Well, A Tough Month, Really
I spent a lot of today either crying or on the perpetual verge of bawling. It doesn't get this bad very often, but it happens. I got triggered pretty bad today. Lately, I've been giving a couple presentations on my thoughts about how fucked up "allies" and ally culture are, and the connection to gaslighting. The first was a keynote address at a conference on diversity in philosophy; the second was a shorter version of the same talk at a conference on gender and sexual diversity (and I'm giving the shorter version again at a conference in May).
Those two posts (in addition to Mia McKenzie's and Ngọc Loan Trần's posts) were the basis of my talk on allies and gaslighting. Originally, I wanted to utterly light up the assholes who hurt me. I was going to go into painstaking detail about what happened, since it was a textbook case of gaslighting (by more than one person), as well as the hostility of "allies" that I've come to expect of ally culture when you criticize them.
But I ultimately decided against it. I even took out the backstory entirely. I had an emotional breakdown over preparing the talk. The talk is better for it, particularly because it takes the focus off of what happened to me (and what people think or know about the people who hurt me), and keeps it on what I want to talk about: how "allies" and ally culture are all fucked up and we need to get rid of them. (I argue that we should replace it with the concept of active bystander behaviour.)
Well, part of what hurts about the situation is that these people haven't apologized for what they did to me. In fact, they refuse even to acknowledge what they did. Heck, I'm sure they think I'm crazy and imagining things (even though they forget two things: I have the emails, and I have an eidetic memory). Moreover, at least one of them refuses to talk to me; another never returned my last email to her; and the other will only talk to me in person. Yep, this is really "ally" behaviour all right.
It also hurts because bridges have been singed or burnt, when these are the people with whom I'm supposed to have close relationships. I lost a couple mentors and friends, including my formal supervisor. If I'm his philosophical "daughter" (academics are fond of thinking of their doctoral students as progeny), then I'm now estranged. That's a shame.
It also stings like hell because it made me pull out of a tenure track job search for a good Canadian university in the same city as my PhD-granting institution (where all this shit went down). I pulled out because I was getting depressed (clinically) by what went down, and I just had to get out of the city. In fact, I had to get out of the *country*, because Canadian philosophy is just too small: I'd be hearing about these people, and possibly interacting with them, far too frequently for my mental and emotional health. And while I'm super excited about the job I did accept, I took a job in the deep south in the US rather than an arguably more prestigious (and higher paying) job in the city I lived (where my girlfriend still lives, and that has the sporting activities that are a big part of my life). That really, really hurts. That job went from my #1 on the list of places that interviewed me (at the "on campus" stage, where you're one of two or three candidates left) to a job I would only take if no one else offered me a job. It was a really hard decision to make, but I know that it's for the best, in a lot of ways.
And now I'm moving back to that city for the summer to be with my girlfriend before I move to the US. I'm not going anywhere near those assholes. (Although, I will admit, I'd very much like to have these relationships repaired, but it's going to take some deep, sincere apologies from them, and an acknowledgement of just what they did to me: I'm not holding my breath.) But I'm presenting this talk at a conference in the area in May, which I'm quite sure they'll be attending. I posted today on Facebook how I don't want any of them to come to my talk (even though I've blocked them on FB and they won't have seen that message). There might be a scene. I hope there isn't.
Well, that's all a preamble to my being utterly triggered today from a comment on a mutual friend's FB thread where my supervisor was seconding a comment about how responsibility extends beyond one's intentions. Well, yeah, that's definitely true. But what triggered me is that he (and others in this debacle) seem utterly un-self-aware of how they gaslit the shit out of me by pointing to intentions. So that ruined the rest of my day, in a really big way.
I recently unblocked these people (although there's no way I'm going to be FB "friends" with them) because I thought I was finally in a place where I could handle seeing their names and maybe even some comments without crying. This is the second time this month I've overestimated how well I've moved on from the pain. Clearly not as much as I thought. I re-blocked them. I just can't handle it yet.
Maybe I'll just cry myself to sleep.