I used to know a girl who was married to a man who used to manipulate their daily lives so much that she thought everything was her fault. It almost got to the point where because she didn’t do something he wanted, everything that was wrong in the world could in some way be attributed to her. It turned her into a self-obsessed, worried and brow beaten woman.
As a result, this woman became so scared of opening her mouth and so insular, because every time she did and tried to redress the balance, she would firstly be told that she was too sensitive, and secondly, she would end up comforting him because suddenly, he was the one who had the right to be upset, apparently. She was told, daily, that she was wrong, the way she saw the world was wrong, and that she was incapable of making decisions that were the “right” ones. The word “right” kept coming back to bite her, because clearly, she never was…
Gaslighting happens in many relationships; it would be weird if we agreed with each other all the time; but to be constantly got at is abusive and disrespectful, and it keeps you in your place, because it happens over time, and makes you slowly start to question your own judgement.
This girl always felt wrong footed, not good enough, insecure, intimidated, inferior… you get the picture.
It was a bolt from the blue once she had the clarity to realise what was going on, and these were the signs she picked up on.
- She was wrong to like some of the music that she did; so she never listened to it at all and he constantly controlled the stereo.
- She was easily confused.
- She was unable to make decisions for fear of it being the wrong one.
- She didn’t feel good enough for anyone or anything.
- She stopped going out with her friends because she didn’t want to have to talk about him.
- She made excuses for his behaviour when she did.
- She felt like she wasn’t the person she used to be.
The wake up came for her when she came back from a week away for work to find that lots of pairs of shoes were missing from her wardrobe. When she asked him about it, he said, “Oh, I threw those away. I thought we didn’t like them anymore.”
Once you realise that this is happening, you can begin to make choices and stop engaging in it; this is what she did, and it began the process of getting back to the reality she liked, not the one constructed for her.
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