|Photo Credit: eak-easycomeeasygo.blogspot.com|
Throughout my relationship with the STBX, he masterfully crafted a slow, insidious, break down of my self-esteem that was a subtle, yet meticulous. Calm manipulation. Gaslighting at its finest. The best description I've read as to what exactly gaslighting is can be found over at the "Easy Come, Easy Go" blog: when a douche canoe, like the STBX, "dismisses what you're feeling or thinking as a dysfunction of your personality ... in order to control the situation and, ultimately, you", that's gaslighting. Crazy-making at its finest.
Ironic that the STBX, being the douche canoe that he is, paints me as the controlling one. I may be a type-A personality, but I am no douche canoe dear.
It took me years to recognize what exactly it was that he was doing to me. In short, he was trying to make me think that I was a crazy, miserable person. A "miserable bitch", I do believe was the phrase spat at me whenever I caught him red-handed in one lie or another ... that, and a few other choice phrases ...
"You are so full of anger", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because his behaviors and choices anger me, yet he's able to stay so calm.
"You are paranoid", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because my gut instincts were constantly telling me that something was wrong, yet it was often hard for me to discern why things didn't make sense or didn't match up logically.
"You are messed up and broken", he'd say and I would think, "It must be true", because I couldn't see my true self anymore. What I mean is, I had lost sight of what I wanted from life, from love and from sharing my life with another person because it got to the point where I didn't trust my own feelings anymore. I didn't trust my own emotions as being valid, justified or even "right" half the time.
Having someone completely void of empathy constantly invalidate your feelings day in and day out can do that. By the time we were married, he had turned my world upside-down and inside-out, to where I could hardly remember or recognize the woman that I used to be, before he came along.
I was never an innately paranoid person, nor was I ever really angry for any significant length of time before him. I knew this, but time and time again he would harp on my faults of being overly analytic and often quick-to-vent my frustrations when feeling slighted, and I slowly began to believe that I was inherently "messed up". After all, I did get upset and I did confront him quite often about his lies and his bad behavior and he would listen, stone-faced, saying, "What's wrong with you? I don't understand why you are so upset." His "calmness" was his greatest tool over me. Every time I stood up for myself, he would make me feel unstable and crazy. [See, "Gaslighting By Omission: When You're In Love with a Robot"]
Ultimately, it wasn't until we were already married and I was pregnant with our son, that I would learn of the vast depth of his complex deceptions and disturbed personality. Within months of tying the knot and knocking me up, all of his seductive behaviors, his care-giving and affection and his understanding about me and my needs that he had displayed previously, well it all came to a screeching halt very abruptly. I exhausted myself for awhile, thinking that if I loved him enough I could change him back into who I thought he was when we had gotten engaged, but it never happened. By then, so much damage had been done that I felt as if I had been dropped on my head into the shallow end of a pool. I found myself drowning in so much pain and shame, I often found it hard to even breathe.
This, all while blessed to be pregnant after having had an unfortunate miscarriage just a month into our marriage.
He would tell me he loved me and I would cringe inside since his actions never backed it up. "I love you" sounded hollow and even if he said it a thousand times a day, he could never make a dent in my loneliness. My progressing pregnancy fueled our lack of intimacy, as he became less and less discreet about hiding his pornography addiction from me as the months dragged on, and then when he told me my baby bump turned him off and creeped him out, I just about died from heartbreak that he either didn't notice, or that he just couldn't identify with.
I felt as if we were bringing our son into a marriage that was nothing but a sham. The only thing to do for a long while was continue to carry on the charade that we were happy, expecting newlyweds. I was so lost at that point, "playing along" was the only path I could seemingly navigate.
Eventually though, I began to turn my back on him because the pretending began to take its toll on me. I began to see him for who he really was after our son was born and I suddenly became desperate to escape the hell that I was in. It was only after our son was born that I began to hear my own inner voice telling me my worth. It was through listening to my motherly instincts in caring for our son that I found myself able to hear things in my head like, "I have worth.", "I deserve better than this and so does our son." and, most importantly, "I am not crazy."
These days, I make it a point to remind myself that I am worth starting over wonderful almost daily. Seven months into the legal separation phase of this divorce and I now know down to my very soul what I am worth because I am finally in a place where I trust myself and my emotions again. I'm no longer blinded from reality by a gaslighting douche canoe. I'm not living my day-to-day existence with someone that invalidates my feelings and perceptions and, in being free from that manipulation, I've begun to see things more clearly for what they really are.
I see me clearly for the first time in a long time. And, I can confidently declare that I am neither crazy, nor am I miserable!
Instead, I am a generally happy person who's actively working to recognize that experiencing many other human dimensions like anger, envy, sadness etc., is often healthy and natural, despite what the STBX had led me to believe all those years. As part of my recovery from the gas-lighting and emotional manipulation the STBX put me through, I now truly believe that I am lovable because I have worth.
I hope that by sharing some of my story here on this blog, the release of my own miserable past and shame felt because of it as I work to find myself in a much happier and wonderful place ... well, if I've helped others out there that are going through a similar demented existence in some sort of assholery eff'ed up relationship ... well, if just one person is comforted, enlighted or helped in any way by what I've shared here on this blog, then that is what I call wonderful.
Because we all have worth. Every single one of us. Despite what a douche canoe might try and tell you.