Tag Archives: gaslighting

There’s No Coming Back From the Dead

27 Feb


I was reading the post of one of my favorite bloggers when I had an epiphany of sorts.  Her last few posts have been about trust, which you know is on my mind a lot.  In the post Reflections on trust, she talks about all the ways her husband’s lies have affected her and made her feel devoid of value.  She went through 20 years of being lied to.  It blows my mind.  Still, some people who comment on her blog seem to think that she should devote more time to waiting around for her husband to magically change.

One went so far as to say,

“A trauma that taught him as a child to lie and keep secrets. Just because he has a grown mans body, a job, kids and a wife does not mean that he was ever taught to tell the truth. Do do what we are taught as children, it carries over into adulthood. You know I’m not making excuses for H’s affair, it was wrong he knew it was wrong but he was doing what he learned as a child. Now he’s trying to unlearn those behaviors, it’s not going to happen over night… Don’t punish him for what he IS doing.”

That literally made my blood boil.  It’s not going to happen over night?  Give him more time?!  That’s your advice?!  He was screwed up as a kid, he wasn’t taught to tell the truth, he’s just doing what comes naturally to him, so… what?!?!  She should just accept that?  Learn to live with it?  Wait some undetermined, potentially indefinite period of time for him to MAYBE, POSSIBLY LEARN to have a conscience and stop being a lying piece of shit?!?!?!?!?!  Disregard the 20 years of lies?  Forget about all these months he spent as an unremorseful ass?  Push aside the fact that he may not be in love with her at all and just keep hanging onto a dead marriage…? Because he did two decent, minimal things and made a few short-lived gestures?

What about the possibility that there is no change coming down the road…?  What if there is no fantastical, happy ending?   What if there is no pot of gold?  Maybe he is just broken.  Irreparably.  Maybe he will be a lifelong liar.  Maybe there just really is no hope for their marriage.  Have those people stopped to consider the fact that she isn’t obligated to continue being dragged around in the mud behind him?

Maybe they have and maybe they haven’t.  I guarantee that they haven’t had a moment where the switch flipped and they just knew that it was over.

I know how much lies can just destroy your soul.   Lies can literally kill any love that you had for someone.  I reached a point with my husband’s lies where that one more lie was just too much to handle.  That only took 5 years for me.  I can’t imagine the hell of being with someone emotionally closed-off from you who has been actively lying for 20 years!  It blows my mind.  She deserves a medal for toughing it out as long as she has so far.

Another thing I know those commenters don’t understand is that there comes a point where there really is no return.  No more “waiting” for the other person to make a change that will be too little, too late.  Once I turned that corner and flipped that switch, it was over.  Done.  No turning back.  There was a moment when I knew that there was no recovery, no making the marriage work.  I even tried to fight against it a little, but it was hopeless, even for me.  Once you have crossed that line, an impenetrable wall goes up and that’s just it.

It is hard to describe that moment to someone who hasn’t had one.  There isn’t an overwhelming feeling of hatred or spite.  In fact, the presence of those emotions for me meant that I was still hanging on to him in some way.  That moment of letting go, feeling the relationship die, it didn’t make me want to scream and yell and kick.  It was just a gentle click.  In that moment I lost all ability to feel much of anything for him besides vague pity, lingering hurt, and a deep desire for it to be over and to no longer have him in my life.

I can say with absolute honesty that my husband could do everything I ever asked of him, worship the ground I walk on, and never tell me a single lie for the rest of his life, and it wouldn’t matter.  I could have assurances that if he even uttered one false word he would be struck dead in his tracks.  He could never cheat again, never watch one more second of porn, never so much as look at another woman. He could make every dream I’ve ever had come true.  He could hit the lottery and win millions.  None of it would matter.  Nothing he could ever do would be enough to get back the love I once had for him.

He murdered that with his lies.

He destroyed it with years of half-truths, gaslighting, and hiding his true emotions and feelings from me.

Like I wrote in my post, I’m Getting Tired of Talking About Lying, I got to a point where I was tired of being lied to, tired of wondering what the truth was, and tired of expending emotional energy on the same thing over and over.  He was too broken, and I could not wait around anymore.

