Category Archives: writing

Stop Explaining Yourself. Why explaining ourselves to Gaslighters, bullies, and abusers never works.

Image created by author with Nightcafe AI.

There are two types of people we will meet in the world. There are the folks who don’t get us, or we them, and it’s not a big deal. Just move along. Then there are the ones who do get us. Which sounds perfect. Generally, these are folks we can talk and joke with, be honest and ourselves around. We can disagree, but generally without intending harm, and difference is welcome.

Unfortunately, not everyone who “gets us” is in it for friendship or love. Sometimes the people who understand us best are the ones who use that knowledge against us.

Those who treat us as less than, undeserving, and make us feel small usually know us very well. Just like a conman can choose their “mark” from a crowd, or a poker player can read another player’s “tell,” these types, sometimes called “dark empaths,” have us pegged and they’ll use that understanding against us.

Don’t feel bad if you find yourself in this situation. Usually, it’s a backhanded recognition of our strengths. Strengths they may not have, and envy. But we still need to equip ourselves to handle this insidious form of psychological manipulation.

The most vulnerable to attack in this way are “people pleasers.” We want to do good, keep the peace, and make others happy. We were probably brought up that way. Very young children usually believe that bad things are their fault. This causes overwhelming feelings of self-doubt, shame, self-loathing, and can follow us to an early grave (those of us with Trauma, Depression, Anxiety have worse health outcomes than the general population).

That pain can lead us to think that we are, at our core, somehow essentially wrong. That we’re guilty of all sorts of horrors, and it’s only a matter of time until others notice and we receive our just punishment. People who want to control us, put us down, and keep us there know this intuitively. It’s as though they know exactly where we hurt and insist on poking that spot.

Many of us become angry, reclusive, depressed, hyper vigilant, rigid, and constantly on edge looking for the next threat. On some level we may understand that the problem is not with us, but we may not know how to successfully turn this understanding into healing and separation from our tormentors within and without.

Once we realize that the person we trusted, loved, and probably stood up for despite our own welfare is undermining and Gaslighting us, we tend to go on the defense. We want to prove that we are good, deserving, and loveable just as we are. Of course, one of the main elements of Gaslighting is to deny our version of events, question our memories, our intelligence, and our sanity.

We may write down what others say to us that hurts so that we can prove to ourselves and the world that we are not crazy, or bad, evil, or selfish.

We could document conversations, remember specific phrases, or instances so we can say: “Look. I’ve written it all down. I took screenshots. I have it on video.”

But ultimately, all that self explaining will not be effective on a person out to use and/or Gaslight us into submission and agreement. The reason this does not work is not that the other person lacks understanding, it’s because they understand precisely what they are doing. In fact, they may outright deny or claim not to remember what we are talking about. They will only become more adamant in their judgement against us the more evidence and defence we provide. And they will most likely twist that information to their advantage.

So how do we escape that trap? First, we need to understand that, despite the protests of the other, that they are the problem. Their hurts, insecurities, fears are being reflected onto us to lift their own poor self confidence or self concept. Since they actually do get us in a profound way, we could earn the Nobel Peace Prize, yet these folks would find a way to discredit the prize, the achievement, and use it against us.

Secondly, we may attempt to “unmask” these people publicly. To gain enough of the world’s sympathy for our cause that we can bring our tormentors to account. This is not wrong in itself. The #MeToo movement, and the revelations of the extent of child abuse by the Catholic Church and other clergy are positive examples of how, with a lot of inner strength, effort, and the right allies, the powerful (even if they are only powerful in our minds) can be brought to account.

What we need to accept, above all else, is that we are, in fact, OK. That all people make bad decisions, act foolishly, accidentally burp at the dinner table or fart in church. But these people don’t seem to suffer for their humanity like we do. They embrace their silly, weird, awkward, and sometimes painful, unflattering, or boring parts of themselves. Because all people are burping, farting weirdos who do embarrassing dances or sing bad karaoke at a party.

Once we begin to see how much more like other people we are, it becomes easier to forgive and, most importantly, love ourselves. The spell of the Gaslighter may never fully be undone, but we can minimize their power. And, just as we would go to the doctor for antibiotics, there are people who specialize in helping broken people heal. And what needs healing is usually the heart. And it’s helpful to have a professional to guide us.

That is why therapists demonstrate unconditional positive regard for their clients. They are not there to lecture you. They’re there to help you to come to understand yourself and love yourself. With the guidance of a good therapist we can learn to embrace ourselves, farts and burps and embarrassing singing included.

