Learning about gaslighting changed my life. Gaslighting is a form of abuse where the abuser makes you doubt your perceptions, reality and memories. I was in a relationship with a gaslighter for 5 years and he did serious damage to our relationship and my mind. For all 5 of those years, I saw myself as an unreliable and flawed person. My desperation to be perfect for him drove me into some very dark places. Gaslighting kept me from healing. This person refused to get help for their issues as they were convinced that I was the problem. The only way I could fix the problem was by leaving the relationship. It’s hard to believe that I left that relationship almost 2 years ago and that I am now with a man who loves me deeply and we are expecting a child. This is the life I have always wanted.
As many of us know, it takes time to heal from abuse and trauma. For me, the effects are less than they were a year ago. I am healing from what happened. I read an article today written by someone who is also healing from gaslighting. I could relate to their experience and I wanted to share it with you. Below is a link to their article and 2 ways they’ve healed that I strongly relate to. I would like to add my shared experience.
6 Unexpected Ways I’ve Healed From Gaslighting Abuse and Learned to Trust Myself Again by Maisha Z. Johnson.
Maisha healed by allowing themselves to make mistakes.
Mistakes are very important to me. Even as a teenager I always viewed mistakes as valuable learning opportunities. My ex took away these opportunities to make mistakes when he turned my mistakes into insults against him and used them as a judge of my character. He would tell me that if I had tried, remembered or been serious then I wouldn’t have made the mistake. Having the freedom again to make mistakes without shame has been very healing. I can validate myself, learn from what happened and just go on with my life. I went back to seeing mistakes as a fact of life, something everyone does and can be a positive experience. I no longer see myself as deeply flawed. I sometimes still get upset when I make mistakes, especially when they are pointed out by others as my ex did but each passing day it gets easier.
Maisha healed by making their own choices.
I can remember the deep, full-body fear I felt when I had to make a decision. I’m not talking about a big decision like if I should go back to school, I’m talking about where to go eat for dinner or if I should a pair of jeans. This one links back to making mistakes. I needed to make the right choice to avoid disappointing my ex because his disapproval was damaging. If I bought an item of clothing he didn’t like, he would tell me, even if I expressed thatI felt sexy in it. If I chose a place to eat the he didn’t like he would mope at the table. It was horrible to have my choices put down. He ended up making a lot of the decisions in our relationship. Being able to make my own choices and have confidence in those choices has been a struggle for me. Each time I do make a choice and stand by it I am one step closer to removing my ex’s influence. I can now decide if I want to eat McDonalds and (for the most part) not feel bad about it, I can choose an outfit knowing how I feel in it is more important and I can overall say no if something isn’t sitting right with me. If someone doesn’t like my choice then that’s their stuff, not mine.
This is a difficult journey. It is one I just had to do. I didn’t have time to let it consume me anymore than it already had. I need to get on with my life and not let anyone from the past control it.