Noticing how badly I am doing — on Monday, struggling to deal with practical matters, I wrote this in my journal:
Right now I’m feeling totally blank, like my brain is full of kapok.
The angry phone messages from B reminded me that she had told me something about my friend Eleanor that I was pretty sure wasn’t true, but I doubted my own knowing and had to ask Eleanor what had really happened. This made me think about the term “gaslighting.” I looked it up: “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.” Wikipedia
Then I watched several YouTube videos. The best was Ariel Leve, TED talk
My notes from the talk:
Gaslighting — when someone manipulates you into questioning your own sanity
“the erasure of the abuse was worse than the abuse”
There will never be accountability.
Let go of the wish for it to be different.
Stop engaging and develop healthy detachment.
“The erasure of the abuse was worse than the abuse.” This is what I suffered from as a child. My pain was not acknowledged, not validated. This is why I cut myself (also called “self-mutilation”) because the blood let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I had reason to feel pain. For an illustration, see the post on Grandmother Patches. Go down to the part about the WHO IF patch. I don’t think this is true for everyone who self-mutilates, but it was certainly true for me. I did not begin to understand this until I started working with Erica and she gave me positive mirroring.
“There will never be accountability.” I saw this with B, who continued to argue with what I told her. I also saw it with my mother, in particular her use of the passive voice to avoid responsibility. When I rewrote the 4th of July Monologue is when I first saw this dynamic.
“Let go of the wish for it to be different.” Actually, I knew from the beginning with my mother, that it wasn’t ever going to be different.
“Stop engaging and develop healthy detachment.” When I got the angry phone messages from B, I knew immediately that the relationship was finished. I didn’t even want to argue. Perhaps, again, I had learned this from my mother, at the time of the Colonial Dames incident. I haven’t told that story, I’ll tell it in the next blog post.