Tag Archives: #Gaslighting

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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Humbling, Bait, Shame, and Grace. Part 3 of My Experience of America’s Culture Wars.

Not my best look ever. But that’s OK.

Today I appeared to face my female neighbor for a complaint she issued against me. It was interesting. The citing officer had some real hate in her eyes. And I probably could have answered her last question better with an “I don’t know.” But hey, Einstein says no backwards time travel. So I have to get OK with it.

This part of my tale picks up in early November. I woke up one lovely morning and went to take doggo for walkies in my pj’s and robe. My male neighbor got in his truck, drove a few dozen feet, stopped to get a good look at me, rolled down his window, and began with his running commentary on my life.

I had it. After five months of this, I was sick of it. I told him off. Said he was a creep and to quit watching me. Well, every time I went outside, there was the banging and the comments. Finally I just starting hollering kind of like Nicholson at the end of The Shining while he’s hunting down his son to murder him. Upon reflection, the dehumanization of the character of Jack by the Western notion of “The White Man’s Burden” and responsibilities of being a partner and co-parent seems rather appropriate. I did not, however, grab an axe. I pinged an aluminum baseball bat on the concrete.

I had therapy that day. Took a shower. Practiced yoga. Danced to Morrissey. Took some stuff down from the attic (we had already decided to move). Killed an evil old printer Office Space style. It felt kinda good. Like I was Robert DiNero for a minute. Someone who has physical power and a presence that demands respect. Unfortunately, I look like a yappy Chihuahua when I am upset and angry, and my level of respect commanding is set at Rodney Dangerfield.

Then, around 4, the female neighbor came home and started setting up a camera pointed directly at my yard. The male was in the garage. They gave each other a thumbs up when he got the signal from it. I told her off too. Creeps. I could not just live my life in peace. Their hatred was that intense and constant for that long.

I cannot get it myself. Anger is exhausting. And their anger often involved cutting off their nose to spite their face. Destroying their fencing and trees, repeatedly allowing their Rottweiler onto my property where they knew my cameras would see it. And then they would get another fine. The time, the money. For what? Me!?

Well, even though my therapist and I had gone over baiting and not taking the hook. I took the hook that day. Watching and listening to myself from the neighbor’s camera was difficult. It was not my best moment. But she had made me feel so shameful by moving her finger around and myself willingly dancing for her.

What was I thinking? “Don’t fall, Jess.”

She made me feel dirty. But today I got to do a thing I had not done in months. I got to look her in the eye. And my shame melted. This human being was giving false witness to continue to harm a person she had abused. She still hated me.

In the end, they could only prove that I was a loud-mouthed Jersey-girl. So the charge was reduced from “fighting,” and “mooning” (She does not deserve to observe my fine buttocks) to a noise disturbance. Yup. Loud-mouthed Jersey-girl.

The judge seemed fair. My lawyer did well. The little humbling stung at first, but I walked doggo around the hotel. It is warm and sunny today.

I stopped being angry. That female cop, who knows her story? But I can guess at some of my neighbors’. And they are sad. The male cannot think to do anything better than obsessively hate. And she called our house “the tenants” house to puff herself up in front of folks. That is sad. She is sad. He is sad. I am not aware of what that female cop’s major malfunction is. But all these grown people, stuck on hating a nerdy, disabled, 5 foot tall introvert — for I what, I cannot guess — were just sad.

A good hard look at yourself like I had today is uncomfortable. But it was not bad. I felt pity for that person screaming and dancing. I came back inside and did another yoga practice and meditation. And my heart softened towards both myself and all these sad hateful folks. I felt pity for my neighbor. How unhappy must she be?

In the end, it was allowing myself the grace to stumble and fall and allow myself a very human mistake. And also finding the grace to recognize tortured souls. Angry souls. To separate myself from the pain and trauma they inflicted upon me, and see things and people as they are. And open a chink in my heart to “hating the sin, and not the sinner.” I am not ready to forgive fully.

I still have a lot of trauma and pain to work through. But I already could see in my neighbor that she had not moved on, while I had. Not completely, but I physically moved. And she was still stuck in the place she was born. She had never left. I had. My Stan-man and I are in a new town that we love. And we got good news today. Tune in next time to find out what, and follow me to the hospital after the police break into my house, next time on “Jess has a big mouth in type as well as IRL.”πŸ™„πŸ˜‰

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’šπŸ––πŸΌπŸ’πŸ•ΊπŸ»πŸŽΈ

P.S. You may have already noticed the ads, please let me know if they are too much, or where they should be. Big changes are coming to my blog including: hosting different authors, merch made by friends and family, a #buynothing swap shop, exclusive music and video, the opportunity to access special content, donate, and easier ways to like, share and comment! As the cop said to the glazed donut: stick around.

– JL 😘

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Gaslighting & Beating a Dead Parrot

One “something completely different,” please.

Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch is a master class in Gaslighting. And as absurd.

Let’s pretend we’ve all lived under Commie rocks in North Korea our entire lives, and look at this famous comedy sketch afresh. See what it can teach us about Gaslighting. Shall we?

If Gaslighting is driving/convincing another person they are insane or cannot trust their own senses, thoughts and feels, then the Shop Keeper (Michael Palin) is the Gaslighter. And the Customer (John Cleese) is the Gaslightee.

Cleese returns to a pet store where he recently purchased a less than alive parrot. Cleese confronts Palin, who is sneaking a smoke behind the register and pretending to close. Cleese stops him, and explains his dead parrot issue. Palin’s Shop Keeper drives Cleese from polite customer to a ranting, shouting maniac, banging the parrot on the counter. All by simply denying that the parrot is, in spite of all proof, dead. A frustrated Cleese leaves after being offered a slug, and Palin moves into a song about wanting to be a transvestite lumber jack.

As the John Cleese in this exchange — no matter what you say, no matter how much you beat that dead parrot — you will never be in the right. And the best you’ll ever get out of this argument is the offer of a slug.

Michael Palin does not care that he sold you a dead parrot, he will do and say anything to convince you the parrot is not dead, drive you crazy trying to prove the parrot is dead, and maybe offer you a slug for your troubles. All he cares about is being a transvestite lumber jack. And, to him, you’re the thing stopping him from that dream of cross-dressing lumber jacking. And he feels no pity in making you pay for his dissatisfaction with his life. It’s YOUR fault!

There’s not much we can do about the parrot death-denying shopkeepers of the world. They will continue to sell dead parrots, and will persecute anyone who calls them out on it. It’s not their fault they never got to be a lumberjack. It’s clearly yours. No matter how much you wish them well in pursuing their Canadian dream. You’re the one annoying them with a dead parrot!

As the unfortunate purchasers of a dead parrot, the best we can do is look for that inner Graham Chapman to show up and declare our situation “entirely too silly.” Listen to that voice! He’s right. It is entirely too silly to lose your mind over a dead parrot. Everyone knows it’s shuffled off its mortal coil and joined the choir invisible. That it is an ex-parrot.

Right!

So what can you say to your Shop Keeper? How many times must you beat a dead parrot for someone who does not care whether they sold you a dead parrot to begin with? You don’t. Say nothing. That’s all you can to protect yourself from the crazy-making, Gaslighting Shop Keeper, apart from accepting the slug.

Just remember, it’s not your fault they never became a lumberjack in heels. It’s all too silly to continue. So don’t.

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’šπŸ––πŸΌπŸ’πŸŽΈ

While you’re here: check out the wonderful work done by NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness. Use their resources to find free help or donate.

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