This is What the Truth Looks Like: I’m a Gaslighting Survivor

Content warning: Abuse and sexual violence

During my marriage of over 10 years I remember feeling so confused all the time. My partner would go from loving, to grumpy, to emotionally removed, and then would blow up at me in arguments like I’d never had before. He’d tell me that I wasn’t a good person and say incredibly mean things to me. I’d cry. Sometimes I would feel so angry and upset I would just leave the house and drive around. And then the next day he would apologize and be overly loving to make up for what happened. This cycle went on and on throughout our entire relationship.

He was also never interested in the things that I like. He never cared when I accomplished something meaningful. He didn’t like me having people over our house. He definitely didn’t like when my family was visiting. As a narcissist, his world view revolved around himself and everything, literally everything, was about making HIM feel happy.

When I was in it I couldn’t see it for what it really was – emotional abuse. And emotional abuse is domestic violence. So many people think that when you’re in a domestic violence situation you should just leave, but it is so much more complicated than that. I knew that things were not right and for over 10 years I tried to change myself to make things better. I didn’t even tell my friends how badly I was being treated. Looking back I don’t know why that was. Maybe I felt ashamed or maybe I just wanted to maintain an outward appearance that things were fine and we were happily married.

The tipping point was when I saw how our escalated arguments were hurting our two sons. I finally realized that our marriage would never get better because a narcissist does not want to look within themselves. They blame everyone else. Nothing is ever their fault. They manipulate situations to make you question yourself and you find that you’re walking around dazed and confused, questioning your own sense of reality (I now know this is called gaslighting).

I finally told my ex that I wanted a divorce. Divorcing a narcissistic abuser is a terrible thing to go through but I was able to lean on my family and friends for love and support.

During the divorce period there was one episode of sexual violence which I really think was his way of exerting power over me. That was really hard to type because I’ve hardly told anyone about what happened. I don’t like to think about it.

Fast forward 6 years post-divorce and I am so glad that I left that marriage even though it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Being free from a narcissist has meant that I am free to be myself. I no longer spend my days feeling perplexed by how everyone I know can think of me one way while my partner thinks the worst of me.

I’m a stronger person now. I have my two boys and a lovely apartment that we cherish. A safe place of our own to grow and love and just be ourselves.

National domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National sexual assault hotline: 1-800-656-4673


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