When you realise that perfect wonderful love you felt was actually a self destructive trap….
I’ve always prided myself on being independent and fairly self-assured, we all have our moments of course but I’ve known fundamentally that I’m a genuine, honest and very caring person particularly in intimate relationships. Through recent experience though, I found myself feeling unsure I was doing enough, being there enough and loving enough….. How did this happen? I asked, as the realisation hit me, I was a prisoner in my own self destruction.
At first, the relationship was amazing, I was complimented, made to feel special, safe and loved. I planned a future I had never considered, marriage, kids and in return for this amazing promise of a future, I explained away so many little things, allowed subtle remarks and behaviours to creep in. I see now it’s the little things that count, they’re hard to hold onto but they are your evidence, your lifeline to reality, a precious commodity in this confusing, gas-lighting relationship.
The real changes happened over time, I felt my understanding of certain situations, be chipped away at, questioned and reframed until I really wasn’t sure I was right or wrong. When someone’s account of something is so different to yours and they demonstrate no insight in their role what can you do but think is it me??? Looking back, I can see it was these things that left me doubting, I was spoken to in an ‘jokingly’ undermining way, I was left to feel guilty for things I may or may not have said untilI found it hard to have an opinion at all, for fear of the reaction, the drama, the here we go again I need to apologise for …?
Ultimately, I felt a lot of the time I was anticipating reactions and through wanting to be there for the person I felt I needed to change, I needed to adapt….and reflect…and adapt again until I really didn’t feel I was there at all.
It’s hard to see it when you’re in the situation but remembering that love works both ways, that guilt and pain shouldn’t be a part of it. If a person makes you feel trapped, sad and alone you know something isn’t right. When I walked out, I didn’t know what I was doing I had such a strong feeling of fear and guilt but somehow I chose to listen to my gut which was screaming at me, telling me to get out no matter the consequences, that this wasn’t right. I watched myself in confusion pack all of my belongings and step out of the door…..
Being free was the biggest gift I could have ever given myself. I’ve learned so much from this experience and understand the complexities to gas lighting, emotional abuse and entrapment. I feel for anyone who has gone through a similar experience and for those who are still in it. All I can say is know your worth and love yourself enough to look at what’s in front of you and ask yourself questions. There’s too much power in silence, listen to your feelings and speak to people in your life and ask if these things are right. If like me you start to get to a point of not knowing what’s real and what’s not please ask and talk about it.
Working in Psychology I thought affected how I saw the relationship. Understanding another person’s perspective, being quick to empathise and reflect on ourselves are skills needed for a therapist but now I can see I was just caving. I had allowed myself to be undermined and under-valued; truly believing everything happening around me was my fault. The experience in the end left me feeling a shell of myself, full of doubt, guilt and anxiety. Walking away made me realise how much of myself I had suppressed.
For me, the power he had over me was in my willingness to accept someone’s view of me without question. I let myself and my very nature be shaped by how that other person made me feel, what they told me I was. I feel angry with myself for not believing I was right, for not having enough faith in myself, not loving myself enough.
And so what now? Well I’m listening to myself more, I’ve learned and my happiness is above all the most important thing, to love me and so that’s what I’m working on. I thank my gut for screaming at me and for all the love and support I’ve got from family and friends. It is truly a blessing to see how genuine people love you and to know never to accept anything less.