Gaslighted

Invalidation is crazy-making, and it is also at the root of gaslighting, where victims are purposely denied or manipulated in order to make them question their sanity. Samantha Rodman

I recently found a notebook in my desk with some posts that I never got to publish because I was still involved with my ex -partner and was afraid that he would get mad because when he was angry, that meant more abuse in the form of silent treatment, triangulation or verbal abuse.

Now that I do not have to worry about his feelings, I can publish what I want to.  I published one of these posts last week and here is my second one. The first part of the post was  written as a sort of one act play, a short dialogue between me and my ex and was designed to provide an example of gaslighting.

Here it is just for you.

“Gaslighted”

The scene takes place in the kitchen of a typical suburban townhouse. The narcissist is busy preparing his food. Enters Pascale….

 – Can I talk to you?

– What’s the problem now? I’m cooking and I have to go to work soon.

– Well, I’ve been thinking… you know the thing you told me yesterday, it doesn’t quite add up.

– What do you mean it doesn’t add up? I told you 1+1=3 and that makes perfect sense to me.

– Well, actually, I don’t think it makes sense.

– Why not?

– Because I know that 1+1=2.

– Well, you have a lot of imagination! You should write film scenarios.

– It’s not imagination, it’s common knowledge.

– So, you’re telling me I don’t know that because I’m stupid.

– I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant. I’m just trying to tell you that what you told me yesterday doesn’t quite make sense and I don’t understand what happened.

– You always do that, don’t you? You like to make me look stupid!

– I wasn’t! I was just telling you 1+1=2.

– Well, you’re wrong. How can 1+1=2? You’re crazy! Of all the women I’ve had in my life, and I’ve had a lot, you’re the craziest one! All my friends told me that.

– I’m not crazy. I’m pretty sure I’m right. That’s the truth.

– Are you calling me a liar now? I’ve had enough of this conversation.

The narcissist grabs a plate from the kitchen cupboard and throws it violently onto the floor. Pascale apologises for making him cross. End of scene.

This may sound like a silly conversation, but it actually is one that I had many, many times. The 1+1=2 is a metaphor and can be replaced by anything, from pretending to not texting ex-girlfriends when I had seen the messages pop on his mobile phone screen, to implausible reasons for being six hours late when he had told me he was on his way home or telling me that texting one of his colleagues ‘goodnight my princess’ was just office banter, to any other far-fetched story.

Gaslighting is a very devious form of control that leaves victims completely powerless and seriously doubting their own sanity. Feelings and opinions are constantly invalidated, so in the end most victims of gaslighting choose to suffer in silence out of fear and confusion.

The first time I came across the word gaslighting, about a years ago, was in The Sociopath Next Door by Marta Stout. A few things she mentioned felt familiar and that is when I realised that I may have been gaslighted. So, I went on YouTube and watched a video by Patrick Wanis entitled 20 Signs You Are Being Gaslighted! Psychological Abuse by Narcissists and Sociopaths.

Here were the 20 signs that finally made me realise that I was not crazy and that he had been messing with my head for the whole of our relationship.

  1. You feel that there is something ‘off’ with this person.
  2. You question your reality and perception.
  3. You second guess your memory.
  4. You doubt your choices and decisions.
  5. You are indecisive.
  6. You invalidate your own emotions.
  7. You feel confused a lot of the time.
  8. You lie out of fear
  9. You are hyper-vigilant, constantly on edge.
  10. You believe you are bad and the cause of his misery.
  11. You apologise when it’s not your fault.
  12. You’ve become weak, unable to speak up.
  13. You don’t express your real emotions.
  14. You feel isolated, depressed, hopeless
  15. you don’t know who you are anymore.
  16. You feel you are overly demanding.
  17. You are constantly being told “It didn’t happen. You’re imagining things. You’re overly sensitive.”
  18. You defend yourself against ridiculous accusations. “You want to make me look stupid.”
  19. You’re doubting your own sanity.
  20. You’ve developed a ‘twisted’ definition of love. You think ‘this’ is love.

The shock that I received when I saw every single one of the 20 signs applied to me, was unbelievably painful.  However, I also felt huge relief, because I was finally able to understand what was causing my distress. It was the beginning of my healing journey.

I feel extremely grateful that I do not have to put with all that nonsense on a daily basis anymore. Anyone who invalidates my feelings and makes me doubt myself does not deserve to be in my life.

40 comments

      • I feel either indifference or occasional hatred. And I do wish that his karma gets back at him because he really wanted to hurt me big time, he wanted to destroy me, he knew what he was doing. All I wanted was to keep the good memories, he killed all that. If I learned he died in a car accident or was left disfigured and paraplegic, I think I would not feel sorry for him. Which is really mad because I am generally an over-empathic person that gets easily distraught by other people’s suffering. But not a drop of compassion has been left in me for this guy unfortunately – all his making… In the case of this guy not even the victim of child abuse theory works because he is essentially just a spoiled brat who was never properly disciplined by his not too evolved parents… Anyway. My mission is to educate people about these disorders so that no one has to get hurt in the future…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Educating people is very important. At the moment there is not enough effort made into preventing Narcissistic Abuse. More people need to be aware of what is it and recognising the signs. When I talk about it though a lot of people don’t take it seriously, they see it as just a toxic relationship and put the blame on me for allowing him to abuse me. But I keep talking about it …