That moment for me came when he lied about STD testing and health insurance.  That is when he killed any chance we ever had of being together.  That was the final “click.”

The love just shriveled up and died.

Just like people, love can’t come back once it’s dead.  Even if it could, it would be a zombie – undead, cold, feeding off of the flesh of anyone close to it.

I don’t want zombie love.  I want the real thing.


Lessons from Judge Judy

18 May

Of course right after such a positive post yesterday I came home last night and discovered my husband has been lying to me again.  Not about sex stuff, but about money.  It wasn’t just a one-time lie.  It has been a continual lie over the last 2 weeks.  It took all of the wind out of my sails, and I really couldn’t handle it emotionally.  Let’s just say Mr. Mess slept on the couch last night…

I have to thank Judge Judy, though, for giving me some hard lessons about how to tell what is the truth and what isn’t.  Here are some of my favorites:Judge Judy

“If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true.”

“You don’t have to have a good memory if you’re telling the truth.”

“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.  Your story, sir, is not a duck!”

I actually used the second one on my husband last night.  As his story changed for the 3rd or 4th time I told him that you don’t have to have a good memory if what you’re telling me is the truth.  The truth just is…  You need to use your memory when you’re trying to remember a made-up story.  When it’s the truth it doesn’t change so all you have to do is say what happened…  Plus, what he was saying just didn’t make sense.  So it couldn’t be true!  Sure enough… after several MORE denials (“I wish I could find that invoice that shows what they charged me for”) he finally fessed up that he had been lying to me.  If you can even call it “fessing up” when I busted him and wouldn’t let him squirm his way out of it…

So after what has been a very good few weeks of moving forward, we have once again started taking steps back.  I don’t really know what I expected.  After all, yesterday I even said, “Sure, there have been a few low points and some disappointments – there are always bound to be some of those.”  I just didn’t expect one of those “low points” to be the very same day…  There’s irony for you!

It’s like I’m being tested to see if I really meant it when I said, “When we have setbacks, I need to remind myself of everything we have made it past and how much farther along the road we are now.”  I still think that’s true.  To my credit, I think I handled this a lot better than I would have in the past.  There was no yelling, no waving about of the arms, no crying.  I just couldn’t brush it off and snuggle up for a nice night’s sleep, though.  I read in a book this morning that when someone hurts you and that person doesn’t fully change their behavior every fresh wound brings back all of the pain from each past injury as well.  That is really what is happening to me right now.  In the grand scheme of things this is not the worse thing he has done, but it hurts pretty bad just the same.

That’s where my quandary lies.  I want to be positive.  I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I want our trust to be repaired.  I want to let my walls down.  But he’s a liar, and liars lie – about everything – small lies, big lies, sex lies, random lies, money lies… you name it.  I want to believe him, I want to move forward, but I don’t know how to find the right balance.

I feel like the kid at the top who is just waiting for the other person to drop him.
Photo Credit

My “gut” knew there was something fishy when he his story changed slightly the first time (about a week ago).  My head knew there was something off, too.  So why did I just let it go?  Especially knowing what I know about his history of lying…

Was it because I somehow wanted to fool myself and keep my good feelings?

Because I was afraid to be negative?

Because I just wanted so badly to believe him?

Now I’m also wondering what my reaction should be.  That’s one of the main reasons I asked him to spend the night away from me.  I needed space to sort through my thoughts because this whole thing has really gotten into my head big time.  I’m so turned around and upside down that I’m at the point where I don’t even trust myself.  I don’t know how I should feel or sometimes even fully what I feel.  Let me just give you a little glimpse of what I mean.

Feelings.  I’m feeling pretty betrayed.  I’m feeling stupid and naïve for dismissing my initial doubt to take his word.  More than anything I’m feeling shut out by him.  When he lies to me because he “gets caught up” or “is afraid of my reaction” what he’s really saying is that he doesn’t trust me.  What I get from his actions is that he wants to keep stuff from me, exclude me from things (like finances) that I should be included in, and that he doesn’t feel like I’m worthy of the full truth.  It doesn’t really matter if he’s thinking all of those things when he lies to me because that is the effect of his lies.  He is robbing me of the chance to participate, to really know him, and to have a say in my own life.

