You have heard the term gaslighting, but you are not sure as to what it really means. Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse that happens in any type of unhealthy relationship. This dangerous tactic often happens in relationships that are abusive, or in relationships where one party is dominant. And the dominant one likes to control the other that is vulnerable. That can be considered abuse as well, on some level. If not, that type of relationship is far from healthy.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where you are forced to question your sanity, memories, and thoughts. For instance, you are not in a healthy relationship with someone. Your other half told you days ago that they would go to the grocery store to pick up some strawberries. Since they were going to take care of that, you went grocery shopping and did not get the strawberries. There wasn’t a need for you to do so.
When you returned from the supermarket, your other half grabbed your bags and asked you where the strawberries were. You said you did not get them and reminded them that they said they were going to take care of it. Then they blasted you and told you that they never said that, and that you are imagining things. They go off and call you irresponsible. You remembered that they told you they were going to get the strawberries. However, it does not take long for you to wonder if you really are imagining things based on what happened. That is one example of gaslighting.
You hear instances of gaslighting when it comes to narcissism. Narcissists are known to gaslight their victims. Those who have mental illnesses can easily become victims of it as well, especially if they are in a relationship with someone who wants to take advantage of their vulnerability. Again, that does not mean that relationship is necessarily abusive on a consistent level. But once again, it is not healthy.
I will share an example of a situation like this. On some occasions, I have spoken about my ex-friend who has schizophrenia. When she was in a vulnerable state, her husband was gaslighting her. He did not like me and she was going through a rough time. He found the perfect opportunity to feed her lies about things that I had supposedly done to her which I never did. All I did was not give her the attention she wanted because I was busy setting up my freelancing business while I was caring for my kids, one having special needs. She couldn’t handle that I was unable to give her special treatment.
That is what led her to doing the unthinkable thing to me to the point I had to get the cops involved. Even though I will never accept her back into my life, I blame him a lot more than I blame her, only because he was gaslighting her while she was in a vulnerable state. But she is not blameless by any means. Anyone who uses their mental illness to excuse terrible things they do does not deserve to be let off of the hook. I will talk more about this topic at a future time. The point is that if you are in a relationship with a narcissist or you are in a situation like my ex friend was, you need to know about the five signs of gaslighting.
1. You Are More Anxious And Less Confident
The more your partner is gaslighting you, the less confident and the more anxious you become. You are a lot less sure of yourself. Especially if you are made to believe you are losing your mind because the one who is manipulating you is making you believe that. You are more afraid to do things, and you don’t believe in yourself. If you struggled with self-confidence in the past, you may lose every ounce of belief in yourself.
2. You Don’t Feel Like You Are The Person That You Once Were
Think about it. You had more confidence at one time, and you trusted your own memory and sanity (even if you considered yourself as half-sane which many of us do). However, if you are constantly being forced to question your sanity, your memory, and everything else about yourself because of all of the gaslighting – of course, you are not going to feel like the person that you once were. And that is quite distressing.
3. You Constantly Apologize
If you are a constant victim of gaslighting, then you will be made to feel as if you are doing everything wrong. Therefore, you will find yourself apologizing. You will apologize to those who you never once even hurt. You will say you are sorry for anything that happened that was not even your fault. In fact, you may even get to a point where you feel you are responsible for a lot of the world’s problems.
4. You Struggle To Make Decisions
If you struggled with making decisions in the past before hooking up with the one that is manipulating you, then you will struggle to make decisions even more due to the gaslighting. If you were good at making decisions and you always knew what you wanted, you won’t anymore either after dealing with this emotional abuse. You can’t make decisions on your own because you are not confident enough to believe you can make the right choices.
5. You Struggle With Depression
If you once had pleasurable and stimulating hobbies, you no longer do. If you once enjoyed seeing your friends and family, you don’t either. You isolate yourself instead. You will also feel prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and you may even be apathetic. That is depression.
Whether or not you are with a gaslighting partner, or had a gaslighting parent, friend, or anyone else you had to deal with on a consistent basis – it is time to realize that you are not going crazy and that there is nothing wrong with you. You are being emotionally abused and manipulated in a very cruel way. That is when it is time to go no contact and start rebuilding yourself and healing.