Almost everyone has experienced the torture of gaslighting at least once in their lives. The crazy thing is that they might have missed it and ended up questioning their memories and actions, wondering if maybe the other person was right.
Maybe they were overthinking or reacting etc. but that's what gaslighting does to you. It's a terrible defense tactic that has been mastered by narcissists. They use this to weaken your defenses, make you question your sanity, and leave them looking like the good guy.
Understanding what gaslighting is helps you identify when you're a victim. It can just be your savior against the hands of abusive people. Romantic partners aren't the only ones that can gaslight you.
In fact, your friends and family have more access to this more than you know. There are lots of abusive relationships everywhere we look.
What Exactly Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a term used when a narcissist makes use of all emotional blackmail to win. It makes you question your sanity and question your situation. Most times, you let them off the hook. What did they possibly do wrong, right? Gaslighting is a tool that gives them control over your emotions.
It usually comes into play when you confront a narcissist about something they must have done. Or probably something they must have said. They'll do anything and everything in their power to fight back. This could include opening up old wounds, bringing others into the fight to support their actions, making you question if they really did it, or you imagined it.
How Do I Know I've Been A Victim of Gaslighting?
When I was gaslighted, I didn't exactly understand the meaning. I just knew I was mad about something someone did to me, but instead of apologizing, they spent the whole conversation justifying their actions. They made me question my thoughts and even the events that had unfolded. I went to bed every night thinking to myself, "maybe I made it up." It was crazy until someone present told me it very much happened.
Unfortunately, this is the case with a lot of people out there. They are in relationships (both romantic and platonic), where they are constantly being gaslighted. I can tell you one thing for certain, gaslighting never feels good. In fact, it makes you feel worse because you add overthinking to the list.
In the beginning, you feel you're right, and, in the end, you find yourself pleading and begging them. Then you feel bad for even bringing it up in the first place. They successfully shifted the blame to you and have absolutely no problem with it.
Here are a few ways to know you're being gaslighted:
You Start Out Upset (justifiably so) And End Up Apologizing
Have you ever been in a situation where someone hurts you, you get upset, but you apologize to them before the end of the conversation. You are apologizing to them? That's it right there. You're very much aware they did something wrong to you, but they never want to own up to it. They might even throw in the line "you're are making this up. It wasn't my intention".
Your Gaslighter may even try to make you seem too needy, and maybe it was your fault after all. What started as a way to express your feelings end with you apologizing. If you continue permitting this behavior, it might never stop and only get worse.
They Twist the Words Coming Out of Your Mouth
Narcissists wait for the words from your own mouth to give it a meaning that suits them. They prefer it when it seems like you're shooting yourself in the face. If you bring up a situation that has been troubling you, they make it seem like you're the one at fault.
Let's say they aren't spending enough time with you, and you bring that up. A narcissist would insist on the fact you're trying to isolate them from their friends. Now, this makes you sad because that's not what you wanted. You just needed a little more time together. Now you feel like a douche. You apologize. End of conversation. It should never have to be this way.
They Throw Your Past in Your Face
A narcissist wouldn't miss out on an opportunity to remind you of how you've hurt them in the past. In their own world, it justifies the pain they are causing you right now. So, when you call them out for something wrong, they throw it in your face.
Now the cycle repeats itself. You end up apologizing and wondering if maybe you do deserve it. But you should see how they never actually forgive and forget. You're better off without the relationship. No relationship should have you feeling terrible every day. The world isn't nice, and those relationships are supposed to be your safe place. When it becomes toxic, it's time to run.
They Become Intentionally Provocative
They push your buttons to say and act a certain way and then use it against you. A master at gaslighting is usually prepared for any word you say. That's their MO. And even when you want to leave them, they claim you're abandoning them. Or you never loved them from the beginning etc. That's just bait.
If you always come out of an argument mad at yourself for things you were certain of a few minutes ago, it's safe to say you're dealing with gaslighting.
They Don't Leave Out Your Insecurities
Your insecurities are the cherry at the top for them, and they would use it. Maybe you have abandonment issues or depression or anxiety. To justify their ego, they would let you know that's why you feel the way you are.
Gaslighting doesn't just happen. Narcissists study you and know where exactly to hit you. Whatever it takes to shift the blame and make you appear crazy, they are on board.