This is how important it is to assign names to things.
You know, people of GT, I spent eight years in a terribly emotionally abusive relationship. In part, I stayed because of this situation with my instincts. I couldn't pin down what was wrong.
I knew. I mean, I thought I knew, but whenever I confronted him, he would deny I was right. He would claim he acted differently from other people, that I was imagining things that weren't there. He didn't feel the way I thought! He felt this other way! Even though his actions continued to support my first interpretation.
I'm sure that, if you've been through this, you know what I'm saying. You probably heard it all, too. The denials. The sneers. The really theatrical disgust.
I couldn't figure it out. I was so confused. I called this problem, the one about my faulty instincts, The Problem With No Name or also, I Must Be Going Crazy.
Of course, it was really gaslighting.
I didn't have a name for gaslighting. It never occurred to me another person would lie to your face for kicks, to amuse himself. I thought it must be me. He told me I was crazy and stupid, when I was right all along.
I kept thinking, "But when did my instincts go wrong? Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel like he's lying/manipulating me/hurting/cheating on me when he swears I'm misinterpreting him all the time?"
And, I would ask myself, "Why is this only happening with him? Why are all my other interpretations of events accurate everywhere else?"
I thought I just didn't have the judgment for myself that I had in all other places. I was trained to apologize, to cede my wishes to another person. That's the truth. In my household, the males came first. It wasn't overt, exactly, but it was there, in who did the laundry and the dishes, in who won the arguments, even when they were wrong. My mother was complicit in this one, but I can't be angry. It's just what she knew.
So, he lied. He was manipulative. He was cruel. He did it to see how much he could get away with. And I let him.
In part, I let him because I didn't know this kind of abusive behavior was a regular thing, that it had a name. I thought it must be me. He was so charming! He was so reasonable! He was so "logical." (All his descriptions of himself from his own mouth, by the way.)
When I came here, I finally saw the name, and even though I'd been broken up with him for years and was over all of it, or so I thought, I finally felt myself relax and understand.
It wasn't me. It wasn't that I lost my instincts. He gaslighted me. He lied. He was manipulative. He was cruel. And now, I know it has a name.
It really helped to name it. Thank you. I should have thanked you all sooner.