What is Gaslighting? Emotional Abuse
I’m talking about gaslighting and this is a term—learned this in Al-Anon. It’s when someone in your life is emotionally cutting you off or undermining you. It’s a slow erosion. It’s very confusing. It’s not like when someone hits you. You can feel that. Or if there’s a fly on the wall, you can see that. When there’s emotional undermining and verbal undermining it’s much trickier and more challenging.
Especially If you grew up in an insane or alcoholic environment, then a lot of times where you don’t know if you trust yourself or you’re overreacting. You don’t always have the best meters to gauge things with.
I was in a relationship with a guy and he would say things like: “You can’t do that. I’ll handle that. You’re just going to mess that up.”
If we got lost it was my fault. If the restaurant was bad it was my fault, even if he picked it. If the movie was bad it was my fault. It was this slow, slow erosion. He would say, “No one is going to love you like I love you.” Or he would say, “You smell after you work out.” And I’d think, “But aren’t you happy that I work out?”
I really hope that if anyone is in that situation, you will write to me because I can support you. It’s dangerous and tricky. It’s a slippery slope.
It’s Easier When They Hit You: Gaslighting is Subtle
I used to have a joke that goes, “It’s easier when they hit you.” And I don’t mean that literally, it’s just that I love to make fun of myself because comedy has helped me heal so much. I’m not encouraging hitting and staying if someone is hitting you. It’s never ever okay to hit another human being. But sometimes physical abuse can be more black and white, it’s more cut and dry. Verbal and emotional abuse is trickier and more of a way to mess with your head. It’s confusing. It all takes time and energy and love and support to heal from it.
Talk about it. Share it with somebody. It’s always great to go to a friend, someone who you really trust and who has earned the right to be trusted. “This happened last night, and am I overreacting?” It’s always good to get a couple of other opinions.
Know that you’re not alone. You don’t have to put up with this. If someone is gaslighting you, or trying to keep you small, or undermining you, then try to take space. And I’m not judging, because I have stayed way too long in many relationships that were not healthy for me.
If there’s anything I can do, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you. Please share on my blog or sign up for my newsletter to contact me.
You’re not alone. It’s affecting you more than you know, and you’re better than that. You deserve better and don’t have to put up with it.
Stay tuned because I’m going to keep talking about this, because that’s what I do. I talk about the tough topics that nobody wants to talk about. But that’s how we can change things. If we can stop addiction and sexual assault, then we can change the world. I truly and totally believe that. That’s why I’m on this planet. I should have been dead a million times, but I’m still here. So I’m going to keep talking about this stuff until we get it to zero.