Remember in that awesome cinematic wonderment sensation Frozen (copyright Disney trademark Disney forever Disney pretty pink perfect plastic Disneyverse etched permanently into my brainaic Disney) movie where Ana or Anna or braid girl with dirndle says, “that was like a crazy trust exercise!” ?
This post is not about that at all.
In real life I have been telling the people that not only does that man pictured above, use phrases and odd speech similarly to MrexH, but his bodily movements and gestures are similar as well.
I see that it is hard to accept when you have been programmed with targeted gaslighting and abuse.
I know that it is so very disorienting to grasp that someone could be so abhorrent, inhumane and charismatic.
Know this: trusted experts are telling the truth.
How do you know that you are listening to a trusted expert?
- They are a recognized expert in their field by a group of their peers
- They are making humane decisions
- They are honest and appropriate when sharing uncomfortable unpopular information
- They conduct themselves in an ethical manner especially in regards to their expertise
- Someone you personally know with these characteristics is telling you that this is a trusted expert
Like many of you, I have lived through this kind of relationship in my personal life. As a nation, we are living it now. And while we appear to have enough people rallying to disengage from this particular elected abusive public servant by electing non-abusive public servants, we still have a massive problem. There are still too many of us that are so deep into being abused, gaslit, disoriented, abusive ourselves believing we benefit from aligning with other abusers, that rallying against the abuse is a tiny step – an important and critical one, but still teeny tiny compared to the work which needs to be done for our country, state, city, community.
Who is responsible for this work? I am.
(personal anecdote below or skip to very brief *comments regarding yesterday’s news below)
At first, I could not comprehend why a police officer was asking me if I would be willing to speak with someone at our local domestic violence shelter if he phoned them and handed me his phone. I was in my garage with my 5 year old son locked in our car, per 911 operator instruction, until the officers arrived to give me further instruction. At the advice of my credit card company, I had phoned 911. The credit card company representative said it was a standard question to ask if 911 had been called when a customer phones in the middle of the night to ask if their spouse had cut them off from using the credit card they desperately needed in order to leave the house to a safe space because their spouse was behaving increasingly aggressive with them and their son and they were afraid of him. If the credit card representative had not suggested I phone 911, I would have never known that officers were already on their way because MrexH had already phoned them saying I had kidnapped our son and was mentally unstable. btw – You cannot kidnap your own child (unless there is some court order you are violating in which case you are violating court orders, still not kidnapping) which was clue #1 to the police that something was very not right. And then the story of what happens next, happens…
Fast forward to a conversation with my attorney. I could not comprehend what she was saying about filing for divorce, about domestic violence, about the state law regarding children, marital assets, witnesses, discovery documents etc. I found this attorney through a friend whom I trusted my child to be with in a safe place while I tried to figure out my next scary steps after the 911 calls. When I phoned her from the parking lot of the secretly located domestic violence shelter to beg her to help me find help for MrexH who was obviously in crisis, her response was, “I hear what you are saying about (MrexH) and I see where you are in your thinking. Here is what you need to do right now and then come to my house to pick up (SonHerisme) after you make an appointment.” She then proceeded to give me the name and telephone number of the woman who became my family law attorney from April 2014 until May 2020 (my last billing cycle from her). That’s right, it took me six years with a professional expert highly experienced and very well regarded family law attorney to feel legally safe enough to say, “thank you, I’ve got this unless we’re back in court.” That is a HUGE amount of money. She took her family to Paris a few summers ago. You’re welcome, international economic support.
During one of our conversations at the beginning of this whole process, I was continuing to question everything happening because I could not discern reality (hells to the bells, I still have occasional difficulties with that today), or truly understand that MrexH was not the person I essentially fabricated based on his gaslighting abuse, somewhat influenced by his pervasive mental illnesses. Many of my questions to my attorney elicited the responses, “Are you still seeing a therapist? Remind me who you’re seeing. Oh yes, she is wonderful. When is your next appointment? When was the last time you checked in with (domestic violence shelter)?” She knew that I had no ability to understand my situation, requiring professional support on a far different scale than hers in order to get through the very real, very legal, very potentially lethal processes I was facing. My family had no experience with this, I could not rely on them for guidance. Oftentimes potentially well meaning friends and family would offer up completely harmful misinformation and I took it as truth not quite understanding that they did not have solid trusted expert information themselves.
Despite my multitude of shortcomings(some of which were affecting legal issues), my attorney was determined to do her job. Not very long into our professional relationship, she called me into her office and took me to the conference room. This is not a good sign, just in case you find yourself in a similar situation. Gird yourself if you’re summoned to the office conference room, or the little conference rooms at the courthouse. Actually, gird yourself for all of it if you are going through a difficult divorce, especially those with looming lethal components. After we sat down, she asked me, “do you trust me?” I must have looked utterly confused because she followed up with, “do you trust me to make the best legal decisions for you and to represent your best interests to the court?” I know that I still did not answer because she added, “It is okay for you to say that you do not trust me. I need to know where you stand on this in order for me to proceed. Do you trust me?” In that split moment of clarity I realized that I no understanding of the process of what was happening at all. This woman had years of experience and expertise so presumably did have clarity and understanding of my situation. She had seen dozens if not hundreds of me’s over her professional career. She had been the advising attorney and held a seat on the board for our local domestic violence nonprofit. She had been recommended to me by a dear friend whom I trusted with my child during a precariously dangerous time. I might not understand or agree with what she was saying, but did I trust her? Yes. Yes, I wholly and completely trusted her and told her just that.
At that time, I was unable to comprehend or acknowledge that I was in an abusive relationship – but I was frightened enough to instinctively seek help based on the guidance and support of people I did trust. The credit card person led to the police led to the domestic violence shelter led to my friend watching my child led to our phone call which led to the attorney that then eventually led to us all being divorced, healthy and alive today.
*Listen to the trusted professionals. Allow space for others who can reach that point to listen as well. Set firm boundaries and consequences to know your relationship with those who will test your commitment to healthy truth. I believe as a nation we need to do this as well. I am sorry that we all have to go through this, but in order to be healthy and alive as a country, each of us committing to going through the yuck is the only way.
Good luck us
Love, Ms Herisme xoxo
ps. this post was written early on January 6th, before the attempted coup on our democracy by white supremacists emboldened by and under direct orders from our president. Disgustingly predictable. The most lethal time in an abusive relationship is when the victim draw boundaries. Fellow Americans, we have drawn our boundaries rightfully and appropriately with our votes and commitment to calling out truth. We must now wholly support our representatives to administer the consequences for those abusers violating those boundaries.
What I explained to my vulnerable Mr12, SonHerisme is to focus on his personal boundaries and understanding of humane based rights and wrongs. Support and listen to trusted expert helpers. Embrace civil discourse and philosophical discussions with those having a fundamental humane moral compass. The others, those who incite/commit atrocities, deserve only to know your absolute boundaries, the consequences of their inhumane actions, basic humane consideration, and nothing else from you. I then provided SonHerisme with concrete examples from our real life. Adulting is hard. Parenting is hard. Drawing boundaries with abusers is so very terrifying and hard. We can do hard things, and on days that we cannot, there are helpers who will pick up the slack and even pick us up as needed so that we can all #carryonpeacewarriors.