Anti-Social Gaslighting

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So. Where does anti-social begin and where does it end?

The world stands by and watches the Ukraine invasion. Not one person, which should be enough to justify our attention and swift action, but millions fall victim in the Ukraine. Thousands of people killed at this point, even more threatened and tormented by a man who gained power years ago and even bragged about what he intended to do before he did it. The world stands by helplessly. Almost as impotent as consumers getting scammed and conned with online schemes to take their extra money through advertising campaigns and spaghetti coded screens to make people feel like they’ve been hacked or that they are stupid, when they really have become too lazy (or brainwashed) to think for themself and just give up and give that 10 dollars away, or 100 dollars to feel relief from a social experience that’s spun out of control – just anything to escape. Alcohol, chips, streaming services, movies, music, a vacation!

Social is where the comfort resides. We need each other. But beware. It may not be easy for those who have been through situations described above, or for many of us who ran into difficulties that put us into out of the norm scenarios. Sure we all hurt and suffer from time to time. But some of us are here to take a stance against the atrocities and try to bring attention to the blindspots where the Enron’s and financial instruments bankrupt or spread the risk to the retirement funds. Some of us are here to stand up against slave-like practices where fortunes are in-equitably amassed at the expense of the common person just trying to get by.

My trouble began when I took issue with the way things were running around me when I was a kid and my life was upset by the kinds of patterns I’ve just described that make me feel threatened and unsafe.

I’m about five years old. It’s 1969. Two events will powerfully shape my life that cause me to hide my feelings and present an unattractive personality to the world. These events also pointed my observation and analytical skills to keep track of what was going on. Some might call it the pursuit of truth or justice. Some like to gaslight it as craziness.

The first event is that I get sexually molested by a much older neighbor boy in a shed in my backyard. My three year old brother is in the other side of the shed watching and my mother opens the shed door, interrupts the ordeal. The boy, who has my same first name, can never play with me again. That’s the last I hear of this matter until years late when I’m in a therapist office trying to cope with my failure to sustain relationships and make a living. I’d been able to achieve incredible peaks in performance but unable to sustain anything. Self defeating and anti-social behavior they called it. I’d hear “my” name and terror would strike inside me – they said I lacked confidence, which seemed a confusing statement to me.

The second event also occurred (for me) in the same back yard. I was still five and it was even more scary because it involved my loving, well respected father, my family and home. An adult is explaining something to me in the backyard. It’s blurry who this adult is exactly. It was a family member. They tell me that a kid like me was killed. His father was also a police officer like me when the mob fired gunshots into a police officers home, who like my dad, had investigated and had threatened to stop organized crime. My father had recently become a local celebrity as a police detective. He was responsible for a major drug bust of the Mexican drug cartel and ties throughout the local community into businesses affiliated with an organized crime syndicate. He had also been threatened and asked to stand down in his pursuit of justice. In the face of the threat to his family and his pursuit of justice, this caused a cognitive dissonance, a complete break down in the man from which he never fully recovered.

Nor did I. And the lack of understanding of the impact of this upon me, the gaslighting in particular by trusted others, exaggerated the problem and allowed the wounds to remain open, and even multiply for years.

We now have a new “holocaust” that will impact this and generations to come over what is occurring now in the Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion. As this unfolds fresh in our minds and spirits today, we should challenge ourselves to understand how we so easily forget and fail. The archeology of every lost civilization that lost their way to such flaws, a blindside perhaps fueled by our arrogance and vanity that keeps our focus on the escape, rather in the humility necessary to care for our fellow man and the future of our kind.

Published by Mark Roach

Mark Roach is creative businessman, artist, actor, writer, producer, engineer and executive.

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