Almost everyone has experienced some form of manipulation. Well, not necessarily directly, but maybe you've witnessed abuse on a friend or someone at work in a way you can't put your finger on.
What can you do to recover from a gaslighting relationship? Moreover, how can you help your friend or loved one recover from gaslighting?
Recovering from a gaslighting relationship can be hard and confusing. However, below are six steps that guarantee recovery:
1. Take a Break
For you to stop the abuse, you need to flee from your abuser. Therefore, get as far as possible from the gaslighter: even though it’s a family member. Similarly, don't maintain any contact with your abuser; to not only prevent further manipulation but to give you space and time to work on your perception and feelings.
Also, don’t be surprised if he tries to contact your family and friends to get you back. He probably just wants to "fix" his wounded narcissistic ego. The relationship can only get worse from there on out.
Remember, as long as you’re in contact with the gaslighter, you're susceptible to manipulation. Above all, leaving a gaslighting relationship can be dangerous. Consequently, take some precautions, and inform law enforcement if necessary to remain safe.
If you have children with the abuser, set boundaries and arrange ways in which you’ll co-parent.
2. Feel your Emotions
When you leave a gaslighting relationship, you’re sure to have mixed feelings of relief, anger, fear, and frustration. It might also take some time to admit to yourself that the person you probably loved and cared for the most hurt you in the worst way.
Try writing down all your emotions in a journal. To get feelings, thoughts, and emotions out of your mind and prevent you from over-analyzing. Subsequently, you’ll slowly begin to let go of the pain and hurt caused by your abuser.
Moreover, practice meditation and deep breathing to reduce stress and anxiety.
Importantly, don't take revenge. You may want to key your abuser's car or burn his clothes-with good reason. However, this will only give him a chance to "prove" that you're crazy.
3. Get Support
Talking relieves a lot of baggage. Try talking to someone who will validate and collaborate with your perception of reality and listen without judgment—such as a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or religious counselor.
A therapist can help you address stress, depression, and anxiety that couples with gaslighting. And similarly, aid a long way in dealing with the breakup; in terms of treatment options and coping strategies.
Besides, you can meet people who have had similar experiences by joining a support group. Support groups are also available online if you’re not sure where to start.
4. Take Time
You’ve just come to a painful realization that your romantic relationship was just a sham; this is bound to bring up many uncertainties. Therefore, take time to learn who you are, from your likes and dislikes to your goals and ambitions.
Firstly, make a list of things to do. That is, create a routine and stick to it. This way, you stay busy and discover what your preferences are, and forget what's-his-name.
Also, learn from your gaslighting relationship. It’ll be uncomfortable. However, the only way you can progress is by learning from your experience. As a result, you will undoubtedly be able to avoid gaslighters in the future.
5. Reaffirm your Value
Gaslighters don't start a relationship with their abusive nature. The initial stages of the relationship are usually total bliss. He'll seem like a pretty awesome guy, caring and perhaps too loving. However, this is just a way to make you trust him and let your guard down.
Afterward, he’ll shed his skin slowly without your realization. That’s why most gaslighting victims blame themselves for their abuser’s behavior. Since the relationship was "great" initially and you can't help but think you did something wrong to jeopardize it.
However, it would be best if you didn't blame yourself. And most importantly, you need to understand that no one is ever good enough for a gaslighter. Feeling powerful at the expense of others is how they're wired. You're just a victim.
6. Self Care
Gaslighters are very controlling skillful manipulators. Similarly, they manipulate their victims into thinking that what they want or love doing is “less than.”
Importantly, ensure that you do something you love and enjoy each day. For instance, go swimming, ride a bike, go hiking, paint, binge-watch your favorite comedy or movies, cook your favorite meals, or bake some cupcakes and send them to your mom.
In short, do what makes you happy. You deserve it. You've been through more than enough emotional battering.
Also, it's reasonable to lack sleep post-breakup. Even people who have "normal" breakups suffer the same. However, you need to consult a doctor if you’re experiencing difficulty sleeping.
Recovering from a gaslighting relationship is a struggle. You can only go so far without breaking down. However, healing is possible: you only need to take the bull by the horns.
Moreover, learn from your gaslighting experience. It'll make it easier for you to trust your judgment. And most importantly, love again: most especially yourself.