Selena Gomez

Gaslighting Selena

Having a twelve year old daughter I am exposed to, willingly or not, much of the new music out today. Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, MeghanTrainor, Five Second of Summer, One Direction and, because once in a great while a bone is thrown, Maroon 5.

Just to name a few.

One of her favorite artists is Selena Gomez. I remember in years past watching this adorable girl in Wizards of Waverly Place, smart-mouthing and trouble-making her way into our hearts. She was growing up beautifully and readying herself to take the world by storm as some of Disney’s darlings manage to do. She was even doing it with her tongue in her mouth and all of her clothes on, never once sticking her hind end into a married man’s crotch.

I digress.

Aside from Spring Breakers, young Selena seemed to be making good choices.

Enter Justin Bieber.

In November, my darling girl and I sat watching the American Music Awards and listening to all of the music she loves and most of which I can barely comprehend. Just before a break we caught a glimpse of Selena backstage preparing for her performance.  She would debut her newly dropped single ‘The Heart Wants What It Wants’.

The young beauty took the stage barefoot and wearing Armani. Before the song started there was an audio piece that played which is apparently the prelude to the song. I could barely hear it but have heard it since and I can’t help but feel like crying just reading these words now:

When I was on stage and I was thinking of … I know him though, and I know that I know his heart, and I know what he wouldn’t do to hurt me.But I didn’t realize that I’m feeling so confident and feeling so great about myself and then it [can] just be completely shattered by one thing … by something so stupid. But then you make me feel crazy, you make me feel like it’s my fault. I was in pain.

The song’s melody is lovely but its words are heartbreaking. One string of lyrics immediately caught my attention and I knew who this young woman was singing about. This was no celebrity standing there emotionally choking out her newest single.

I know I’m acting a bit crazy
Strung out, a little bit hazy
Hand over heart, I’m praying
That I’m gonna make it out alive.

This was just a girl, heart broken by a boy, trying to make sense of the mess she was in. In pain and blaming herself with no understanding as to why. She is also very clear in stating that she will not listen to anyone’s advice because, well, the heart wants what it wants. Sanity be damned.

Save your advice ’cause I won’t hear
You might be right but I don’t care
There’s a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants

The first thought that came to mind as a former victim of domestic abuse was gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic used to twist a victim’s reality, make them question their own actions, their own perception of events often leaving them mentally disoriented and their sanity stretched. It is known to be exercised by unfaithful or abusive spouses and sociopaths.

And apparently Justin Bieber.

You got me scattered in pieces
Shining like stars and screaming
Lightening me up like Venus
But then you disappear and make me wait
And every second’s like torture

It took me a few plays and finally looking up the lyrics on the internet to realize that the situation Selena sings about is an all too common occurrence and a nightmare for me as a parent and domestic abuse survivor. My daughter was playing this song on repeat for days.

Did she understand the words and the meaning behind them or is she just listening to a song by an artist that she loves?

Will she remember these words in a future relationship should a partner, God forbid and God help him, make her feel this way?

Am I doing all I can to make sure she has the ability to trust her own good judgment to keep this from ever happening to her?

Will she…….?

Am I……?

Is she…….?

I hope and I pray. But only time will tell.

Why am I so affected by these dark words sung by a pop princess?

As I mentioned, I have suffered this abuse at the hands of more than one significant other. As an addict and alcoholic I was always swimming in a cesspool of low self- esteem and had a special gift for attaching myself to the most charming of liars and manipulators.

I found myself constantly second guessing myself, remembering the intelligent, sensible person I once was and wondering what happened to change all of it. I made excuses for my abusers’ behavior and apologized at every turn for every move I made. At times I found myself completely dependent emotionally and financially on an abuser. I felt helpless and hopeless.

It has been quite some time and I made it out but I can tell you that it is a wound that can still be torn open and the blood of memory can still seep through.  It is hell to have to live through and recover from.

Domestic violence is alive and well in all walks of life and we are getting to see it played out day after day in the media. Physical abuse is sickening to watch but it’s not a party to watch a young girl come apart mentally on stage either. This is simply one example. Imagine, if you can, these same situations that we are not seeing or hearing about.

