Kidding Ourselves: Anita and Ginny

One type of strange, hurtful communication that occurs every day (and couples’ therapists hear it often) is the hostile statement that is subsequently denied. When I hear examples of these comments,  I wonder if the speaker intended the hostility and then, for some reason or other, back peddles -or-  if the speaker is so out of touch with her aggression that she imagines having said something else entirely.

 Well, we had an incomparable example this week.  Ginny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court  Justice Clarence Thomas called Professor Anita Hill (if you don’t remember the hearing for the confirmation of Justice Thomas, it is worth looking up the event) and left the following message on her voice machine.

 “Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”

It seems pretty clear from that message that Ms. Thomas wants an apology and believes that Professor Hill owes one to her hubby.  This does make me want to disconnect my voicemail, not that Ginny calls me often.  But I am not commenting on freedom of speech or telecommunications. However, it gets psychological when a reporter called Ms. Thomas to ask about it and Ms. Thomas e-mailed him, saying:

“I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get past what happened so long ago. That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

Olive branch????  Do olive branches have thorns? Again, I’m left wondering – did Ginny know that she had accused Prof. Hill and asked for an apology in her voice message?  Did she understand the aggression and have second thoughts later on when people gasped? Or is she able to kid herself into believing that her message was peaceful rather than accusatory?

Any thoughts?           OK, have a good day.

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