10 Reasons Being Gaslighted Is the Worst

There’s a reason governments utilize psychological torture techniques on suspected terrorists.

It works.

It’s a way of controlling somebody discretely. Without obvious threats or harm. Simply by controlling their reality and steering their perceptions. Planting seeds of doubt and carefully nurturing them until a dependence upon the manipulator is created.

And you don’t have to be a prisoner suspected of treason to face this torture.

It can happen in your own home.

In your own marriage.

Only there, it’s not called torture (although maybe it should be).

It’s called gaslighting.

And here’s the top ten reasons why it’s the worst-

10 Your Protector Becomes Your Persecutor

It’s horrifying when you realize that the person you love, you trust, has been slowly and intentionally lying and manipulating you. It’s like that nightmare you had when you were 5 where Santa Claus suddenly turned into a monster. Only this monster is real and you shared a bed with them.

9 It’s Invisible While It’s Happening

The whole point of gaslighting is to control somebody and distract them from what is really going on. As a result, it’s very difficult to identify when you’re in it. Generally, all you recognize is a sense that something is off and perhaps a sense of generalized anxiety. In some ways I’m glad I never spent time in a “bad” marriage. But then again, it’s scary to only realize after the fact that I was in one.

8 Your Memories Are Tarnished

I have 16 years of good memories with my first husband. And at least part of that history is false. But I have no idea what parts. So it’s all damaged. Ugly water stains on beautiful wedding photos. Was any of it real? I’ll never know.

7 It Doesn’t End When the Relationship Does

Some of this is by design. Often the abuser defames your character to others, leaving you in the position of either trying to convince them of a new truth or cut them out. But even without the character assassination, gaslighting persists. It’s in you, an unwanted tattoo imprinted upon your doubting brain.

6 Impact Is Hard to Recognize Until It Builds

The flood of feelings that led to my emotional hangover the other day was building for some time. But I couldn’t see it. It becomes very difficult to separate the implanted thoughts from your own. And sometimes the false ones take the lead for a time.

5 It’s Difficult to Explain to Others

Because until you’ve been there, you don’t believe that somebody can really have that much influence over your thoughts. Like much abuse, gaslighting starts slowly, ramping up the distortions until your reality is altered. And when you try to explain it, you either get judged or dismissed.

4 Words Are Meaningless

When somebody does try to comfort you or convince you of something, you find that words have become meaningless. Because you’ve learned that words can be used to paint a picture of a fictional reality. And although we should always trust actions more than words, it’s hard to communicate when you immediately shrug off somebody’s utterances.

3 Over Analyzing Becomes Second Nature

Determined not be a victim of gaslighting again, you over analyze everything. It’s like being a detective 24-7, always looking for proof and validation. It looks like A to me. But is it really A? Or do I only think it is A because that’s what I was told for so long? And here’s the crazy part, some of what allowed you to be gaslighted is that you ignored your intuition. And now the excessive scrutiny can cause you to fail to observe your gut again.

2 It’s Difficult to Trust Others

Because the abuse was invisible while it was carried out, it’s hard to trust that others are not trying to do the same to you. It’s tempting to wall off, to refuse vulnerability. Trust becomes a daily intention and a huge leap of faith.

1 You Don’t Trust Yourself

And this is the worst. You don’t trust yourself to recognize if it’s happening again and you don’t trust your perceptions and conclusions. There’s a skepticism and a confusion woven into your very fabric. And you have to slowly tease it out. One little thread at a time.

 

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15 thoughts on “10 Reasons Being Gaslighted Is the Worst

  1. This is very well said and correct in description. I’ve been there and experienced it all. Even after being divorced for 6 years, I still trust no one, second guess myself and my ex finds way to spread the worst about me…yet he knows nothing because I do nothing except work, go to church and raise the kids. It’s still like an emotional jail. Days are getting better, but it’s to be seen if I’ll ever trust anyone so deeply. Great article.

  2. Excellent analysis! One of the best I have read describing gas lighting!!! So glad you are addressing elements of narcissistic abuse. Thank you!

  3. As a former victim of gaslighting I can honestly say that yes, it is the worst. It’s happened in each and every major relationship that I’ve ever been in, and the effects of the last one have left me with a never ending battle of not being able to trust anyone new now for the last year and a half as the gaslighting has continued through it all. I attempt to move on, and public messages are spread across social media about me and whomever I’m attempting to move on with, I move on alone, and suddenly I’m the stalker that cant move on…..nothing I do works except shut down, and move forward very quietly (without any social media interaction at all) – which sucks and is impossible given that I’m a freelance writer, and internet marketing professional that has to keep up a social presence for myself.

  4. Been there. After being divorced from a “gaslighter” for almost 20 years I still over analyze and have trust issues. Fortunately my current husband is amazing and all those things seem a distant, foggy memory.

