I’ve spent a significant portion of my adult life in an emotionally abusive romantic relationship. I’m a bit embarrassed by how long…A bit embarrassed by how many excuses I made for her.
These people won’t only hurt us, they will do something far worse: rob us of our understanding of ourselves, strip us of basic trust and, along the way, for a time, make us lose our minds. —On Gaslighting (School of Life)
I know I’m not meant to be embarrassed. Doubt and disorientation was the goal. I am though. I sometimes feel weird saying it out loud. Like it might not be true. Even though all the evidence has been right there - Plain as day.
However good we might be at fighting overt antagonists, many of us are constitutionally unprepared to detect ones that have entered our intimate lives; we expect and can deal with enemies at the office, but the bedroom feels like a sanctum where our guard is down. Yet this doesn’t mean that some very dark things can’t unfold there. There are people we can take up with who have been so badly hurt by something in their early lives that they are committed to exacting revenge on anyone who comes too close to them: they may semi-consciously be seeking to exorcise on their partners a latent rage against a dead or depressed parent, they may want to punish a bullying sibling or release themselves from a sense of intolerable vulnerability created by an incident of early abuse. —On Gaslighting (School of Life)
Loss of trust in ones-self is a helluva thing. So is having your head routinely fucked with - Over the course of many years. …It’s all going to take some time.
I’m ready. Embarrassment is nothing compared to the feeling of being well and truly free. There aren’t words for the feeling of relief that came after things were completely over.
Which doesn’t mean there aren’t waves of anger and resentment. “Well and truly free” is an overstatement. It’s more like I can taste it. I can see myself becoming myself again. I've already started.
If any of the descriptions given in the essay and the video included here sound familiar to you, leave. It doesn’t matter what other good qualities they may have. It’s going to be scary. There will be uncertainty (the real type - not just the unreal that’s been ingrained in you). You’ll figure it out. To stay is to commit to loosing yourself. Nothing is worth that.
Despite decades of training in self-doubt, we may need to do a remarkable thing: trust in what our unhappiness is telling us about those we think of as good. The test isn’t whether they tell us they love us, it’s how at peace they make us feel. We may have to accept that the world is filled with some very dangerous people who look entirely safe to our fatefully untrained eyes. We may need to think a bit less badly of ourselves and substantially worse of some sweet-seeming characters who claim with great sincerity to love us — and don’t. —On Gaslighting (School of Life)