A THOUSAND TINY STEPS

How The Snowy Reality of Spring in New Hampshire is a Metaphor for Life

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Snow in March covering car in an un-shoveled driveway

I’m having a pretty rough day today. 

One element of being an adult survivor of child abuse is being easily triggered by seemingly non-traumatic events. These can be news clips, smells, songs, current events, terminology, and behaviors to name a few. Politics can be a major trigger. 

I have many. 

Victim shamers would say to me that I am triggered because “I let people pull my triggers.” That if I didn’t “allow myself to have buttons” they would not be available for pushing. Comments like this are, of course, examples of mild manipulation that can lead to gaslighting. 

Ahhhh, gaslighting, a very well known and likely over used term.   

I asked Siri for the definition and got this. “To manipulate (someone) using psychological methods into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning.” 

I spent several years with a covert narcissist. He was masterful at gaslighting as a form of manipulation. This manipulation and behavior are classic and telltale behaviors among true narcissists. While I am still recovering from the emotional, physical, and social ramifications this manipulation had on me, I am now quite astute at picking it up. 

It is rampant in our political world right now. Both conservatives and liberals use it quite well to brainwash the masses into believing things that are patently untrue. In true “gaslight receiver” form, the believers then argue not only with those outside their political party, but those within as well, when met with opposition. 

Gas Light receivers are referred to as flying monkeys in the narcissistic reality.

I am getting ahead of myself here. Let me explain. The term gaslighting comes from a movie by that name. The movie Gaslight chronicles a husband as he uses the brightness of the gas lights in his house to make his wife question her sanity. He dims them and claims they are normal brightness when his wife asks. He convinces his staff to support this behavior. Whether or not they believe what they are saying, they have been manipulated into supporting the husband.

Gaslighting the masses is often done with propaganda. 

As much as I would like to give current examples of what is swimming through my mind right now, I am not going to. I recently shared my views on a current, highly contentious, social issue and was lambasted by people who (I thought) had good heads on their shoulders. I was blasted with claims and information that a basic high school science student could disprove, except that science student would also be blasted. I was told I was “thinking incorrectly” and that my “definition of myself” was inaccurate. 

So, I stopped talking.

This is another trigger for me. Begin told to be quiet. Or being silenced by people who have dove headfirst into the rabbit hole. My interchange today took me back to the 1970’s and the forced bussing in Boston.

Racial segregation was deemed bad for society. 

While this can sometimes be quite true, we can not confuse communities with segregation. The greater Boston area’s solution was to randomly choose students from all over the city and bus them to high schools in other neighborhoods. No surprise, it was an epic failure. Forcing de-segregation does just that. It de-segregates. It mixes up the black and the white.

It does not build community.

Our country is in the throes of “let me force my thinking on you” behaviors. It is affecting schools, businesses, sports, churches and all of the people that use those spaces. This force of belief blames the victims so as to create a division that distracts decision makers from being able to look thoughtfully at a situation. 

I saw this in the movie Pain Killer, about the sale of Oxi-Contin and how corrupt it was. There is a scene in the movie where the owner of the pharmaceutical company creates a campaign to use those customers who became addicted as the villains, and not the company sales reps or the doctors who sold and prescribed the drugs. It worked. Those who became addicted to the drug were blamed for being weak. The very few who managed to escape without addiction used as proof.

Right now, both sides of the political realm are using these techniques against women. 

Women are labeled a certain way to become poster children for or against reproductive and health care freedoms. Women now must fight women trying to prove that they are right and the other is wrong. All of the propaganda and mis-truths are used to blow smoke, which clouds the ability to watch major decisions about female freedoms get legislated into reality buy politicians and judges.

On the other side of the coin, girls and women are pitted against one another over basic truths and day to day realities about who they are and where they do and don’t belong. The minority opinions, complete with the same propaganda tactics used in the previous paragraph divide the very people who are negatively affected by the legislation. Women are blatantly manipulated and guilted into agreeing to things that they know in their gut is wrong. This occurs on both sides.

Women and girls are both the victim and the enemy, and the infighting distracts the very people at the center of the controversy from the actual reality.

So why the snowy day reference? 

As pretty as a snowy day is to look at out the window, it is utterly depressing in the month of March. We are ready for spring already. Give us sunlight and warmth. Daylight and flowers. The weather today matches two conversations I have had, and the gut twisting realization that really good people, both red and blue, believe really bad things. And while no one is telling me out right to “keep this secret or you will get blamed” the things said to me today sent that message loud and clear. 

So, I will be quiet. (But I will not be still) 

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