Saturday, May 20, 2017

Tom Gaslights his grandson Nathan

I've been watching the fourth season of Packed to the Rafters.

In the episode, I'm currently, watching, there's a good example of gaslighting.

Nathan (Angus McLaren) sees Tom (John Howard) near a pub.  He calls out to Tom, and Tom doesn't respond.  Later, at home, Nathan tells Tom that he saw him.  Tom insists it wasn't him. He says he was working, and not near a pub.

Gaslighting is a type of lie, but I think it's much worse than other types of lies.

Tom has been lying to Nathan and the rest of the family all along.  He says he's looking for a job when in reality he's been having special fun with his lady friend.  He's using the Rafter family for food and housing while pretending to be hard at work.  This dishonesty is rude—definitely asshole behavior.  But gaslighting takes it a step further into shittiness.

With gaslighting, there's an attempt to make the victim question their own senses, their own memory, and maybe even their sanity.

Now, my guess is that MOST gaslighters do not gaslight with the main goal of having their victim suffer great self-doubt.

I don't think Tom would be thinking, You know what would be fun. Let's have Nathan think that he's having hallucinations of me. Wouldn't that be a laugh!  

No. I think the main goal for gaslighters is to avoid getting in trouble, being blamed, having their secrets revealed, etc.  But I think they're failing to realize that their behavior causes emotional harm.

Gaslighting is big in the news lately, because of Donald Trump.  He does gaslighting a lot. He says he didn't do something. Then his past Tweets say otherwise.  This is really annoying, but I don't think it causes much emotional harm, BECAUSE we have these Tweets to prove we're not crazy.  And we have each other for support. We're not alone.

When we see something we dislike or are treated in a way that hurts us; then are told it never happened, how do we know we're right?

Sometimes it can be a matter of interpretation.  She says he said it in a harsh voice.  He repeats what he said earlier and this time his words are said in a calm, gentle, reasonable manner.  Is that how he said it the first time, and her imagination went nuts?  Or did he change his tone of voice to avoid responsibility for his earlier behavior?  And IF he changed his tone of voice, is he outright lying about what happened earlier, or is he in some kind of subconscious denial?  

If he's not purposely being misleading about his behavior in the past, I'd probably NOT call it gaslighting.  I'd probably just call it denial.  But if he's purposely trying to reinvent the past, then I'd label it gaslighting.

Other gaslighting is more obvious.  Like what happened with Tom and Nathan.  Being somewhere or not being somewhere is not open to interpretation.

UNLESS you are crazy.

He sees her hugging her friend, and the hug is a bit too sensual.  He tries to keep his cool, but a few days later, they get in a fight, and he brings up the inappropriate hug.

She says, I have no idea what you're talking about.  I never hugged him.

He knows what he saw. He's sure of it. He's angry at her for lying.

But then sometime later, he begins to worry that he's the one that's wrong.  Did he really see her hug her friend? Did he imagine it?  He wishes he had taken a photo, so he'd know for sure.  Or at least he should have written it down in a journal right after it happened. Then he could know for sure that it was something that happened in real life, and not something that happened in one of his dreams.

Unless you have a lot of self-confidence, I think gaslighting is going to lead to self-doubt, especially if it happens repeatedly.

I've had experiences with gaslighting only a few times, but I'm full of self-doubt.  There are times I feel like an innocent victim of dishonesty.  But there are other times where I feel the problem is ME—  I'm remembering things wrong; I'm confusing reality with fantasy; I'm paranoid; I'm misinterpreting people's behavior; I wrongly accuse the good and innocent.

There's this feeling that, to prevent this self-doubt, I need to write everything down—every conversation and every moment that hurts me.  On rare occasions, I do this.  Usually, I fail, though; then feel vulnerable.

When it comes to the Donald Trump experience, I feel very much part of a team.  "We" are all in this together.

With my personal gaslighting experiences, I feel incredibly alone.  I feel there's no way I can convince people that my truth is the real truth, because sometimes I'm not even sure myself.

I wonder what will happen with Nathan.  Will he trust his own experience, or will Tom convince him to believe otherwise?  If he tries to talk to other people about it, will they believe him, or will they question him and give him further self-doubts?

You know what would be nice? If my life was actually a TV show.  Then when I die, all these questionable scenes of my life could be replayed for me.  Then I could know whether or not I was gaslighted, or if I had been the one who was wrong.

Edited to add: I was just thinking that if victims of gaslighting read this post, they will probably understand at least some of what I'm feeling.

If the people who have gaslighted me in the past read this post, I can imagine them using it as future ammunition against me...if we ever argue about an incident. Well, you said so yourself in your blog that you might have problems distinguishing fact from fiction....

Oh well.  I'm used to other people's denial and dishonesty, and the self-doubt that results from that.  What doesn't kill me...well, it doesn't make me stronger.  I think it makes me weaker, actually. But I think it's part of my path, and I'm willing to endure it.   Shit. Now I sound like a martyr.

I'm going to shut up now, and go back to watching my show.