Oh boy, do I need that today.
I wrote a poem called “Never Sink, Dammit” that appears in What Sort of Fuckery Is This?
And it turns out that it is one of my poems of which I am most proud in a book full of wonderful pieces, which happens to be the Devil’s Party Press book of which, to date, I am most proud of, and also most awed by. The writing in that book as a whole is so moving that I simply can’t wait for people to read it. If I had the money to do so, I’d be droppin’ a copy on every person I walked by, every day. The whole book is a testament to the never-sink-spirit, which, for me, encompasses that life can get pretty damn awful sometimes, but you, Honey, you never sink.
Well, not a hot minute after I began telling the world about What Sort of Fuckery Is This? I discovered that the husband of a co-worker was literally going behind me to question the appropriateness of me even sharing a book with that title. Undermining the announcement…. and why? Of course, this co-worker is someone I am a little wary of anyway because…. one minute she is partnering with you, and then next she’s not, and then she is again. One minute she wants to help, and the next she’s telling everyone why it won’t work behind your back. There is a term for this unpredictable ride… gaslighting.
The term comes from the title of a play that was made into a wonderful, and suspenseful movie, Gaslight. I mean Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotton… you can’t get much better than that cast. In the film, it is the gas lamps that ultimately help solve the mystery of the film, but they also became a universal signal for trying to make a person doubt his or her own senses, memory, perceptions, etc.
And so that’s what you call it when a person is constantly changing his or her story, and lying about it in an effort to make you look bad, or to make you think you cannot trust your own senses and memory.
Lucky for me, I almost never delete email, and I have a memory like an elephant.
You cannot do a lot in response to gas-lighting. In that way, it’s not much different from sexual harassment. The person doing the gaslighting is what Julie Cameron calls a crazy-maker in her book, The Artist’s Way, and you have to do your best to cope, because you’re never going to 1. get the gaslighter to stop and 2. convince anyone it was happening in the first place. I have been in both situations, sadly, a few times over my working/school life, and the best way I could find to cope with them (gaslighters or sexually inappropriate men) was to move on to a new job and breathe light air again. Both types of harassers just make the whole world so heavy, leaving the job, no matter the personal cost, will save you.
And of course, like probably anyone who reads this blog, I haven’t become independently wealthy yet, so I am stuck. I gotta work.
So, what can I do? What can you do if you’re stuck in a similar work-trap?
Document. Do everything on paper and through email and keep the original copies.
And then, start looking, reassess your finances to see if you can make a move sooner; you gotta go, Baby. The only way to stop the crazy is to leave it behind, twiddling its thumbs at its reflection in a mirror in the dark.
Listen close: as soon as possible, you jump ship. You work out your money, you get your family behind your decision, and you leap.
And yeah, it’ll suck to have to begin again, or map a new direction due to Mr. or Ms. Crazy, but it is better than always feeling unbalanced and insecure working with a person who only knows how to get higher by dropping others down.
So you leap. You’re gonna drop; you’re gonna get wet, you’re gonna be uncomfortable until you can find your ship and right it, but it will be your ship.
And I’ll tell you, like the current, this will pass, and you will survive. Ignore what people say to you or about you; it’s just bad air.
Here’s to you… and your humanity and your sweetness and your spirit that will never sink, dammit.