Saturday, July 4, 2015

Indulgences, Negative Pleasantries and "Gaslighting"

A Personal Rant

(Having nothing to do with writing, quantum shamanism, or anything other than my personal observations of life, the universe & everything wedged in the crack in between)

In case of rant, break glass. (Then use it to slit the throats of any idiots standing within 100 yards).

With that said, there is nowhere to begin except in the middle.If you are offended by strong opinions and truth, you may want to go back to looking at pretty pictures on the internet or hook up with your "nice" friends who like to facilitate your ongoing whiny weaknesses that you've been milking for sympathy, attention and financial support all your life. The bottom line here is that a lot of people who call themselves victims also create themselves as victims - and with what turns out to be good reason. Hell, if I'd realized earlier in life that I could get stuff (including full financial and emotional support) by pretending to be sick, injured, mentally ill, or just plain lazy, I might have bought myself one of those patented "Victim Here!" t-shirts and hopped on that bandwagon that never stops at any workplace, and certainly doesn't make any layovers in Reality.

For some, the status of victim brings lots of attention, and you can always roll out that big banner that says (with great big tears), "Don't blame me, I'm the victim!" Well... how about this? How about not choosing to be a victim and watch how your life turns around? I'm not ignoring the fact that some people really are mentally ill or otherwise disengaged from reality - that's absolutely not what I'm ranting about here - but many (if not most) are simply milking the system and their family and friends for every ounce of energy, money, emotional support and whatever else they can get. No, I'm not an unfeeling monster. Yes, I know people who are legitimately "victims" of life. But I also know a lot of people who fall under the heading of Energy Vampire - and that's a vocation, not just an unfortunate set of circumstances.

Where is all of this coming from? you might wonder. Life experience, for starters, but also from a lot of stuff that makes the rounds on the internet from time to time. I'm simply tired of keeping quiet when it has become an epidemic of entitlement, self-indulgence and self-pity. In reality, most people choose to be the victim because - let's face it - it's a lot easier than being strong, much easier than standing on your own two feet, and a helluva lot easier than thinking for yourself. It's much easier to blame others in the aftermath of your failures, as opposed to taking the bull by the horns and living from the vantage point of your own strengths (and you have those strengths - believe me, everyone does!) So when someone whines about how they have "been a victim all their life," it just makes me want to grab them and shake them and ask them why on earth (or any other planet) they would choose to passively allow their weaknesses to rule their lives, while ignoring their strengths.

Most victims aren't born. They are (self) made.

I recently read an article about "gaslighting" - but to be honest here, a lot of it sounded to me like the author was trying to assign blame for every sleight she had received in her life. If your family is comprised of assholes and homophobic rednecks, why are you still there? If you're an adult, you can walk away (yes, it will be hard, but that's why you learned to walk). If you're a child, you (hopefully) have been schooled in the fact that you can report physical or psychological abuse to the authorities (teachers, police, priests - well, scratch that last one...). Bottom line - if you're willingly standing in the shit line, don't whine! If you need help, get it - report the abusers or simply walk away. It doesn't matter if they're your family members, your best friends or a stranger on the street.  If you really feel you are being victimized, get the fuck out of Dodge. What are you waiting for?

But on the other side of that coin... whether you decide to stay or go, don't then turn around and blame everyone but yourself. Don't run your passive-aggressive self-victimization performance on those who have been trying to help you for years despite what you might prefer to believe. I've had more than my fair share of people (mostly emotionally needy women) come into my life as "friends" but as time wears on (more than 30 years in some cases) it has a tendency to turn toxic when I begin to realize that these women who sought me out for my strength (their words) are now blaming me for their own weaknesses. Or, more precisely, they are defending their right to be weak, and annoyed that I see it.

This has happened to me at least 3 times, and not in any minor way. In my early 20s, a woman in fandom (who was twice my age, married with children and seemingly settled in life) attached herself to me under the guise of being a friend/mentor. For awhile, it was fun - having an older friend who shared my same interests (Star Trek, fan conventions, writing, etc), but it wasn't long before things turned weird. I suppose that all started when she would come to my house on weekends, half drunk and out of her mind on prescription pain pills, and begin to throw herself at me as if we were lovers. And this was with her two young boys tagging along for the ride - inappropriate, to say the very least.

At first, I thought I was mistaken - being young and naive allows one to live in a state of quasi-denial - but when she would unroll about a foot of tongue into my ear and call me "Baby," I started to get the idea that it was a great deal more weird than I had originally imagined. Of course, I'm no stranger to same-gender pairings (I've been with the same woman for over 35 years), so one time I responded... only to later be accused of raping her (even though the "relationship" never went any further than a kiss, and not even a memorable one at that). Bottom line - her strict Catholic upbringing wouldn't allow her to realize she was actually a Lesbian, and so her only recourse was to violently and vehemently blame the person she had been trying to seduce for months. Chalk one up to Crazyville.