It is far, far too many.

The bed’s getting cold and you’re not here
The future that we hold is so unclear
But I’m not alive until you call
And I’ll bet the odds against it all

To Selena I say thank you…for the beautiful performance at the AMAs.  I also say to her, and to all of those who feel her words on their heart….

Walk away while you still can.

If you still can.

34 thoughts on “Gaslighting Selena”

  1. I saw that performance and my heart was broken for her. She was visibly broken while singing those words. I hope she finds the courage to leave that relationship and see what the rest of the world sees when we look at her – a beautiful and talented young lady, who has the potential to influence thousands of girls in a positive way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know, there are times when you see a performance and it’s just that…a performance. But seriously, I could see and hear the heartache and it was no show. When I look at those two I just shake my head. He is such a joke and she is really a beautiful, talented, and faithful young woman. I’m with you. I hope she finds the strength.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You’re one helluva writer, DA. I didn’t see the performance, and I don’t know the song. I’m fortunate not to know this kind of abuse from an SO, but I know people who’ve been there, and I COMPLETELY advocate getting out while you can, IF you can…if there’s enough of you left.

    It makes me so angry that people are put through this by bullies who purport to care for them. I’m so glad you came out the other side. I hope that your mindfulness and your good example will be sufficient to keep your girl safe.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A compliment like that coming from you is an incredible honor since I feel that my talent pales in comparison to yours. Thank you! I am glad to know you’ve never had to deal with that psychological beat down. It’s incredibly painful. I hate to call myself fortunate for having experienced it but I feel at an advantage knowing what it looks like and what it feels like. Perhaps I feel better equipped to recognize it. Having said that, I’m no more successful in saving someone from it since it was a huge part of my oldest daughter’s issues, but I have learned that I need to be more vigilant.

      I understand where you are coming from about the anger. All domestic abuse issues are horrifying but this is so cunning, it’s rarely seen coming. It’s certainly not unbeatable. We just need to keep talking. In a very loud voice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s all about live in Silver Linings, and your experiences, awful as they were, have left you able to recognise them in others, and perhaps more empathic for having been there yourself. Not to mention vigilant, as you say.

        We need to keep talking. VERY loudly. And with lots of us. At least 1000 to begin with 😉

        And this line…”it is a wound that can still be torn open and the blood of memory can still seep through”…utterly compelling – so vivid. That turn of phrase; the ‘blood of memory’…I love it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so sorry that you had to go through that. I get it though..I do. I have had my share of experiences with a parent and one of my husbands. My second husband was horrible. He had a doctor buddy and they were working together to get me on lithium. I am so glad I escaped that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michelle. I appreciate that. And I’m sorry you had to experience this psycho bullying as well. I think people like you and me, the ones who got away, are the voices that need to be heard. It gives people hope.

      Thank goodness we’re both here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sandy, my 19yo daughter is about 8000kms away in another country and text me this morning to tell me she’s thinking of getting back with an ex I’ve already threatened with his life. Sometimes it seems like it only gets harder but at least our relationship means she’s keeping me in the loop…its enough. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We have two adult daughter in addition to our twelve year old and the worrying doesn’t end. Ever. I’m glad she’s keeping in touch with you about the situation. That speaks volumes about your relationship with her. Still, having her so far away is tough on you, I know. Hang in there and know you’re not alone. I’ll be thinking about ya! Hugs right back.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome post! While the ex wasn’t violent, he was so controlling and I didn’t see it until about 4 years in. He just kept me to himself and I slowly isolated myself from the world. Thank God I woke up one day and said “this is BS” and never looked back. I think your daughter will grow up to be a fine woman with you as her Mom and teacher! XX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the thing about this type of abuse. It’s very quiet and very sneaky. You really don’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late. I’m very happy you managed to realize what whas happening and get out. Thank you such a sweet compliment! I’m very grateful to you for saying that.

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  5. I’ve never heard the term Gaslighting, but watched its effects on my mother while I was growing up. What I learned is that those who need to weaken those around them are often the weakest of all, filling their own void through the manipulation and degradation of others. In the end, whether its a vapid soul like Justin Bieber or anyone else, the shine and sparkle of their exterior image is meant to distract you from their tarnished edges.

