This is part 2 of a series of posts I’m going to be writing on the topic of gaslighting (& my personal experiences with it). This particular post in the series is more general and doesn’t dive into any specifics of my mother’s abuse, not really. I am not putting any trigger warnings on this blog post. If you think I need a content note/trigger warning, let me know.
Part 1 talked more about her abuse, specifically, and that post can be found here: Gaslighting & Crocodile Tears
Part 3 is Gaslighting & Love.
Christmas was only a month-and-a-half ago, and every year, it brings its fair share of memories, both positive and negative, and also plenty of memories that just “are” – neutral memories, as well.
Something just hit me one morning a couple of weeks ago, though, and that’s just how much gaslighting was involved in things my mother did around Christmas in my childhood.
In the past, when I would read posts like this on the signs of emotional abuse: http://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/138652549987/what-are-the-signs-of-emotional-abuse, I always thought my mom didn’t engage in the particular abusive tactic known as “gaslighting”. I’d been reading posts like that for a long while now, and I always though that if gaslighting is defined as:
A form of psychological abuse involving the manipulation of situations or events that cause a person to be confused or to doubt his perceptions and memories. Gaslighting causes victims to constantly second-guess themselves and wonder if they’re losing their minds.
then, well, I didn’t experience it. I never really second-guessed my experiences, and I definitely never thought I was losing my mind.
But then, a few weeks ago when I started the draft of this blog post, which I actually started writing before my post on Crocodile Tears, I did a Google search for more explanation on the abuse tactic that is gaslighting, and the first thing I clicked on was this Everyday Feminism article on the topic (“10 Things I’ve Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic”), and… the degree to which I can relate to multiple aspects of this post when I think back on specific things with my mom is… um… actually a little scary.
Look at these quotes from the article:
Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality.
I believe that gaslighting is happening culturally and interpersonally on an unprecedented scale, and that this is the result of a societal framework where we pretend everyone is equal while trying simultaneously to preserve inequality.
You can see it in the media constantly.
For instance, every time an obvious hate crime is portrayed as an isolated case of mental illness, this is gaslighting. The media is saying to you, What you know to be true is not true.
The quotes will become relevant soon.
In order for me to explain the relevance… I’m going to recount my experience with Santa Claus, because my lovely abusive mother (note the sarcasm dripping from my voice as I call her “lovely”) left me a voicemail on my cell phone on December 28th saying she remembers my reaction when she told me Santa wasn’t real.
She remembers that?!?