Feeling crazy in a relationship? The problem might not be you - you might be experiencing gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the victim is left questioning and doubting their own feelings and sanity. Gaslighting is a power play for the perpetrator to gain control over the victim.
I know many women (and just as many men) who experience gaslighting in marriage - but it can occur in any relationship. The worst thing about gaslighting is its subtle nature - it's like slow boil that is hard to notice, even by those who are emotionally well-adjusted.
Sometimes gaslighters are full-fledged narcissists (I know a few real-life examples of these extreme cases - it does happen and it's not pretty). But many I've experienced are addicts who use confusion to throw those close to them off the trail of their habits. There are others who who use it to manipulate victims to get something they want, namely a dependence from - or power over- another person. These are the people who only feel safe when they're in full control.
The worst thing about this form of abuse, is that it slowly begins to strip away the self-worth of its victims. As a victim of gaslighting, I can tell you it feels like someone is literally sucking the life out of you - the other person almost becomes an emotional parasite.
This is a tough cycle to break, especially if the gaslighter is someone you love, like a spouse or a parent. The only way I’ve been able to manage these situations is by enforcing extreme accountability. Meaning, in every step you must hold the gaslighter accountable. Every lie, every broken promise - confront the gaslighter on each incident. I have had seasons in my life where I've had to physically write down things that were said and promised to keep track. Doing this helped me thread out reality vs. fabrication. To do this, you'll want to increase the capacity of your emotional toolbox. Approaching each encounter in a calm manner and as lovingly as possible. This is for your benefit, not the perpetrator's.
I'm not a mental health professional so if you think you might be a victim and need help in your circumstance, please seek professional help. I've also included some resources to learn more about how it works.