10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Gaslighting before it happened to me

10 Things I Wish I'd Known About Gaslighting before it happened to me

It becomes difficult, after a while, to identify why it is that you feel so alone and hollow.

In another type of gaslighting, the gaslighter is always transformed into the victim. Whenever you bring up a problem, you find yourself apologizing by the end of the conversation.

For me, these were the worst exchanges.

Every gaslighter/gaslightee relationship is different, but for me, there was a very specific pattern. I would say something to him. He would have a very strong emotional reaction to it, far above what I would have anticipated. I would backtrack to try to figure out what I had said and how to make it better.

He would accuse me of inconsistency when I backtracked.

I would try to explain that I was adjusting to try to communicate best with him because clearly I was failing.

He would tell me that my inconsistency implied that I was lying.

I would say, “No, no, I know I’m not lying. Maybe I just can’t remember it right.”

“It seems I can’t trust your memory,” he would say.

We would never return to the original issue. I usually ended up crying hysterically.

4. It’s Normal Not to Be Able to Remember What Happened

This, more than anything, is something I wish I had known.

It was a secret I kept, that fed my self-doubt and guilt for years after I left. I used to blackout. I remember conversations where I would start standing in the kitchen and end up in a ball on the floor.

Just days after it happened, I wouldn’t be able to remember what happened in the time in between. I wouldn’t even be able to remember what the conversation was about. My abuser accused me of abuse while I was with him – and then publicly for years after.

It’s one of the reasons I left  –  because I couldn’t figure out what I was doing or how to fix it, and I couldn’t bear the thought that I might be abusive to someone. I’ve ripped my memories apart, trying to figure out what it was that he experienced. What it was that I did.

And I have found some things in me that needed to change, as all people who look deeply at their abusive tendencies will find. But I couldn’t, in my own memory, find what it was that he saw in me.

I could not find the narcissist. I could not find a vicious manipulator. I could not find the home wrecker. But I had black spots in my memory. Completely black. And I wondered ,  Is that when it happened? Is that when I abused him?

Losing spots in your memory makes it very plausible when someone tells you that they cannot trust your memory. It makes it very plausible when they tell you that you are abusive.

But it’s normal to lose your memory when you’re being gaslighted. In fact, it is one of the signs that you should look for. It’s a good sign that it might be time to leave.

5. There Are Distinct Stages (And These Stages Can Progress After the Relationship Is Over)

A gaslighter doesn’t simply need to be right. They also need you to believe that they are right.

In stage one, you know that they’re being ridiculous, but you argue anyways.

You argue for hours, without resolution. You argue over things that shouldn’t be up for debate  – your feelings, your opinions, your experience of the world.

You argue because you need to be right, you need to be understood, or you need to get their approval.

In stage one, you still believe yourself, but you also unwittingly put that belief up for debate.

In stage two, you consider your gaslighter’s point of view first and try desperately to get them to see your point of view as well.

You continue to engage because you’re afraid of what their perspective of you says about you.

21 thoughts on “10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Gaslighting before it happened to me”

  1. I could relate to so much in this article. I’m exiting an abusive marriage where my wife gaslit me for years. Her favorite method was to accuse me of gaslighting, making me question my own reality and then make me feel terrible for bringing up what I was upset about.

  2. Thank you! I knew I’d read this somewhere else first. Great piece, and shame on this site for reposting it without credit.

  3. Wow – I recently had a conversation with my mother that went something like this:

    Me:So what you are saying is that you know my feelings and my reasons for doing things better than I do? And even if I do not agree with the way you are presenting my story that is okay because you know it better than I do?

    Her: Yes, I have spent thirty years working on myself to be as wonderful as I am, and I have this knowledge and understanding of people – I know why they are the way they are and why they do things.

    Me: Well I do not agree with the way you are presenting my reality – it is far from what is actually happening.

    Her: Yes dear. (said in tone that implies she is humouring me and will continue to do what she describes as going into my biofield , believing that she is actually finding out information about me – even though I have told her she can’t do that without permission and I certainly haven’t given it).

  4. One of the best pieces I’ve read written on this subject ! Lived it and had no idea of it until the damage had set in and eventually turned to physical abuse. Thankyou so much for sharing this, I wish I had of understood it a few years ago. I still cant comprehend why anyone would intentionally want to do this to another person. It’s really sickening.

