Have you heard of gaslighting?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you can read about it here. In the meantime I’ll paraphrase it for you: gaslighting is a tactic that controllers, abusers, and narcissists use to brainwash the people around them. It’s a slow moving tactic designed to make their victims feel crazy, isolated, unstable, and dependent. And let me tell you, it works.
I’ve recently become familiar with this term after confiding in my sister about a few struggles I’ve had with my (ex)husband. Having been through an emotionally abusive marriage herself, she told me about gaslighting and encouraged me to read up about it. Naturally, I did. And my eyes have opened immensely. Not many people know what gaslighting is, and that needs to change.
Below, I will do my best to display the behaviors of the gaslighter in my life, to hopefully help you identify the gaslighter in yours. Bear with me.
My gaslighter gained power by lying.
The first few years of our relationship were nothing but bliss. Or, were they? Now that I look back, I realize that he had always been a ‘fibber.’ Little white lies here and there, even about stupid stuff; like what he ate for lunch, what he watched on tv, when he fell asleep. Over time his inclination for lying grew so much that I refrained from asking any details about anything.. because, why? Who knew if what he’d say was true. He would shrug everything off with an inflated sense of pride… but now, I consider it ‘power.’
He recognized when I refrained from asking questions to avoid hearing lies.
My gaslighter took control by isolating.
I often felt very alone. Even though I had a great support system of family and friends, I was isolated. Isolated because I didn’t want them knowing how volatile my relationship was. Isolated because I knew better, or I thought I did, or maybe I didn’t.
That was all part of his craft. Urging me to second guess myself. Urging me to feel isolated. Urging me to accept being controlled.
My gaslighter earned ‘respect’ by degrading.
When I married him, he ensured me there was no other woman perfect for him, but he worked hard to disprove that claim. He did so by knocking my self-esteem.. He was the King, I was his Jester. The King made his orders, the Jester responded.
I was there to please him, to be perfect for him- and if I was anything less.. he felt disrespected. I slowly began to feel way less than perfect. I felt unworthy of him. Unable to satisfy his needs, his cravings, his desires. I placed him on a pedestal, I showered him with respect.
He was sacrificing his happiness to be bound to me. He deserved respect for that. (Or so I thought.)
My gaslighter ended arguments by deflecting.
Arguments with my gaslighter were exhausting. It was like running in circles or standing in a room of mirrors. Every concern I had, was thrown right back at me. He would insult my character, my loyalty, and turned his weaknesses into my weaknesses.
His questionable behavior became the exact behavior I was questioned about.
I became hesitant to discuss any topic that could possibly be turned around on me. His deflection from the truth had me stuck on mile 25 of the 26.2 mile marathon. I was tired, I was weak, and I just wanted to finish the race.
My gaslighter drove me crazy by denying.
He made me feel psycho, literally.
He was so quick to deny everything; my feelings, his insults, our issues. Everything was my problem. I was left feeling irrational and insecure, while he watched me unravel.
He was the knife to my back as I jumped off the deep end.
My gaslighter broke me by attacking.
He broke me by hurling insults. He broke me with expletives, with negatives, with derogatives. He broke me by tainting my character; by pointing out my flaws. He broke me by making me feel hard to love. He broke me with verbal attack.
He broke me by taking the very things I was proud of, and tearing them down.
My gaslighter confused me by flattering.
He would flatter the very things he spent all night tarnishing. He’d give praise when it was convenient, when he wanted me to be lenient. He’d do just enough so he could say, “But I told you I appreciated that!” – “I said you looked good today!” – “What’s your problem, can’t you take a compliment?”
No, I couldn’t take his compliments when he was the reason for my insecurities. That was the gaslighter in him though, that was the confusion he wanted to instill. Or maybe I’m just overreacting……
My gaslighter kept me by manipulating.
Manipulation is a powerful, powerful tool. He manipulated my love for our family and used me for my loyalty. He kept me around by toying with my heart.. Playing with my emotions.
He made me feel sorry for him, and he made me believe when he was ‘sorry.’
He always knew just what to say, at just the right time, to pull me closer again. He used my craving for affection, my want to be loved, and my shameful insecurities that left me feeling unworthy.
He knew how to keep me.
Have you been gaslighted?
My unfortunate guess is that there are more women dealing with this than anyone will ever know. More women who feel isolated, used, and manipulated.. and that breaks me.
I’m not sure why I’ve been okay with subjecting myself to this type of emotional mayhem, and I can’t believe I let it slide for so long. I can only imagine that after reading this, many of you may realize you have felt the same way, too. I’m going public because I want to be ‘all in’ with every single woman suffering from feeling crazy on the daily.
Don’t be hard on yourself.
You are not the negative things that consume you.
As the article linked above states: “Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting.” And that should give comfort to us all.
Please, please share to support awareness of #gaslighting. Save a woman’s sanity today.