I saw this yesterday. And it really sums up Richard to a “T”.
Richard was a master manipulator.
Richard loved playing people against others.
Richard could “rage out” and beat the fuck out of you or spank you hard enough with his leather belt to leave bruises and scratches, but yet he never once remembered spanking me with the belt. He backhanded me one day and chipped my tooth and drew blood. The next day he claimed that he didn’t remember anything and that even if he did hit me that he wouldn’t have hit me in the mouth and that if I didn’t want to get hit that I shouldn’t talk back to him.
When I was about 10 years old, I fell off the roof of Tim’s camper that he had loaned to Richard for Richard and Sue’s 1982 honeymoon trip to Jasper. My brother had stuffed leaves into the air vent and I knew that Richard would have killed me if he came home and found the vent stuffed with leaves.
Richard was like that though. Richard couldn’t or wouldn’t accept responsibility for his family. He always blamed the problems of his family on others. Quite early on he had decided that it was my responsibility to raise my younger brother. He had even told Alberta Social Services that he considered it to be my responsibility to raise my younger brother. And once my younger brother noticed that I’d get the blame for anything he had done, it was game on.
So, I fell off the roof of the camper. It was one of those pickup truck mounted campers. And the pickup truck was a real 4X4 off-road truck, so it was quite the distance to the ground. I fractured both wrists. I also had the wind knocked out of me. One of the neighbours came over and helped me. Richard got called home from the squadron. When he got home he wanted to know what the fuck I was doing on top of the camper. I told him. His response was that it was my own damn fault for not keeping an eye on my brother. If I had watched my brother like I was supposed to then he would have never been able to get on top of the camper. And Richard said that I should consider myself lucky that my brother didn’t fall off the camper, because if he did Richard was going to beat me so hard that I’d wish that I had never been born.
I got sent to my room. I was told to stop my whining and just “get the fuck to bed” or he’d “give me something to cry about”.
I guess that Sue was finally able to convince Richard the next day that I needed to go to the hospital to get my wrists looked at.
My casts were supposed to stay on for six weeks.
They stayed on for longer than that.
Richard’s reasoning was that he wanted me to “learn my fucking lesson” and not be so “fucking stupid” the next time.
When we lived on CFB Griesbach in the time after grandma moved out of the house, Richard and Sue wouldn’t allow us into the house when they weren’t home. So that meant that after school my brother and I had to wait outside of the PMQ for them to get home from work. School was out at 15:00 Richard and Sue got off work around 16:30. In the summer and fall this wasn’t too bad. In the winter this was fucking stupid. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere, we had to stand on the porch and wait. Well, one cold day my brother decided that he wasn’t going to wait, so he kicked in one of the basement windows and got into the house that way. When Richard and Sue got home Richard was fucking furious. Again it was my fault for not watching my brother. If I had been watching my brother he never would have kicked the window in. Never mind that it could get down to -10 on a typical Edmonton winter day. No, the big problem was that someone kicked a window in to seek warmth.
It’s no wonder that by the time we moved to Canadian Forces Base Downsview in Toronto in April of 1983 my brother and I despised each other so much that the school board had to send us to separate schools due to intense sibling rivalry.
But that’s the way that gas-lighters work.
I worked for a man like this once. His way of keeping anyone from noticing that he didn’t have managerial skills was to keep everyone at each other’s throats. He had the admin assistants fighting amongst themselves. He had subordinate managers fighting with each other. He had the building operators distrusting each other. Even after the board of directors wised up and fired him and his assistant the damage was done.
And that’s the same with Richard. He was a fuckup. He knew he was a fuckup. Social services in three provinces knew that he was a fuckup. A psychologist hired by the Canadian Armed Forces knew that he was a fuckup. And what do fuckups do when they don’t want people knowing how much of a fuckup they are? They gaslight everyone around them. They have to. It’s the only way they can keep from having to admit that they’re fuckups.
My mother? Did she get kicked off the base? Nope, she “abandoned” her children.
Did she leave because she couldn’t take his drinking and his abuse? Nope, according to Richard she was a “slut” that would spread her legs for any man.
Was my brother getting into trouble because my father was a shitty parent? Nope, I wasn’t raising my brother correctly.
Did my brother start getting into trouble on CFB Downsview because my father was a neglectful parent. Fuck no, if only I had raised my brother right he wouldn’t be getting into trouble.
Was I having psychiatric problems due to sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect? Nope, I was just acting up to get attention.
Were my brother and I having issues because of Richard’s psychiatric issues? Hell no, it was his mother’s fault. She was the reason my brother and I were acting up.
There was one time that Richard had to pick me up after a weekend cadet camp out in a town near Kingston, Ontario. Richard pulled up in his Mustang. I put my dufflebag in the back of the car and I got into the passenger seat. As soon as I sat down Richard made a slapping motion towards me. I recoiled. But Richard stopped short of slapping me. He laughed and chuckled. Then he said that I was so fucking lucky. I asked what for. He said that he was so looking forward to slapping my fucking face when he came to pick me up. I asked again “for what?”. He said that earlier in the day he used his oscilloscope to work on something electronic and someone had poked holes in the anti-glare screen. I said “Wasn’t me”. He said “I know. I remember using the oscilloscope on Saturday morning and it was okay, so that means it was your fucking brother that did it”. He then continued on ” Why the fuck can’t you look after him. He’s your brother, you should be teaching him how to respect my equipment. Older brothers are supposed to look after their younger brothers. I guess that your just too fucking self-centred to give a shit about anyone else other than yourself”
This tendency for Richard to blame me for everything resulted in my younger brother remarking that he knew that all he had to do to get Richard to punish me was to take a screw out of something of Richard’s and to leave the screwdriver and the screw beside the equipment so that Richard couldn’t help but notice.
Sure, I can look back now at laugh. But it doesn’t really undo all of the psychiatric pain and suffering that was inflicted.
The damage that Richard did was fucking astounding. But the sad thing about gaslighters is that they do so much fucking damage that there often is no recovery.
The problem that a person like Richard causes for a person like me is that when you’re dealing with major depression and severe anxiety, the bullshit and the lies deliver a much more devastating blow. If I wasn’t suffering from CPTSD, major depression, and severe anxiety I probably could have weathered Richard’s gaslighting and victim blaming. But it wouldn’t be until I was 40 years old that I would learn the truth about Richard. By that time Richard’s gaslighting had a lot of time to cement itself and fix itself into my brain.
Even though I now know the truth, the damage can’t be undone. And even if it could be undone the problem is that the majority of my life was wasted away with Richard’s gaslighting being my only frame of reference.
I’m at peace with the way things were and the way things are.
I know that I can’t rewrite the past. The past will always be the past.
The future doesn’t really hold anything for me.
I know that my depression, my anxiety, my CPTSD, and my distrust of others, my crippling self doubt and my intense self hatred will plague me to the end of my days.
There is nothing that can be prescribed that will undo what was done.
ECT could erase some of the memories, but it also stands a good chance at obliterating the few good memories that I have.
The gaslighter made damn sure that if he couldn’t enjoy his life that no one else would enjoy theirs.
“in the end it isn’t the gods that cause us so much suffering, but those closest to us” – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.