Gaslighting in relationships

(Tonight, I’m having a potential premonition.  My fear may or may not turn out to be true.  To be honest (as usual), what I’m afraid of has happened so many times that my neurological responses have become very primed and efficient.  Tonight, I’m imagining the worst.  It may or may not come to pass.  Please bear with me.  As with pretty much all of the posts on this blog, I write this in case it helps someone else out there who just might be going through something similar (which I’m discovering more and more).

Gaslighting is usually discussed among the Asperger’s/autistic community within the context of diagnosis/assessment or therapy, as something that medical/healthcare professionals perpetrate upon patients–especially females, but it happens to us via other sources as well.  Sometimes, it comes from where one might least expect it; one of those (major, overlooked) sources is a committed relationship; the longer the relationship, the more entrenched the victim becomes.)


It’s late.

The outdoor (and indoor) lights have gone silent in most of the units around our apartment complex; only the courtyard lights and the bedroom/kitchen lights of a few straggling night-owls remain.

The temperature took a sharp nosedive over the past 24 hours, but even after adjusting for the difference, it still feels colder than it should.  I’m shivering anyway.

I think he may be hiding details about our finances from me again.  His brain works like the energizer bunny…when it comes to something he wants.  When it comes to something he doesn’t want to do, however, his mind conveniently displaces and erases it.

Even if it’s something I desperately need.

Even if it’s something I’ve been pleading for for years.

I’ve run out of words.  I don’t know what else to say.  He seems to refuse to get the message.  Short of assault, I don’t know how else to get his attention.  I think the only reason that I haven’t is that I would get in trouble.  I would face serious consequences for having run out of options, in another attempt to solve a situation that I didn’t create, but rather, was perpetrated upon me.  A situation that I can’t get a handle on because one person can’t control the actions of another.

I’m not butting up against a meltdown, at least not yet.  But I can feel the neurological “buzzing” that precedes it.  That’s where it gets dicey; because I never know when that “buzzing” will reach a point of no return.  I never know what the exact result of a meltdown will be.  I just know that if it happens, it’s going to get ugly.  But for now, I’m only in the anxiety stage.

That’s where I get cold.  That’s when the world starts to spin.

That’s where I plead to get off.  That’s when I can’t do it anymore.

This is the part that makes me feel like the “crazy” one.  Even though he’s the one that causes this.  And he gets to glide about through life, going about his day-to-day “thing”, seemingly unaffected.

But I know he’s affected.  I know it eats at him.  I think I’ve sensed it building up under that stoic, unrevealing surface.  After 17 years, I know better.  Or at least I should.  He doesn’t make it easy.  And my recently-discovered Asperger’s only makes it harder…

…because I want to believe him.  I want to be able to take what he says, on faith and at face value, when he doesn’t mention any problem.  When he doesn’t come to me and come clean.  I want to believe that there’s nothing to come clean about.  I want to believe that he’s not saying anything because there’s nothing to say.

I want to know that I’m safe.  I want to know we’re ok, and not sliding backwards into this addiction.

What is this addiction anyway?  It’s not a substance.  It’s not gambling or sex.  It’s financial infidelity (it’s a “thing”; link to an article on NextAvenue.org), which in itself is bad enough, even without the addiction factor.  But yep, you heard (read) that right: he’s actually addicted to hiding the truth about our financial status.  He hides a purchase here and there, but it’s not like he’s a shopaholic.  And because his addiction is so unusual, there’s no support, no 12-step program he can partake in.  (Cue the vicious cycle of  Discovery –> Meltdown –> Apology –> Promises –> Lack of support system –> Relapse.)

And I’m the one made to feel “crazy”.  I’m the one made to feel wrong.  I’m the one who ends up feeling overreactive and paranoid.

Except that I’m right.  Probably more often than I realize.

Here’s where the loneliness sets in.  Here’s where the trapped and stuck feelings begin to mount.  Here’s where I want to run, but there’s no place to go.


