Gaslighting

Gaslighting is any attempt made to make another person doubt their reality.  You can learn about where the term comes from here and here.

I’m having big feelings of because I feel like such an idiot.  But now, the more I read, the more I see exactly how “off” my thinking has been about my relationship.  I’m not crazy.  I’m quite sane.  It isn’t me.  I’m ok.  I now see that through the past few years when it has been sooooo bad and I’ve kept trying to improve myself and be a better wife, a better mother, a better person I’ve been playing Sisyphus.  I’ve been pushing that boulder up the hill only to watch it roll back down again.  It has been a never-ending labor of insanity to continue to try to improve myself to fix my marriage because I’m not broken!!!!  I’m done pushing that boulder.  I’m going to stand firmly at the top of the mountain and pray that he does the hard work that he needs to do to join me at the top.

It was so amazing to read those books and realize that I was NOT crazy.  All those years that I’d left conversations wondering exactly what had happened, convinced that I couldn’t possibly remember things wrong each and every time we spoke.  At points I started feeling really bad always asking Serenity to tell me what she’d heard – using her to keep my sanity.  I am so glad for her though because without someone else to confirm my reality was indeed real, I could easily have slid down into insanity – truly believing that it was ME losing my mind.  He was just that good.  He could lie so convincingly that events happened the way he saw them.  I don’t know if I’d be able to explain it so that you can understand it unless you’ve experienced it first hand.  I don’t know that I could convey the feeling of thinking that you are descending into madness all the while trying to hold onto your sanity by your fingernails – refusing to give in to the crazy.  

I doubted my reality constantly.  I often said that I was going to start either emailing him or recording all of our conversations.  Of course, I never did because that level of paranoia itself would be deemed crazy.  When you think you are slipping into madness, you do whatever you think will be perceived as the least crazy.  Recording conversations with one’s husband would be perceived by others as crazy.  Only communicating via email with one’s husband would be perceived by others as crazy.  What I was using to maintain the semblance of sanity was exactly what was driving me insane.  I needed that back-up.  So, I used Serenity.  

Serenity was my rock.  She affirmed my reality time and time again.  I think it really was the only thing that stopped me from completely believing Bubba.  Having her say, “Yes, Mom, he said the other day that we could go to the movies and now he’s saying you never had that conversation.  But I was there, Mom, I heard him say it.”  

When I wrote the above, I’d just left and Bubba was admitting to being abusive, although he balked about accepting the label of “abuser.”  I’d agreed to give him time to get help so that we could put our marriage together.  Since he was admitting to a bit of the abuse, I really thought he’d see it all and really fight to change and to keep his family.  I finally thought it was time for him to do the tough work of fixing himself so that we could then work on our marriage.  I’d spent years trying to be a better wife so that I could hold my marriage together.  Seeing that it wasn’t about me helped me step back and allow Bubba to sink or swim.  I couldn’t fix him and I couldn’t save the marriage by myself.  He had a decision to make and I had to get myself healthy and take care of my kids.  It was time to let that boulder stay at the bottom of the hill and for me to climb the hill alone to health and healing.  I was hoping and praying that he would climbing his own hill to health and healing so that we could meet up together at a later date.

I’m going to take this next year to continue working on me.  I want to be a better wife, a better mother, and a better person, but I want to do it for ME!!!!!  I will not do it anymore to improve my marriage.  No matter where my marriage goes, I’m going to come out of this healthy and able to take care of myself and my kids.  I can be strong because I have God holding me up.  He has been amazing, He has sent so many earthly angels to help me.  God is good all the time.  He is taking care of me.  I have joy in my Savior.

My faith in Jesus Christ is a very important part of my life.  After He saved me, I spent so much time pouring through the Bible, praying, seeking Godly counsel, and trying to understand why God would want me to be so very miserable in my marriage.  I was determined to make it work.  I couldn’t walk out on my marriage because God hates divorce.  I’m made a commitment.  I’d said vows.  I took them very, very seriously.  No matter how my husband was acting and behaving, I was going to be the wife God called me to be.  I prayed and prayed that if God wanted me to stay in my marriage, He would show me that He did.  If God released me from my marriage, I prayed He would reveal that too.  

There were times that I told God I was leaving.  There were those times that I just didn’t think I could stand it one more minute.  I would pray and tell God that when Bubba left for work the next morning, I was going to pack and leave.  Time after time, God clearly showed me that it wasn’t time to go.  He clearly showed me that I needed to stay and continue to fight for my husband, for my marriage.  I knew, with absolute certainty, that if God was going to ever release me, He would make it so clear that I would never doubt that leaving was the right thing to do.  And with every fiber of my being, I believed that God would never release me because God hates divorce.  In the last two or three years of the marriage, I was fighting so hard for my marriage solely to please God.  I no longer loved Bubba – he’d effectively killed any feelings of love I had for him.  I chose to get up each and every day and show him love, to actively love him the way God called me to love him because I wanted to please God.  

God gave me a sound mind.  God gave me good judgment.  God saved me and then He saved me again by releasing me from the farce that my marriage had become.  

To read about the crazy-making, the gaslighting, was a revelation to me.  I think that was my first step to healing.  Seeing that gaslighting was a tactic that abusers used to keep their victims where they wanted them.  I have a lot more to say about gaslighting but it will be interspersed with other posts as I go along.  Bubba’s main tool was gaslighting so to tell it all in one post would be too long.  

