When You’re Being Gaslighted
1) Remind your skin of the ways it has already been transformed to accommodate these truths. How it stretches and folds over the scars, becoming something other than the moment…the fear…the danger. How these marks could be mistaken for birthmark…how this violation is not your birthright.
2) Touch your chest. Feel the beat of your heart. Feel the ground as it kisses your feet. Know that it is real…it is solid. Just like your story.
3) This be brush fire…wildfire…it loves the dryness of this space. Thrives on the ways the wind blows and carries the flames. Will be fed by the flammability of your family’s belief. Craves the cowardice that creates this carnage.
4) More likely than not, they believed the worst about you before their lungs were filled with this smoke. They’ve adjusted to the struggle of the inhale and the burn of the exhale.
5) There would be no fire without combustion. Know that there was danger before the appearance of flames. You will never know the extent of the real damage and, once the flames have begun to consume, you alone do not have the capacity to manage the magnitude of this mess. Seek the comfort of your community. They will touch the parts of you that remain intact. There are places in you the fire has not touched. Trust them to find them. Trust them to keep those parts safe while you dig through the rubbish to retrieve your broken pieces.
6) The people who love you will not forget. They know where the fire extinguisher is. They will use it.
7) Those who decide to betray you did not forget. They are night crawlers…vampires who no longer have a taste for your blood.
8) A gas fire will never be doused with water. Water agitates it. Makes it rage more. You are water.
9) Remember that exerting your energy to revise the revised story is not your job. You don’t have the ability to fix what you have not broken. Do not lend your energy to this sinking ship. You may get caught in the undertow.
10) Explosions tend to be disorienting. Feel the ground shake. The spontaneous combustion is necessary to accommodate the fire. See the smoke. Acknowledge the sparks. Let the fire burn and rescue yourself from the blaze. Allow your truth to be the GPS that steers you clear. The rubble of this house was not your home. The fault lines underground have never made the foundation stable enough for the building you attempted to construct.
11) Which came first, the earthquake or the fire? The hurricane or the tornado? It doesn’t matter. The destruction is real.
12) This beast is only satisfied when the vultures have landed. There will be disappointment. There will be no carcass left here. You have renamed yourself Shadrach…Meshach…Abednego. Your faith walks with you in this fire. You will walk away, clothes in tact, and though the memory will accompany you, you will not be consumed.
Kimberly Gaubault (Redefining Freedom) is a mother, grandmother, preacher, poet, singer, musician, Social Justice activist, advocate, lecturer and educator. Kim holds a dual BA in English and African and African American Studies with a certificate in Women’s Studies, from Duke University, and an M.Div from Union Theological Seminary, in the City of New York, with a concentration in Theology and the Arts, Interreligious Studies and Interfaith Dialogue. In 2010, Kim was the inaugural recipient of the UTS Robert E. Seaver award for scholarly distinction in Theology and Arts. Kim’s philosophy of personal interaction is “If I’ve not positively influenced someone everywhere I go, I’ve not walked in my purpose.” She currently resides in Montego Bay, Jamaica with her husband, and finds inspiration in the lullaby of the ocean.