Gaslighting is a form of abuse.  I’m a little late to the “party”, so I learned that definitively just tonight.  PsychologyToday.com has a very decent article on gaslighting in relationships and how to determine if it’s happening to you.  Protect yourself; do your damnedest not to end up where I am.  ❤

***

(Image Credit: Sylar113)

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17 Comments

  1. I think i was gaslighted too. It’s a kind of thin psycological violence. You feel always as you don’t have a space of yours, and you don’t feel good enough. I recently had from a friend for example…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry that happened to you 😦 I love your phrase “a thin psychological violence” – that’s an excellent way of describing it 😊. I had never realized that I felt like I didn’t have a space of my own, but now that you mention it, you’re absolutely right. My we heal and stay strong 💐

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear ❤️ I’m sure (well–I hope) it’ll pass soon, with a positive outcome. I know this sounds really cliche (in terms of abuse victims) but it’s true that he really is a decent and caring man otherwise. He’s just got a few (pointed) “blocks”. Thank you so much for your support. It means everything (not exaggerating–everything), especially at a time like this ❤️

      Like

  2. In reference to the Gas-Lighting article, I looked at the 15 points at the end of it and I noticed I hit like 12 of them. Here’s the crazy thing, but an important thing to note is that none of it is my partner’s fault. I get whacked out in my own way and my behavior starts to manifest in the ways that were explained in that article, but that’s part of my cycle and has no bearing on what he’s doing. I think that’s important to note: those 15 points COULD be because of Gas-lighting, or because it’s part of a cycle for the person (say, Bipolar). Whatever it is, you should get help.

    Financially, it may make more sense to keep your own account so you always know your financially secure. Also, you may think to put restrictions on your mutual accounts…say, if more than $200 is pulled from an ATM in X number of days, you are notified. Another thing you can do is put the restriction that all ATM withdrawals are texted to you, even your own.That way you can follow what you have. Download the bank app on your phone, you can always know what’s going on. Outside of that, if he has his own account that doesn’t affect your living situation, then let him spend whatever he wants. That way he doesn’t always have to be accountable for every penny, and you don’t have to be overwhelmed and anxious that he’s spending you into the poor-house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s excellent advice! Thank you for sharing it. I’m really starting to consider an arrangement like that 😊. It sounds good and it would bring a lot of much-needed stress relief ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s what I insisted on in my marriage because I know that in occasion I go shopping-crazy and I never wanted it to affect our lives. So I have my money, he has his, and we have ours. He can’t access yours, and the mutual is monitored so you know when it’s starting. That’s how it works with us, and it keeps me from dipping into the mortgage to buy something absolutely pointless.
        Glad you found the advice helpful. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a terrible feeling, I know.

    My best guess is this is just a symptom of a deeper issue. Most likely he’s avoiding committment by using money as a way to keep his options open even if just on an emotional level. I don’t know how long you’ve been together but depending on how long you’ve endured this if it has been a long time you might want to think about an exit strategy of your own.

    This sounds like it’s not only stressful financially, but that the most hurtful part of it is that in his deception he is behaving as if he doesn’t trust you enough to let you know what he’s doing. Quite ironic, considering that he’s the one being dishonest. I think the poster above has a good suggestion about getting some help; and maybe on several different levels; (maybe through both relationship counseling and credit/financial counseling).

    1) set a time limit for change. Decide what key actions you would need from him in order to feel comfortable, and by when, and be prepared to back it up with consequences.

    2) Then once you have your answer as to whether or not he’s capable of the committment required of this relationship you’ll have a clearer idea of how to proceed.

    If this in fact turns out to be an indication that he’s unwilling or unable to fully commit to you as a full partner then ask yourself whether this is something you can live with for the next 30 years or so.

    In some partners I think this coming-to-a-head time of life might spur him to consider how much stress this places on the other person in the relationship and motivate him to make some compromises in order to save the relationship.

    For others, it might prove to be such a deeply entrenched pattern that the partner isn’t willing (and/or lacks the maturity) to give up.

    Either way, determine what you’re willing to deal with and what you’re not, and how long you’re willing to wait to see necessary changes occur, and then you will know what you need to do to take action for your peace-of-mind.

