For a long time – too long – I believed this kind of nasty rhetoric. I no longer do, and I am now able to spot a Gaslighter at fifty paces, and take the appropriate evasive action!
I write this because I have come to see that I am vulnerable to these people – and this post will stand as protection and reminder if I ever, in the future, have that sense of wordless unease, those instinctive bad vibes, about another human being.
It is me saying, in effect, ‘This is the check list: If in doubt, use it – and use it fast!’
I hope this post might also be helpful to those reading it; that they might come to see, as I have, that we are not obliged to put up with Gaslighters; that we have power, too, no matter what they say – and that power includes our right to remove them from our lives!
If another human bullies me, and I show an angrily assertive response, that is called standing up for myself, not over-reacting. The same goes for setting out, and sticking to, my boundaries.
If I express sorrow, and weep, at a devastating situation, it is called grief and is not a sign that I am hysterical or insane (whatever that may mean!).
I want you, my readers, to look through every single line written on the above quote – and know this: Each of those sayings has been thrown at me, and many other people – not once, not twice, but hundreds, probably thousands, of times…
…and yet, despite that, my sense of reality is STRONG. I waver. I cry. I doubt. I lose my cool. I fear. But I know that I have not misunderstood or remembered things wrongly (certainly no more than anyone else does!); I know that I am neither crazy nor confused; I know that I am not over-reacting/stupidly sensitive – and that, when faced with abuse, I do not need to calm down, or even apologise, in order to allow that gratuitous emotional violence to continue.
I am posting this partly as a salutary reminder to myself – and partly as a warning to others. It is terribly easy to be sucked in to the mind games these people play: To become convinced, for example, that you are unable to take criticism because you try and fight the constant stream of undermining and ruthlessly cruel personal comments – interspersed with charm and flattery – that come your way; that you are over-reacting when you cry; that every attempt to hold firm to your own boundaries means that you do not love, care about or respect your Gaslighter.
I am setting out my stall because I do not want to be the board upon which the Gaslighter plays his/her games ever again. I will NOT put up with it!
Gaslighting is NOT a sign of concern or love; it is not in your best interests or designed to make you a better person – and, eventually, you will ask yourself, as I did, ‘Did I ever give this person permission to rape my soul in this twisted way?’
At which point it helps to say, ‘No, I bloody well did not!’ loudly, repeatedly and clearly – and to mean it!
What you will find with Gaslighters is constant projection – and almost no true self-awareness. It is all about how weak, misguided, emotionally labile, spiritually bereft and pathetic YOU are, never about them!
Empty vessels, they suckle upon the ‘breast’ of your insecurity!
I don’t know why they play this game. It strikes me as being dangerous, but very childish, not much more than a slightly more adult version of some of the vicious games bullying children play in primary school playgrounds up and down the land.
And maybe that is the clue: Gaslighters are stuck in a pre-teen stage of emotional development – and, no matter how intelligent and articulate they are, no matter how convincing their rhetoric, they have never got beyond that undermining and intimidating behaviour used to gain power and typically seen in eight-year-olds; they have never progressed further than the spiteful lies and insults most people grow out of. Fundamentally, they have never got out of seeing themselves as the centre of the universe, with all the unthinking entitlement that brings with it!
Their reaction, when found out or challenged in any way, rather bears out what I am saying: They tend to huff and puff and threaten and say the adult equivalent of, ‘I’m not going to be your friend anymore – and no one else will want you either…’
They never apologise. Instead, they sulk and make it clear that your reaction to their game constitutes over-reaction and probably a host of mental health issues!
Don’t give them the time of day!
With apologies to Lewis Carroll for the rhyme below:
‘Ware the Gaslighter, my son!
The games that bite, the words that twist:
Beware projection’s spear, and shun,
The blatant Narcissist…