Those who follow my blog may be familiar with the section ‘Bits of Psychology’. This post started out like that but soon it took its own course into my life story.
To say it like it is, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. It is a manipulation tactic to confuse others, make them question their own thoughts and the reality they live in. In this post I’ll dive into the subject while telling parts of my personal story. I was told for many years that I was the problem and that I was the crazy one. That besides verbal abuse, lack of boundaries, threats and beatings that I ‘deserved’.
One of the most insidious things about gaslighting is the denial of reality. Being denied what you have seen. Being denied what you have experienced and know to be true. It can make you feel like you are crazy. But you are not crazy. 
Where does the term ‘gaslighting’ come from?
In the 1940’s the movie ‘Gaslighting’ was released where a woman is being manipulated into thinking that she is bat crazy. The goal of her husband was to get her out of the way and to obtain the family jewels. He hides objects, flirts with the maid and accidentally flicks the gas powered lights in the house only to deny any of his doings.
‘It’s all in your head’
‘Don’t be crazy’
‘Don’t be so sensitive’
‘That never happened.’
How does it work?
Someone can tell you their opinion in such a convincing way that there is no questioning. They can also use their position to enhance the message.
Vigorous and unwavering denial is used when you try to question what has been thrown your way. This was the tactic that hurts me the most and does till this day. There is no reconciliation possible because of the strong denial of what has happened. Till this day I do question my own memory. Being away for a very long time from the situation itself, combined with therapy helps me to retrieve my own voice and my own truth. I will trust it into this post.
The erasure of the abuse was worse than the abuse. 
Lying by omission. I was never told the whole story of how things played out. When I asked directly I didn’t get an answer but was told that I was asking the wrong questions. This also feels like you’re totally granted a wish, you need to be deserving of the truth, even in regards to your own life and because you’re simply not, it will not be given to you. I wanted to know two things, first why there was no contact possible with my father and the second was if there was a history of (mental) illness in my family. Quite basic and reasonable questions no? In my opinion they are legit.
Things are done or said very subtle. Things can be so small that you have a gut feeling that something is the matter but you can’t define it properly. Because of this subtleness you can’t call the person out without getting involved into a huge fight where you become the instigator and the true matter is lost since the beginning.
But because they often can’t find any clear, direct, objective evidence that the other person is merely trying to disadvantage them, they start doubting and questioning themselves. 
What I can tell – after the facts – is that I knew that things weren’t as they were presented to me but there were so many ‘facts’ and things that while I was busy processing one statement I was 10 behind as so to speak.
When I was in college, I went to help out at my mom’s work with a friend of mine. A friend that helped my mother out, a friend that I merely knew from the café I was working at at the time. When we left, he said: ‘She treats you incredibly harsh and she’s very strict’. Something started to dawn on me. If this boy, that knew me from a distance noticed in one meeting that something is off key, something must be true in what he is saying. He had no motif to exaggerate nor to lie. I felt in my gut that he was right and that something was wrong. I took me years, bouts of suicidal ideation and anxiety to finally cut the cord. But not after pleading for a more equal position, pleading to not be perceived as the mute child anymore or the teenager with a temper. Pleading for counseling, therapy, anything. All that was left, was to retract myself from that connection, hopeful that that could bring some change. It never did. 12 years later, there is no change.
With gaslighting, so many doubt is installed into your mind that you no longer trust yourself and therefore you find yourself under the power and control of someone else. I didn’t know my story and I didn’t know who I truly was. I survived by shielding myself as much as possible against this abuse that I never truly developed a stable ‘core’ of this is ‘me’. The pieces of the puzzle that I forced to create a whole person fell apart due to depression. In that light I see my illness as something very positive – but harsh! – that is forcing me to make my own decisions and to live my own life.
Thank you for reading so far. I am also thanking myself for writing this down. As my mind is so used to deny this part of my past, I am proud that I have taken some stand by trusting my words onto ‘paper’. It is and will remain my rightful truth and will always be my story. Approaching my forties I’m not backing down anymore.
If this posts comes across as not well put together, it may be the effects of abuse. It still messes with my head and I struggle to find order in those things. But I’m not quitting and tomorrow I’ll post on how to deal with gaslighting. Hope to see you back!
Resources, further reads and credits.
 Wikipedia page about the movie ‘Gaslight‘
 Video on YouTube about gaslighting.
 Online article from counsellingresource.com on gaslighting.
 Online article from The Guardian on gaslighting.
 Online article on thehotline.org ‘What is gaslighting?‘
Picture from CleanPNG.com