Gaslighting- a term that is not widely known, unless brought to your attention when reading about narcissists or in therapy recovering from one. While I was already familiar with the term and experienced it personally many times over the course of 7 years; it was after hearing the definition and characteristics as described in Season 3, episode 2 of the Something is Wrong podcast, that my mind was blown. The definition of gaslighting (according to the Oxford dictionary) is to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. The goal is to make you feel crazy! I identified with about 90 percent of the characteristics described in the podcast. Rather than losing your attention or writing a novel about them, I will focus on those that stood out to me the most. First and foremost- narcissists are never genuinely sorry because that would require empathy. Their apologies are conditional and may sound like “I’m sorry that you feel that way”, rather than apologizing for what they did since they do not take responsibility for their actions. If they do apologize, they are looking to get something out of you- in my case it was usually for me to not kick him out or take him back if I had already kicked him out. I can’t even tell you the amount of fake tears that I witnessed over the years. He would cry and beg and plead but the only person he was sorry for was himself. He was sorry that he got caught. Narcs will often reel you back with their crocodile tears and empty promises, but good luck with any permanent change. They love getting people riled up and pinning them against others. Creating chaos is exiting for them. He would instigate drama so that he could watch it unfold, mostly between myself and the obsession. He loved that I was jealous and felt inadequate because of her. He enjoyed her bashing me when I finally caught up to their shady business. He even lied to me after I found his credit card statements with thousands of dollars spent on her (wine tastings, shopping, dinners, etc.) and told me that it must have been fraud. He never filed a fraud claim, because anyone with half a brain knew he was full of shit. This is a great segue to the next set of characteristics…. They want special treatment and to be put on a pedestal. The rules do not apply to them; however, you must follow all rules or there will be hell to pay. The same goes for loyalty. They expect loyalty but will never reciprocate that loyalty or honesty. They will not keep promises because their promises are made to be broken. They are compulsive liars and generally unfaithful. They will lie to your face without feeling any guilt and even if caught red handed, they will still lie, with a straight face, and make you feel crazy. I remember the times he would tell me that he was going out to lunch with one of the guys from our distributors since he knew that by this time, I was close to all of his friends- he needed to use someone I didn’t have contact with. One of those times, he came home from lunch with a container of leftovers and went so far as to write his name and the pretend guy’s name, along with the date, on the container.I knew it was bullshit, and completely out of character but didn’t have proof until I figured it out another way.
Then, months later, I found a receipt and tag, for women’s shoes (in her size) and a pair for him from that same day. The bag from the shoes fell right out of his trunk and his old pair was in the bag along with her tag. He then tried to pretend that they were for me and the receipt listed the wrong size- there was only a small part of that story that was true since the receipt showed size 8, but the tag was for size 7. My size is 8.5-9 which he always insulted and liked to call me flipper. He went to another store to get me the same brand shoes in my size (thinking I wouldn’t know) and bought me diamond earrings as well. He spent over $2,000 on gifts that day to try to cover up his lie- this just goes to show how far a narcists will go to keep up their act. I located all of the receipts and none of the dates matched his story, yet he tried to guilt trip me by telling me ” you sure know how to ruin a surprise”. I did some more investigations and confirmed that they were together the day of the original receipt, and that he was once again, (surprise, surprise) full of shit. Once caught, he changed his story and said that they were together but that she bought her own shoes by giving him cash and he charged it on his card, but the receipt specifically said cash payment. He eventually had no choice but to admit to buying her the shoes that day.
