Sometime after the ex walked away, I happened to see that old 1944 Ingrid Bergman film, “Gaslight.” When I saw it, it began to firm up some realizations. First was the realization that I’d been gaslighted for a number of years. In the film, a devious husband causes the gaslights to flicker every evening as a way of unbalancing his wife emotionally. In fact he begins to mislead her into thinking she’s going insane.
If someone tries to get you to question your own memories — for instance, by rewriting history, outright lying, or attacking you– it is gaslighting. It is also abuse.
When we’ve been gaslighted along with any other abuse (because the gaslighting usually is an accompaniment to some other form of abuse) there’s a sense of disorientation that can take a long time to get over.
Recovery isn’t linear.
Lately I’ve begun to feel that I’m having an easier time staying in the present and to face what’s really there. Sure, I still worry. I worry about my precipitous drop in income but I’m dealing with it. I still sometimes worry about medical bills, mine and the kids’, about my retirement situation, about the mortgage, although that’s going to improve soon. I don’t care so much about the things that consumed me two and a half years ago. I’ve begun to reclaim my life, as it is.
Today I was broadsided by something — by the information that I was ripped off in one more way. What a horrible, sinking feeling. There’s a difference in me today, though. My concern is not that someone doesn’t care, has no empathy, no remorse. I accept that. It’s over and done with. My concern through the day, as I digested the facts, was that I was so naive. So very naive. And that, even as an older woman, I’ve grown through all of that.
Okay. That’s just what it is. I can sit with that and let it pass.
No one gets to tell me how long is long enough. Retrograde movements in recovery do not mean that I’m stuck. To the contrary, I still feel like I’m in a state of deep discovery that will carry me forward to what’s next.
So. What happened sucks. What else do I have? This moment, this breath, this present company. That’s fine.