There is a feeling of holding on, of getting through, of balancing on a precipice. When you're lied to by someone in power, it's the same as being gaslighted in an abusive relationship. You're being told one thing, but you know it's wrong, you know it's false. To mix movie metaphors, it's also the Wizard of Oz telling us "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." But we have to pay attention. And, frankly, the wizard was too genial and well-meaning to be an apt comparison here. We're dealing with a bully who who not only lies but is a stranger to caring about others.
A spirit of hate, intolerance, denial of climate change, erosion of rights, disdain and disrespect toward women has emerged. I have nieces and many young women I love. They're devastated, and so am I, to think that someone who spoke the way he did about women could have been elected (not really elected.) To have our choices and health care threatened, to have the planet--on which our young people will live long after we're gone--endangered and ruined, is a heartbreak.
Collective trauma. Everything is a potential trigger. Hate speech, purposeful confusion, being told that what you see, what you hear, is untrue, that a different reality is valid and being counted as the real reality, all trigger a feeling of powerlessness.
The beauty is, so many of us have found a voice. Demonstrations and marches and constant reminders in my twitter feed that people are on it. We are more than paying attention. We are promising to steward the earth, to protect the most vulnerable, to remember that we're a country of immigrants, that we have a free press. We are doing this.
Our skepticism and refusal to be in denial will serve us well. Keep recognizing what's wrong, what's a lie, and stay vigilant like this:
Vigilance will keep us strong. Recognizing that we're being gaslighted, calling it what it is, creates awareness, and awareness is power. Remain aware. Pull together. Don't lose hope or heart. It's the best we can do right now. And it's a lot.
We'll turn this around. Liars get caught, tripped up in their own lies. Watch and wait and, more than anything, keep speaking out. Your voice matters. You've called your congresspeople to protest unacceptable cabinet picks, you've marched to show strength in great numbers, you're saying that bullying isn't okay, it's far from okay. You're refusing to accept lies. Stay connected with each other and remember: in the movie Gaslight, after all, goodness prevailed, the gaslighter was called out for the liar and bully he was, and this happened:
The tables were turned. Believe in the power of your voice. That's how we bring about change. That's what we're doing. Take heart, we have each other.