    Always look for those who have an internal luster; it comes from the soul.

    Like yours, Sandy 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a strange name for a psychological behavior and it actually gets its name from a play from 1938. A husband trying to convince his wife she’s mad turns dims the lights (which are gas, it being 1938 and all) and when she says something to him he tells her it’s all in her head. That’s a very brief (and incomplete, I’m sure) synopsis but there you go.

      I’m sorry to hear that this happened to your mother. I absolutely agree with you in describing the reasoning behind the manipulation. It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t the problem because the damage happens and sits deep.

      That you think I have internal luster humbles me, Ned. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true! I’ve heard some of the songs I listened then and to me they were just cool songs to sing along to. I wonder how much of it makes it into our psyche without even realizing it.

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  6. I love the line from “High Fidelity” – Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

    I love your take on this, and it’s a very common theme in pop music, particularly from young women who sing that they are nothing without some boy, or etc… It’s an unhealthy attitude, but I wonder how much of it is not just melodrama… I was a teenager once, and every heartbreak seemed the end of the world.

    On the other hand… maybe that’s because of the music I listened to. Did I listen to the Cure because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to the Cure?

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  7. The problem is the heart does want what it wants..and sadly in many cases our hearts want what is not healthy for us. If we can recognize it early enough on before we are too far gone..then maybe we can walk away? I say talk about it, and don’t be shy either. Give examples of.. educate. I hope she never has to experience that kind of abuse and I am glad she has you looking out for her. 🙂

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  8. Once you are sucked in … sigh. I felt this song the first time I heard it. It just speaks to me on so many levels and you just clarified why. Awesome post. Unfortunately the heart does want what it wants and the mind can tell the heart whatever, but still the heart won’t listen.

    I don’t understand why people tread other people in such a horrible way.

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  9. While what you’ve endured in the past completely sucks, it has, in part, shaped you into the beautiful and strong person you are today, and someone who will be able to recognize if/when your daughter is being treated that way.

    Like

  10. It is so hard trying to protect our kids. I look at mine and hope I have taught them well and that they make smart choices.

    And I hope they don’t run into the people that cause such damage. So hard to tell from the outside.

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  11. My first husband had me convinced that our problems were all my fault, that my desires for a stable, sober life were unreasonable, and that I was the reason he was so unhappy. It was not a good situation and, even when I got out, I spent a year in a horrible place mentally because I felt like a failure and horrible mother for breaking up the family. Love and dependence on someone can really twist you up – especially if the situation is bad. And yes, you’re right Sandy – you never stop worrying about your kids.

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  12. I had this long comment typed and lost it. Sigh.

    I think I said something like this:

    I’m so glad to see you here doing what you do so perfectly, stringing together words that make me lean toward the screen of my computer so that I won’t miss a single one. This post is beautiful, like you, like the love you have for your daughter. I’ve missed you. So much.

    In my last comment, I went into detail about an abusive boyfriend I had in high school. I won’t divulge all of that now, but I will say this. My mother knew he wasn’t good for me. She said as much, but what I think I needed her to say to me instead of “break up with him,” was “You’re valuable. You’re wonderful. You don’t need a boy to measure your worth.”

    At 18, I realized that myself and broke up with him, but for two years of my life, for the most important days of my high school career, he had his thumb on me, telling me every move to make. And I listened. I will not let that happen to my daughter, and I know you won’t either.

    Again, I’m so glad you’re back, Sandy. Thank you for writing this.

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    1. Thank you, Mandi, for always saying the nicest things. I appreciate your words so very much. I hear exactly what you are saying about what you needed your mom to say to you. I know when we are young and in love, or at least think we are, the last thing we are going to do is listen to someone when they say stop. We don’t realize the advice is perhaps coming from experience. I know when things happen with my girls I tend to lean toward the hard sell and it’s out of fear. I’m afraid for any of them to ever feel the horrible pain of heartache or, God forbid, abuse. I need to take a moment and stop myself and be more gentle. It’s impossible to completely shelter and protect them from each and every hurt, but I’m willing to try.

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