A spin on what ‘gaslighting’ really is as far as it concerns the day to day interactions with a personality disordered Narcissist!
From My Book: From Charm to Harm and Everything else in Between with a Narcissist.
‘Gaslighting’ is VERY real and over time you are so managed down into believing these atrocities that are directed straight at your psyche that you can’t identify the real dynamic of this insidious aspect of abuse? The ‘gaslighting’ effect happens gradually and by the time you are so deep into this hideous manipulation, you allow it to define your reality. Consequently you are not the same confident and strong person that you used to be. In fact, your functioning self or your ego has been so compromised that you are no longer certain of your own reality. You are also desensitized or let’s say hypnotized to believe this new reality that something is very “off” with you because this person (the Narcissist) used some serious mind crippling games to turn everything they are, and what they are actually doing to you back around and onto you as being the defective person that THEY are. You accept this role in an attempt to return to that cohesive and loving relationship you once had with them just by the manner you attempt to process what the Narcissist is communicating and how they are acting. Pretty shrewd that this Narcissist has created a self-fulfilling prophecy that enables him/her to dump their atrocities onto and into you, punish you, and make you accept this negativity in a manner that actually ends up as defining and making you feel insane. They basically killed two birds with one stone by dumping their shame and blame onto/into you and then distorting your own vision of yourself, smearing your integrity to establish a safe getaway from exposure by disabling you to keep you silent. They are hoping that you never understand just how disordered they are so they are relying on the residual effects of their abuse keeping you silent and disabled for a long time! It is like they are numbing YOU and all of your senses! Remember this all started out with them saying they loved you – this was NOT love by any means.
A little more explanation to educate you. The process of ‘gaslighting’ happens in gradual stages and the stages are not always linear and do overlap at times, they reflect an array of very different emotional and psychological states of mind.
The first stage is disbelief when the first sign of ‘gaslighting’ occurs. You think of the ‘gaslighting’ interaction as a strange behavior or a CRAZY moment. During this first stage, things happen between you and your partner, boss, friend, or family member (the person ‘gaslighting’ you) as very odd or ‘off to you. You want things to work out, so more than likely you just explain this away or justify this behavior to yourself for a while. I recall the first time I was accused of having an affair. As serious as the accusation was, my Narcissist spewed out these allegations in such a manner that it was believable and I found myself having to explain my way out of a situation that absolutely did NOT have a shred of truth to it! Was this Narcissist confused, did someone say something that led them to believe this? Where did this come from? But I wanted to resolve this because this Narcissist was so emotional about this. It was purely ‘crazy making’ and managing me down, and probably this Narcissist projecting the reality of what they actually did to me. But that emotional bond, my integrity, and NORMAL reaction to fix this kicked in.
The second stage is defense where you start defending yourself against the ‘gaslighter’s’ manipulation. For example, you are unhappy about a situation or a statement they made, and you ask why this is happening. Instead of addressing the issue your abuser (the Narcissist) denies you the access to respond with a normal explanation and diverts the situation in another direction to keep managing you down. They may just silence you, leave for a few days and punish you. If it is a simpler negative statement that they throw out at you, they may say you are way too sensitive or overreacting to nothing at all! But it doesn’t solve or answer your real concerns, but, rather than leaving it at that or redirecting the conversation you start defending yourself by saying you are not that sensitive, stressed or overreacting to the situation. With the more intense arguments you sit and stew in silence and basically accept the punishment because the Narcissist is at the helm and driving this argument in this disastrous direction until they feel they have sufficiently punished you into acquiescing to their control tactic. It is easier now to let them go on so it doesn’t escalate into hours of this torment because it WILL get worse – nothing gets solves and it is just another layer of chaos that you store away! But, during this stage the conversation drives you so crazy because the ‘gaslighter’ diverts you away from reconciliation and puts BLAME onto you. This angers you, and then you start going over and over the situation in your mind with no closure and you are left invalidated and demeaned AND again BLAMED. These kinds of conversations start to characterize your relationship more and more. You can’t stand that your ‘gaslighter’ sees the situation like this and escalates everything into blame so you work even harder on trying to achieve cohesiveness just to prove that you are not overly sensitive, etc., etc. You are basically fighting to find your individualism that was taken away by the Narcissist. Eventually you will no longer be an individual because the Narcissist is defining you OR conditioning you into this role to make you feel worthless, blameworthy and even having issues concerning your mental health.
The next stage is heightened confusion and depression because you are losing yourself. By the time you get to this stage you are experiencing a sense of worthlessness and you can hardly recognize yourself anymore. Some of your own behaviors start to feel truly foreign to you. You feel more isolated from life and even cutting yourself off from friends and family. People may even start to express concern about how you are and in your own mind you feel like they are saying that you truly do have a problem but you don’t realize that you are closing yourself up in your own guarded world in response to the managing down from the ‘gaslighting’ Narcissist. It is like a well thought out plan as to how this Narcissist imprisoned you with their distorted words and actions and disabled you with their poison. You are essentially trying to change yourself to meet the needs of the Narcissist and it has become your reality now and it is traumatizing you!. Over time you will accept more and more of the blame in this relationship and believe that you are less than an adequate partner and in reality all you are doing is ‘serving’ their needs and THIS is their agenda. ‘Gaslighting’ works by making you emotionally and psychologically vulnerable and desensitized to accept the abuse as normal.
So as to the why this is important to know or basically understand. Knowledge is power and education is the key to that knowledge. By understanding the different components of this abuse you will find your way to closure with the knowledge that it WASN’T you. The ONLY way to break this cycle of abuse is with No/Minimal contact to end the chaos and crazy making and to gain clarity over the situation! Greg ❤