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.
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.
- You feel that there is something ‘off’ with this person.
- You question your reality and perception.
- You second guess your memory.
- You doubt your choices and decisions.
- You are indecisive.
- You invalidate your own emotions.
- You feel confused a lot of the time.
- You lie out of fear
- You are hyper-vigilant, constantly on edge.
- You believe you are bad and the cause of his misery.
- You apologise when it’s not your fault.
- You’ve become weak, unable to speak up.
- You don’t express your real emotions.
- You feel isolated, depressed, hopeless
- you don’t know who you are anymore.
- You feel you are overly demanding.
- You are constantly being told “It didn’t happen. You’re imagining things. You’re overly sensitive.”
- You defend yourself against ridiculous accusations. “You want to make me look stupid.”
- You’re doubting your own sanity.
- 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.