Monday, January 18, 2010

Gaslighted

I read something i shouldn't have. Something that wasn't good for me.

It was a book called "Happens Every Day" about the disintegration of a woman's marriage because her husband fell in love with someone else.

As an aside, i cannot recommend this book on a literary level, it's not all that well written. But what it did capture was that level of insanity being lied to by someone you are supposed to trust creates in you.

Where you KNOW something, you know it with every instinct that you possess, but you are told, repeatedly, that you are wrong, you are crazy, you are a jealous controlling person who needs to get some help.

You are being gaslighted.

I realize that i am more afraid of being lied to than being cheated on. It creates more damage. It's the way out for a coward. The coward who can tell him (or her) self that they are doing this to try and spare you the heartache, when in reality, they are sparing themselves from the consequences of their behavior.

See how i used this book to pick open an old scar and make it bleed again?

I should have but the book down (okay, it was on my Kind!e, i should have deleted it) and never picked it up again when i realized how wounded i was starting to feel, how angry.

So the question is, why the hell would i do that to myself? I can't come up with any good answers for that question. But it clearly holds some appeal for me. I have to admit that these sorts of stories fascinate me. And that's just creepy.

What is wrong with me that i would do this?

There are some things that you never really "get over" you just get on.

25 comments:

Maggie said...

Is it maybe the same thing that makes us look at an accident hoping to see blood? Sort of morbid fascination. Like you said, picking the scar to bleed again. Why does that feel soo good? Even though it feels bad.

Or maybe on a level it's a comfort knowing you're not the only and that you're not crazy. Reassurance in the sisterhood of chaos.

Mary said...

Yes, this. I was married to a pathological liar (man lied about stupid things when there was no reason). Plus of course, the BIG lies about 1) his fiancee being killed in a car wreck when he was driving, 2) and then him going to visit her grave, 3) graduating from HIGH SCHOOL, 4) taking pilot lessons when he said he was in therapy, and of course 5) having an affair with a 15 year old. I was taking anti-depressants because I had been convinced (by him) that I was making shit up in my head.

I still catch myself looking over at my (current, wonderful) husband and occasionally thinking about it. Wondering if there's something he's not telling me.

furiousBall said...

Look, if everyone goes along with my plan, this wouldn't be an issue at all. Marriage should be criminalized. Yes, I'm bitter and was cheated on as well.

de said...

There are things that, because we go over them and over them, create neural super-highways. Our thoughts just slip on the on-ramp and speed off, whether it's going to take us where we want to go or not.

You need a scenic route, ASAP.

luckyzmom said...

Oh, my memo, the issue of trust is a big one for me too. I try to reassure myself when I notice myself getting wrapped up in it that I would survive.

meno said...

maggie, "Reassurance in the sisterhood of chaos." Wow. Anyone ever tell you that you have a way with words? :)

mary, that's the part that's so hard to forgive, the part that makes you question yourself forever more. It's unforgivable really.

furious, marriage is okay, i guess, it's LYING that should be outlawed. (I make an exception for the variety of lies about your ass looking big in those pants.)

de, yes, but HOW????

luckyzmom, yes, i would and did survive. But i still fear living a lie.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Oh, Meno. I am sorry. During my undergrad years, I was Gaslighted during a serious relationship in (complete with the lovely phrases such as "jealous bitch" - nice, eh?) I spent the rest of my 20s recovering from that.

I managed to marry the safest, most faithful guy ever, but not without cost. He is not romantic in the least and I know some of my friends think I am crazy as to why I married a guy who will never surprise me with romance, diamonds, flowers or schmoopy love.

It is safer this way, I guess and I have absolutely no regrets because I never want to be with someone who Gaslights me again.

To the day, I still have issues with television shows, movies, and books that involve adultery because I don't see the entertainment in that subject.

deb said...

There are no accidents. The book came to you for a reason. Your job is to figure out what the reason is.

Feel free to punch me, should we ever meet:)

self doubt said...

I can recite a laundry list of books that I am attracted too, but fail to enrich my life in any meaningful way, unless keeping me awake at night is meaningful.

Maybe there is a part of us that likes to think we would catch on to the clues if it were to happen again, that the second time around we would not be so easily hoodwinked. Tormenting ourselves in hopes that we have learned from someone else's mistakes? No one likes to admit to feeling gullible.

jen said...

i don't know but it makes me feel like kicking someone.

(hi!)

nick said...

I guess we read stuff like that out of guilt and bafflement - guilt because we have a sneaking suspicion we somehow prompted the other person's bad behaviour (usually complete crap, of course) and bafflement because we want to know why on earth they behaved like that and how we can stop it happening again.

Sometimes we get a few useful clues and insights, sometimes we just feel wounded and shat-on all over again.

Gina said...

There are definitely things that you never quite get over. I have read/watched things that I knew would open old wounds, but did it anyway. Who knows why. I don't want to feel that pain, but maybe I want to feel - I don't know - like a victim? A martyr? A hero? It's not a character trait that I am particularly thrilled with.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I was in such a relationship once and believe that someone messing with your perceptions is even worse than the cheating because it makes you doubt yourself forever.