What I’m not feeling that I think I should feel is anger.  I’m not really that angry at all.  I’m mostly just deflated.  Disappointed.  Resigned to the fact that this is my life.  I want to have righteous indignation.  I’ve had that before, and it really takes all of this complicated stuff off of the table when you can just rage a little bit.  I have found it isn’t productive, though…  Once the raging is done you still have to deal with all of this mess in the aftermath.  It just makes it harder to connect.  That I’m not angry makes me feel like I’m somehow “letting him off the hook,” though.  That leads to…

Reaction and Resolution.  What is an appropriate response to this?  He is waiting for me to come home so we can talk about this, but I still don’t know what I really want to say.  I don’t want to blow this up into something huge, but I don’t want it to seem like it’s not important either.  What I really want to know is why he keeps lying to me.  We’ve had that conversation a thousand times before (at least it seems that way).  Actually, I kind of know why – he’s a liar.  I don’t mean that in the incredibly negative and judgemental way that it sounds.  It’s just the truth.  He has a very long pattern of lying as a means of avoiding repercussions, making himself feel better about himself (by hiding the things he does wrong), “protecting” other people’s feelings, and taking the easy way out.  It’s something he has done since he was a kid.  It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to lie and cover up “bad news” or a mistake.  It’s good that he recognizes the pattern, but that doesn’t really help me feel any better about it.

Scratch what I said before – what I REALLY want to know is why he didn’t catch himself somewhere along the way.  That is something we have talked about a lot.  It is a promise that he has made to me – if he feels like he is about to lie he will try to catch himself, if he doesn’t catch himself and he lies he will come clean, and if he doesn’t do either one of those things he will at the very least admit the lie when I confront him.  He didn’t do any of those things.  In fact, he did the exact opposite.  He lied to me.  Then he lied to me again about the same thing…  And again the next time it came up…  And when I questioned him as his story kept changing he still kept lying and denying.  If I hadn’t had the power of Judge Judy’s logic on my side he would have just kept on gaslighting me forever.

So what’s a girl to do?  I’m not really sure (and I’m heading home in less than 5 minutes).  I guess I will figure it out as I go.  It’s just another Frustrating Friday…

“Small” Lies Create Big Problems

17 Apr

AARRGGH!  Okay, so things have obviously been going too good for me.  I have been feeling much more positive and upbeat this week.  The anti-depressants seem to be kicking in a bit because I have more energy and feel more like the “old me.”  My husband and I had what I thought was a very honest, deep conversation last night.  Then another one of his stupid, “small” lies pops up and throws a wrench in my whole day.

So here’s the short story – and this really is stupid.  I got a free Redbox rental code texted to me Sunday night (they do that once per month).  We decided to rent a movie even though there wasn’t anything in particular we wanted to see – because hey, it’s free.  Husband picks up movie.  We watch said movie.  He says he will return it the next day (yesterday).   I would have returned it since I have to go by a Redbox on my way back from work (literally – right past one within a few feet).  But he said he would take care of it.  I wake up and the movie is gone.  I assume he had probably taken it back like he said.

Let me back up just a quick second.  I have a Redbox account.  They have my phone number (obviously) and email attached to that account and every credit card that I have ever used is automatically tied into that account.  Every time I use one of those cards, put in my email address at checkout (with a new card), or use an exclusive coupon code they have texted to me I get a nifty confirmation email of my purchase and return.  Automatically.

So let me continue…  I got the email confirmation when my husband picked up the movie.  After all day yesterday not seeing the return confirmation I thought he may have forgotten to return it (since Mondays are very hectic with school, work, quickly home, then back to school).   When he got back home I casually asked him if he had a chance to return the movie.  I added casually because it really was – not accusing, not angry, just an off-hand remark after we had already caught up with the day.  He immediately said he had taken care of it.  I was a bit confused and said something like, “Hmmm, I usually get an email for returns and I didn’t get one for that.”  He said something to the effect of, “Wonder why that is?  I did return it.  Weird.”  I just took his word for it and we continued on our merry way.

