Athaliah the gaslighter
Note from Barb and Jeff C: Ellie has been commenting on our blog for some time and has written guest posts for us. We have now officially given her an Author role at the blog. Thanks for joining the team, Ellie 🙂
2 Kings 11, ESV
Athaliah Reigns in Judah
1 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death. And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
Joash Anointed King in Judah
4 But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the LORD. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and he showed them the king’s son. And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king’s house (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards) shall guard the palace. And the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the LORD on behalf of the king, shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.”
9 The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the LORD. And the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house on behalf of the king. Then he brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”
13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the LORD to the people. And when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.” they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death.
I was listening to this story on audio Bible the other day. It struck me that here is Athaliah, the ultimate traitor to her son, her grandchildren, her country, her GOD, yelling, “Treason! Treason!” when the rightful king is revealed. What a nut! How in the world is saving an infant son of the king treasonous? Abusers’ sense of right and wrong is so skewed. Anything that goes against them is treacherous. Anything they want is good. Nope. Abusers don’t get to define right and wrong.
Ultimately, I think this reveals abusers’ sense of entitlement and their jealousy of God, the ONE who does define right and wrong. I have to think that there were some in the crowd who were confused by Athaliah’s last words (it’s so good on this audio Bible, very dramatic). It reminds me of the convicted murderer Barbara Graham’s last words, “Good people are always so sure they’re right.” In The Sociopath Next Door [*Affiliate link], Martha Stout identifies this as gaslighting because it confused so many people into questioning reality, so much so that a movie was made casting Bloody Barb as a victim. What would Athaliah look like in a Hollywood movie? I don’t even want to think about it.
Gaslighting is a terrible form of mental abuse. But it is so common. I documented things so that I would have a way to go back and KNOW what happened. Abusive texts and emails are filed away. Audio that I recorded is filed away. If I need to review things because I get foggy and start thinking the fate of the world rests on my ability to endure his abuse (and maybe it wasn’t THAT bad), I read those texts and emails or listen to his ranting, but only for a little while. It is overwhelming to review it for too long.
A few examples of his gaslighting me are:
He insisted we join a MultiLevel Marketing organization, wouldn’t do the presentations. I learned to and, at his insistence, subscribed to their promotional materials and actively recruited only to be told that it was all my idea and I was ruining our marriage.
When I’d catch him looking at porn, he’d scream at me and tell me that I was spying on him.
Complained throughout the divorce process that I was mistreating him. When in fact, he was being disrespectful of my boundaries and requests.
Says my recording his abusive rants was betraying him instead of acknowledging that the fact that he was ranting was betraying me, our kids, everyone who knows him who he acted like he was a rational reasonable person to.
Acts like his having to paying debts we incurred together is me abusing him and comparable in any way to his hitting me and threatening me.
Ignores the kids and accuses me of abandoning them.
Took off his wedding ring, but says I abandoned the marriage. Says he thought marriage was forever, but constantly made it into a transaction, making me earn him putting his ring back on.
We went to a marriage counselor and he screamed and swore at me the whole time. He ordered me not to look at him, said we weren’t married anymore. Then when I filed for divorce, his mother told me that we hadn’t tried marriage counseling.
Concerning his adultery with his married subordinate, told me that he didn’t have a relationship with a married woman. He was in a relationship with a woman he liked. I still have no clue how he could say that with a straight face. Then he told me he never would’ve done it if he hadn’t thought we were through.
Texted me when he was shopping with the co-adulterer for new clothes to ask what size clothes he wears (I’m not making this up). Then when I told him how much that hurt me, he said it was a legitimate question because I know what size clothes he wears and he doesn’t. The appropriate response would be an apology, not trying to explain to me that I’m wrong for being hurt that he made me his accomplice in his adultery.
I am glad that I am learning more about this form of cruelty. Good people aren’t always sure they’re right. We, or I anyway, can be confused into thinking that I am the cause of the problem. Of course, I wanted to believe that sometimes because if I’m the problem, I can fix the problem. If it’s him, I’m stuck with two terrible choices, endure the cruelty, or divorce. At least – I thought divorce was a terrible choice. It’s not what I wanted, but it’s better than living with his abuse. I feel that this divorce is God’s deliverance for me and my kids. And I am grateful to Him for His provision.