  5. If this article pertains to you and u will know if it does Please look into Narcissistic behavior and abuse the mental and emotional toll this takes on you is immense! Abuse does not only mean getting physically abused. This behavior does not happen over night it happens in time and u stay because u remember that man u fell in love with that was so sincere and loving he was everything your heart desired your prince charming! Im sorry but that mask fell off and that “act” that pulled u in did the job you will never see those traits again no matter how long u wait and try to fix things. These people do not feel inside as we do remember the person u fell in love with was a fraud. Think of them as vampires the will suck the life out of u and continue as long as u stay and u will lose yourself you will be shocked by this behavior “where did he go” Jeckyl and Hyde” he is so mean and cruel he makes you believe its YOU and your crazy! They have no sympothy or empathy they lie constantly they cheat they are very sneaky they hide things from you like there possessions things that u could care less about they now dont trust u and not because u did ANYTHING when u try to commuicate its always a debate you become weak from trying over and over you are lonely and everything is your fault. they eve smear your name to anyone who will listen you become angry that u invested all this time u blame yourself they make a ton of broken promises they hide money from u they believe all is THERES only u are there gas and they will take as long as u allow the ONLY way to save yourself and your life is to Leave and must have NO CONTACT they will try to get u back convince u they changed its bullshit NO CONTACT they never care about your needs they dont care how u feel. If any of this sounds familiar all i am asking is that u research Narcisisst and I hope u will get out. I am a victim of this it took me 9 years and i left 7 times. My 7th was my last i slowly am regaining my life YOU CAN YOU DONT NEED HIM there is help. I am still a work in progress i finally am finding myself again i did not like the person i was around him i became isolated financially controlled the more i gave the more he took and neglected me in every aspect. Hope this helps i am just paying this forward…

  6. My ex-husband was a womanizer. He always chose my closest friends and they usually went along with the gaslighting. When I would confront him with his cheating, he would say, "You are so suspicious. I am not cheating on you. You are so possessive." When I would ask his latest lady love, she would say, " Tim needs his space. You are so possessive." He would bring them home. That is confusing. He couldn't be that brazen. After a while, you doubt everything. I lost all confidence in myself.

    Finally x in marriage counseling, after we split into individual counseling, I found a list he had made for the counselor of all of his affairs. I had been right! About everything and everyone. It was a tremendous relief. But the stress had damaged me. I don't trust anyone.

  7. Great article and thanks so much for writing it. It really helps me put things into perspective and it explains a lot of what I've experienced with my relationship with my wife and how i feel about myself and about life. I feel like I've almost lost myself and I'm quite depressed and I want to leave, but i can't break all contact because of my 21 month old son. What do you suggest in this situation?

  8. Of course it's easier to stay with him.But what will your daughter think about you? Will he portray you as weak, or unintelligent? When he feels he is losing control of his daughter as she grows and spends more time at school and friends he will want to gas light a vulnerable child or teen some day to keep control.. Sure you can chose for yourself. But you're choosing for her as well.

  9. Take good care of yourself and your little one. Be as kind and compassionate as you can to your husband without losing yourself. Stay true to you always though you may not be able to get the respect and honesty you want in your relationship with him. He's on his own journey and it's not your job to fix him or shove a mirror in his face. His behavior has to come to light for him in a way he can process it and that won't mean you having to incur further or worsened abuse. Be good to yourself first and then be good to him. If he thinks you're judging him as abusive, more than likely the behavior will just get worse. For some reason gaslighters have an insecurity they can't face, and they want control over their reality and they seek to do that through control. If you know what his insecurity is, take that into consideration and try to have empathy and compassion for that. It's unfortunate that he's coping with it by gaslighting you but somewhere inside is a need that he fears won't be met and his strategy for handling it isn't healthy. Be careful, not "walk on eggshells" careful but just take it easy. Men I think have a much harder time dealing with insecurities becuase of how much pressure they feel to "be a man." If you let him gently know that you love him for who he is maybe over time he may relax and feel comfortable addressing his fears himself or with you. Some people, and I think men especially, need a baby soft touch in order to address their fears and insecurities. I've made so many mistakes and been too confrontational with gaslighters and gotten very hurt, so I hope what I've learned is helpful in some way. As scary and difficult as it is to deal with this behavior, staying kind, curious, and compassionate would've gotten me much better results, I think. Good luck to you!!

  10. My husband and I have been together for 15 years. Half of my life. Now we have a 2 month old child. I love my husband but I know this hurts our relationship deeply. My mother is a gaslighter and it is what I'm used to. I am fully aware and have been aware that my husband had been gaslighting me for some time but I have no desire to leave him.

    I feel like I can transcend it somehow. At first our relationship was volatile but over time I have developed self confidence within myself and I am a stronger person now that I have found a spiritual path, much to my husband's dismay.

    I would like some opinions on my situation but just be aware that any

    suggestion to "leave now" will not result in me leaving now.

    I'm looking for more in depth and intellectual forms of advice. Thank you for your energy in reading my post. <3

    Thank you.

    1. How about nursing the love of your life, yet while you are nursing them after their operation they are stealing your valuables, and yet deny it when they are the only one with you! Lowest of lows!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top