Girls and Gas-Lighting

Okay, ladies, this one’s for you! (Guys, you get to take a break, so enjoy it, because, for the most part, most of you didn’t pull this kind of crap on me. Oh, there were a few of you, but I’m pretty sure you all told me your mothers took hormones while pregnant with you, so………..) Ladies, I’m calling you out. I’m not angry, but I am done. I’m done pretending that you didn’t pull the crap on me that you did. I’m done letting you get away with all the gas-lighting. No, really, I’m not mad about it anymore. I have meditation these days, and I can pull up those memories and stare at them, emotionless, just observing, just taking in all that it says about humanity.

And I was guilty of it too, eventually. After all, you taught me well! All through the later part of high school… all through college, I put the manipulative techniques you taught me to good use. I thought I had learned “the way” until I got into Corporate America. They weren’t smart enough to pick up on exactly what I was doing, but they sure knew they didn’t like it, just as I had when I was 12 and 13 years old.

I got into trouble again and again for going by the rules you taught me, for letting slip those few little syllables that stealthily and perfectly insinuated that someone was an idiot or too sensitive or expecting too much. You know exactly what I’m talking about, because you did it to me, ruthlessly, for years! And any time I protested, you told me I was being paranoid, you told me I was being too sensitive, you told me I was being “crazy.” Well let me tell you something, especially for those of you who somehow avoided ever jumping into Corporate America. Gas-lighting doesn’t work there. Telling someone they’re paranoid doesn’t work there. Telling someone they’re crazy REALLY doesn’t work there.

In Corporate America, when you voice a veiled insult, you get called on it. When you insinuate that someone is an idiot or that something is unfair or that the company’s policies are stupid, YOU GET CALLED ON IT. You have to sit through closed-door, three-person meetings where people use words like “professional decorum” and “business acumen,” and you leave with a typed-up sheet in your hand with a stupid title like “Personal Success Plan.” It sucks!

So no, the rules you taught me don’t work. It’s not just Corporate America. It’s being an adult. It’s conversing honestly, and it’s what I want to do from here on out. When you say something hurtful as an adult, people call you on it, or if they don’t, they show you in other ways how they don’t appreciate the treatment, like exiting your life. I’ve had adult women gas-light me, but most of them were literally brain-damaged, so I give them a pass too. It doesn’t mean I’m going to let them stay in my life if they’re going to project all over me, gas-light me and call me crazy or selfish or whatever. I’m done with the time in my life where I let people get close to me who do these things.

But a woman who’s sustained actual brain damage is not as guilty as a 12-year-old with a completely sound mind and body who engaged in this kind of behavior for years, not as guilty as a 20-something so, sooooo insecure about voicing her emotional needs that it became standard practice within our social group to assume that she meant the exact opposite of what she said.

All I want is honesty. It would be really nice to hear that, even if you’re not sorry for the back-handed “compliments” and the veiled snide remarks that you’re admitting you made them, you’re admitting that when you mentioned knowing a friend of a friend that you’d met on a trip the two of you took without me, that you were doing it to needle me and remind me that you got invited over me. It would be nice to hear from you that you really did hate my guts on the day of your wedding, because you’d come to think of me as someone looking to steal your spotlight. It would be REALLY nice to hear you admit that you lied about moving to Arizona so that you could cut off relations with me. Really?! I saw you three weeks later. How did you plan to carry that one off?

And now you’re back to thinking I’m still angry about it all. Go ahead if you need to believe that, but you believing it still doesn’t make it true. I’m not saying these things, because I’m angry now. In fact, studying these moments in meditation has given me the insight to see some of the hurts you were bearing at the time that likely led you to act in these ways (and all I feel in those moments is pure compassion for the broken children we all are)!

I’m saying what I’m saying now, because it needed to be said 10, 15, 25 years ago. I’m saying it, because it would be awesome if just one of you would step forward with me (that’s right “with me,” because as I admitted earlier, I did this to people too) and admit to the gas-lighting you did.

To everyone I ever gas-lighted, I’m sorry. To everyone who ever gas-lighted me, the floor is yours.