For some reason, I can’t seem to stay away from toxicity, which sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud.
No, I’m not attracted to or drawn towards toxicity, but at this point, I do seem to understand what is and isn’t toxic. While it does sound like an imperative quality most would have, I have always been sipping on dumb bitch juice.
Maybe next time you should come and ask me before you make any decisions, seeing how you’re so dumb. If you do as I say, you will end up with a better result.
Someone I used to care about decided to say this to me on more than one occasion because he seemed to believe that he was helping me. And while I shouldn’t have trusted him, I soon realised that over time I managed to condition myself to accept and live by everything this individual said.
He didn’t outright say it in the beginning, and even though there were telling signs, I didn’t want to admit it. Unfortunately, not only did I soon realize that he was toxic for me, but I also subconsciously continued to berate myself in the form of jokes and more.
I’m Not The Only One
Before I ramble on, yes, I’m aware that this isn’t as uncommon as I make it seem, but I feel like despite it being this way, we don’t talk about it as much. And yes, I know I’m not the best person to start a conversation about this, but I swear I’ve come across so much gaslighting in my relationships and otherwise. I’m just surprised I didn’t catch on until recently. [Thanks, Pronoy!] Not only did he (my best friend) make me see what it truly is, he made me understand how important it is to stand up to it.
No, I will never be as sassy and exceptional at clapbacks like he is, but I have been able to pick up on it whenever it happens. Now, before I get into any of that, what is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse wherein the abuser manipulates a person so much that they can eventually question their sanity.
It may not always be to that extent, but it does make you doubt yourself. Not only concerning what you’ve said or done around that individual, but you also start questioning your actions even when you’re by yourself.
You probably told them about your day, a crucial decision you’re making, or even just passing comment. It could be anything, all they need is an ember, and they can burn your whole world down. Okay, this might be slightly dramatic, but I’m not wrong.
So now that we know what gaslighting is, how do we pick up on it?
There are various reasons, ways, and signs when it comes to gaslighting. Some of them could be as simple as:
- You apologize a lot more than usual.
- You make excuses for your significant other’s behaviour to others, but often to yourself.
- Avoiding conversation with family and friends regarding any confrontation about your partner.
- It gets consistently strenuous for you to make decisions.
- Not only do you feel like everything you do is wrong, but even though something is wrong, you aren’t unable to identify it.
- And every single time this happened, you would assume it’s your fault.
For instance, if your partner is helping you and happens to pass a condescending remark that does more damage than good. You wouldn’t immediately react to it because they have trivialised your feelings in the past by saying “Oh, of course, it’s my fault for trying to help. Now you’re going to go feel sorry for yourself.”
But that’s just one example of many such scenarios. And we often hear about this being an occurrence in romantic relationships. That’s not the case though, because you can be a victim of gaslighting in any relationship you have – personal or professional.
You’re So Vain
It’s easy for us to overlook a lot of things when you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, typically when you’ve already ignored every possible red flag. But the abuser could be a narcissist – which makes this behaviour of theirs seem habitual.
Because not only do they think they’re indispensable and often right, but they also don’t seem to have any time or interest in a particular person, unless it benefits them. They crave attention and can often be demanding, which means that they wouldn’t understand if you do.
But what helps categorize someone as a narcissist?
- They exaggerate their achievements
- Have an air of self-importance
- Expect to be treated differently
- They’re often highly critical of everyone around them
- Can and will be jealous and envious easily
- And most importantly, they respond to criticism with anger
I know you’ve had enough of my rambling, but at some point, I was pursuing someone who showed very similar signs. And while initially, things were fine (or so I thought), I should’ve known from the minute I spoke to this person. Not only did they have negative things to say about everyone around us, but in their head, they were far more superior too. And it was a regular thing, but I didn’t see it.
Along with consistently putting me down (they’d say it was their way of helping me), they would react negatively to anything I said. Not once was it encouraging, it almost felt like I was trying to get with a bully. What’s worse is that the last time we ever spoke, I ended up calling them out on something. And due to their inability to take criticism well, they made it seem like we stopped talking entirely because of me. Something I believed up until the start of this year.
And even though it was toxic, for some reason, I believed that it had something to do with how I usually conduct myself, which is why it is essential that if you find yourself in a situation like this (romantically, professionally, or otherwise) that you walk away. It just isn’t worth it. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this was emotional abuse, because I think it wasn’t. Regardless of that, it was a terrible situation to be in.
But I believe this isn’t the first time I’m talking about this, because I have briefly mentioned what it’s like to be in a toxic relationship in “How Are Codependent Relationships Affecting You?”. And while it isn’t quite the same, it can be the result of encouraging (unknowingly) a relationship like this one.
So what should you do?
- The first step is that you acknowledge that you’re a victim in your relationship because this is essential for you to move forward. Unless you don’t understand that you require help, it would be hard to move on.
- You then invest in a considerable amount of time to consult a therapist, psychiatrist, or a psychologist. Not only will they help you navigate through your fears, doubts, and everything you’ve experienced, but they will assure you that none of this is your fault.
- Once you get through this, they will help you develop coping skills that will assist you in managing your anxiety and doubts.
I’ve said this before, but I am not a professional, so it wouldn’t be wise for me to pass a comment. However, there is nothing wrong with getting help.
Gaslighting can have many bleak effects on you, mentally and emotionally. And ignoring these telling signs can be incredibly dangerous. And there can be many factors why you got pulled into – the most substantial being codependency. However, you can get through this with help.
There are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to dealing with gaslighters in a relationship. All you need to understand is that it isn’t your fault, because the longer you believe that, the longer it will take for you to heal. While it seems like it’s not a big deal, do NOT downplay it. That is the last thing you should think of! You need to shut it down as soon as possible and work towards healing and getting better mentally and emotionally.
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