I suspect that your picking of old scabs is because your confidence in your own judgment has been damaged, and you want to ensure that it never happens again by extreme watchfulness.

I hope he understands the enormous blessing of your forgiveness and helps to rebuild your trust and your self-confidence by impeccable behavior.

Mrs. Chili said...

I'm watching someone who did this to me when I was his girlfriend 25 years ago do it to his wife now. It's excruciating.

I am so sorry.

Andrea Frazer said...

I think it comes with not forgiving your husband 100%. Not that I blame you, and forgive my stupid analogy, but if you have a boo boo and it heals 95%, most days you feel great. But if that last 5% is still raw, an awkward stretch or a false turn can create horrifying pain for a bit until you figure out how to treat it.

I don't know the path for forgiveness for a cheating husband. I have had to forgive my own husband for emotionally being distant at times. I am not 100% there, but closer.

We all have shit. I'm sorry you're going through this, but please know, you are not alone out there. We love you.

Andrea Frazer said...

Oh, my other thing: something else in your life is probably bugging you and it's easier to transfer the frustration onto "the affair" and read books and pick and point at other stuff than figure out what is happening within. Again, not trivializing the affair at all, but just an insight from someone who does that sometimes herself.

meno said...

cagey, and it's the subject of so many movies, books. Hard to avoid.

deb, no hitting, but if you could just TELL me what it means i'd appreciate it. :)

self doubt, maybe that's it, trying to learn from someone else. Although all i learn is how to get pissed off. And i already knew that.

jen, yeah, me too!

nick, i guess i do still struggle to understand the logic of gaslighting someone you supposedly care about. I guess it's just the easiest path at the time/

gina, i wonder if i just like being angry. Also not very attractive.

hearts, you are right. Damaged forever.

mrs. chili, do you feel like you can step in and warn her? I mean, if it was safe. That must be awful.

andrea, you are also right, i have not forgiven him 100%. Probably never will.

TinkerMe2 said...

Was it fate or destiny? I just hit this button on the top right hand corner of my blog page which said "next blog" and I came upon your post "Gaslighted" and I wondered if you were my conscience talking to me. You wrote what i've been saying in my head as if you're my mind. To see it in typed words and knowing that it was not me who said it is all to strange.

Now I have to read that book. It is a nasty scar I have to pick. Do you know that feeling when something itches and you know you shouldn't scratch it but you can't help it and well it might feel better with just one more scratch. That's what I feel like. I have to read the book.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I'm so very sorry that you were hurt in that way, but keep in mind that you are reacting to something in the past which doesn't deserve your present energy. You were incredibly courageous and kind to forgive him. Please try to be as kind to yourself.

sari said...

You're right Meno, there are some things you never really get over. I don't think there's anything wrong with you, you're human like everyone else.

Marshamlow said...

Sometimes when life is giving me a bunch of crap and I am feeling upset I end up thinking about times in the past when I have been equally upset. I have a nasty habbit of bringing up old memories and reliving the experiences. I end up feeling as if I am right there in that moment again. I don't know why I would chose to do that, but it happens. I think the important thing is to talk yourself down. Relize that it was a long time ago and force yourself to turn it around and focus on things that make you happy and feel peace.

hockamama said...

cheating, lying bastards belong in the Bog of Eternal Stench. This makes me think of my current self flagellating sitch. My ex's wife friended me on facebook in early december. because I'm such a nice (haha) person, I confirmed. most days I just troll past her status posts. however, last week, I noticed that she said it was their anniversary, married 10 years, together 19. my son (with the lying, cheating bastard) turned 19 3 weeks ago. I knew they hooked up when we were still married, but I didn't realize it was that early. so, when one of her friends commented that they remember when they hooked up, naturally I had to say, 'so do I!' I didn't realize that the feelings were still there. I think I may have to drop her as a friend, it's too hard for me to be nice sometimes....

lu said...

I skimmed this book.
Hell I've spent the last three years trying to exorcise the fucking beast of betrayal.

You have it right, eventually you just get on.

so I hear.

meno said...

tinkerme2, clearly, i know that feeling. Guess it was fate.

hearts, thank you for your kind words. I really try. But sometimes i do stupid stuff.

sari, i just wish i was string enough to leave it alone.

marsha, that's good advice. :)

holly, you make me smile. The Bog of Eternal Stench indeed! Wow, that's quite the story. maybe just hide her status. That was actually a pretty mild thing for you to say to her.

lu, yeah, so i hear too.

rebecca said...

I suppose it's like anything that leaves a permanent scar in us...there are times when we know intellectually that it does not do us any good to revisit, yet we do. Why? Wish I knew the answer. I don't know, perhaps it's our constant search of closure? Don't know. Yet, you are not alone. We all do that with things that have left a mark...