Until this morning.  My husband left unusually early this morning.  He was up and out the door before 6:15, and sometimes he doesn’t even get up until 6:20 or 6:30…  I thought it was a bit unusual, but thought he probably had something going on at work since they are making a lot of changes.  After I got into work I started my morning ritual of checking my emails – both work and personal – something I monitor throughout the day and sometimes at night since I have a tablet now.  Bam!  There was an email confirmation for a Redbox return.  This morning.  At exactly 6:17:30 AM.  Wow…

Image representing redbox as depicted in Crunc...

I kept my cool, forwarded the email to him with the words “I don’t know why you would lie about this.”  When he called me on his break I didn’t mention it.  I was too busy, and I was planning to talk to him about it tonight.  But then it started festering.  By the time he called around 3:15 as he was getting off of work I just couldn’t wait.  I wanted to get it off my chest so we could hopefully have a good night.  He also has to leave for school again at 5:30, which would give us less than 30 minutes to talk when I get home anyway.

So… we chatted a bit about our day and I told him I needed to get something off my chest and clear the air.  He said, “Okay.”  I asked if he knew what I was going to say (since I told him last night I get confirmation emails of returns).  He said “No, what is it.”  I pressed…  You’re sure there’s nothing that you want to fess up to.  Again, nothing.  I came right out and told him that I know he returned the Redbox movie this morning because I got the confirmation email.  He denied it!  Up to this point I was pretty calm, even internally, but that really just blew me away.  Really?!?  He’s going to try to lie to me when I know conclusively he’s not telling the truth?!

Yep, it would seem so.  He said he returned that movie last night.  He has no idea what I’m talking about.  It was later in the evening, but he absolutely returned it yesterday on his way home from school.  I was flabbergasted.  So I tried another approach.  I told him I had noticed he left earlier this morning than normal, and I know now that it was because he was returning that movie.  Again, he denied it.  In fact, he argued that he hadn’t left the house early and he always leaves by 6:15 – something that is not only BS but again totally beside the point and not worth lying about!

I totally had it by this point and said that I really don’t understand why he would continue to lie to me when I have the proof right in front of me!  I told him I get these emails all the time and they are always accurate.  Not only to the day, but down to the very second the movie was rented and returned.  I have the location, I have the date, and I have the time the movie was returned.  Why the hell was he still lying to me about it??!!!  FINALLY he admitted that he was lying and that he DID return the movie this morning.  I mean really?!?!  You thought you could actually just LIE your way out of this and convince me that REDBOX was the one not telling me the truth!?!  This is not only gaslighting but delusional!

I asked him what he was trying to accomplish, what he really thought he was doing by lying to me.  He said he didn’t really know.  He said the movie was late, and then his voice just petered out because he probably realized how incredibly stupid the excuse was that was about to come out of his mouth.  I mean honestly, he thought that admitting he forgot to return the movie and we were charged $1.20 would have been an issue?  Of course not!  And certainly nothing even comparing to this trust-smashing, ridiculous lie that either I’m too stupid to read a date or Redbox is in some conspiracy to make him look like a liar.   I told him that this is 10,000 times worse than anything that could have happened last night.  He admitted I am right.

I also asked him why he would think that lying to me like that over and over would work when I had proof in black and white in front of me.  He said he didn’t know I had that.  Wait?!  Were we not in the same conversation?  Did I not just tell you I was looking at the email at the very beginning – that is how this whole thing came up!  Well, he didn’t know all the details it had.  Like that makes it okay to try to lie to me – he didn’t think I really had enough proof to hang him!

I asked again why he would lie to begin with last night when I provided the opportunity to admit the truth in a completely non-threatening and supportive environment?  He said he didn’t know.  I asked him why he didn’t just admit the truth the second I brought it up.  He said he didn’t know.  I asked him why he would even try arguing with me about it.  He said he didn’t know.  I told him that I gave him the opportunity today even AFTER the lie last night to come clean with the truth.  I asked him why he didn’t.  He said he didn’t know.  I told him that these “little” lies make it almost impossible for me to believe he is telling me the truth about bigger things.  He said he knows that.  I asked him why he would risk the trust we are building for something so stupid.  He said he didn’t know.

