manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
When somebody makes you question your own reality. That’s what gaslighting is. Do you recognize that feeling?
I remember the first time I realized I was being gaslighted.
It was an ex-boyfriend calling me on my birthday a few years ago, just to tell me how well he was doing (a lie), tell me he had heard about my recent breakup and to inform me that the horrors I remembered VERY clearly from our relationship were not at all true. That the physical and mental abuse he inflicted on me were side effects of my overly dramatic nature, and that I made it all up.
Happy birthday to me, right?
I sat there on my bed, crammed in a corner of our tiny apartment, clutching my cell phone and crying my eyes out while I ran my fingers over the one tiny scar on my arm he had given me so many years earlier by putting a cigarette out on it. He was always really careful to not leave a mark that would be permanent or visible when I was dressed, but that one time, he let the mask slip.
He broke me while we were dating. He shattered my soul. And he had the audacity to call me on my birthday YEARS LATER to tell me I was crazy?
My brain really struggled to grasp his words. Did I imagine all of it? Did I overdramatize it? Was it all just a figment of my imagination?
I managed to squeak out “thanks for calling”, hang up the phone and block his number. Then I called my therapist and booked an appointment.
It took almost a year of therapy to get to the point where I recognize gaslighting and I now have the tools to center myself and realize what’s happening before I curl into a ball and hide.
Here’s the top 5 tips I can give you to deal with someone gaslighting you:
- Tell yourself the truth 100% of the time. I lied a lot to cover things up when I was younger, which muddied the waters even more. This allowed a lot of space to gaslight for people who would take advantage. My life was already a bit of a fantasy – they could convince me that other things were or weren’t happening as well.
- Don’t be afraid to need help. There is nothing wrong with needing assistance from a professional therapist. I would never have survived the last five years with even a SHRED of my sanity if it wasn’t for my therapist and my best friend standing in the breach for me when I couldn’t stand on my own. EVERYONE needs someone.
- Lean on your trusted squad. This crew should have your therapist, your best friend and at least one person who knows your truth. They need to be there when you start wondering if what you’re experiencing is real. They can be the reminder that you are good and worthy when you’re being told you aren’t.
- Meditate. Emptying your mind of all the noise and garbage that other people can pump into your world is so freeing. It clears out all the muck and allows you the space to…
- Love yourself. Sit by yourself and just say “I love myself. I am worthy. I am beautiful. I am a magical being. I am made of stardust and I am magnificent” or whatever floats your particular boat. Say it until you believe it.
When it all boils down to it, the one thing you need to realize is this: Gaslighting means that the other person is the problem. Not you.
Sometimes that’s hard to believe, but it’s absolutely true. Don’t let others tell you what your truth is.
This post was written as a part of the NaBloPoMo, a daily blogging journey I am committing to in November 2017.