I’m quite honestly unsure of how to even begin describing this. As soon as I even think about it, my anxiety creeps up my throat and begins to strangle me.
If you’ve never heard the term “gas-lighting”, the best way I can explain it is to say that this is when a manipulative person needles their way in to the “victims” life in some way and will literally make them so angry or anxious that the victim ends up losing it and reacting to what is being done to them.
The manipulator now pulls back, puts their perfect person face back on for the world to see and now will use the victim “acting crazy” as proof that they are in fact unstable or crazy. This only raises the manipulator up higher in most people’s eyes and “proves” that their target is a nut-job that can’t be trusted.
I look back at my life and see that my mother did this my whole life and still continues to do it to this day. Even though it has been 11 years since we last spoke, she is still able to tell others about how crazy I am, what a liar I can be, how uncaring and thoughtless I can be and how fake I am. She tells so many people that eventually her words get back to me, I react without even meaning to (I am human and can only keep a stone face for so many years before losing it) and then she has me in her trap. I end up looking like an awful person while she sits back and enjoys the show.
I know for certain that I have many readers who have this happen now and in their pasts. It is incredibly painful when anyone does this to you but it is beyond painful when it is a parent or loved one. These people who should be loving and caring towards us are the people that do us the most harm and it is very hard to wrap our minds around it. I think I have said “Why can’t she just leave me alone?” at least a thousand times in therapy and there is no answer other than she is enjoying the “game”.
Trust me… I have the ability to ignore and refuse her baiting me for YEARS. I don’t react to anything she says, I don’t give her the pleasure of watching me trying to defend myself or continue her stories but then she does something like talking my children in to thinking I am horrible to them (pliable, young adult (18/20) year old minds who already have the normal love/hate relationship with their parents that most upper teens that age have going on). She got them to the point where they won’t even speak to me and they moved out immediately after a visit with her…
Needless to say? I lost it! I actually wanted to go down and kill her. I became a homicidal, suicidal freak with nothing but revenge and hatred on my mind.
Anyone who knows me knows that this is NOT who I am.
I’ve watched the news before and seen people say “I just snapped”. I will be honest and felt that was bullcrap. No one “just snaps”. Then I did. I found out first hand that you can push normally kind and loving people to the brink of insanity and they will do things that they would NEVER even think of before then.
Side note… I am beyond blessed with friends and family who kept me safe during that time and made sure I was never out of their sight or contact (phone calls, emails, text messages, craft days) until my fury subsided and was replaced with less life altering thoughts.
I felt terrified for a long time after that happened. I felt that I could no longer trust myself not to do something crazy. If I am fair to myself? She has already “killed” me (my mind) a thousand times over. It isn’t like most people wouldn’t understand why I had done it BUT I am not that person. I am not dangerous, hate-filled, homicidal, cruel or a vengeful person and I do not wish to ever be that person. It scared me for a LONG time that I could “go there” even when pushed right over the edge.
I trust myself again now. Months have passed and I have discussed this at length in therapy. I also trust my husband and my friends to come to my aid if anything like this was to happen again.
That said? This is the best example of gas-lighting I have to share. Maybe others haven’t become murderous with rage but I am sure many have felt it.
Then it is us that look like the crazy ones.
My mother never went to therapy to work through this. She did not become homicidal or suicidal during it. She sat at her home and trimmed her perfectly manicured gardens, had tea and went on with her life while gleefully watching me explode.
Perhaps the lesson I can share here is that people can be “gas-lit” at any time by husbands, siblings, parents, teachers or any other person who has a manipulative mind and a mean spirit.
When we see someone totally over-reacting to a supposedly “simple” situation, perhaps we can take a step back and wonder what else has gone on before this seemingly “crazy” over-reaction.
Even the strongest human mind can be broken or shattered at times and these people need compassion and care far more than they need to be judged. I hope to never judge.
If you can relate to this blog? I am so very sorry for the pain it caused. I know there is almost nothing worse.