It all hit me when I saw the bank statement.
For the prior thirty hours that had elapsed after my former husband disappeared with a text, I was still making excuses for him. He must be depressed. Or acting impulsively. He’ll come to his senses soon and we’ll discuss what’s going on. I still believed in him.
And then I saw the bank statement.
Days before, I was with my dad and his wife almost 3,000 miles away from my home when my debit card was declined at lunch. Shocked and concerned, since my calculations had the balance well into the black, I texted my husband. He seemed to as surprised as I was and told me he was pulling up the account on his computer as we talked since my flip phone wasn’t up to the task.
“Oh, crap,” he grumbled, “Southeast Toyota did it again.” Only there were a few more expletives involved. He went on to explain that they had pulled his car payment out of the account four times that day, an apparent glitch in the automatic payment system. “Let me call you right back.”
Twenty minutes later, he phoned and related the news that Toyota would fix the error and return the funds but that it would be three business days before they were available.
It just so happened that my husband disappeared three days later.
After making my way back across the country and into the shell of my marital home, I pulled up the joint checking account (after resetting the password that he had apparently changed).
Southeast Toyota had never made an error. My husband had made a choice.
My card was declined because my recent paycheck went towards buying another woman’s engagement ring.
And that’s when it hit me.
Anything that I thought was real through my husband’s words or actions was suddenly suspect.
And somehow in the midst of his fiction, I needed to find my own truth.
Gaslighting surrounds you with lies, trapping you in web of deception and clouding your vision of your own reality. Make no mistake, even with no iron bars and no locks on the doors, gaslighting is a trap. The prison is initially woven from the words of another, yet it eventually keeps bound by your own beliefs.
And that’s the true danger of gaslighting. Because even if the one responsible is removed, the web remains. And that’s when the work of clearing away the debris and finding your own truth begins.
After gaslighting, your vision of your world and even yourself is clouded and distorted. Over time, you have begun to rely less on your own senses and beliefs and more on those of another. You doubt yourself, question yourself. Do I believe this because it’s real or because I’ve been told that it’s real?
Removing the gaslighter from your life is only the first step in recovering from this type of emotional abuse. The next step is evicting them from your head. Only then can you begin the process of rediscovering and trusting your own truth. Here are five empowering ways to begin this journey.