Is that "gaslighting" on my part? I don't think so, though I'm sure I've been accused of that under more than one trendy psyche term over the years. Point being - it was to her advantage to play the victim. Got her lots of sympathy from people who blindly believed her, and made it easier for her to run back and forth from the east coast to the west and keep a "Baby" in every port (or so she originally hoped). Smart. And hardly a victim if you look at it with clarity rather than blind emotional empathy for the one who always whines the loudest. She created her own reality through her own actions. She simply skipped over first year physics, wherein we learn that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words... consequences. If this, then that... it ain't rocket science.

There have been other incidents, more recent and, frankly, even more unbelievable. A friend of over 30 years abruptly decided to write me a "Go fuck yourself" email  - which was probably not a bad idea under the circumstances, seeing as how any real "friendship" ended long ago as a result of her own inexplicable actions (not once, not twice, but dozens of times).  Though in all fairness to myself, I'd have to say that her agenda in finally breaking it off  is every bit as transparent as her behavior over the past three decades. It becomes impossible for any real friend to remain supportive when you have seen through the facades and the childish, immature, self-indulgent games. So the only way to protect herself from the potential scrutiny of her family members and other mutual friends was to make a "first strike" tactical maneuver and label me as the tyrant, thus allowing herself to go right on playing the role of the victim to those who do buy into the charades. *shrugs*  I don't take it personally. It's just business. If those closest to her knew the real truth about her agendas and her manipulations, she would stand to lose a lot more than she will lose by just unfriending me out of her life. Hell, I don't even blame her. Just wish she would stand on her strengths instead of always falling back on her weaknesses. Tried to tell her that a few times, which is probably why I am now the poster child for her dart board. *lol*

Another long-time friend (over 30 years) also recently told me to go fuck myself.  Damn - I'm starting to need a tube o' lube for all that self-abuse I'm being told to inflict on myself, but that's okay. I'd rather fuck myself than most other humans these days, so now all I need is a new bunch of D-cells. They get the job done and don't write me nasty emails in the morning.  The thing is... the consistent complaint in these last two cases ultimately boils down to... "You're not giving me enough attention."  If I boil away all of the other self-indulgent and self-entitled whining and attempts to twist reality (of which both are true masters), that's it in a nutshell. In both cases, I was essentially told that I wasn't playing the game right. I didn't say blue is my favorite color (because it's purple). I wouldn't tell them it's okay to say one thing and do the opposite (that's what a yes-man does, not what a friend does). I just wasn't playing the game the way they wanted to play it, and that was enough to get me thrown off the field. That's okay - I'm not invested in those games anymore anyway. Happy to know that the only winning move is not to play. Happier still not to need consensual agreements with pretenders.

And yet, I always ask myself, "Self, is it you?" Am I a bad friend? Am I a bad person? Am I a bad influence?

I honestly don't think so, and neither does anyone who really knows me. (I've asked.)  I'm strongly opinionated (who isn't?). I have my own ideas about the meaning of life. If you want to discuss them, ask me. If you want me to change those ideas to suit your notions... ask yourself why you so desperately need me to agree with you. What it really seems to come down to is a bad case of false expectations - and it's easy to play the victim when you think someone owes you something, even if in your own mind. The whole thing about "gaslighting" as it is being discussed on the internet usually isn't about real mental abuse. It's just life. Not everyone is going to agree with you. Not everyone is going to like you. And very very few people are going to love you. Why you would think everyone owes that to you is what might need to be examined.

Keep this in mind... when someone accuses you
of "gaslighting," they may not realize
that by pointing a finger at YOU,
there are 4 other fingers
pointing back in their own direction.
 In common English, it's also known
as the cat calling the dog a hairbag. 
People have disagreements all the time, but in today's world that seems to mean crying mental abuse and running to your friends and family in the hopes they will agree with you and give you all that "Oh poor baby" attention you seem to need-need-need so very desperately.  As far as I can see, in most (not all, but most) cases, what that really points to is just one more manifestation of the very thing the "victim" is crying foul about in the first place. In other words - instead of standing up for yourself, you turn and blame everyone but yourself (making yourself the victim in the process), often pointing the finger at the people whom you know full well have seen through your games and your manipulations. Deny it all you want. Turn and point the finger at someone else if that's what you need to do - but it won't change who you are, and it won't get you any closer to who you might want to be. It's just one more diversionary tactic, one more dive into the depths of your own self-deception rather than any attempt to climb the very real ladder of your strengths. And if you want to accuse me of "gaslighting" for that, you go right ahead. Maybe it will make you sleep better. Maybe it won't. But one thing is true: you created your own reality and now you are living in it. You know the truth about yourself (and so do 99% of the people you mistakenly believe you've been fooling).

There are all sorts of other tangents I could go off on. Okay, you talked me into it.  In the same vein as "gaslighting", let's talk about triggering - another buzz word that's gained popularity in social media and especially in fannish circles. Back in the day of the first fan fiction, nobody would have thought to worry about being "triggered." The word didn't exist. But no matter. What it comes down to is that some people are so overly sensitive that they request - no, they demand - to be warned about anything and everything that might maybe possibly probably "trigger" an emotional response. And, well, frankly I find that a bit... er... crazy. (Hope that doesn't trigger anybody, but I'm sure it probably maybe possibly certainly will).

