BSc (Hons) Open Student at The Open University (Final Academic Year = 2021 – 2022). BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult) Student at University (Final [3rd] Year = Currently deferred). Student Leadership Academy (Swansea University) 2020 Participant. #FutureLeaders Health Care Support Worker. Chihuahua, Chorkie, Rankin Dragon and Tortoise Mami. Currently Divorcing. On a Healing Journey. Baby Witch Learning about Wicca.
Gaslighting is a term that seems to appear quite often now, compared to 5 years ago. It is a term that basically means a person is being made to question their own sanity and the world they are living in. It can be described as “walking on eggshells.” Gaslighting can cause a person to completely lose trust, not only in others around them, whether strangers or not, but in themselves.
In my case I truly realised I was being gaslit towards the end of my marriage (especially after I left-Everything sort of clicked). Once I knew my wife was interested in someone else. Despite me having clear evidence of the behaviour it was denied, I was told I was overreacting, twisting words and imagining things. Long story short, I was not, what I had heard and found was indeed true. However it often is the case that until a relationship is struggling, or ending/ended you really do not realise how manipulated you truly were.
Once I had left my home, so much started to make sense, I really started to come to the realisation that pretty much the whole time I knew this person, it was one big fake lie.
Many people who are being gaslit may not even realise it themselves. Which can cause problems if others question the situation they are in, simply because it will be denied. It may be “normal” to them.
The best thing to do is support them the best you can. One day they will be grateful for that support. They will need that safe person – that believes their truth.
TRIGGER WARNING – Please take care, some of this content may cause upset and distress. Reach out for support if needed. 💜
“And I your willing victim”
Sound familiar? Yes that is a P!nk song
I had heard of people relating this song, ‘Just give me a reason‘ to a (damaging) relationship. However, I had not really thought about it. If I’m honest I could not really relate, although I love the song!
Looking back now, the song is actually pretty relevant to me. From the start of my last relationship, my heart was stolen by a kind, attentive and charming person. I had been back in the country for just over a year after spending 6 months away volunteering and nearly 2 years post relationship with my first serious boyfriend, who I thought I would marry and spend my life with. Within two weeks of seeing this person, totally infatuated, I accepted a drunken proposal. Despite it being nothing like I imagined-after double checking they remembered actually asking I said yes!!
Two years later we married.
Again, looking back before actually marrying I can see how I was totally attracted and won over by the charm, happy moments and love I felt. Ignoring the red flags and brief explanations for situations. Hiding myself and not telling my future in laws about our engagement, even going as far as her renting another room in the house (only used for storage) “just in case” anybody asked or visited. Because they “could not know.” By the time they knew we had moved to Wales and my ex had said she had cut out her family. I was the bad person who took her away from her family. Which was far from the truth. I wish I questioned this more at the time. Another red flag missed.
During the engaged-married phase we had good times, with very few disagreements. I shared stories, history and wounds. I felt happy and comfortable. I let someone gain my trust.
I identify with these words more so with the later experiences in the relationship, but definitely at least 2.5 years of the relationship. Feelings, events, emotions and even generalised facts that turned out to be true came out during sleep. Inconsistencies appeared, but I was persuaded that anything said during sleep was “not real” or “related to previous trauma” which I was told had “nothing to do” with myself. Everything had an explanation or excuse. For some reason, I just accepted these.
A barrier began to raise. Chemistry began to reduce, feelings changing. Nothing like the early stages of the relationship. Another major Red Flag missed.
Again, looking back, I was hooked. Love made me stay. It made me ignore anything that upset me, confused me or hurt me.
Like a circle, patterns and behaviours went round and round. Pain was fixed by promises and persuasion, kinder words, acts or gestures seemed to put a plaster over the issue. Things would plateau, before beginning the cycle again.
I was hooked.
Life revolved around happiness, experiences, sex and pleasure as well as a connection. Before switching back to negativity, tension and silent treatment. Where again, one small gesture or kind word seemed to fix things. Or so I thought.
Things on several occasions got to the point where I would sit there and think of reasons to stay. Reasons to fight. Reasons to change.
And then there is gaslighting
A person I loved. A person I trusted using my own trauma, my own insecurities and my own weaknesses to their advantage. Unknowingly being insulted and manipulated into thinking my feelings did not matter, that my concerns and genuine gut feelings were wrong. Even when having justification and evidence.
I was made to feel crazy and paranoid.
At the time I thought the stresses of life, bills, work and ill health were causing tension. Things felt empty. But yet I still was being made to believe my actions led to the situation. They obviously did not help and contributed but was definitely not the major issue. I wanted to fight, blinded by love. I thought we would be together forever. Despite looking at other couples and longing for their connection with my own wife.
Fast forward and behaviours continued, false promises made – resulting in “I don’t love you anymore.” Of course I came back within 24 hours – with the hope of change, false promises and a “mistake” being made. Yet things continued and the truth came out. There was someone else who had all the love that I was no longer being given.
Walking away was hard. But it had to be done. My wife at the time was in love with someone else, portraying me to others as someone I wasn’t.
It is amazing what information people come to you with, once a relationship is over. Finding out about things that have been said and done. Money saved away and plans to move others into my home. Expecting me to leave with nothing.
I wish I noticed the Red Flags sooner. I really do. Part of me also wishes I left sooner, before the added issue of her falling completely head over heels in love with someone else – like we did with each other years ago. If I had walked away sooner, perhaps the emotional damage would have been less?
These are just some of the reasons I find myself relating to this song more now, than following the release. I may be losing a marriage, my home and the life I knew. But I no longer have to;
Follow others rules in my own home,
Push myself when in a flare,
Ask permission to do certain things,
Play happy families,
Hide my chronic illnesses,
Sit silently while others call me the “friend” or the “partner” and allow people to not call me by my correct name or write the wrong name on cards without letting them know it is not correct,
Be manipulated, treated like rubbish and told I am imagining things, being crazy or paranoid.
I can start trying to be me again. Find myself and heal. I can find someone who does love me for me and protect me, rather than damage me.