I'm not sure I had heard of the term gaslighting prior to the last four years- and if I did I probably only knew what was inferred by the context of the rest of the point of the conversation.
For those unfamiliar, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where a "gaslighter" tries to lie and manipulate someone into questioning their thoughts, memories, and the reality of the events occurring around them. It came from an old 30's play and 40's movie where a husband tried to drive his wife crazy- or at least have others believe she was- by messing with the gas lights (and other items) in their home. In 2016, the term made the rounds after Lauren Duca's Vogue article about Trump and then hit its prime as runner up to word of the year in 2018.
Our president is trying to double-down before he leaves office by pretending he won an election he lost so he won't have to leave on 01.20.21. Amanda and Byrnn's tweets sum up what I feel on the topic but it got me thinking about all the other gaslighting I had experienced in life before I knew what it really meant even though many of us had felt it quite a bit in our lives. Bosses, exes, anyone who manipulated others for their own means.
And while I applaud the idea of bringing our country together and am a huge proponent of forgiveness and reconciliation these women point out two of the key elements before true healing can begin- truth & justice!
If someone has been an abuser they would like to skip this step and pretend that any battle was equal on both sides and so let's just call it even and move on. Nope!
First comes cleaning up the mess they made and making amends before there is the possibility of forgiveness and steps forward. AA is based on this principle which requires making amends (steps 8 & 9) for prior harms caused along the path of recovery. Almost all religions also speak of some form of contrition and repentance when there has been wrongdoing done.
If we want to move forward as a country let alone live a peaceful life ourselves I don't think it's healthy, let alone just, to let folks that have caused harm with blatant lying, racism, violence against others, or any dishonorable behavior get a free pass. Not only does it send a horrible message that our actions don't have consequences but it also makes healing for the people who experienced the harm more difficult.
Imagine how hard it's going to be to get 74M Trump voters to see the truth when they have been told by him, the GOP and Fox News that he didn't really lose the election. Good luck trying to reason with the MAGAs they've radicalized! Those lying and attempting to gaslight our country should never be able to hold a place of leadership and trust until they have at a minimum come forward and spoken the truth.
And even when there is truth finally admitted there needs to be the additional steps of amends and restitution to those harmed. Louis CK is a perfect example of a half-assed attempt to clean up his mess. Yes, his apology was a solid start but then he chickened out on cleaning up and doing the real work to redeem himself. So disappointing as a former fan.
Recently I had an ex call to check in on how I was during the pandemic like our parting wasn't less than amicable. I was willing to hear them out because after previously ignoring three other attempts I thought who knows it's been a long enough time, maybe they had changed, maybe in this time of reflection they had done some work and were calling with remorse and an apology and we could be at peace. Alas they just wanted to pretend everything was bygones being bygones. Once a gaslighter, I guess always one- so not to mix my Chicks metaphors but I'm not ready to make nice 😏
I say to my ex or anyone who has enabled Trump or anyone who has harmed someone else and have let things fester and get even uglier:
Where's the apology? Where's the truth? Where's the justice?
If there's no real truth and justice, then look out...
we see your lie-lie-lies and we're done with you and your gaslighting 🔥