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Friday, December 19, 2014

Gaslighting, Systematic Deception

abusive spouse, narcissist, emotional abuse recovery
Unless you have been there, it's hard to imagine.
Who would deliberately unseat another person's sanity and grasp on reality? What sort of mind is capable of methodically building a false reality, and why?

When I first heard the term gaslighting it was like the last brick finally fell into seemed like the puzzle was finally complete. 

Gaslighting does not happen over night. It happens over time, in predictable and identifiable stages. Surely you are wondering how in the world you found yourself in an abusive situation...
You might recognize the steps:

The first stage is a false perfection. They need you so much and appreciate you. You become very emotionally invested because you are made to feel so special, so strong, appreciated.

The next step happens with minor lies and small bits of unusual behavior.
The behavior of the toxic person or system presents behavior that seems like small odd, anomalous moments that make no sense. You accept the odd event and you move on, wondering if, perhaps, you misunderstood or, maybe, you might be the odd one, the one who didn't get an obvious thing, or an unusual event that seems so out of place. Outbursts of violence or verbal abuse come unexpectedly. You decide that the relationship is great otherwise and decide to hang on. The explanations might be a bit peculiar, they might be unbelievable, but you want this to work out. You need it. You are willing to ignore the signs. Perhaps being alone doesn't appeal to you and you are desperate for a connection.

The toxic one now knows you can be manipulated. Their aberrant behavior was a small test; how much can they take? How much will they accept? How far can I push it? Did you drop your guard or act in a way inconsistent with good self-care? Passive-aggressive behavior comes in to play.

You change your behavior to avoid the outburst or to prevent the trigger of the anger of the toxic one. You walk on egg shells. Rather than recognize the abusive partner you feel as though you are doing something wrong.

From there on, it escalates.

It is possible to get OUT...the first step is knowing that you are in an abusive relationship, knowing that the relationship can never be the relationship that you want, that used to be...  You can try harder, do more, lower yourself more, but the relationship will never ever be what you had hoped it would be.  Truly knowing that is the beginning of recovery.

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