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14 Comments

  1. silvermistyrain

    Wow, I can’t believe how much of what you are going through is like what I am going through. However, My husband is meaner (Not physically) but he just doesn’t give a crap about me at all. You have pointed out some things I didn’t know about, for instance the gaslighting… makes sense now why he says to me, “You never told me that…” or “I never said that.” I think I am going to try to read those books you mentioned… Lots of luck to you… I

    • Are you still being abused? If you are still in the relationship, I would highly recommend getting your own copy of WDHDT? and using a highlighter on it. It was only in seeing all the yellow appearing that the full magnitude of what I’d endured impacted me enough to seek health. However, please be careful bringing the book into your home where it could be discovered. Safety is key as abusers WILL escalate if they think their victim is thinking of leaving or actually leaves. You can contact your local domestic violence agency and they can help you prepare a safety plan. Since I was still in such denial, I didn’t have a safety plan in place and it made it all the harder when we had to flee that night.

      I understand what you mean when you say he doesn’t give a crap about you at all. He really doesn’t. An abuser’s life is centered around the abuser. His victim is there to make his life easier as it is all about him. I often asked Bubba why he hated me so much and he never had an answer for me. One does not spew the venom he did at someone one loves. It was a huge case of “I hate you….don’t leave me.”

      Please call your local domestic violence agency or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (www.thehotline.org) for help. Stay safe!

      • silvermistyrain

        It’s the same… on again off again… depending on how his day goes, I suppose… I don’t getg on my blog diary much, so I’m sorry that I just saw this reply…

        My husband would be thrilled if I did leave… he tells me to go all the time, and he means it… If I had to leave, I have places I could go, however, that puts the financial burden on my children…

        He is verbally abusive… no scars… only recordings that I make so I can prove to myself that I am not insane and that he did in fact say the things he did… just reassurance for me…

        I use my blog as a diary when I can get online and if I need to vent… no one reads it but I would love to find a group of other women that I could have discussions with who are going through the same thing…

        I’ve looked at websites that all seem so bubble gum and almost comical compared to what I hear and feel… I don’t think they are serious sites… so I vent away alone… feels better when I do though..

        Thanks for your comment… I have an escape plan… but I do want to get the book… I’m sure it would be completely yellow by the time I finished with it…

      • Check with your local domestic violence agency. Mine had a weekly support group. It helped tremendously to go each week and learn something new about how to heal from the garbage I’d been through. Maybe your agency would offer counseling also. I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for Liz.

      • silvermistyrain

        Thank you…

  2. Cantata

    6 months later, and I am still second guessing my decisions and opinions. Am I wrong to be hurt by this? Maybe I am overreacting. Most of the time, I am actually UNDERREACTING and other people look at me like I have 2 heads if I talk about it like a normal thing.

    • I’ve been out for over a year now and I’ll still catch myself wondering if it was that bad. Even now, as I’m writing, I keep thinking, “No one is going to read this blog because he doesn’t sound that bad. Maybe I did just over-react to the whole thing.” NO! We didn’t overreact. Yes, it really was that bad. And we’ve been so trained to minimize it and to believe that we’re the crazy ones that we continue to question and doubt, even when we absolutely know we are right. That is the nature of the beast. It is what kept us in bondage for so long. And it is why it is imperative to get the word out to others. We have to combat our abusers’ attitudes that it is all our fault. We have to combat their attitudes that we are at fault or crazy or making something out of nothing.

  3. Yes!!! Again!! *I* was made to feel like I was over reacting when I got upset about anything, or tried to make boundaries about what I would do in response to his behaviors. And, yes, most likely I was UNDER reacting. BUT then, one of his main accusations against me was that I was cold, emotionless and unfeeling….
    Thank you so much for this blog, there is something so cathartic in sharing experiences.

    • Any reaction is an over-reaction because we are not allowed to react at all. We are simply to accept. And yes, we learn to under-react because that is what is safest for us when we are living in the thick of it.

  4. Amanda

    I read my “Power of a Praying Wife” journal that I kept while I was trying to “fix” my marriage and I read that book over and over again thinking it was me and I was the problem. I re-read what I wrote back then and I pity the woman who wrote those entries, how niave and snowed she was. Asking God to make me a better wife and a better person for him. I laugh now. Nothing would have saved my marriage once I woke up and realized that this wasnt normal and that the problem didnt lie with me.

    • I read that too! I spent years trying to improve myself. It is so healing to be able to say, “It wasn’t me! I was a good wife. I am a good mother. The fault is not mine!”

  5. tryingtodogood

    Oh Hope! Reading these things is a God-send for me. I was afraid to even ask God to show me a way out. I am waiting for His answer-beyond the shadow of a doubt…

    • I begged God to release me from my marriage for the last 3 years of it. The Incident happened at just the right time. Realizing the fact of the rapes happened at just the right time. God fully released me from the marriage because it was never a marriage. When someone abuses, he breaks the marriage covenant. When someone lives in unrepentant abuse, there can be no marriage, no oneness. It is destroyed.

      It is ok to be done. It is ok to walk out. It is ok to protect yourself from abuse.

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