Gaslighting (Raw Personal Content)
What do you you see? I see a flower girl in an 80 dollar dress surrounded by worldly relatives.
I see Mom’s face smiling, sitting pretty in that curtain material she picked out for Sister Rita to sew together. I feel pretty too, for the first time in my life and everyone is telling me it. Screw you, Dad. I want to tear off those fancy stockings and run barefoot through the wedding hall, dancing in circles, singing for joy.
I hated leotards almost as much as dresses (this one was the exception) because my feet got so hot and sweaty but I knew what Mom would say. Bare feet on you girls arouses your father. I didn’t know then but I think most ordinary Moms would say something like, You shouldn’t run barefoot in wedding halls in case someone breaks a glass.
For one second, my smile faded. Defiance glowered in my eyes. Cold, hard, childish rebellion. Behind me, a forbidden, evil Christmas tree and in front of me, my great Aunt clicking a button. Dad looked on in disgust. I posted this photo in a Facebook group, asking what impression the child gave. Could anyone suspect the secrets of my life through that one, unguarded photograph? If not, was that the reason no one ever did? Then someone commented, Her eyes have the death stare of Karla Homolka. If you need to know, google her. She was a serial killer who hurt children. I instantly regretted the post.
Were my thoughts really that dark? I had tortured slugs at that age, impaling them to the dirt - when a male wasn't busy feeling up my skirt. Okay, I was protecting our vegetable garden but something in me enjoyed their writhing company. Briefly. My heart became so overtaken with love for anything furry that it served as a Band-Aid. I did everything I could to save injured critters on The Farm.
That alone recalled stories of abused women and children who took out their frustration on others. Namely, the Child of Rage, otherwise known as Beth Thomas, a six-year-old girl with supposed traits of psychopathy. The prostitute in the real-life movie Monster, who resorted to murdering her clients after a loveless childhood. And then, my siblings, my brothers. They were never covered in a news topic, but it started to make sense. Everything was a choice. I chose love and warmth, and they chose anger, abuse, and control, mimicking what empowered their abusers - our mentally ill parents. I felt empathy for them, much like others in the Message, who are in denial, have done for their own families. Psychologists call it trauma bonding.
Liar. Baby killer. Child molester. Those are my family's accusations against me, amongst themselves. You as the reader can formulate your own assumptions but I know where I stand. If I’ve ever doubted myself, it’s what my therapist calls the effects of gaslighting.
“Gaslighting” refers to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions.
Sometimes I feel like a baby killer when I look at myself through their eyes. I had a (traumatic) abortion after all. Yup, I lied too, mostly about make-up. But hurting my 14-year-old brother where it counts while he choked me in a headlock doesn’t count as sexual. I’m also curious why he accused me of it so unexpectedly, close to the time another brother had drugged and assaulted me, seeing he was prone to that brother’s influence. Mom said I wanted him to rape me. Again, there’s the gaslighting. Shifting blame. Their deep-seated resentment lays in the fact I reported my family to the government in my teen years and won. Social workers determined my home was not safe.
Dr. Phil’s producer emailed me last year. This was my chance to be heard! I was elated. I didn’t doubt he would take my side. If anyone were to lay the facts out on the table, the truth would be obvious. And that must be why my non-Message brother refused. I begged for him to come on Season 18 of Dr. Phil. Everything paid. Our hotel in California, the expense of our flight, the counseling. But he said no, and told me not to take too long changing my child’s diaper. I’m not even sure what that means. Excuse me?
Why would he refuse to expose me on television when the opportunity was there? It’s definitely something to think about. Will he come forward and explain himself? I hope so, rather than dehumanizing me in private. This subject has been shoved under the carpet for much too long. I won't continue living like this. Let's talk truth.
My hands shake, my breathing stops. I gasp for another breath. I see stars. I might faint. I'm a mess! I love them, it hurts. Anger hurts more. I release it. But until now they’ve underestimated me. I’m a strong fighter, a feminist battling to expose a woman-hating Prophet and what can happen inside respected Believer’s homes.
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Share anonymously if you're afraid...I'd love to hear your story, too.
Here's a link to brave ex-Message women breaking their silence in The Casting Pearls Project https://castingpearlsproject.com/our-stories
Lastly, please let me reinstate that I am not hostile toward my family. This may have been a half-vent and a half-plea. Somebody hear me! My innermost wish is that they will feel remorse and change as I have already done. I am in no way perfect but I don't come close to how they view me. With this ending, I soften my heart and leave fate up to the Universe. The truth will come to light and others will know that truth. That is my affirmation.