I started to write about Gaslighting this morning, and I spent about an hour on it, but it just wasn’t feeling right. It wasn’t sounding like my voice. So I scrapped it. But the topic is an important one and I felt it was something I wanted to share.
Gaslighting for those who aren’t familiar with the term, is when someone in your life is covertly causing you to question your memory, your sanity, your environment or your safety through lies, deception, omission or redirection. It’s a form of emotional and mental abuse.
Yeah, basically bullshit. I didn’t know that this had an actual name until I read a piece written by Lisa Arends who writes a blog called Lessons from the end of a marriage. She can be found on twitter as @stilllearning2b. She explained that Gaslighting was named after a stage play and thriller in the 30’s where a husband is trying to systematically drive his wife crazy by slowly adjusting the gas lighting in their home to make her think she’s losing her mind. It brought me back to all the times my ex husband misrepresented himself to me, kept things from me, accused me of not remembering conversations or events in the past – in hindsight I realize this happened when he would get caught in a lie or didn’t want to face something difficult.
I pride myself on having a memory like a steel-trap. I remember dates, events, whole conversations, 80’s music lyrics, movie dialogue, all the important things. However, you could put a gun to my head and I couldn’t do long division to save my life. It’s all about priorities, folks. When he would throw a curve ball at me that I wasn’t remembering something, especially significant things, it really bothered me. It made me think my mind was slipping. Then of course, there was the whole two months he was supposed to be working at the big department store and made up a whole list of coworkers, managers, regional and district representatives all with names and back stories. He would text me “from work” telling me about all the clothes he had to fold that day, or mark downs he had been doing. He made up entire storylines for his whole day, even making excuses for not being able to talk on the phone with me because he was with his boss. All the while he was really at the mall, at the movies, at the pool, or just home sitting on the couch watching TV. That is a form of Gaslighting. Straight up bull puckies, simply meant to keep me from knowing his true failures and inability to provide for his family.
Soooo….(taps finger against chin) How do I segue into the part about the boat? I guess I will start with a wonderful stream of thought that occurred to me as I was walking into work this morning. Do you ever have those times in life where you just know God is in complete control and opening these doors that you know are part of The Plan and all you have to do is Get In The Boat? I feel like this Single & Selfish thing is exactly that. The Boat analogy is one that goes back to my need to control. Sometimes in my old life, I would be working so hard trying to control things that were completely out of control that at some point I kind of felt God tapping me on the forehead and saying “Wendi, quit trying to steer and determine the course. Just Get In The Boat, let me drive.”
So upon arriving to work, I went to one of my coworkers, a woman I respect, who has been a sounding board and a real source of support and encouragement. I went to her and told her of my adventure with Single & Selfish falling into place, the Blog, the email address, the Twitter account, the Facebook Page, the Web Address being available…I am building a Brand here, and it is feeling so great, and so meant to be, and so….cool! I also shared with her about how I feel like all I have to do is get in the boat. Her interpretation of that was really unique and very intuitive.
She said I had to get off the old boat that was my old life, that was such a struggle and so difficult to navigate. So I got off that boat and set up a deck chair on the pier for a while. I needed to be off the choppy water, I needed to be still in the deck chair, on the pier, so I could wait for the storm to pass, the seas to settle and rest so that I would be ready when the next boat pulled up to the pier and beckoned me to come aboard. This is the time for me to get in the new boat. It’s not a huge ocean liner – I don’t need it to be. I just need a boat that’s big enough for me and my story, and I don’t need to worry about steering because that’s covered. I just have to get in.
Isn’t that a beautiful picture with words? These last eight months have been my time in the deck chair on the pier. I’ve waited for the rough waters to settle and they have. The waters are calm and the sun is shining. I’m ready for the voyage.
Incidentally, the coworker who inspired this is one of the people saying “you should write a book, you have a story to tell.” I’m thinking I’m not the only one who has a story to tell, amiright?