As I was reading Yashar Ali’s Huffington Post article, A Message to Women From a Man: You Are Not “Crazy” I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own experience with ‘gaslighting.’
Once upon a time, not so many years ago, I was in a very dysfunctional, on-and-off, non-relationship. It wasn’t always so, the dysfunctional part that is. We started out as friends, really good friends, who often both agreed that they were the opposite-gender version of the other.
Through many talks, more practical jokes than could be counted, and lots of laugh, an attraction grew. Eventually it was so strong that each moment together became a test of our will power. Then, one day, a moment of weakness changed everything. The friendship we spent years cultivating began its slow descent into nothingness. The dysfunction began. He didn’t want to have feelings for me and I had lost myself in my feelings for him.
Over the next few years a pattern developed. It would seem as if our friendship was rebuilding itself, this gave us a false sense of security that fooled us into thinking we could be alone together, eventually we’d give in during a moment of weakness, which would then lead him to do and say things to make me angry, reactive, and argumentative.
But that pattern wasn’t something I was aware of when I was in the midst of it. It wasn’t until about a year after we decided that we had to grow up and let go that I saw the truth of what had happened during those years. I had allowed him to manipulate me. I had allowed him to purposely do things that he knew would incite a reaction just so he could turn around and say to me, “See, this is why I can’t be in a relationship with you. You’re a drama queen.”
I wasn’t. I was in love, he in denial or maybe even he was in love, and I in denial.
Some time after I had my revelation, during a rare month of peace between us, I asked him, “Be honest with me. Did you purposely say the things you did to push my buttons? To make me become the crazy person you kept claiming I was?” He admitted he had. He had manipulated me by using my emotions against me. I asked him why, he didn’t have an answer.
I wasn’t a drama queen, I wasn’t crazy, but in retrospect, perhaps he was.