Gaslighting and Gaslighter — Are you aware of these terms?
Well, a few years back I didn’t know when I lived with my ex-husband, a crude narcissist fellow.
Trust me, it’s extremely difficult for a normal person to understand and relate to a psychologically disturbed patient’s thought process. Being a Narcissist Survivor myself, I know how narcissists use gaslighting tools to ruin marriages, relationships and lives.
Whatever I write here is the knowledge I have acquired from my own life experiences about gaslighting in a relationship and how a gaslighter uses effective strategies and tools to gaslight their victim to rapture the health of a soulful relationship.
What is Gaslighting?
Let us first look at the Wikipedia definition:
Gaslighting is a form of toxic Psychological Manipulation technique where a person or a group tactfully and secretly sows the seeds of doubt and insanity in a targeted individual or group.
The person or group conducting the act of gaslighting is called the gaslighter.
Quite simple isn’t it?
The definition of gaslighting isn’t as simple as it seems to be. It's pretty challenging to recognise and understand the process of gaslighting. Being a part of emotional abuse, gaslighting in marriage or any relationship leaves the victim in grave danger with broken mental strength and poor ability to think or work logically.
How does a Galighter work and trap their victims without letting them know about it?
The process of Gaslighting is slow, secretive and at times unrecognizable.
Being an ardent fan of the Harry Potter stories, I somehow relate Gaslighters and narcissistic people to the dementors — the cruel dedicated guards of the prison in Azkaban — here the leader of the narcissistic warehouse where the target is kept imprisoned.
Just like the ugly dementors, Narcissists feed themselves by gaslighting their victims and sucking out the happiness gradually. The worst part is that the process is pretty slow and graceful and thus, difficult to identify until it’s too late.
By the time you understand, the hunters have successfully filled your soul with remorse, insanity, sadness, confusion, anxiety, depression, envy, suspicion and all sorts of negativity which satisfies their insecurity, arrogance and ego.
But that doesn’t mean it’s true or they can change your real nature. It’s a temporary illusion that the narcissistic hunter builds in the mind of their prey. Not losing your self-control and always knowing you are not what they project, can be a simple yet matured way to deal with such people.
Another solution to such behaviour is to set clear boundaries or loosen the level of influence they have in your life. The more you detach from them, this created illusion will vanish and you will understand that the problem is with them and not you.
However, here we have to remember that gaslighter’s strongest yet most vulnerable strength is their lack of empathy. So, even if you try to convey your pains to the abuser, they would just turn blind to your pain, enjoy the fact that you are suffering and finally manipulate your thoughts to play the victim themselves. So, don’t ever rely on them to understand.
Tools Gaslighters use on their victims:
It took me years to understand why my ex-husband always kept pushing me to break all ties with my parents, friends, relatives and colleagues. Only after years of emotional abuse and being gaslighted to the point of feeling extreme guilt did I read about their most effective tool — isolating their victims from anywhere they could get a tiny bit of support or comfort.
This is an incredibly effective measure to weaken your sanity. Once you lack proper support, they will engulf you with their lies, deception and misleading conversions. You will start thinking about the way they want you to think and feel. You will slowly move away from reality and believe in their imaginary world. Since you will not have your near ones close to you, there would not be anyone to rectify you and show your mistakes, you will easily get drawn to the narcissistic gaslighting trap.
So, whether you encounter gaslighting in a relationship or not, always remember to keep your loved and dear ones near you. Stay strong mentally, believe in yourself and defeat them in their own game.
It took me more than a year before I started reading and learning about the traits of narcissism. During the initial years, my ex-husband would insult me, shout at me, emotionally and verbally abuse me. Then when I would confront him, he would play the victim and blame the whole thing on a bad day, work stress, his anxious mother or something I have done wrong.
He always made me feel guilty and blamed me for everything. He managed to keep his own self clean and it pained me even more because I considered this to be his lack of understanding and immaturity. The feeling of loneliness and worthlessness overpowered my confidence and I fell into acute depression.
Gaslighters are potential manipulators and you can’t beat them at this. So, don’t try. But always keep your stand strong. Know when he is manipulating and don’t let it affect your confidence, self-esteem and worth.
· Confident Lying:
Manipulation and lies are perfect partners. Manipulation is impossible if you are not able to lie and hide your fault behind a stern face. Gaslighters are gifted with this quality to lie on your face without feeling the guilt. Remember they lack emotions and subsequently lying doesn’t make them flicker at all.
Trust is an essential component to build healthy relationships. But trusting a narcissist can lead you to nothing but a one-sided, traumatic and unhealthy relationship. Lying can come consciously or unconsciously, but just like a typical narc characteristic they actually believe their lies wholeheartedly.
Moreover, always know that since a narc always lies to maintain their fault-less and grandeur self, they consider everyone a liar. Narcissists and gaslighters don’t trust anyone and thus, they hardly have strong relationships in life.
· Domination and Control:
Every gaslighter longs for a sense of authority and power which veils their fragile ego and sense of inferiority. So, they always tend to become a strict and aggressive guardian who is teaching their novice children the rights and wrongs of life — though most part of their right is usually wrong.
You are more like possession for them and thus, domination and control over spouse, children and anyone dependant on them is their favourite chore.
Furthermore, from my own life experience, gaslighters are full of jealousy and curiosity which makes them try to control every aspect of your life — they might even control how what and when you sit, sleep, eat or even breathe.
Detachment is the only option that can help you keep yourself safe from such toxic domination. If you are not able to detach completely, at least keep a safe distance from such toxic people.
· Unmatched Words and Actions:
It is said that words are nothing if they don’t match your actions. Gaslighters would smartly tell you a lot of things that would change your thoughts and feelings about them but when it comes to action, they would end up doing the opposite or just nothing at all.
My ex-husband always promised me to change whenever I wanted to leave him or wanted me to do something for him. But once I gave in to his whims, the very next moment he would reject that he has said anything as that or I have just misunderstood him. I would keep wondering if I was making mistakes, misunderstanding him or just turning toxic and crazy myself.
The worst part was that all these times my partner actually felt a satanical pleasure for every moment of confusion I was facing.
Gaslighters are greatly gifted manipulators and enjoy the confusion their victims undergo. Never trust their words until you have watched their actions. It can potentially rapture your own mental stability and self-esteem.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that is difficult to detect. Just like other types of abuses, the victim is exposed to a lot of torturous and traumatic situations that can lead the victim to lose their sanity, confidence and self-worth and fall into depression, anxiety and other mental illness.
Gaslighting could just be the first step into emotional abuse. The abuser will use your vulnerable state to capture their targets into their abusive prisons forever. Don’t fall for the trap. Take the situation in your hands and step out of the abusive ambience.
Always remember, everyone deserves happiness but not at the cost of their own mental health.