Gaslighting

As I was sitting down to write a new post, I discovered this article by Lisa E. Scott on her site,  vainencounters.com:

The “Crazy-Making” Behavior of a Narcissist.

I identified with everything in Lisa’s article.  She also mentions the term, gaslight.  I had to Google some more.  I had heard the term, but never paid attention.  I didn’t know it applied to me.

I found this article by Robin Stern, Ph.D.:

What is Gaslighting?

__________

 

I had today’s post composed in my head before I had discovered the gaslighting stuff.  I even had the appropriate pictures selected.  I was ready to hit publish.  The post was about how I’m tempted to believe that Mark is changing.  I was going to write that I’ve been thinking I really managed to get through to him.  I was even wondering if Narcissists are capable of seeing who and what they are, and that their behaviors have a detrimental effect on their families.

 

You’d think I’d know better by now.

 

Last night he came over to discuss Christmas gift ideas with the kids.

He left and Jenny broke into tears.

I was present for all the conversations.  I heard the veiled put downs, and the not-so-subtle dismissals of the dolls Jenny wants, and the ski pants Will wants.  I heard his jovial-sounding sarcastic jabs.  In his sing-song voice he said, “Well Honey Bear, I thought you wanted a baby doll carriage.  You mean you still like Barbies, too?  You still like babies and Barbies?”

“So Will, do you think these ski pants would be cool enough for you?”

These are pokes and prods.  These are smarmy little attempts at sounding like an interested dad, but really they show how little he knows them, and how little he cares.

 

This morning’s discovery of gaslighting was another whisper from the Universe.  This time she said, “Hon, don’t be fooled.  Don’t believe, for one second, that a Narcissist is capable of changing. It will never be about the kids. It will always be about him.  Check out this post on gaslighting.  It applies to you, Sweetie, and your kids, too.”

 

At least she’s still whispering. I half expect her to come at me next time with a 2 x 4.

 

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8 comments

  1. Trust Yourself and Your Heart.

    Put a wall up around your heart towards Mark that he is not allowed to cross.

    You three are doing splendidly, in spite of his latest visit.

  2. Donna,

    Thanks for that. I was starting to lose my focus. Dared to think that I might be able to let my guard down.

    Re-fortifying boundaries now.

  3. I totally agree with what the Universe said. I feel so sorry for Will and Jen.

    How to protect your/my kids from getting hurt? I wish we knew the answer to that one.

    My ex is still acting charming and caring, and I frequently have to check myself because I often find myself momentarily fooled. The minute you let yourself get fooled, it is all the more hurtful when he acts like an A.H. again.

    I allowed myself to grieve for my ex lately, while he has been acting so nice. I grieve for the part of his soul that died when he was a young boy at the hands of a particularly venomous narcissistic mother. I had to live with his mother for a short period and I can clearly see that she was and still is capable of inflicting great harm on her children. I believe that she killed a part of his soul, and it is gone forever. This way of looking at it helps me have compassion for him, and at the same time makes me want to protect my children from him, so that I will never again be fooled.

    Gaslighting – yes I have read about it too, and my ex was extremely good at it!

  4. Reese,

    Each time you write, I realize how similar our experiences have been. I’m referring to our ex-mothers-in-law.

    You set a fine example by showing your ex such compassion.

    On the one hand, that’s what kept me in my marriage. I felt sorry for my ex, and thought I could help him heal. On the other hand, that became my trap. But still, we all start as innocent children. It’s sad to see the hurts and damages caused by parents – parents who probably didn’t have loving role models, either.

    I like to think that our kids picked us to better prepare them for the road ahead. I do wonder why Jen, Will and your two have to learn all these lessons, but I also think that whatever we can learn about NPD helps us guide them through this difficult process.

    The mushy part of me grieves for all children of narcissists and for narcissists, themselves. It just doesn’t have to be that way. But it’s a damn difficult mess to fix.

  5. That is a great way to look at it – that our kids picked us to better prepare them. It puts an unfortunate situation in a positive light. An excellent one for the tool box!

    About me setting a fine example with my compassion – I admit that it is easy to have compassion for him when he has been acting nice for 5 months. When Mr. Hyde made his routine appearance during the marriage I often wished I had a piece of 2 x 4 handy.

    And I’ll admit that I don’t feel ANY compassion for my mother in law. I think it is because I am a mother that I can’t fathom how she could have wounded her poor little children so deeply.

  6. Reese,

    Agreed. When we know the depth of the love we feel for our own, it’s particularly hard to grasp how his mom (any parent) could wound her own.

  7. There is a running joke among the siblings in my family about what to say when we are asked what we want for Christmas by our parents.
    ‘So, what do you want for Christmas?’
    “Hmm, I’d really like a new winter coat!”
    “Yeah…that sounds pretty lame. I’m getting everyone ipod’s. They just came out with the new shuffle. I think you’ll like it. They’re pretty cool.”
    Every year our step-father would purchase us some electronic item that he enjoyed.
    Our mother would send us Christmas cards…which we would receive sometime in April.
    Our initial responses were a few years of tears and frustration. But now, 4 of the 6 of us laugh…heartily, while telling elaborate versions of the stories our mother told us about the mysterious disappearances of our cards and gifts….those damn polar bears! Always snatching up cards.
    One year my brother was plainly told “Dude, your Christmas list sucks.” (by our step-father; a grown-up)

  8. E,

    I’m shaking my head. Literally. Jenny saw me reading this and shaking my head and she said, “What’s up, mom?”

    I said, “There’s a new commenter on the blog. She’s been in the trenches. She knows.”

    My other favorite Christmas list comment: “Are you kidding? You don’t want that, do you?”

    To which I’d always wanna say, “Well, honey, why don’t YOU write Will’s Christmas list for him.”

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