you and me

Gaslighting: Selling a Piece of Your Soul.

 

What he has to say will seem reasonable. The words he uses administrative. His body language slightly authoritative, his energy aggressive.

You begin to feel confused, dizzy even, like you have just been pushed off center. Like you just stepped onto a playground merry-go-round. Self-doubt and shame begin to trickle in. And deeper still is fear. You won’t want to admit that to yourself because you love him, but there is fear here.

You regroup, re-center yourself. Your thoughts swirling in uncertainty. The energy in the room unsettling. But your gut says No. So you reaffirm your No to him while striving for common ground.

You see anger bordering on rage flash across his face. Brief, lasting only just a second till he quickly conceals it. You remember when he has smashed things implying you are next. His reasonable tone begins to take on shades of mockery and belittlement

Your heart is pounding now: Fear.

You stand firm: No.

You want to hide. Legs are feeling weak: Fear.

Round and round he argues and argues, belittling and taunting you for your No. You ask him to respect your No, to respect your boundaries.

He cannot hide his anger now. He tells you you are trying to turn him into a woman, to emasculate him. That you are wrong. That you are unreasonable. That you are a typical woman. That you need to change. That good wives compromise. That you should not feel the way you do. That you are unstable. That you are overreacting. That you are such a negative person.

He says you agreed before, but you do not remember saying that. He brings up many things from the past that you just cannot recall. Conversations, agreements, situations. Confusion. Dizziness. You try to remember the details of what he is talking about, you try to regroup, but your heart is pounding and his aggressive energy is escalating. You feel the violence just beneath the surface.

He cites some outlandish example where he has compromised. Something about how a couple of years ago he didn’t buy the two-year-old a toy motorbike because you didn’t like the idea. See, he has compromised for you, see?

A massive weight of shame floods your system now. You want to be a good wife, a good partner, but what he is proposing just feels so very wrong. Doubt. Shame. Fear.

He smells it. He senses your vulnerability. You try to walk away. The fear makes you angry: “Fuck you!” You know you just need to get away for a moment.

Livid, he sneers: “You always run away, you always try to bail. You bail on everything.” Bone-crushing shame. The fault is yours. You walk away.

Hours go by, yet you cannot shake off the shame and fear. You go to him. His energy is angry and aggressive still. You apologize, you agree to his proposition even though it still feels so wrong. His energy softens. He pulls you in for a hug, wraps his strong arms around you and kisses your forehead. The fear abets, but not the shame. You have just sold a piece of your soul and he’s okay with that.

It’s called gaslighting, and it’s terrifying.

***

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Abby Pingree
Abby Pingree spent the first seven years of her life in a hippie commune. She is currently a hospice nurse, mother, and student of life. She has made friends with her own experiences with drug addiction, bulimia, dishonest and dodgy behavior by simply telling the truth. She now seeks an authentic life, and has the privilege of helping others. She writes for Elephant Journal and blogs for Huffington Post. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Abby Pingree