I’m not ashamed to say it, not anymore. I was emotionally abused. I was gaslighted every single day in my relationship from hell.
He worked so hard on convincing me every single day that I was the crazy one. He moved items in the apartment and he convinced me I did it.
He told stories about me, about things which I’d never done and he convinced me that I had done but I was too embarrassed so I buried them deep inside my mind.
He isolated me from all of my friends so I don’t get any support whatsoever. He apologized, although he never meant it; it was just to get me back into the relationship. And if that didn’t work, he insulted me and put me down. He wanted me to feel insignificant. He needed that to control me.
He denied my reality. He belittled me and made me doubt myself. He always said that he was right and I was wrong. He said that I needed to trust him because my judgment was poor. That I was crazy and I needed help and he was there to help.
His abuse was perfectly unique. The gaslighting he performed was the perfect way to control and emotionally abuse me. He managed to change my worldview, my sense of self and my belief in myself.
I ended up questioning everything and everyone. I didn’t have a voice of my own and even when it appeared, I’d silence it because I didn’t trust it. I didn’t trust myself.
I couldn’t make the simplest choices. I couldn’t decide what was right and what was wrong. I was traumatized and I needed to find a way out.
I wish I could tell you that I found a clear solution to finding peace at last but I didn’t. I fought and each day was harder than the last. But the one thing I can tell you is the fact that you’ve realized you’ve fallen too deep into the pit and that you need help is the best start you could wish for.
Healing from gaslighting is a terribly bumpy road. I’ve had ups and downs but along the way, I rediscovered myself. I remember who I used to be and I’ve probably learned so much more than I ever would have if it wasn’t for my complete breakdown.
I can’t tell you what to do exactly or how to heal and forget about the pain. No one could tell me either. But I can show you how I rediscovered myself. I can tell you some unexpected things that along the way helped me to get back on my feet.
1. I ran as far as I could from my gaslighter
This can be horrific. Some people have to cut off family bonds, some people need to move away. I had to go no contact. And you may think it’s an easy thing to do.
One should think it’s perfectly logical. If someone causes you pain, you leave them. But you can’t even begin to imagine what it feels like to leave someone who has made you believe you’re emotionally and physically dependent on him.
You’re scared to make a move without that person. You’re scared that he was right all along and you’re not going to make it without him.
2. I admitted to myself that I was abused
I stopped running from reality. I faced the horrible thing that happened to me. I said to myself I was emotionally abused and tricked into thinking I was crazy.
There was nothing wrong with me and it was never my fault. My view of the world was crooked and my feelings were twisted. My mind had been played and I needed to accept that.
3. I allowed myself to make mistakes
After I left him, I needed to be sure that everything I did was right. It meant a lot to me. Because when you’ve been trapped in a relationship where your abuser is constantly telling you you’re no good, you’re incompetent, that you don’t do anything right, it takes its toll on you. You start to believe in it.
But we all make mistakes and it was impossible for me to do everything right. So after some time, I realized that my need to do everything perfectly was nothing more than a result of a trauma.
Making mistakes was the most humane thing I could do. I accepted it and it taught me that it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes. It doesn’t make me special, it doesn’t make me stand out from the rest of the world. I was just like everyone else. I was human.
4. I allowed myself to feel
When you leave an emotionally abusive relationship, you feel relieved, maybe even happy. But that feeling doesn’t last for long. There are still years of pain, anger, and frustration hiding behind that false appearance of happiness.
It takes a lot of time to deal with all those emotions that haunt you still because you’re not over them yet. You’ve not fully accepted all the pain you’ve felt or why, because of him.
5. I made my own choices
I had no clue what was right and what was wrong and I couldn’t make a decision. Whichever road I took, it seemed wrong. It’s because I didn’t trust myself.
Since I didn’t have a voice of my own in the relationship, I didn’t even know what it was exactly that I wanted, which made the decision-making process even harder.
I decided to put an end to it and I started with little things. I started making tiny decisions, like when to go to bed or what to wear to a meeting.
At first, it was terrifying. I was always sure that I had made the wrong choice. But, after a while, all those little choices started to feel good. And after a while, I was perfectly capable of starting to make bigger, more important choices.
6. I decided to get some help
I just needed a reliable person to talk to. I needed someone to listen to me. I needed support. I was scared to make this step at first.
Because admitting emotional abuse meant that I had failed. I meant that I let someone play me for a fool, I let someone humiliate me.
But if you have a friend, a family member, or if you want professional help, go to them. They will help you deal with all those mixed feelings you feel. They will help you sort out the chaos that is going on inside your head.
7. I embraced my vulnerabilities
People see strong people as people who don’t take any bullshit from anyone. But that’s not true. Strong women can get abused too. It’s not a choice you make.
Saying that you’ll never let anyone hit you is not something that depends on you. It depends on the violent side of your relationship. On the other hand, you don’t even have to be physically abused to call it abuse.
Psychological abuse, gaslighting and neglect are also forms of abuse which are even harder to prove or overcome.
So, I thought that due to my nice personality, I was the one to blame for being emotionally abused. I thought I was too nice and I let people walk all over me.
But that is not true. The fact that I’m too nice is not my disadvantage. It’s a personality trait that proves I’m an empath. It means that I care about people.
After being gaslighted, I realized that I have to accept who I am. I decided I wouldn’t be ashamed of being loving or compassionate. It’s not my fault that I’ve had to deal with an abuser who decided to take advantage of that.
I could have easily met someone who would love that about me, someone who would treasure me and keep me safe for the rest of my life. But, this time, I wasn’t that lucky.
8. I’ve accepted that he is not the last abuser I’m going to meet
It’s possible I’m going to meet another abuser in my life. It’s possible that I’m going to be abused one more time but in a different way. Maybe this time it’s going to be different and I won’t be able to recognize it.
Emotions are unpredictable and they can be very uncomfortable and it’s easier for me now that I’ve faced the fact it can happen again. It won’t be as horrible as the first time but at least I’ll know how to find a way out.
The only thing I know right now is that I need to be honest with myself. I need to be real about my feelings and never again bottle them up inside.
Embrace your truth like I did and don’t focus on being happy all the time. Let time do its thing and in the meantime, discover yourself. Eventually, you’ll heal.