    If that means agreeing on a certain amount of seperateness in order to avoid being pulled into a constant roller-coaster ride, and logistically taking steps to protect the money that you need, or whether it means going your seperate ways, laying the cards on the table will give you a means by which you can take back some power. That way you’re being proactive rather than reactive and he doesn’t get to continue to ruin things for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re completely right, especially about the deeper issue. We’ve gotten professional help in the past but admittedly, we’ve slacked off on it for a while, and it’s definitely time to get back on the horse. It’s not that it didn’t work; it’s just that we stopped prematurely due to–what else (lol)–financial concerns, where we had to make some cutbacks. In hindsight, we cut back on the wrong area! ❤️ We hadn’t done the financial counseling route before, and that’s a REALLY sound idea, too! 😊

      I also really like–and will take to heart–your suggestion to set a timetable for change. After all, “tomorrow” never comes; there’s always a “tomorrow”, which is never Today. 😊

      Thank you so kindly for sharing your insight and ideas! I’ll be putting them into action…Today ❤️

      Like

  4. Bleh, this made me cry, sweets. 😿

    I’m deeply sorry you know this feeling. If it’s any comfort, I know it, too. But from a different issue. Maybe I’ll get the courage to write about it. I’m hoping there is a better outcome for you from this place.

    ❤️💕💙🎈🐒🐝🐾🌺🌹🌻🌷🌼🌸💐🔥💥✨⚡️☄️🍇🍓🥊🎀💝💘💖💗💓💞💔❣️💕💜💙❤️💛💚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww 😘😘. Thank you so much for reading that ❤️❤️. I’m so sorry it brought you tears 🌷🌺. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone but it’s saddening to know that you know this feeling, too 💗💗. Your post will be even better than mine, I’m sure 😊😊. I think the outcome has largely been good. We sought counseling and the counselor was good! We had to pause indefinitely when money got tight, but we may start back again just to keep ourselves on track. The benefits have been sustained, which is wonderful. All of this occurred before we knew that I was Aspie/autistic, and when we found out, that marked a turning point for both of us. I knew it would be for me, but I didn’t realize how much of one it would also be for him! He’s a pretty smart guy, so with the added spectrum status realization, he knows how much more it affects me than it might otherwise if I were NT (not saying it doesn’t affect them, too, but Aspie/autism deep sensitivity and betrayal and subsequent confusion and internalization and all that 😘).

      You’re the bomb, as always, my pretty! 😘😘😘🌠☮🌎🌈🌌💣💥☯✨💟💗🌷💚💙💜💞🌺💖💓👍🏼❤️😁☄☄☄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I’m touched that he’s willing to make changes for you. You deserve that kind of care and so much more. I hope you guys can stay on a positive, healthy track. I understand completely about the different reactions we have. Try to tell an NT therapist and they see low self-esteem instead of the very real, very legit fear, loneliness, confusion, and despair.

        I read the other article, too. Thanks so much for this one and the other one. So incredibly helpful. I take great comfort in your company, knowing I’m not alone in my challenges.

        Have a beautiful day. 💙💙💙💙💙

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re so spot-on about the NT therapists! (And also the rest of what you said!) 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Thank you for your encouraging words and your warm wishes! I can’t express how much I appreciate that! Sometimes it can feel very lonely, although thankfulness I don’t experience that as much anymore 😘😘. You’re so very welcome, girl; it felt better to write them. I knew I wouldn’t be alone ❤️❤️❤️☮🌈🌈

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Oops, hit enter too soon lol

          Yep, I got lucky – he really is a great guy. His changes proved that to me. He changed so much that other people noticed it! The Asperger’s/autism realization had a huge impact on him, and for the better (here’s what he had to say about it, in his own words, if you like: https://thesilentwaveblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/serenity-a-pleasant-surprise-guest-post/)

          Thank you so much for your kind words! You deserve the top of the world, too! You’re totally not alone, my pretty, please always know that (although I know all too well that it can feel like it!) 😘😘

          I hope you have a beautiful day, too! ❤️💛💚💙💜💖

          Liked by 1 person

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