Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destablise and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the target, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.
The term originates in the systematic psychological manipulation by the main character of a victim in the 1938 stage play Gas Light known as Angel Street in the United States. In the story, a husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting that she is mistaken, remembering things incorrectly, or delusional when she points out these changes. The original title stems from the dimming of the gas lights in the house (by the husband) that when he was in the attic searching for hidden treasure. The wife correctly notices the dimming lights and discusses the phenomenon, but the husband insists she just imagined a change in the level of illumination.
A rather disturbing thought has taken root in my conscious mind, fleetingly at first around Christmas time, and increasingly strongly since then.
I recognize that ExP did this to me.
Not very often, but in order to block me from discussing thing, he would simply deny that he had said things/ or that I had said things / or that certain things had happened. I KNEW that they had, but he would completely deny it.
I did indeed, at times, think I was going mad. For example, some years ago he was invited to a weekend party on the Isle of Wight. I was not able to go, and said that I had no problem with him going, but I wasn’t happy to buy his ticket for the ferry. I am absolutely 100% sure that I said this, to him. He bought a ferry ticket on my card anyway. When I challenged this he flatly denied that I had said any such thing. There are other examples.
I can’t explain why I’m finding it hard to accept this. FWIW I don’t think he was deliberately trying to make me think I was mad, rather that he did exactly what he wanted to, and lied to me to change the ‘facts’ afterwards so that he didn’t look ‘bad’. This further example of lack of openness. honesty and true partnership shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but somehow it still is. ExP is a master of obfuscation, very talented at not revealing too much. Understanding this has helped me NOT blame myself so much for becoming involved with him… It actually took many months for it to become clear that he had NO income at all….because he did not disclose this, but rather had excuses and reasons for all the things I had noticed about his lack of cash …
This lack of integrity, which has huge and wide ranging manifestations, is something I simply can’t accept. Its completely alien to me. I expect that, underneath, one of the reasons ExP had SUCH an issue with Son#1’s history of dishonesty, is because deep down he seems himself in this behaviour. We often have extreme reactions of revulsion to traits in others that we dislike in ourselves …the more I reflect on ExP’s actions (not his words but his ACTIONS) the more I realise that he is very much less than the paragon of honesty and truthfulness he pretends to be.
He will be collecting all his possessions from my house on January 21st. THEN it will be truly over.