Gaslighting 101

“Trust yourself and try not to get lured off course by conflicting opinions that don’t seem to sit right with you.” ~Auliq Ice

As one who comprehends how much of life is governed by perception, I can easily understand someone having a different experience of a mutually shared event. But having a different experience of the actual facts those perceptions were based on? That was new for me.

Whether or not someone was welcoming is subjective. Whether or not that someone pulled up a chair for you…that’s not open to a tremendous amount of interpretation. It either happened or didn’t.

I was all but certain it hadn’t. My boyfriend insisted I hadn’t noticed because I’d barely looked at him before storming into the kitchen. Was it possible he was right? Had I actually been so triggered by the unexpected sight of his friends that I hadn’t seen him do this?

He was so persuasive that I began to doubt my own memory for a moment – even though I’d previously trusted the accuracy of my recollection. I could vividly picture myself pausing at the table to say hello. He had ignored me!

I realized he must have pulled up the chair after I’d gone into the kitchen. I didn’t try to convince him of this. I’m not someone who needs to be right. 

Instead, I explained I hadn’t “stormed” into the kitchen. I’d felt entirely awkward and had gone in there to do a few minutes of tapping (EFT). I shared that my old pattern in relationships was to leave when I felt that uncomfortable. 

I told him I was proud of myself for working through my feelings and postponing my hotel reservation in South Beach. But why had he told me his son was in bed when he wasn’t, or hadn’t mentioned he had company? 

I didn’t get a direct answer, other than the fact that he didn’t have to notify me when he had friends over at his place. Then he deflected the issue back to me. There was no reason for me to have felt awkward. His friends didn’t know about our fight. Why would he have shared something like that with them? He’d only shared positive things about me and our connection.

It was entirely lost on me that he was a) selling me a dramatically different version of the facts, b) distracting me from discussing the actual fight, c) defining how I should or shouldn’t have felt and d) giving me my first taste of the fact that I would always be wrong and always to blame and that he would rarely if ever acknowledge his own role in our challenges. 

Instead, my mind went directly to the illusion he wanted me to subscribe to: the belief that he had actually handled our first fight better than I had.

There he was, presenting as someone with too much integrity to talk about someone who wasn’t present behind her back. There I was, knowing I’d given my account of what had occurred to three loved ones he’d never met.

That’s when I decided this man was not only my emotionally and spiritually developed equal – he was actually more evolved than I was!

I shared this revelation with him. I asked him to be more compassionate and present with me next time I got triggered, so he could help me work through my feelings. 

Perhaps that delighted his ego, because he warmed back up to me. We grew even closer to one another. 

In my version of reality, we had used out first fight to parlay our connection to an even higher level of intimacy and evolvement.

Unfortunately, I was the only one of us who was living in that reality. 

2020: This is not where the blog ended. And it’s certainly not where our relationship ended. I wrote these posts during the first of many separations. I continued blogging for another year or two, but set the posts to private for reasons I’ll reveal in time. I will make more of the old posts available later this year. Subscribe to the blog if you’d like to be notified when that happens! 

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