As we learn to love and celebrate ourselves, we will learn self-confidence, and the freedom to simply exist as we are without excuses. We may take up an instrument and play it badly, but enjoy playing anyway. Our yearly karaoke serenade at a Christmas party could become a high point of good natured fun and pride in our shared foibles. And what could be more vulnerable yet human than dancing? But mainly, we will learn that what we’ve been told by others who enjoy our confusion and pain are lies.

So, let’s stop explaining ourselves. Don’t feed the predators any more information or attention. Starve them until they either seek help for their own damaged selves, or turn on someone else. Don’t cast your pearls before swine. Save them for the folks who love us: bad singing, stamp collecting, Klingon Cosplaying, wool dying, wilderness forager, Magic card enthusiast, whatever it is that makes us the unique and improbable people we are.

And remember. So far as we know, we are the only species in the vast Universe that can reflect on ourselves, our world, and Universe. We live on a magnificent oasis in the desert of space and time. Our lives, however long or short, matter because space is big, time is long, but we get the privilege of just being here now. Spend your time with people who get you and love you as you are. And once you learn to love yourself, spread it around.

Namaste, you legends!

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ––πŸΌπŸŽΈπŸ’πŸŒžπŸŒŒ

If you’re considering suicide, self harm, or have a mental health crisis: call or text 988 any time to talk or text with someone from the National Suicide Prevention and Crisis Hotline. Help is always available in English or Spanish.

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The Elephant in Your Brain

Image generated by author on nightcafe ai.

Don’t think of an elephant! You’re thinking of an elephant, right? And no matter how hard you try not to think of an elephant, that elephant is still there, isn’t it? What if Bob Newhart shouted, “Stop thinking of an elephant or I’ll bury you alive with an elephant!” Didn’t work, did it?

What would I rather not think about? It’s a long list. But I’ll go with the most recent: I finally was going to see Morrissey in concert, and well, golly but he cancelled. I knew there was a chance he would, so I suppressed my anxiety and excitement. When he cancelled, I felt this rush of rage, and almost relief. I’m not in the depths of despair over all this. But I am a bit sad. That concert had been the elephant I was trying not to think of.

We all have those elephants we don’t want to think of. That big party to host. That phone call. Bills. That elephant grows in your mind until you pay attention to it. When we stop struggling to not think of it and give in, pay attention to it, and do what we need to, the elephant disappears.

Carl Jung, a pioneer of psychology and psychiatry, thought that we all had a conscious self and a shadow self that was the opposite of our conscious self. He encouraged his patients to find that shadow that drove them to unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and let it out to play a little, so to speak. He used art, exercise, hallucinogens, dance etc to help his patients explore what their shadow was trying to tell them. So in a safe, relaxing, and supervised setting they paid attention to that elephant they didn’t want to think of, before it took over their lives. Enough of his patients successfully recovered through these methods that we still use them.

Sometimes the elephants were are trying not to think of are like the shadow selves of Jung’s patients. They can be terrifying, deeply sad, lonely, or enraging thoughts. But when we try to push them away, they only grow until you can barely not think of them. They are taking over.

What if you just made a little space for your elephant, shadow, thoughts and feelings? If you could calm yourself down, relax, and begin to feel safe around your elephant, what do you think could happen? Bad feelings are reminders to us to pay attention, just like good feelings are then our rewards.

The past, the future are the same in that they do not exist. The thoughts we have about them are like air. They cannot hurt us. Our brains are spitting up these thoughts because it really wants us to pay attention to them. Not by resisting, but by feeling calm and safe in the present enough to allow them to just be, do we win. The way to stop thinking about the elephant is by letting ourselves think of the elephant for a moment.

So, going back to my disappointment about the concert, my stressball of sadness had to be reckoned with. Little ticked. Mellow has been harshed. But I am not going to stop listening to my favorite singer/songwriter or his band. It’s some of my favorite music. So I put on my Smiths/Morrissey playlist, and did some Molly Ringwald dancing. I felt sad with the sad songs.Β  And was grateful someone sang these dramatic lyrics about everyday troubles with that swooning voice. I was happy. The elephant was gone.

That’s obviously a minor example. But if we truly learn to calm down, feel safe and in the present enough that we can make a little room for our big elephants. Then we can heal. Then we can entertain them for a moment, but then show them the door.

