Gaslighting is such a cruel thing because you can’t point to it or hold it in your hand or name it. It’s a feeling that’s so insidious it’s hard to separate from who we feel we are and who we actually are. It’s like a scent that’s barely there. You know it’s there, and it gives everything in your life experience a faint stench.
I know what gaslighting is because I experienced it – a lot. It began with my first boyfriend when I was 16. It continued with my first husband and then to the final straw relationship that broke me open. And that’s what led me to my awakening, my transformation.
It’s strange to look back at the lovely teenage girl who was, popular, intelligent, involved in social activities. Why had she allowed herself to be so mistreated? What childhood wounds did hold to lay down my self-confidence and self worth so easily? What happened for me to believe the cruel things that my first boyfriend would say to me, degrading things, that I would believe?
Why would he tell me to go back in my house and change into another outfit after I had just spent two hours getting ready for our date? He said I looked a little fat, but I couldn’t have looked fat at 118 pounds!
I remember him gloating to his friends after asking me to walk two miles in the Florida summer heat to get him some ice cream while he watched a football game with friends. And I went. I can still recall what it felt like as I was walking. Wondering why he didn’t drive himself. Wondering why I was doing it. Wondering why I didn’t have the gumption to tell him no. Feeling that I didn’t want him to find a reason to break up with me. I was consumed by him, not at all concerned with what it was doing to my self-esteem.
Forward three years to my first husband, when I was 19. He was 22 and way worse at gaslighting than my first boyfriend was.
My first husband had me believing I was ignorant, unsociable and that no man would want me because I was so homely. In fact he even said in the words “no man would ever want you if ever decided to leave me.” (It’s worth mentioning here that I had been on my high school homecoming court, city beauty queen contestant, cheerleader, etc. So I couldn’t have been that homely.) But I believed everything he told me about myself. I believed I couldn’t make life without him, that no one would want me, that I couldn’t make it on my own.
When I finally left him after 8 1/2 years, I told him in a letter I would rather have had him hit me so I’d have physical scars instead of the emotional scars he left me with. It would take me many years to sort out those emotional scars and the lies about myself I had believed for so long. (click here for some signs to look for in gaslighting)
Eight years after leaving my first husband I met an amazing man I married. He was so powerful and self-confident that he pushed through all the lies I believed about myself for those four wonderful years we had together. Then he died.
Like an addict, I went back to my old way of self condemning and low self-esteem thinking within a couple of years. I would attract the man I refer to now as Saint Craig.
He was the worst Gaslighter and liar I experienced in my entire life. I went to my lowest low and hit the hardest wall. It was awful! I didn’t even want to live. I wouldn’t have continued living if I hadn’t had a young son to care for. Because of Craig and the demeaning life I was living my daughter disowned me, I lost ALL of my self-confidence, my dream home, my honor, my social status, and hundreds of thousands of dollars he borrowed/took from me.
I must have had a guardian angel to step in to help me, because I was totally powerless in Craig’s presence. Somehow I managed to scrape up enough courage to break off our two-year relationship. Then he died a short time later of a drug overdose.
It was at this point I began my transformation into this current version of myself that delights, excites and pleases me every day. I found eyes to see the truth – I was literally reborn!
My transformation was about learning to love myself. I mean really love me – not who loved me, why they love me, who I was, what I looked like, what possessions I had. But I learned to be with myself at a very deep and meaningful level to give myself what I was always looking for and what I kept trying to get from other people and experiences as replacements.
What I found during my recovery time is that self-love replaces the need to be gaslit. People who gaslight are insecure, looking to suck energy from others who are not secure enough in themselves. Gaslighters are like moths to a flame. They are attracted to the light:
- The light emanating from us that is looking outward for acceptance instead of looking inward for self acceptance.
- It’s the light that’s looking outward for love instead of inward for self-love.
I had childhood wounds and so did the men who I allowed to Gaslight me. We were feeding off each other’s insecurities in extremely unhealthy ways.
Once I began understanding the importance of self-love, I began to have huge compassion for that 16 year old girl who was looking anywhere other than inside herself for love and acceptance.
Now when I hear that same old demeaning voice in my head, instead of getting angry that it’s still there, I stop it in its tracks. I answer it with words of love like “Juliana, I love you, you’re awesome”. Or “Juliana, the beautiful truth about you is that you are worthy”. It’s soothing to hear those words, although it’s a never-ending process. I don’t expect I will ever had to stop overriding the mean voice in my head, but I know I don’t want to stop.
Self care, healthy boundaries, positive & loving self talk, Rebirthing Breathwork, Positive Psychology all make up my transformation, my new way of life that is so wonderful to live.
And the really cool thing is that when we have the self-love and self-acceptance, it’s a light that does not draw in people wanting to suck energy out. It attracts people who want to lovingly share theirs or learn how to create that energy in themselves. It’s a strength that is emoted through self acceptance and Selflove.
So in the end, what appears to be the weak one has become the winner. And a glorious prize it is!
If you’d like to learn about some of the Inner Child Healing processes and other processes that Juliana used to help herself, check our the powerful course she created. It’s a 3-week digital course called “A Fresh Start on Love: Create Amazing Relationships by Rewriting Your Childhood“. Most of our relationship problems began in our childhood. And those early subconscious programs, aka childhood wounds, are still down there running the show. Click here to read about this unique and transformation-al course!