I finally understand what it is to be gaslighted

Let them tell it, you are always overacting; you misintrepreted or misheard what they said; you’re crazy and/emotional; your feelings are irrelevant or just plain wrong.

Gaslighted.

This year, I have been challenging this notion that I don’t know my own damn mind. YOU SAID WHAT YOU SAID. I didn’t misinterpret a thing. My feelings are valid because they are mine–not to be confused with what you want me to feel. I can trust my own heart; I don’t need you to translate what I’m thinking into what works in your favor.

In regular situations in life, I have a very good handle on myself. I am calm, assertive, certain. And yet, when I look back over my romantic relationships, I have allowed myself to be consistently violated because my area of weakness–the achilles’s heel of my interactions–is my emotional state.

I like facts: data to mine, patterns to flesh out. I struggle with feelings–yours, mine, and theirs. My personality is intellectual by nature; I am an Aquarius on top of being a pure INTJ personality. My process is naturally removed from emotional input because that data to me is unreliable. So of course I am set up to be gaslighted in every emotionally based interaction.

I can only think of one partner who deliberately used this against me. He was kind-cruel in a way that could only be seen as calculated. Control was his MO. But that outlier aside, I can say with Holy Ghost assurance that every single one of the others (present company included) have engaged in manipulating me emotionally because it is simply an easy way to assert themselves in a disagreement. And the fact that I am emotionally unsure just makes it a win.

The revelation astounds me to no end. How I’ve walked through life basically giving over my emotional wellbeing to people who don’t affirm or comfort or support my emotional health but exploit it.

For the first time in my natural life, I sat in the incredulous anger of that understanding. Anger, because I am usually smart and intuitive about situations; incredulous, because I am usually quicker on the draw. How in the flames of hell did I go so long without recognizing this pattern of behavior? I know now it was because me being me, I have always been disconnected from my feelings except when I write.

In this new version of myself, I have begun to live inside my emotions, feeling them fully and moving through the process of completion. If I am feeling sad or heavy, I cry–straight up ugly bawl until the feeling is satisfied. If I am happy and joyful, I express it physically too-I dance and play and listen to happy music and laugh raucous hollers and guffaws. When I am exhausted, I sit with it. I let the tired flow through my body and lie on my bed of affliction without guilt or shame. When I am angry, I bang the feeling out, yelling and cussing and slamming and weeping. I live through every emotion instead of swallowing it. I cozy up to these feelings and test them all the way out short of hurting myself and others. And then I reflect on them: why did I feel that way? How can I do more or less of what got me there? Process, you know. Using my strengths as a person of reason and data to understand the part of me that I’ve cut off in the past.

So now I know my own heart. Well. So well that this last time I was in the midst of being gaslighted that I saw how the technique worked. The passive aggressiveness. The questioning of my interpretation of what had just happened. The emotional equivalent of an “a-ha” moment in maths. The victory of mastering something I have struggled with my WHOLE life overwhelmed the righteous indignation at being manipulated. I was legit not even angry–I was flabbergasted at the machinations of the gaslighting. I spent the night ruminating on my whole life cycle. I am certain that the person in question probably thought I was still angry and obsessing over his actions; however. In true Aquarius form, I was thinking about ME. Lolz. How I can use this new information to dominate myself and the world.

My advice to you is to know yourself well. What triggers each feeling and what controls your state of mind. If you can do that, you can reach a place where you determine the outcome of your emotional wellbeing and can say no matter what happens that it is well with your soul.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this. I am truly grateful for being able to come upon this writing. This sharing has been a great help in my own journey of ‘self-owning’. Every words you put down into this are simply relatable. The personal yet cerebral undertone to this makes it easier to swallow and digest for others’ usage.

    Thank you kindly.
    Thank you kindly.

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