Updated: Nov 2, 2020
I had no idea what gaslighting was or what it meant...until I had lost myself to it.
verb gerund or present participle: gaslighting
manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
I found myself saying certain phrases so many times over, that it was the way I viewed myself and expected that the rest of the world did too.
I'm sorry (as a response to EVE-RY-THING!)
Oh that's my fault...I dropped that ball.
I'm not enough.
I'm too much.
I think I'm losing my mind.
I might actually be going crazy (I started driving myself to a facility to check myself in)
What is wrong with me?
I am not smart enough
and my list goes on.....
A few years ago I would have looked at this list and thought, "that girl has self esteem issues...". That girl did, but it was not that simple...God, I wish it had been.
I'm a strong-willed, justice oriented, really smart girl...and I was from a very young age.
It required voices from others to change that in me. The saddest part for me...I let it happen. I didn't see what was evolving. I thought I was stepping into new arenas that maybe I just wasn't smart enough for.
I thought if I just learned more, educated myself more and used my ravenous work ethic, I could get smart enough. I could prove I belonged in this arena.
It started with me standing up to it. (Good Job Jess!) I didn't know to call it gaslighting.
I questioned why my personal character was part of my job evaluations, reviews and my raises (things like integrity, loyalty, ethics). I had worked with my husband in full-time christian ministry as a pastor's wife for 10 years prior (an environment my abuser had been a part of with us). Before my first review in this new job, I was asked to fill out a self evaluation that I would bring to the review. My abuser would fill out the same evaluation of me.
We talked through each question and why we gave the ratings we did. I asked, "Why are you rating my integrity as a 2 on a scale of 1 to 5? You know that integrity is one of the highest values I have and you've seen me live a life mission for this value."
I had rated myself a 5. My abuser said he couldn't give me a 5 because there needs to always remain room for growth and improvement. So...apparently my character needed growth and development in order for me to be (or excel) in my role. I wasn’t evaluated on group growth, program development or acquisition....the actual tasks of my job.