I practically became a private investigator by this time and for the next few years of the relationship- not only was it exhausting, but mentally draining. The mind-fuckery was taking a toll on me. I started documenting everything- text messages, emails, receipts, etc. because it was the only way to prove to myself that I wasn’t crazy. I even made a separate album for the evidence which is exceptionally helpful now that I am blogging about it. Looking back, I can’t believe I allowed this to happen and lived my life constantly looking over my shoulder. There is something to be said about trust- without it, you have nothing. The level of trust in my relationship now is incredible. I enjoy the peace that comes with trust, rather than the constant wondering and investigations. Overall, narcs react flatly and use cognitive empathy- acting like they are empathetic without actually feeling it. I should give him an academy award for all the times he pretended to give a fuck. They also love to use your weaknesses against you. Once you feel comfortable enough to open up to them and be vulnerable, they will use your intimate thoughts and feelings against you in fights as psychological ammunition. You will always be compared to others in a way to make you feel inadequate. I was compared to his mother, his ex, and his obsession. Let’s not forget, that initially I was the most amazing and perfect woman, until all of the things he complimented about me became the very things he insulted. A far stretch from when he told me that I was his soulmate, the only one who understood him, the woman he wanted to marry, etc. His favorite dig was always about my parenting, or my children in general. How I didn’t knock him out or leave him the day he told me my son was a pussy and a cunt is beyond me. It makes me sick thinking about it. My kids are and always have been great kids. Considering how poor his parenting was and is, I should have thrown that in his face, but I didn’t. The best thing I did as a parent was getting rid of him because that’s not the type of role model any child needs. Narcissists are obsessed with both their appearance and yours- because you need to look perfect on their arm, they have an image to uphold. Body weight is always an underlying message and of great importance to them. He would comment on my weight and what I was eating- meanwhile he couldn’t fit into his pants and gained an excessive amount of weight and I didn’t say a word. A good friend of mine dealt with this from her aunt, who was going around telling people that she was morbidly obese. This same aunt would also diminish any of her ideas or accomplishments, making her feel like she was never good enough. They have a bad temper and have fragile egos. Beware of the first time something sets them off and they drop their mask. It will scare you. He often made me jump when he raised his voice, threw things, or slammed his fist. When he lost his temper, everyone, including the neighbors, could hear him. He would even have outbursts in public and it was quite embarrassing. Like toddlers with behavioral issues, punishment or rewards have little impact on the narcissist. No matter how many ultimatums I gave him about sneaking around with his “friend” and lying to me, he continued to do so, getting more creative each time. He even changed the name he had her listed as in his contacts, multiple times, and hid notifications. His phone was always locked and often facing down. He has never had any self- control or desire to stay away from this girl, no matter what shit storm it causes. His daughter even despises this person without even knowing the whole story about her. They wear you down over time and do everything in their power to break your spirit. They will tease you in a way that makes it seem like a joke, but once you tell them it is upsetting to you, the response will be that you are being too sensitive. I dare you to bust a narcs balls in return without them throwing a temper tantrum. If they do compliment you- it will be a Complisult , which is a combination of a compliment and insult, in a passive aggressive way. An example of this would be, “I like your pants, they almost fit you” or “dinner was good- much better than usual”. They will tell people you are crazy. He told a female he was friends with that I was crazy and didn’t allow him to have female friends. He failed to mention that the issue was only with one friend- his obsession. The same friend that he had naked photos of, took out on dates, spent excessive amounts of money on and performed free service (from OUR business), while charging his family when they needed service. After we broke up for the final time, he told his friends and family that I was evil, and that if they only knew the depths of what I did, they would never speak to me again. This was baffling to me since all I did was take care of him, his family, his business and his friends! I was the go-to for everything and everyone and I never turned my back on any of them. There was nothing that he could possible say that would spin the breakup as my fault, but he needed to turn them against me and for some, it worked. What was most ironic, was the text message that he sent me telling me how wonderful I was when he didn’t make it to a company meeting and how badly he screwed up (along with all of the bullshit excuses), which was the opposite of what he was spewing to everyone. Things are often twisted to fit their narrative and this was a perfect example of that. Ultimately, the REAL friends and family have remained in my life, most importantly, his daughter- my step daughter, who I love dearly. The rest will have to live with their decisions and maybe someday the truth will come out., although some know the whole story and still stand by his side – I’m confident that he twisted all truths to his benefit.
They will bait and switch you. He went from prince charming to the devil, little by little over time. Similarly, they are great at kissing your ass until they get what they want. Once they get what they want, they drop the mask. A good friend of mine was kind enough to help her narcissist ex-husband out with transporting their young sons when his car broke down. She accommodated him all week and when she asked about dropping the boys off one hour early, he went ballistic. He told her to fuck off and called her a cunt (seems to be a favorite word for narcs). The lack of respect and self-awareness is really disheartening. There are so many more examples that I could bore you with, but I’m confident that you’ve got the picture by now and if any of this resonates with you, then you have also experienced a narcissist in your life. The ultimate goal here is to make you aware of the signs, the ones that I missed or ignored thinking that things would get better. Things will not get better and enabling them will only cause more pain for you in the end. Narcs do not change- there is psychological evidence that generally, they cannot be cured and even if there is a chance, I sure as hell would never put myself in that thankless situation again. I love where I am now and want to protect others from becoming victims to a narcissist, by bringing awareness and support. Works Cited: “Something was Wong” podcast, Season 3, Episode 2. by Tiffany Reese https://www.somethingwaswrong.com/episodes/episode/255cf390/2-their-little-counselor Oxford Dictionary: https://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/255554 

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