I mean - let's get real. If you are reading fan fiction - particularly male/male or gay romance "slash" - chances are very high that nearly any such story may contain something that is going to trigger somebody somewhere. Granted, if the story contains a violent rape with a Wile E. Coyote as the perp and the roadrunner as the victim, maybe I could understand. But here's a little fact that will probably rattle a few cages and trigger a few hate mails - but it can be validated if anybody wants to go look.  I have posted several of my old Star Trek K/S fanfic stories on Archive of Our Own, and the ones that get the MOST hits and the HIGHEST kudos counts are the very ones that have "non-con" sexuality, or - gasp - feature one or the other of the characters as a sex slave with induced amnesia.

So let's be honest - do people want to be "warned" about non-con, or do they just want to get off on it? Doesn't matter to me either way - but here's another thing. If you know you are uber sensitive to rape stories or death stories or stories in which boy-meets-sheep, boy-loses-sheep, boy-eats-sheep... then why on Earth are you even reading in a genre where you might run across that?  Do you expect pro authors like Anne Rice to warn you about all that naughty sex in those Beauty books? Do you expect Stephen King to tell you somebody is going to tango with an ax on page 329? What do you expect - and why do you even expect it? Where is it written that you must be coddled and protected, when you are going out of your way to read the kind of material that might trigger your triggers? Isn't that rather... um... naive? And entitled? And... well... here's that word again... crazy?

If you don't like what I'm saying here, that's fine. Unfriend me. Tell me to go fuck myself (I'm starting to enjoy it). But by all means... don't try to blame me if you are twisting yourself up inside because you enjoy the wringer. It's called negative pleasantries - getting off on being weak or indulgent or entitled. Sure - you can do that and maybe even feel righteously justified in those beliefs. But somewhere inside yourself... you do know the truth. And that is what's really eating you up inside.


Just to be perfectly clear... my comments here are entirely personal observations, and I intend no disrespect to anyone who is genuinely victimized, mentally ill or emotionally damaged. Life happens. Bad things happen to good people. My comments here are wholly in response to what I see as a dangerous trend toward painting oneself as a victim instead of turning and embracing the real strengths you have earned through your own life experience. In at least 95% of all cases, you aren't the victim unless you choose to adopt that label. You are the most powerful being in the universe. Prove it! Not to me, but to yourself.


  1. Why is gaslighting in quotes? It's a real word, and has been used to mean trying to drive someone crazy ever since the movie came out in 1944. It's been a dictionary definition since 1956.

    But I'm guessing the quotes are there because you don't believe in gaslighting. Last night I started to write about my experiences, but I kept stopping to re-read your rant. Every time I'd be more upset until I finally realized that it didn't matter what I wrote. Forget everything else you wrote, those quotes around the name of the thing that happened to me told me that you weren't going to believe me. Not being believed is at the heart of what happens to a person who is being gaslighted, so maybe you can see why I was so upset.

    If you don't believe gaslighting exists, your paragraph at the end is meaningless.

  2. Actually... it's one of my bad habits as a writer to use too many "quotes." But that aside... the reason I put the word gaslighting in quotes is because I think too many people in today's world of social media are way too quick to hope on way too many bandwagons. I'm not saying that is always the case - but what the dictionary defines as gaslighting (and I did research it before I wrote the article) is a bit distant from what most people who claim to be victims of it are talking about.

    So for the record, I do believe gaslighting exists. I've been the recipient of it myself, more than once. But for the most part, I don't think it is INTENTIONAL (and if it ISN'T intentional, is it gaslighting at all, or is it something else - like simple bullying?). Most times, I think it's just a case of people having widely different opinions (and perceptions) - and for whatever reason, humans desperately seek a consensus and will go to great lengths (even religious wars) to get others to agree with them. Strange, that. At any rate, in most cases I hear about (broken friendships & ended relationships) neither party is actively trying to drive the other crazy in MOST cases, though I don't deny that it can (and does) happen. So... sometimes I think it's actual gaslighting and sometimes I think it's "gaslighting".

    But here's the thing - I truly hope (honestly & sincerely!) that you won't give a fat rat's ass about what I say in my blog. If you want to write about your experience with gaslighting, then by all means... do so! I would be very interested to read your accounts, and in the end my opinion matters not one wit. Seriously - it's just my opinion, and your own is obviously just as valid.

  3. As I've been doing further research to clarify my own thinking here, I think there is one more thing that is important to consider. In so many cases where people claim they are being gaslighted, that really doesn't seem to be the case if one goes by the actual definition of the word. Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse through which one person attempts to deliberately cause another to question his/her sanity, reality, perception, memory.

    What I mostly see in online discussions really isn't about that. It's generally two people disagreeing and each one fighting boldly for their own opinion. In other words, there is no DELIBERATE attempt to cause the other person to question their reality. Sure, people drive us crazy all the time - but how often is it REALLY intentional?

    In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya - "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."