NamastΓ© you legends.

-JL βœŒπŸΌβ€οΈπŸ§‘πŸ’›πŸ’šπŸ’™πŸ’œπŸ–€πŸ€πŸ€ŽπŸ––πŸΌπŸŒ»

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Toxic Masculinity Will Kill Us All

“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” – Yeats
(Created by author with Nightcafe AI image generator.)

Per The Washington Post, “Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least four mass shootings [in the US].” The article defines a mass shooting as 4 or more people being injured or killed. These facts need no other words to illustrate the state of our nation today.

Over 600 mass shootings have taken place so far in 2022, with the numbers increasing every year since 2017. And for each life lost, imagine the mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren, families and friends left behind, their lives and psyches ripped apart for their lifetimes. And we do not have the mental healthcare or the social safety nets to provide for these broken lives.

At the COP 27 environmental summit, no steps were taken by world leaders to cut emissions, leaving our world on track to the temperature tipping point at which the Earth will cease to become habitable. Meanwhile, little man Putin continues his barbaric shelling of Ukraine. Europe has not seen such a level of violence since the Second World War. Another little fat man in North Korea has developed ICBMs capable of reaching the Eastern United States. And young women and teens are being brutalized by the Iranian regime for showing hair.

And when I say leaders, men, and regime, I squarely lay this destruction of life at the feet of the supposedly “Masculine.” The “toxic masculinity” that we have all heard of.

It never occurred to me to consider the term deeply enough to realize that toxic means poisonous and deadly. Because toxic masculinity kills. It kills wives. Breaks up families. Rapes. Molests, beats, and kills children at school, church, in their own homes. It lays waste to all life without regard. It is what George Harrison called “I, I, Me, Me, Mine.” It’s the single unit, the fragile ego, the individual without regard for the lives that surround and help sustain it. Without regard for its own life, on a trajectory to collide with and explode all that is good, wholesome, and beneficial.

I fully realize that these traits can be found outside of the cis-male. But it is the cis-male who can and does do the most damage. It is woven so deeply into the fabric of human life that it is difficult to recall a time when its deathly touch was not felt. But it hasn’t been and needn’t be the only way to survive. In fact, it is an excellent way to prohibit survival: of individuals, families, the Earth that sustains us, the survival of our species.

Darwin never used the term “survival of the fittest.” That was devised to debunk his theories as “the law of the jungle” — the antithesis of civilization. All a species needs to do to survive is to continue having children who go on to have children. And the success of modern humans has always been the result of our ability to live in large groups cooperatively. This increased our lifespans, which allowed the community’s older members to watch all the children while women and men worked. Everyone, every life, matters to our continuing existence in this world. Survival of any species is not about any one individual, it is a numbers game.

The enemy of life is the man who thinks he is an island. Who believes his life, desires, whims must all be satisfied to the detriment of others. He must have all the wealth, the power, the sexual partners he desires. He can hurt, wound, kill at his pleasure. He believes there should be no repercussions for what he perceives as his right or “freedom.”

It is true that freedom is not free. There will always be consequences. The man who beats his wife and children creates broken children, who grow up to repeat the cycle ad infinitum. These violent, angry, arrogant, and selfish men are never satisfied, and will never stop until we are all dead, in our dead world.

Toxic means deadly. And until the good men and women stand up to these killers of all things beautiful and life-sustaining, we are a doomed species on a doomed world. None of us alone can change this. Yes, we need to change our culture. We need more access to mental healthcare, more help and advocacy for the damaged, broken, weak and innocent, more respect for our only home in the vast Universe, to end this destruction. But we also must all do our part, and begin the change within and with everyone we encounter in our short stay here. Or we become accessory to this murder of humanity and its spirit.

The lucky few may hang on a bit longer. Surviving inside barricades, while others do the dangerous business of getting groceries. And there will be no more human voices or sounds of joy from churches, schools, baseball fields, theaters, or even our own homes. There will be no one left.

“Better recognize your brothers
Everyone you meet
Why in the world are we here?
Surely not to live in pain and fear?” – Instant Karma, John Lennon

Namaste, you legends. Go forth in love.

– JL βœŒπŸΌβ€οΈπŸ§‘πŸ’›πŸ’šπŸ’™πŸ’œπŸ€ŽπŸ–€πŸ€πŸ––πŸΌπŸŒ»

Check out my Instagram!! And connect with me on Facebook here and here.

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