Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that causes the victim to question their own reality.
We’ve all been in arguments where we try to reason with the other person and are shot back with questions/statements that don’t really make any sense but make us wonder if what happened really happened. Things like That’s not how it happened, you’re remembering it wrong, it was just a joke or I didn’t mean what I said can sow seeds of doubt in the victim’s mind.
Gaslighting is a very common manipulation tactic that abusers use, and sadly, it works better than you think it would. People lose their sense of perception and start questioning themselves, also developing low self-esteem. There is no better way to deprive someone of their personality.
You know you’ve been a victim of gaslighting when you minimize your problems and put others before yourself until it starts eating you from the inside; you apologize constantly and live in the fear of being wrong. You also get this sense of paranoia that nobody believes you when you talk about your struggles which increases your insecurities.
A lot of times, things get so bad that people start gaslighting themselves. I did it (sometimes still do) and didn’t know that it was the consequence of constant emotional abuse. I felt like something was wrong with me; I wasn’t sure if all the things I was feeling were 100% real or just in my head. I would stop in the middle of a breakdown just to ask myself if I was faking it or not. It’s not something that anybody should have to go through. Ever.
Self-gaslighting is when you pick up all the bits and pieces of sentences that were thrown at you and start weaving a different reality from them—from words that don’t really exist. You blame yourself for everything that happens around you; you question if you’re making everything up; you normalize your pain, telling yourself that other people have it worse when you are going through immense pain; you think that everything is okay and you’re being too dramatic, that you shouldn’t be this hurt.
If any of this sounds even the tiniest bit like you, then know that you’re completely okay. There is nothing wrong with you. You’re in the process of undoing years of trauma and you’re getting better. Stop questioning your worth and definitely stop believing anyone who doesn’t. Don’t let anyone hold any power over you just because they think they can. You are strong and brave, and you will get through this.