Funny story, and if you saw something similar to this a few weeks ago, I’m sorry but I got rid of it because I felt my older instincts of “this is saccharine and must be eliminated” kick in. I had mentioned in the past that I have only started to come to grips with a long history of gaslighting, and bad friendships, the kind that make someone into the Meckenian cynic “One who, when he smells flowers looks for a coffin”, As a refresher, I have had two major groups in my world prior to the CCO and both were disasters, I’ve also been gaslit for about 15 of my 30 years.
I am going to just get the good parts out. because the urge to finish the essay I’ve been working on for the last few months, is at the moment solely based on A) I have to finish a talk on the importance of community for LaRoche next semester and B) I can’t do that, until I get the parts I want to say on paper, and I haven’t figured out how to bring that to bear and I’ve rewritten this damn thing 3 times now.
In the beginning I mention bad friendships, gaslighting and how having Aspergers made it a pain in the ass to pick up on either, which probably means I’m doomed to it. But I’ve noticed a strange glow after I’m with a group of people. Stranger still, it’s a light that I trust inherently (and this fucking hurts to write, forgive the language, I don’t care.) It’s not a light I haven’t felt before (The Body, Crossroads, back in the olden days) but it’s one that I can actually identify now.
Here’s what I’m what I’m trying to get at, ever since I picked up on the word gaslighting, and I know what happened and being out of what was a truly frustrating situation behind the scenes regarding the academic world, I have started to realize friendships in my life that about 3 or 4 years ago I had almost abandoned entirely on a functional level. I still worked with these people in church and talked to them occasionally, but I can’t say I was always “present” with them.
You’re gonna abandon any hope of coherence because I don’t remember how any of this started. Sometime last year, I got invited to watch the Steeler games with the Koerbers, which is just wierd because the Steelers are third in a four-man race in my world behind the AFC South champs (God willing) in Houston, and 28-3 in Atlanta. Chrissie and I were talking about that tonight, neither of us are particularly sure why it started either.
And then there are the Westmans, who invited me to a Memorial Day trip this year with a group of people, invited me to their wedding years ago while I was still in this kind of numb, distant phase, and just recently hosted a birthday party for me among other just wonderful gestures. I’ve known Hannah for a much longer time, if you want to thank anyone for this nascent extroversion and more recent change from routinely wearing straight black to other colors, she’s top of the list. Eric is my dry, blunt, reliable teardown partner.
The Spallingers are a strange story. I’ve known Pat for several years (Crossroads). When I left Point Park, I essentially ghosted the Body and Crossroads, him included, except ultimately we’d work together as Sound Guy and Teardown Guy for the church.As I had started to become more extroverted, the subject of a small group we were in last summer, was about relationships that members of the group had let simmer. To repeat, -I- left pretty much -everybody-, I’d mention in private that I was thinking about him about and wasn’t sure how to go about fixing that. (I had actually been looking to reintegrate for a while, but only knew the people I had pretty much abandoned.) He said there was nothing to fix. I am, as he’s noted, one of the most introverted people he’d ever known. Katelyn, his awesome wife and the current Point Park campus minister, is someone I’ve really only known for a year and a half, maybe two years working as Teardown Guy and Office Assistant/I’m going to just call it “Service Coordinator”. She’s invited me to Point Park on Mondays, to their home (I didn’t realize I was dealign with a caffeine withdrawal that day), and all I can say, because I don’t really know her that well is that she’s a great person and seeing you both is always just a blast. Perhaps, as she wryly noted, I do need to start hanging out with normal people, whatever that looks like, but look what I’m working with, meet my brother, and now I’m about to talk about David Kuehl. It is, in this mess, fair to assume that “normal” is subjective and this particular brand of normal is far greater than what “normal” used to mean to me.
Lastly, I don’t know if any of this really happens without the spark lit and maintained by David Kuehl. David is someone who went to CCO’s New Staff Training with Daniel Snoke, my first contact in the CCO many years ago and took to me with an energy that I didn’t see coming. He had me figured out in a heartbeat and was very direct with what he saw, even if I vehemently disagreed with it. It seems he almost made it his goal to get me to see that, contrary to what I said I want to do, I cared for my people so deeply, that it wouldn’t have been possible. What I mean is I wanted in my head to withdraw, so once I got out a situation I absolutely despised in a town I didn’t (and still don’t really) care for, then the separation would be much easier. I’d rot in ATL or Houston with only the skeleton of a plan, but at least I was out of Pittsburgh, which at the time meant everything to me. About a year ago, I realized David was right. I started, and still do look forward to every week of the Koerbers cheering on the Steelers (and maybe me if we’re not playing Houston or Atlanta) just to be with that group. My next encounter with the Spallingers or the Westmans is always the highlight of my week, and I’m only just starting to appreciate the way God has brought people back into my life or, depending on your perspective, people who would be there once I figured my shit out.
There are many more people who have had an impact on me. Some warm comment from the Millers over in Tarentum, the invitation to a wedding in California from former Point Park colleague Taylor Simmons (nee Hornung) and my best friend from that circle Lydia, but the reason the article is still called WKSK is because these are the four families that God has most used to help me heal which about a year and a half I didn’t think was possible and anytime earlier still I would’ve said I had nothing I needed to heal from, I just needed to get out Pittsburgh and everything would be fine.
I don’t know what you’ve been through, but if you have been through gaslighting or perhaps its an abusive relationship or something like that. But I do want to say that if you ever see a light, something warm and kind and inviting, you may actually want to trust it. There’s no roadmap and I can’t tell you how it will go, because I sure as hell didn’t expect this either. But don’t leave where you are, see if you can re-establish contact with the people you isolated yourself from and see where that goes. Because frankly, being alone means that, once we have started to distance ourselves from the abuser we still complete his objective of isolating ourselves from anyone who could help us.