  5. Wow, this is an amazing list, thank you for sharing. I had never heard of gas lighting before ‘discovery day’, and as a result I didn’t realise it was happening – not only in relation to my husband’s sex addiction but to anything else in our life. This list is a very apt summary and everybody should read it who has been touched by this phenomenon. Maybe also those who haven’t… I have lost myself in my messed up marriage but I have faith that I can find myself again. It will take a lot of work but it is so worth it. Thank you again for this post!

    1. I was married for over 27 years. It took me 6 years post divorce to realize that I had been married to a man who clearly has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I accidentally found an online support group for NPD survivors and I was and continue to be blown away by what I read. Gaslighting is just one of the characteristics of this disorder as is so called “sex addiction” I would highly recommend looking in to a Narcissistic Abuse Survivor support group and hope that you will gain as much as I have from the light fellow survivors shed on this disease.

      1. Thank you for this. I’m slowly also coming to the realisation that sex addiction is ‘just’ a symptom of an underlying personality flaw / disorder. It can be narcissism, but even sociopathy. Scary shit if you ask me. I’m so glad you found support, I’ll definitely look into the group you mentioned.

  6. Lisa I totally relate. My ex was loving one day and cruel the next. Everything was my fault and I was crazy. He was so passive aggressive and hurtful. He manipulated me and my trust and my reality so that I wondered if I was crazy. I searched his clothes, his phone (it had a code, which is bullshit), his drawers, his car. Sometimes I found things and he would just lie even when they were staring him in the face. One thing he used to do that was so manipulative but seemed nice, was he used to come home and tell me he saw something in a store that he thought I would like and he ALMOST bought it for me. So I was excited that he thought of me, but he never bought it. He did this often. That’s fucked up! Since we have a daughter we have to have a relationship and I tread lightly, but sometimes I get sucked in to the idea that he’ll take care of it or he’s going to do what he says…um hello it’s been 25 years you think I got that one by now! lol So now I come from a place of disbelief when he says something. I don’t hang on to it, and I don’t even think it will happen. I have to rely on myself more now than ever. Thank you for sharing. I hope you are better. I never know what I am going to get when I text or he texts or calls. I’m learning to keep the emotions out, but sometimes I get pulled in or still think he might have a better idea than mine. When we were married, I had decided to get elective surgery to make my life better. I had to explain to him for hours why I wanted this surgery and validate my need for it, but then later I have it and he takes care of me and helps me heal. And it had nothing to do with the price. It’s just so beyond dysfunctional. You seem strong and I love your tips. Hang in there!! Nurture yourself back to happiness 🙂

  7. Lisa I just had to come back and tell you I just realized it’s been 29 years of dating, marriage, and now divorce that we know each other. 6 divorced. That’s a long time of being manipulated, emotionally abused, and living on the end of his rainbow rather than creating my own. Damn. I am alive. Living differently and making new decisions is so hard after so many years of being one way with him. But I’m doing it. Sometimes when we are on the phone I find myself falling back to oh he knows best crap. But those times are so much less. Hey thanks for listening! xo

  8. Exactly what happened to me. Little did I know I was being gaslighted. An email came recently concerning the amount of alimony paid for 2015. I should have know better than to respond, but assuring both tax returns had the same amount is preferred. Turned into gaslighting. Last ray of hope is now history, as well as any further communications.

  9. I didn’t realize I was being gaslighted until moved into my best friend’s place. I didn’t realize how controlled I had become. Until the day Mike and I were standing in the kitchen and after we stopped hugging I started to apologize for not getting the dishes done. When he replied, “what are you apologizing for?” I realized that I had been conditioned to feel like I was wrong if I didn’t do everything I was told to do. Mike helped me realize a lot of the issues in my marriage. He loved me enough to help me see what I was part of and encouraged me to find myself again and to love the real me. Even after that, I still wanted to work things out with my husband. I thought that I could talk about it in counseling. But when I thought we could work things out, he discarded me. He was building a new life while I was hoping to get the old one back. He started working, but lied and said he wasn’t. He reconnected with his boyfriend, who I knew about because he wanted an open relationship and I agreed. And there’s a girl at work that he apparently spend time with alone, despite the fact that she has a boyfriend. We just officially ended things on February 29th. He’s moved on. And he blames me for all of the problems in the marriage. And I’m sure he’s telling our mutual friends his side of the story, making me sound like a lazy, uncaring person. But because I’m mostly introverted, he knows I don’t have much contact with them to defend myself. And I feel so broken. I tried to go out on a date, but I realized my heart wasn’t in it. I’m not ready to date and time will only tell when I will be.

    1. No rush to date – you’ll know when it’s time. I’m an introvert as well – while the number of friends aren’t as important to us, make sure you put the energy into nurturing a few close friendships. It’s easy for us to isolate, especially during times of stress.

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