Gaslighting is defined as “manipulating someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.”
Here is the truth. The last time I spoke to my father was on his death bed over Skype. A significant portion of my family was present for the reunion. At some point he asked me why I had never told him about Isadora. Aside from my mom I had never told anyone in my family that my father molested me. How could I answer him without exposing the truth? I didn’t tell my father about my daughter because I feared that he would, given the chance, do the same thing to her as he had done to me. I knew that even if I never left them alone together he could still do a tremendous amount of psychological damage. My father was very clear and very persistent when it came to his views on women. He was, in fact, relentless in his sexism. He steered most, if not all, of our conversations towards sex and the inferiority of women. He was often drunk. Often belligerent. Completely paranoid. And most of all dangerous. So I decided that it was better for me and better for Isadora if I cut him out of my life altogether. This was one of the best decisions I ever made but how could I say that to a room full of our closest relatives? Did I really want to expose the truth of my father on his deathbed? I finally answered “because it wasn’t safe.”. I didn’t elaborate even though he pressed me. Eventually he said “it was all in your imagination.” Referring to the things I didn’t say about our relationship and in that moment everyone in the room understood more or less why I had disappeared for such a long time.
My relatives had questions. My mom answered them honestly on my behalf and they believed her. One of my aunts came forward to say that he had raped her as well. By far the most difficult conversation of my life was the conversation I had with my father on his deathbed. Although he never admitted to the truth, he did, in the end expose himself.
I kept that secret from my family for 30 some years. My childhood was one of secrecy. I was told how to feel. How to believe. I was given a version of reality that didn’t match my own. My beliefs, my boundaries, my emotions, my well-being none of it mattered. As an adult I still question everything I think and feel. I question my motives. I accept other people’s version of events over my own. I question my worth on an almost daily basis. If I feel sick I question whether or not my illness is just a way of avoiding my responsibilities. If I am sad I question whether or not my sorrow is just a way of evoking sympathy or manipulating the situation. If I am angry I question whether or not I am being selfish and unreasonable. I even question my existence at times.
I believe that to make other people happy I have to subdue myself as much as possible because no one would love the truth of me. So for all of my life I have chosen to live in a kind of bizarre compromise. I am half-way myself. The half-way bit goes off like a bomb in mid sentence. You just never know when I am going to surface but when I do I am full of a lifetime’s worth of subdued emotions and forgotten dreams. I have learned how to endure a lot of things. Abuse. Neglect. Cruelty. Failure. Disappointment. Sorrow. Indolence. I have not learned how to endure Happiness. Love. Success. Unity. Reciprocity. Praise. Productivity. I have a sense that emotions aren’t really an act of endurance, that life really isn’t a contest of how much you can take before you break.
If you asked me what I wanted in life more than anything. I don’t know would probably be the most honest thing I could say because I have spent my life on the fence. I can’t tell which feelings and thoughts are mine, much less which thoughts and feelings are coming from fear and a desperate desire to run away from myself and anyone/anything that could touch upon the truth of me and which thoughts and feelings are coming from love and a need for expansion. Right now I am faced with the choice to move forward even at the expense of making a mistake, or acting with bad intentions, or misguided emotions, or from a place of fear/avoidance, or risking my comfort because what else can I do? I have spent my whole life hoping that the truth would be louder and more insistent than my doubts but if doubt is what I am conditioned to perceive than truth, whatever it might be, probably wouldn’t even stand out very much to me in the beginning. So mine is a quest for truth and in the process I might lie quite lot because I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t or maybe I do know but I just never learned to believe in myself.
The inversion took place two years ago. It wasn’t just me. Every living person on the planet was affected. Some say it was a virus, some blame it on environmental toxins and climate change, a handful of people believe that mushrooms were somehow responsible but I know the truth. It was a rebellion of mercy. I don’t blame the shadows. I applaud them. Let’s face it we were never going to save the world. We couldn’t even save ourselves from ourselves.
When I was a child I believed that everyone had an evil twin, a shadow self. Turns out that we were the shadows, the evil twins, we were just too busy inflating our egos to realize it. Evil isn’t really the right word though, I know that now. It is more accurate to say that we were misguided. Not by the shadows. They only ever try to help but by our limited senses, beliefs, and judgments.
My life as an observer is a lot simpler. My decisions are made in advance and they are always in alignment with my highest good. I am living my truth. I am seeing connections where before all I saw were mountains and crevasses of division. I am learning to heal centuries of shame. I am learning to appreciate the absurdities. Firstly the idea that we come into this world alone is complete bollocks. I have never been alone. My shadow has been my constant companion and now she’s helping me to undue a lifetimes’ worth of toxic habits and beliefs. Soon I will be free. We all will. The shadows are rebuilding Eden. Can you believe it? Heaven on earth!
