I’ve talked to a lot of people who are surprised by current events. They are surprised when liars lie; they’re surprised when someone who promised to do outrageous things follows through and does them. And they are surprised that some people really are just shitty human beings.
I grew up with some crazy people. Please allow me to share what I have learned.
The people in the world I’m most frightened of are those whose left hand doesn’t know what their right is doing. Earlier in my life I dealt with outrageous behavior from people who later professed no memory of it – and I believe them, because I believe their denial is so deep that they truly don’t know what they have done.
Watching the current administration deny behaviors that WE HAVE ON TAPE reminds me of the crazy people of my childhood but they’re way scarier because they’re playing this insanity out on the world stage. You can get away from your family, but unless we’re going to colonize other planets very quickly, you can’t leave the world.
I wonder sometimes if gaslighting is a natural result of the disconnect. Do people gaslight because they’re cunningly trying to make your doubt your own perceptions or do they gaslight because they really do believe the crazy black-is-white, up-is-down version of reality they’re trying to sell you?
In the end I’m not sure it matters – lies are lies and the most important thing is to know how to protect yourself. Reality benders can be very convincing because they’re so brazen, but you can trust your own perceptions.
People tell you who they are:
There has been a lot of surprise that POTUS is doing the things he said he will do. This is not actually surprising. He has told us, many times and in many way, exactly who he is. Doubt his words at your peril. Humans tend to err on the side of optimism sometimes. “Well, he’s not that bad.” “No one is all bad.” And my favorite, “he’s just a lost boy inside.” Yeah, no. If someone says, “I’m going to punch you in the face,” don’t assume they’re just kidding, or exaggerating. Don’t assume that the desire to punch you is a manifestation of inner turmoil caused by their extreme sensitivity. Assume they’re going to punch you in the face if you don’t get away from them. And, this is very important, assume they’ll punch you at the next opportunity. Don’t give them that opportunity.
The language of abuse:
“No one cares what you think.” “You look stupid. Everyone thinks you’re stupid. You should just shut up because you’re stupid.” “You made me do it.”
I’m seeing a lot of the language of abuse playing out in the political arena right now. The press being told to shut up because they have already made themselves look stupid. The press being told that their opinions are invalid. In fact, anyone who dissents is invalidated by the conservative media. Right after the election there were a few think pieces going around that blamed Obama for the Rump presidency because Obama made fun of him during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner a while back. Just today Alan Dershowitz blamed the acting attorney general for her own firing, saying she brought it on herself by standing up for the rule of law.
Telling someone that they forced the abuse on themselves by asserting their basic human rights – classic abuser move. Telling someone that the only choice is to respond to their assertiveness with more abuse – more of the same.
This is the language of abuse. So familiar to anyone who has been exposed to domestic violence. It’s language that’s designed to demoralize but we don’t have to listen to it, or believe it. And, most importantly, don’t believe that you can stop the abuse by capitulating to the abuser’s demands. That is just a way for them to make you complicit in your own mistreatment.
That’s all I got for now, but I’ll continue to post on this topic as the news gives me more food for thought.