        Liked by 1 person

      • people don’t understand passive aggression, covert aggression, they think that emotional abuse is about screaming. The victims that frequently exhibit behaviours that are reactive aggression (essentially being at the wits end trying to talk to the narcissist) are then punished and branded crazy and abusive. It’s absolutely horrible. All the so called mental awareness stuff that is going on is totally off. People think that mental health is about depression or raving schizophrenics…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Richard Grannon posted this on his Instagram account two days ago: Primary Gaslighting: direct from abuser. Intentional. Secondary Gaslighting: family and friends who don’t understand NPD. Unintentional. Tertiary Gaslighting: mental health professionals who don’t understand NPD. Unacceptable. I think it sums up very well what happens to Gaslighting victims when they finally get the strength to speak up. Another dose of invalidation.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. The gaslighting in my life has been one of the most defeating and detrimental things to me. I can relate to every single one of those points. I’m still in the relationship and while I have improved in standing my ground I believe t still continues. The feelings of crazy, the fear of leaving, second guessing. It’s all there and still tangled around me. I believe I probably gaslight myself that things are getting better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gaslighting is so insidious that it is very easy to overlook. Until I heard of it I had not realised how people can invalidate our feelings. Some people do it on purpose but many people do so unintentionally. One of the symptoms of gaslighting is that we indeed start invalidating ourselves. I hope that you will find a way to deal with the gaslighting in your life.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember a time that this was a part of my daily life. I could mark off every one, I remember counselors telling me I was lucky that he was not hitting me, there are far worse people out there that had it much worse, I am not saying that there isn’t however I will say that I could not continue on the road I was on. I questioned everything, my existence, my life, what I knew to be true and my own sanity. If I would speak up he would start on our child. I, at that point did not care what any one said or thought, I left! I was not going to wait until me or my child was in a hospital bed or worse, to late.. The signs were already there, he would grab, hit the wall over my head to scare me, once he threatened our life. I made a plan, and safely got out. I went through two years of counseling and a horrible divorce. I am so glad you are posting these, to help other women in similar situations, people need to be aware! It was a blog similar to your that gave me the information I needed when I was going through a very hard time of figuring out my life. Thank You

    Liked by 1 person

    • i’m glad that you too managed to get out and don’t have to deal with the abuse anymore. I am appalled that a counsellor would tell you that psychological abuse is not as bad as physical abuse. i too found all this information by reading blogs and watching videos of narcissistic abuse survivors. It’s important that we get the truth out there. x

      Liked by 1 person

      • yes it is, It was horrible and it made it worse for me because it was a Christian counselor. I felt like I was wrong, even more and he would use it against me. I stopped going to church. Felt hopeless but then the more I read to try to understand the more I realized how common it was. I am grateful everyday that I stood up for myself and my children before it was too late. Keep doing what your doing. It is wonderful. A lot of what I write is strong feeling that I felt and continue to feel through it. I have grown so much but I know it is a journey. Some days are better than others. Some nights it creeps up and brings me down. I use the tools and coping that I have learned through reading and counseling. I am a strong believer in what you are doing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This very well written and so clear. I think the more we can understand about gaslighting the better. Its so hard to be told what you see or feel doesn’t make any sense and it can take so long to understand this is what is going on when your reality is consistently undermined.. I still gaslight myself to be honest at times. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can identify with your situation. My ex became more narcissistic after we had children. He would regularly erupt into rages and shout in my face, trapping me against the wall. The children would understandably be extremely distressed. Suddenly like a flick of a switch he would speak really calmly and accuse me of creating the argument and upsetting the children. He would turn to them and say ‘mum’s behaviour is going to affect you in your relationships when you’re older.’
    When I finally got away from him he kept showing them stuff about men’s rights and how feminists (ie me) were destroying families like ours. Luckily they saw right through it. There was never any remorse for the hell he put us through for years. Like you I was constantly on edge and fearful. It is such a relief to have got away

    Liked by 1 person

    • Narcissists will always try to shift the blame because they want to protect their image and portray themselves as the victim. I am glad you managed to get out and that your children could see through him. It is nonetheless very frustrating because our feelings were never acknowledged. Like you say, it’s good to be out of the madness and not feel on edge constantly.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sometimes, I read such posts and I don’t know how to feel. Someone once aptly summarized my journey from childhood as “multiple abuses”. I mean, taking only gaslighting, I have had, primary from parents thru to ex, and then secondary and tertiary could also be thrown in. But, the more informed and aware and all I am, the more determined I am to help the numerous victims I know exist in my country. Wishing you all the best on your Healing journey Pascale, thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. my boyfriend gaslights me often shadowed in sympathy. he always says he is just helping be more intelligent and socially acceptable around his friends. he always sits me on his lap and babytalks saying i don’t understand adult conversations. he tells me he only does this out of love but i know it is a control method. i love him so much i can’t break free of his grasp

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well it is a difficult situation. Maybe as in number 20 in the list, your definition of what love is has been somehow distorted. You are aware that his actions and words are not entirely those of a person who respects and loves you. I know how difficult it is. The question is how much can you tolerate? Nobody can decide for you. Be strong, set boundaries. And I hope you will make the decision that is right for you. Take care.

      Like

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