Gaslighting is so bad, in my opinion, that I’m not going to share a personal story about it.
It’s just too raw and emotionally damaging for me.
So, let’s go through a hypothetical scenario.
Let’s make up two people: Jessica and John.
Jessica and John are in a relationship. They’ve been dating for about 9 months, and Jessica is wondering where the relationship is going. She’s hoping that there is long-term potential.
There’s just one problem.
Lately, John has been making comments that have been getting progressively worse.
At first they started as subtle jabs, words that stuck tiny barbs in Jessica’s self-esteem.
He made her feel small by telling her she didn’t really understand what she thought she did.
Jessica shrugged these initial comments off because the relationship was still new and exciting.
Then, she felt that the words took a more sinister turn.
Each time that she would try to advocate for herself in the relationship, John would call into question if she even knew what she was talking about. It’s not like he was being physically aggressive. He just kept saying things like, “You know, that’s not really how it works. You actually do all the things you claim, so I don’t think you have much ground to argue about this.”
He would smirk and laugh a bit as he said these things.
Seeds of doubt were planted in Jessica’s mind.
Do I really know what I’m talking about? I think I do…
I gave him clear examples. What’s going on here?
Within the last month, month eight of a relationship nine months long, Jessica began to dig deep and really speak her truth to John.
She even used “I statements,” something she’d read about in an online article.
“I feel concerned when you tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about,” she would tell John.
“Well you don’t know what you’re talking about. Everyone sees it that way. Even our friends say this to me about you.”
Their friends? These friends were my friends before they ever became our friends… What the heck is he talking about?
But it just kept getting worse and worse. Soon, Jessica could not tell what was real and what wasn’t. She felt like she was losing her mind.
And she was.
Because she was being gaslit.