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

7. You Know What Your Truth Is – You Always Have, and You Always Will

Your gaslighter doesn’t see you.

You are a shadow standing to the side, trying not to attract attention, while they shower their image of you with love and attention. And no matter how much your mind is in knots, you know this to be true.

You know the space you occupy, even if you hate yourself for it. If you look back, if you look inside, you will see that you always knew that something was wrong.

It may feel like you lost your core. But it was always there.

The alarm system always worked. You just learned to stop listening to it. You have not lost as much as you think.

8. The End Game Is Not Confrontation, It’s Non-Engagement

A really common trope I see in movies and literature is the survivor who confronts their abuser. They confront them years later, and in that moment show themselves and their abuser that they don’t have to be afraid anymore.

I crave that catharsis because I am afraid. But I can never address that fear through confrontation. I can only address it by confidence in my ability to set and enforce my own boundaries.

When you engage in any way, you tell your gaslighter and yourself that your reality is up for debate.

Your reality is not up for debate.

If you’re like me, you’ve had a million conversations in your head, and it’s those conversations that are killing you. Your reality is not up for debate. You don’t have to rehearse for a conversation that you will never have.

It’s ridiculous when someone tries to tell you who you are, what you feel, what you think, what you intended, or what you experienced. When it happens, you should be angry, puzzled, or maybe even concerned for them.

You might stop, stunned, and ask, “What would make you think that you could know what’s inside of me? Are you okay?”

Instead, many of us will find ourselves trying to reach understanding.

No, that’s not what happened, that’s not what I felt, that’s not what I feel!

And this is a reasonable response – to a point. But if the goal of the conversation is to exchange power, and not to exchange understanding, you will never, ever, ever win.

I would like to propose that one solution to feeling less susceptible to gaslighting is to learn how to identify the objective of a conversation.

A conversation with the purpose of mutuality should not make you feel afraid, ashamed, disoriented, or confused.

You don’t have to figure out what it is they’re doing, you only have to figure out what you are feeling. You only have to know when mutuality is no longer the objective and learn how to stop engaging when that happens.

Try:

  • “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”
  • “I don’t like how I feel right now, and I want to finish this conversation later (or never).”
  • “What?”
  • “You’re trying to tell me what my experience is, and I’m not okay with that.”
  • “Don’t contact me again.”

Communicate, communicate, communicate,” right? “You can solve anything with enough communication.”

That might be a mantra, but it’s wrong.

You can solve a lot of things with communication, so long as the objective of both people is understanding. But the minute someone tries to replace your experience, it’s time to stop communicating, at least on that subject.

9. You Must Confront the Threat

Every gaslighting exchange exists under the shroud of some kind of threat. For my relationship, the threat started out as disapproval, then it was the relationship that was threatened, and eventually, the threat escalated to his own life.

I had no ability to confront or resist the gaslighting until one by one, I confronted the fears that these threats produced in me.

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