Reclaim Your Power
I felt confused about the relationship and which way to go with it, especially after all the amazing ways he had shown up for me.
I often wish I didn’t have to be so strong—and yet I am thankful I am.
2021 brought me a beautiful love story…and some intense ugliness that was mostly hidden from view. I began to think my dream of having a family might finally come true! And I learned the hard way what it means to be #gaslighted.
Gaslighting is a very subtle, often imperceptible, form of control and emotional manipulation that often results in the recipient doubting their perception of reality or even their sanity.It is a type of emotional abuse that can happen to anyone, especially in romantic relationships. Whether they are conscious of doing it or not, abusers gaslight their victims in order to maintain control in the relationship.
“It’s making someone seem or feel unstable, irrational and not credible, making them feel like what they’re seeing or experiencing isn’t real, that they’re making it up, that no one else will believe them,” according to Paige Sweet, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan who studies gaslighting in relationships and in the workplace.
This article helped me understand the definition of gaslighting:
Additionally the effects of gaslighting may make it even harder for the victim to leave an abusive relationship as they may not even realize it is happening. That was certainly the case for me.
I began to hide things that were going on in the relationship from my friends and family. Isolate. Doubt myself. To shoulder more responsibility than was mine and assume I was just hard to be in a relationship with because I have a brain injury. That I was overly sensitive because of my tbi and post concussive syndrome. I began to think I was just unable to adjust to the changes of living with someone again because of my cognitive fatigue, jumpy nervous system, and easy agitation. I could not put my finger on why I was unable to relax and get myself out of fight or flight mode. I blamed my past relationship hurts and thought they were coming back to haunt me. And as each day passed, I worked harder to remain neutral, not react, and to stay in my loving heart.
But the subtle control and manipulation I was experiencing was tearing down my self esteem, making me feel so confused, and increasing my concussion symptoms. During the day when I was home alone, I found myself daydreaming about being in my own space again. And at night, I lay awake while he slept, thinking and thinking and thinking. Trying desperately to make sense of each argument and my feelings. Going back and forth about whether I was happy or not. If I could adjust to my new home or if I needed to flee.
I felt confused a lot of the time, about the relationship and which way to go with it. Especially because we shared so many good times and he had been there for me in ways no man ever had before.
It was hard to see things clearly while standing in the middle of it.
I starting doubting myself and thinking I was being too emotional, or it was just the brain injury making it hard for me to adjust. Some things that were said to me made me doubt if I had remembered arguments correctly. Often, I accepted fault since I knew my memory had been affected with my last head injury.
I kept feeling like I just needed to try harder, react less, and not be so emotional.
- misunderstood and alone
- Feeling like you constantly have to back up your reasoning and views of things with an abundance of facts
- Sensing something is wrong, but feeling like you’re not able to “put your finger on it”
- Feeling the need to apologize (leading to over apologizing)
- Making excuses for other people’s actions (or rationalizing why they did something that hurt you)
- “You’re too sensitive”
- “You’re too emotional”
- “You’re making a big deal out of nothing,
- “You’re acting crazy”
- “I was joking! You take everything personally”
- “That never even happened.” “This is what happened…” or “this is what I said…”
- “You’re projecting”
This is a helpful article with more information on gaslighting in relationships:
One night while hanging lights on our freshly cut Christmas tree, a line was crossed that made me feel unsafe. In that moment, both shock and clarity coursed through me. I was able to see that this was NOT all about me. That my body had known for quite some time that things were off. That my brain and heart were in direct conflict, but I had to think clearly and make a change, no matter how much it hurt.
My 2021, and especially my holidays, looked nothing like I expected. Yes, I could share photos of an amazing Springtime trip to tulip fields in Portland, walks along the PNW coast in the summer, incredible sunsets from our campsite at the edge of the Grand Canyon, SUPing on remote mountain lakes surrounded by wildflowers, moving day when I packed up my home and made his mine, picking perfect pumpkins to carve from a patch in Boulder, and even cutting down our own Christmas tree after Thanksgiving. In memory of the end of another year, I could post these beautiful photos because I AM truly grateful that life gave me these experiences. Unfortunately, right now my heart is too tender to fully appreciate them without feeling a huge gaping hole.
My love story ended up being a demonstration–in the most difficult circumstances–of my willingness to love and value myself.
2021 was so full in so many ways and my optimism will not allow me to feel empty. However, 2022 HAS GOT TO BE the fresh start I so desperately deserve!
Gaslighting is a sneaky and difficult form of abuse to pinpoint and can be challenging to get away from. If you think you have been the victim of gaslighting—or just need help transitioning out of a relationship, or moving on after a breakup in a healthy way—contact me to book a relationship coaching session.
If you think you may be gaslighting others in your personal, professional or romantic relationships and would like help understanding why and how to change your patterns, book a session and together we will work to help you recognize, strategize, and heal this form of control.