You know all of the confusion?
All of the things that have just made no sense, but have been offered as reasons?
That which I’ve said makes me feel like I’m Alice in Wonderland?
It has a name.
It’s called gaslighting.
It’s something that is used in manipulation intentionally by people like psychopaths and sociopath with the goal of getting the person to doubt their own perceptions of reality…. to make them question if what seems like it should be common sense to them is really wrong and if they are really just crazy or overreacting.
So that then they begin to doubt their own perceptions of reality, and so then they don’t question the manipulator because they don’t have the confidence that they are really right, or even that they aren’t just going crazy on them… so they just assume that the person really might be telling the truth on things even when that truth makes no sense, and stop questioning the person’s statements as possibly being wrong.
For example… when I questioned him on him telling me it wasn’t anything with me personally but that he just couldnt handle a relationship while he was still openly looking for new dates, it got twisted into that I was making everything all about me.. which made no sense, but made me question if I might be wrong on my perceptions of the situation and got my focus unclear on what had seemed to be a clear logical issue. It made me doubt my perception of reality a bit even when I knew that his statements did not make sense together. (I now have a better idea as to what he was trying to day but wasn’t able to be open enough to convey… but that was the effect at the time.)
And, basically all of his weird answers that made no sense had the same effect.
Yeah, I knew I was probably right, but there was enough doubt that I was the one going crazy that when I’d switched therapists, I pretty much believed that. That he was a poor victim that just wanted some space to slow things down while he was dealing with a hard time, and I went completely crazy on him with my emotions being all over the place and drove him further into distress and was responsible for the fact that he shoved me away instead of even allowing friendship.
Yes, my reactions didn’t help… however, in the situations of the given moments, they were normal responses, coming from normal emotions caused by the abnormal turns of events.
Gaslighting is actually listed on one of the national domestic abuse pages as being an extreme form of emotional abuse.
There’s a very big BUT here to me.
It can also be an involuntary defense mechanism.
For example… the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.. who can’t deal with the pressure of the confrontation, and claims to not be getting a cookie in spite of clear evidence otherwise.
He’s not being manipulative intentionally as a deliberate decision… he’s panicking and it’s the first thing that comes to mind to respond.
To me, that’s an entirely different ballgame.
Yes, the kid was doing something he shouldn’t, and yes, he told a completely unbelievable lie when the pressure was on, but that seems understandable. It’s a relatively small offense.
But… if it has the same effect in the end…. if it’s still causing the effect of being abusive either way, does intent being deliberate or defensive matter?
I’m starting to feel like I’m the only one that thinks that it still does.
Beyond that, does the fact that I knew better than to doubt my own perceptions, and to validate them by getting the input of others rather than to take the bait matter? Yes, he tossed the trap again last week, but I’ve got my feet under me enough now to avoid it, so it’s not like harm was done, but it could have been?
Is he still just the jerk that a lot of people seem to think that he is if he has reasons to be doing so that are not just to be a jerk?
I think even he thinks that one actually. He knows he’s not intentionally hurting people, that he’s reacting emotionally and not under a decision that he can logically control, but he still beats the snot out of himself about it and decides that he really is the jerk.
Why in the world am I so far out there as to think otherwise? To still see him as the sweet prince charming I knew, excused by the fact that he’s acting out of hurt and not deliberate malice, when the end result is still that his actions are that of a jerk?
I feel like nobody sees what I see here.
But I can’t convince myself that I’m wrong.
Though, for the record… my guess is that his intent is actually sort of both.
There is another common symptom associated with the issue that seems to fit him… that is actually one that he and I have discussed multiple times, long before the craziness broke out into the open.
He openly admits that he does it… and that it’s manipulative, that he is doing it to get people to like him.
But, he’s just as quick to admit that he does it because he feels that he has to do it. It’s something that he generally seems to hate that he does…. but that I don’t think he can keep from doing given how much it bothers him that he does it, or he would choose not to do it, particularly when he’s aware that doing so means that he can’t trust that people don’t actually just like him because he does it because he feels like he has to do it to get them to like him.
I think this is probably similar.
He’s probably doing it reflexively like a kid in a cookie jar when confronted and hit with the emotions of the situation, but knows that he’s doing so manipulatively, and thinks that he’s doing so convincingly.
Net result being… now that I’ve got my feet under me, I don’t buy it and am not hurt by it… but he still will use the fact that he did it as evidence that he’s really just a jerk that manipulates people even though it was something he did reflexively and not as a deliberately intended action.
I still don’t believe that he’s really a jerk, acting intentionally to hurt me, and I still believe that he does regret that hurt is caused as a consequence to the impulsive reactions.
To me, intent matters.
But, assuming intent doesn’t matter and that only the result from the actions matter… now that I know what I’m dealing with, I’m not being harmed either. Actually, this last round, I laughed. So harm isn’t done.
Does the fact that it could have been done matter?
If I have to stretch it out that far.. to where the potential for harm, from an action that could possibly have done harm, but was not intentionally aimed for harm, is all that I’ve got to call it too damaging to my well being… I’m just not at the point of feeling like that’s a strong enough case to take action.
Maybe I’m crazy… but that’s what my thoughts are right now.