Have you ever been in a position where you don’t believe yourself? In a situation where you question your own thoughts?
Have you ever caught yourself doubting your own sanity? Caught yourself wondering whether you’re seeing things right or if you’re imagining things?
I really hope you haven’t. Because I have and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Reading this, you must think that I’ve been fighting some mental issues. After all, that’s what it sounds like at first, doesn’t it?
Well, the truth is that I eventually started having trouble with my mental health. However, that wasn’t my initial problem.
The truth is that I was gaslighted for years. Of course, I wasn’t aware of this at first, otherwise I would have probably escaped sooner.
You see, my gaslighter didn’t start his emotional abuse at maximum intensity right from the beginning. In fact, these kinds of toxic men have a way of getting under your skin.
When I first met my abuser, he appeared too good to be true. And silly me believed in all of his false pretenses.
I trusted all of his empty promises – probably because I wanted them to be true. Besides, opening up to him was a piece of cake.
He was the nicest guy I’d ever met. He appeared to be the realization of all of my wildest dreams and I was certain he was the man I would spend the rest of my life with.
However, all of that was the mask of a good guy. It was nothing but a prequel to years of manipulation and playing with my mind.
It was nothing but a prequel to my hell on earth.
You see, it started with little things. Every time we fought, he would do his best to convince me that I’d misinterpreted something or that I was overreacting.
He kept saying I was too sensitive and accused me of misunderstanding him.
As time went by, he started twisting events completely. He didn’t actually lie but instead used half-truths and twisted them to suit him.
At that time, I didn’t even know what gaslighting was. I thought that the two of us just had different views of the truth.
I didn’t think of him as a bad person for doing all of this either. I just figured that every coin has two sides and that he was simply trying to tell his part of the story.
However, before I knew it, I’d been brainwashed. Soon enough, I trusted him more than I trusted my own eyes and ears.
According to this man, I was the crazy one. I was a lunatic who kept exaggerating and making things up.
According to him, I was good for nothing while he was the smarter one and the one who always knew the truth.
So after a while, I started questioning my own reality. He used different tactics to confuse me and to overwhelm me with self-doubt.
The worst parts were when he kept denying the things I knew had happened. After all, I was one of the protagonists of those events.
However, despite that, he would look me straight in the eyes and act like I was dreaming everything. Every time I mentioned some of his toxic actions, he convinced me that I’d got it all wrong.
It was actually what hurt me the most. Imagine someone breaking your heart and later on, refusing to acknowledge your pain and not take any responsibility for his actions.
To someone who hasn’t had this experience, all of this probably sounds impossible. You must be thinking: “How can someone change your memory and distort your picture of reality?”
Well, let me tell you that it is, in fact, more than possible. It doesn’t happen overnight but when your loved one puts all of his efforts into manipulating you, eventually he succeeds in doing so.
When your loved one makes it his priority to systematically destroy your mental health and to constantly brainwash you, eventually you give up the fight and you fall into his trap.
This is exactly what I did: I started believing him as it was the only way to protect myself. Yes, I could have left him in theory.
However, in practice, that was utterly impossible. This man made me feel so powerless and made me so emotionally dependent on him that I didn’t see a way out.
In fact, acceptance became my defense mechanism. It became easier for me to believe that he was always right than to fight with him and with myself.
You must be wondering how I got away from all of this. Clearly I did save myself from him, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing all of this and I wouldn’t be aware that I had been a victim of gaslighting.
Well, it took me a lot more time to save myself than I like to admit. Luckily, I had my loved ones next to me.
I had people who gave me confirmation. Validation that I wasn’t crazy and that showed me that my toxic ex’s denials can’t magically erase the past.
After a long struggle, I managed to get out of it alive. I’m changed forever but most importantly, I’m alive.
No, I’m not talking about the struggles I had with this man. I’m talking about my inner struggles.
I pray you never find yourself in a situation where you have to fight against yourself to start believing yourself. It sounds crazy, I know.
However, that is exactly what was going on inside my head. I had some deep trust issues with myself that I needed to defeat before getting the strength to leave my toxic relationship.
At the end of the day, I survived against all odds. Nevertheless, nothing and nobody can give me back my lost years.
Nothing and nobody can pay me back for all of my tears and for all of the nights I spent rewinding the past and trying to find all the answers I needed.
So, if you’re reading this and any of the things mentioned above sound familiar, I have just one thing to tell you: always trust yourself.
Follow your gut and your instincts. Don’t listen to anyone except that tiny voice in the back of your head, telling you to run for your life.