do.”
And on it goes. Past misdemeanours both real and imagined are brought up and levelled against you. Bringing up the past is good for all occasions. If you accuse us of flirting with someone, we will remind you of your brazen behaviour with our brother. If you complain because we have not taken the rubbish out, we will remind you how you forgot to pick up our drying cleaning on three separate occasions. Accuse us of over-spending and we will revisit your last three shopping trips and reel off every item that you purchased. The confidence with which we describe these past events has you bewildered and at times you are unable to recall whether we are actually correct or whether we are making it up. You often think that we are making things up but the conviction we demonstrate has you doubting your own recall. This technique is used by us frequently. It moves the subject of the argument on to you, frustrates, angers and upsets you so that you provide us with and has you often apologising so that we know we have landed a blow and laid down a marker. Reminding you of the past, real or imagined is something we do frequently. What is behind using this manipulative technique to acquire fuel and control? Simple. We bring up the past because we are intimidated by what is happening in the present.