Gaslighting is an extreme form of psychological manipulation. It’s important to note, creating emotional and mental instability in another person doesn’t happen overnight. It usually happens over an extended period of time.
It causes you to question the validity of your own thoughts, makes you question your perception of reality and doubt your own memories. You may feel confused, you may lose your confidence and you will have lowered self-esteem.
Six signs someone is gaslighting you:
- Do they insist you said or did things you know you didn’t?
- Do they deny or scoff at your recollection of event
- Do they tell you that you are “too sensitive” or “crazy” when you express your needs or concerns?
- Do they talk about you to others and express their doubts about your feelings, behavior, and state of mind?
- Do they twist or retell events to shift the blame onto you?
- Do they insist they’re right and refuse to consider facts or your perspective?
Gaslighting narcissists want to control you by emotionally, mentally and physically separating you from your support system, your friends and family. They separate you not only from what you know to be true, but those trusted people who will confirm your truth. Once they separate you, they are your only source of feedback and information, that is usually very distorted, leaving you with no support.
If you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, you may have felt the following:
- You feel the need to apologize all the time;
- You believe you can’t do anything right;
- You have frequent feelings of nervousness, anxiety, or worry;
- You have lost your confidence;
- You are constantly wondering if you’re too sensitive;
- You feel disconnected from your sense of self, as if you’re losing your identity;
- You believe you’re to blame when things go wrong;
- You have a sense that something isn’t right, but you can’t identify exactly what’s wrong; and/or
- You have a lingering sense of hopelessness, frustration, or emotional numbness.
Breaking up with a narcissist isn’t emotionally easy. You need to have a plan once you decide to break-away, but don’t tell your narcissist your plan until you have a firm exit strategy for getting out, even if it’s only to physically separate yourself from the environment in the beginning.
You will find that once your narcissist knows you are leaving and they are losing control over you, the subtle gaslighting techniques employed during your relationship will move to an outright assault and degradation of your character and your person.
It will take time for you to get back to the person you were before you met your narcissist, but you can do it! It’s NEVER too late!
Start using the following techniques until you regain your sense of self as you start your journey separating yourself from your narcissist.
Stay Calm and Rational
Narcissists are emotionally volatile. When they know you’re leaving, they will do everything in their power to take you to your breaking point, which confirms to the world that they were right. You are crazy. It is very important while you are going through your family law matter to stay calm and remain rational. When you are going through a divorce, separation or custody battle, you are under the scrutiny of a third party, the judge, who will determine the outcome of your life and your children’s lives based on yours and your partner’s actions. Staying calm and rational will demonstrate to the judge you are reasonable and that you aren’t crazy!
Narcissists rewrite history. You have undoubtedly experienced your narcissist telling you something happened or did not happen during your relationship and you knew they were wrong, but you probably didn’t know at the time you should be documenting it. Their behavior doesn’t change just because they are going through a divorce, separation or custody battle, they will continue to rewrite history throughout the case. It is vital that you keep an accurate record of everything that happens going forward. You can be assured your narcissist will put in writing their version of what happened.
Narcissists feel they are entitled. They push boundaries and try to win at all costs. Once you set boundaries, you have to stick to them. Setting boundaries with your narcissist is as simple as limiting communication to only areas involving your divorce, separation or custody battle. You must stay strong and resolute after you set your boundaries. And, having a friend or relative as a support system to fall back on, to keep your boundaries intact, is always a good idea. The narcissist will not accept or adapt to your knew restrictions. They will continue to try to pull you back into their mental and emotional control.
You took the first step to break-away from your narcissist. Now you to need to reconnect with your support system. Having and maintaining a strong support system will help you to stay strong during your divorce, separation or custody battle. Having an objective person know and understand what you are going through will also help you regain your confidence and self-esteem that you lost some time ago.
Keep Your Focus on the Big Picture – the End Game!
Narcissists want to win at all costs. They don’t care who they hurt and don’t recognize how their actions look to the world or the judge. It’s important that you keep your eye on your long-term goals, your end game, and remain focused on the result YOU want. It’s been a very long time, but now this is about YOU!
It’s understandable that relationships end when one person is a narcissist and uses gaslighting to manipulate and control you. Our attorneys represent spouses and parents in their family matters who are dealing with a soon-to-be ex- who is not only a narcissist but who has also used gaslighting in the relationship to manipulate and control the other person. While it adds a layer of complexity to the case, we are here to guide you through each step and to give you the tools to help you manage your ex after your family law case is over.
To understand your current situation, you should know where we get the term “gaslighting.”
Gaslighting and its definition come from a British play-turned film from the 1930s called “Gas Light.” The movie is about a husband who mentally and emotionally manipulates his wife into believing she is crazy by changing the intensity of the gas lamps in their home. He does other things to make her believe she is going crazy, like knocking on the walls or moving items around the house and then he later denies those things ever happened. He was so persistent in denying her reality that he eventually convinced her that she was crazy. Our point here is, this isn’t new, it’s been going on a very long time and it is now time for you to get out.
At Owens & Perkins, our experienced attorneys know how to guide you through your family law matter with your narcissistic. We provide you with tools, strategies and insights throughout your case that you can develop during the case and use long after your case is over.
CLICK HERE to schedule your 30-minute zoom or phone consultation.
If you are ending or have already ended your relationship with your narcissist and have children together, read our next article, “How to Co-Parent With Your Narcissistic Ex” to learn strategies to keep your sanity until you are free (when the youngest turns 18!).