Being Gaslit By ‘The Party’

For the past few days I’ve followed the storm around Dominic Cummings and I’ve fought with myself over whether to write about it or not.

I write because I enjoy it and if I get positive feedback then that’s a bonus but recently I’ve become aware of deep-rooted need to be liked.  It’s a need that makes me more sensitive to unkind words than you might imagine and so in this space that I fill with flowers and cupcakes, I hesitated before I shared words that will undoubtedly provoke a negative response from some.  Yet here they are, such is the strength of my feeling.

I’d love to be witty and pithy about this, but I can’t.  It’s not funny.

verb
Gaslighting
manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity

The whole nation is in turmoil over the choices and movements of Dominic Cummings.  His manner, his words, his apparent distaste for ‘normal people’.   Anger, confusion, isolation, grief, sorrow – anyone who has ever lived with a psychological abuser may recognise some of the feelings being provoked right now.  We’re being gaslit.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment.

Did you ever have a cheating boyfriend who tried to convince you that you were crazy to suspect him?  Did he eventually make you consider that maybe you were?  That’s gaslighting.  It’s convincing someone to ignore what they know to be true – the things they see and hear – and instead subscribe to an alternate narrative, written by the abuser.

It’s not a new thing.

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. George Orwell 1984

You know that the UK lockdown rules said that anyone who had a family member with Covid19 symptoms must go home and stay home for 14 days.

So when Dominic Cummings explains that he went into work at number 10 Downing Street despite his wife being symptomatic at home, you know that he did the wrong thing.  In fact he put his colleagues and their families at risk and they should be furious.

When he drove with symptoms and with his sick wife and young child, 266 miles instead of staying at home, he took the virus to another part of the country and along with his child, spent several hours in close proximity to his very poorly wife.  The rules, the guidelines – they were there to contain the virus.

You know that what he did was the wrong thing to do.

Having recovered from a (potential) bout of Covid19, Dominic Cummings was concerned about his eyesight. He could have booked an eye test (essential service), ‘let’ his wife drive or even had a test drive on his Father’s apparently extensive land.  But he didn’t.  Instead Dominic Cummings drove ,with his wife and child in the car, to Barnard Castle.  Given the potential issues with his eyesight, that 30 minute journey put the lives of Cummings, his wife, his son at risk along with multiple members of the public. In fact it’s against the highway code to drive if you feel or that your ability to drive safely may be impeded.

Cummings stopped due to feeling unwell and spent 15 minutes recovering in a local beauty spot, before putting the lives of his wife, his son, himself and multiple members of the public at risk by driving another 30 minutes back ‘home’.  After this admittedly shaky journey, he drove 266 miles to London the next day.  You know that this was the wrong thing to do.

Your memory and your moral compass are just fine

In situations such as this, motivation doesn’t matter.  Actions matter.  It doesn’t matter what Dominic Cummings (excuses) reasons are, he broke multiple rules, ignored morals and even laws.

You are right to feel angry and upset.  You who have missed the birth of babies, the funerals of loved ones.  You who have gone against your instincts for the greater good and missed three months of embraces.  You who have had precious days stolen from you while your medical treatment is delayed.  You who have sat in four walls with frustrated children and no loo roll.  You who have been sick.  You who have been frightened.  You who have been lonely.

Your feelings are valid and seen.

And yet, this cabinet and indeed the Prime minister of this country have chosen to rally around one man instead of a nation.  A simple sorry could have spared emotional pain for thousands.  The end of one person’s employment could have maintained respect for lockdown and saved more lives.

Instead we are being gaslit.  Abused by those elected to lead us.

This is gaslighting.  We see something wrong with the hypocrisy and double standards in this country. We raise the issue and we’re told that everything’s fine and the problem is us.

This is gaslighting. It suggests that any objections to Cummings’ behaviour is simply political point scoring.   If the government or an individuals actions are above questions from the public, then what has our country become?  When bishops can’t speak their mind without getting death threats, we are in murky territory indeed.

This is gaslighting. It implies that we the public just don’t (can’t) understand.  But they forget how many of us have suffered with the virus and had to recover while caring for infants, because we were dutifully following lockdown rules.   That happened – we didn’t imagine it.

I spoke to a lady on Twitter today who described Dominic Cummings press conference as ‘triggering’.

Did I misunderstand the rules?  Am I too stupid to understand the rules?  Am I remembering things incorrectly?  Am I a bad parent?  Do I not love my child enough?  Am I a bad person for wanting him to be punished?

Instead  of admitting their mistakes, the government is going to try and convince us, that WE are mistaken

While journalists hammered Cummings with questions in the Rose Garden, this parent and countless others were feeling a huge drop in self esteem and asking some very damaging questions of themselves.  This is the classic result of gaslighting, of abuse and it’s happening on a national scale.

It’s bigger than Cummings now.  This is about a lack of equality, trust and morals and it’s illustrated to me with terrifying clarity that my government doesn’t represent people like me, doesn’t respect people like me and doesn’t value people like me.  And that will never be ok.

#scumMedia is trending tonight.  The media aren’t perfect, but we need them more than ever now.  We need good journalists to ask pertinent questions and keep asking them until they get an answer.

Without them, there’s just Boris.  Stood at a podium, saying things that you know aren’t true.

Rachel

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