First off, I am a survivor and not a victim. I say that out loud to myself from time to time, because I find it helps me regain my power and control over the situation that I found myself in a few years ago (sorry I cannot give a specific timeline due to circumstance outside of my control). Why did it take me so long to come out and write about it? Because, it was difficult for me to put a label on it, and publicly address what happened to me, especially as, until recently, many of the people I considered extended family read my blog and knew this man. The silly thing is, the fear of not writing this post, is a key reason why I need to. I need to break any and all control that my former mentor, and confident has/had over me, and I need to do it from a place of serenity and autonomy, and try not to let the fear of him getting upset and isolating me any further (I still am keeping his full identity anonymous as this is about healing and not about starting a witch hunt). This is my experience as I am Breaking free from gaslighting.
What is Gaslighting?
When I first read about the term gaslighting, I dismissed it as the latest buzzword. A trend to label behaviour that was most likely a form of abuse and required a person to just get out of the situation. For the most part, I dismiss labels, and by doing that I feel that I can be more fluid and not allow them to define or trap me. However, as I recently discovered, I needed this term in my life, to come to full terms with what was happening to me, and just how bad things were about to get. If you want a fuller description of gaslighting, please check out this link, but for the context of this post it is someone who never apologizes without making you feel guilty. It is someone who makes you feel isolated and that everything wrong is your fault, and claims to love you unconditionally with caveats that are completely unachievable. They lie repeatedly, refuse to take any personal responsibility, and what for me was even worse, they tell everyone that you are the crazy one. Honestly, there were times that the magnitude of how cruel the whole situation was, I could barely catch my breath. And being isolated from all my family friends, and not realizing how deep the isolation actually went, I would naively turn to them for help and end up making an even bigger hole for myself, by proving that I was the crazy one who was off kilter.
All I can say, is that even though he tried numerous times to turn my partner against me, and drive a wedge between us, my partner has the most incredible B.S. detector I have ever met and he called him out for exactly what he was, and what he was doing to me. Without my partner, I may have crumbled and gone crawling back to this man because I honestly was left with, a feeling of complete nothingness.
Where Am I Now?
While I still feel the weight from time to time of this person’s years of abuse, and occasionally find myself asking if I am stupid or weak, I have far more good days than bad. I have incredible friends who ensure I do not feel alone, and are happy just to sit in silence sipping a beer with me if I need to, sometimes it’s not enough. There are moments, that I dream about him, and honestly wake up believing that things are back to how I idealized they were when I was younger. I feel this incredible calm, that maybe this nightmare I have lived is over, and I am free. I go back and forth between fantasy and reality, sometimes worried that I will never know the truth. I am not fully free of this man, and for my mental sanity, I have to just accept that for the time being and continue to find peace in what I can control. And that, is how I move forward with my life, and how I can forgive myself for living so long with the mental hell of my past.
And please, out of respect for me, and my families privacy as I continue to work through this difficult time, do not guess who this person is, or try and reach out to that individual. There is zero good that can come from that. And I have learned that the only person that I can control is myself. I am not looking for apologies, answers, or even acknowledgment. I am simply taking care of my own mental health by writing this very painful post out, and continuing to heal with purpose.
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