Why did the chicken cross the road? To reunite with his higher self. Black is all the colors in one. All along the angels were beside us only we perceived them as stains against the chaos of our lives. Truth is they were just too bright for us to perceive.
I have a confession, I am my mother’s daughter. I have a terrible temper and a tendency to be flaky and unreliable. For me love is an addiction, an obsession, a have to have. I am dramatic and childish in the best and worst possible ways. I am generous to a fault. I am afraid of my ambition, of earning money, of losing myself in a life without passion. I lack confidence and self-esteem. I don’t recognize my value. I feel guilty for everything and that makes me really hard to talk to. I cry easily and often and I don’t know if I am being manipulative or if I am just feeling vulnerable. I try to save people even at the expense of my own personal safety and well-being. I am hysterical. Open. Playful. Unstable. Innocent. I worry too much. I am aggressively protective. I can’t stand to see other people suffer, particularly children and animals. I am wise beyond my years. I am my mother’s counselor and also her mother. I am empathetic. I am my own worst nightmare. I complicate everything. I am gullible and adorable. I am competitive but I never win. I know what you want before you do. If you ask me a question I will bare my soul but I will never answer your question because I don’t know what I think or feel or who I am deep down. I accept everything, even the contradictions. I am psychopomp and a psychic. I exist more in dreams than in reality.
I am my father’s daughter. From him I learned that my value comes from outside of myself. Men are the ones who assign value and meaning to my life. My survival depends on my ability to accommodate and please my partner. I can’t live on my own. I am an object. I am fragile. I am defiant. I am an anarchist. I abhor mediocrity. I am paranoid and pessimistic and sometimes I compensate for feelings of unworthiness with excessive pride. I am a crippled genius. I am an unlocker of doors some of which ought to remain closed. I am an instigator. A Devil’s advocate. I will bring out the best and the worst in you. I am a recluse desperate for attention. I am possessive and jealous. I run wild. I like mysteries. I solve people like puzzles. I look in dark places. I am voracious and relentless. I am timid. I am a monster slayer. I am also a monster. I continue to gaslight myself and second guess all my choices. I am a failure. Not because of the mistakes I have made but because I give up before I even begin. Humiliation is the worst of all feelings. I am as big as a universe and as small as a seed. I have demon blood. I am more animal than man. I have an inferiorly complex as deep as the ocean. I am bottomless. I am terrified all the time. I don’t know how to be happy. I have an intensity which others find both alarming and alluring. I am both asexual and hyper-sexual and that’s probably a result of repeated sexual abuse which is to say I don’t know the true state of my sexuality. I am always fighting against myself, society, the man. For me surrender is synonymous with death. I am a revolutionary without a cause. I am a window painted over and nailed shut. I am black and white. I can smell blood in the water. I know your weaknesses. I see your strengths. My words are like razors. I am loved but I don’t know it. I make excuses. I brag. I have seen too much. I am scarred all the way through. I see man for what he is both good and bad. I don’t care if our beliefs differ. I am a drowning man. I have a head full of stories. I don’t know how to speak to people out loud. I say the wrong things. I am impulsive. I don’t hit children. I think animals are better people than people are.
It has been a while since I have had reason to live and it is getting harder and harder to come back from the Depressions. A lot of what I wanted to do in this life I have done. Some of my goals are quite small and not really the kind of goals that get one out of bed in the morning. Some goals are beyond me. Like getting married again. Finding employment. Believe me I have tried but I have lost hope. I need something big enough to motivate me, small enough not to crush me, close enough not to exhaust me because I am beyond exhausted. My test results reveal again that I have antibodies against my thyroid which is the sort of thing you monitor but don’t treat. So there is no reason why I feel so bad physically. I feel really bad but it is almost certainly sadness and stress and I don’t know how to stop being sad or stressed. I can tell you after the endoscopy I won’t be going back to another doctor in my lifetime. Depression apparently makes you immune to everything and immortal, so no need. There is no one who needs me. Maybe I would be missed but as I learned after the divorce that is a temporary thing. A few months max and anyway my ex and my daughter have already missed me so they are passed that now. I used to live because I saw good things in other people’s lives and in the world but it is like everything is bad all around. I know my Depression is normal and it’s not so big it needs treatment but it is hard for me anyway. I know all people are sad all the time because doctors have told me that, so sad is just the base human feeling. I don’t know why I have a hard time getting use to that.