I told him that “I don’t know” is not good enough anymore.  I am tired of it.  He does know because he is the one who did it.  And I am tired of being his conscience, his brain, and his therapist while I’m trying to deal with all of the emotions and crap that his lies have caused.  I told him when I get home he better have thought about it and have a better answer.  I know that probably sounds like an invitation for more lies and bullshit (which it probably is), but I just don’t know what else to do.

Why does he have to make things so fucking difficult?


16 Apr

I have mentioned a few times that I found a website called www.survivinginfidelity.com that is a great resource for everything that I have been going through.  Not only do they have forums and support groups, but they also have resources and FAQs that are packed with great information.  As I was browsing through the FAQ I found one on what they call “gaslighting.”  The first part of the answer describes this behavior perfectly:

“This term is taken from the movie “Gaslight” where the husband (Charles Boyer) tries to make his wife (Ingrid Bergman) think she is going mad by convincing her what she thinks she is seeing isn’t real. When the WS is either caught or suspected, he/she may try to convince the BS that they are not seeing what they think they see or that something didn’t happen, even though everything points to the fact that it DID happen.”

I have never seen the movie and I hadn’t heard that particular term before but it is SO accurate.  I even tried to find the movie on Netflix or cable so I could watch it, but 1944 movies don’t seem to be in high demand.  Anyway, it is something that my husband did to me early in our relationship.  It is really hard to accurately describe how it feels to be on the receiving end of gaslighting.  It is disorienting.  It reeks emotional havoc.  It is a terrible, self-doubting experience.  It is incredibly cruel in the way it turns your own mind against you.

Let me give you just one excruciating example from my life.  A few months after my husband (then boyfriend) moved in with me (about a year into our relationship) I started feeling very uneasy about his behavior.  I won’t go into all of the reasons right now because they aren’t really pertinent to this particular story.  I will say that I had already experienced gaslighting on a smaller scale, and I was starting to see quite a few signs that things weren’t quite right.  Around the same time we moved in together we also decided to combine phone plans (actually I added him onto mine).  One day when the anxious feeling was especially strong I decided to log into the phone bill online and do some peaking around.

I don’t know what I expected to find.  Most of me was hoping that all my fears would be assuaged, and I could get on with my day blissfully.  Part of me knew that there was nothing good waiting for me on the other end of the “Call and Message Details” link.  I clicked bravely and held my breath as the data loaded… and felt it all knocked out of me when I saw page after page of calls and texts to a number I didn’t recognize.  Still, I tried to rationalize, go through a list of possible reasons in my mind, try to convince myself one of his friends or brothers got a new number without me knowing (after all, they are his friends and family, so its possible).  I did a reverse phone lookup (those things are quite amazing), and I could feel my stomach winding up into a tight knot – it was a cell phone registered to someone in Madison County.  As far as I knew, he didn’t have any friends or family there.  I called the number trying to get more information and got the voicemail for some woman.  A woman I had never heard of.

I don’t even know how I got through the rest of the day.  It was all a blur of mind-numbing pain, confusion, and deep hurt.  When I got home from work that night he wasn’t there yet, and I found myself pacing and restless, unable to sit down or stop my racing thoughts.  I decided to go to a local park.  I had an overwhelming need to get out of the house – away from all the walls that seemed to be closing in on me.  While I was driving there he called me.  I managed to answer the phone even though my hands were shaking from a combination of anger and anguish.  He was cheerful, called me “baby,” and said that he was on his way home to me and couldn’t wait to see my face.  I remember just feeling shocked that he would sound the same – that he could seem as loving and happy as he always did – when my world had just imploded.  I don’t know what I said, but I know that he caught on very fast that something was wrong.  I told him that I needed to talk to him, and I told him the park where I would be.  He acted like he was completely unaware of what could possibly be the matter, but he put on the concerned, supportive boyfriend voice and said he would meet me there.

Those first few minutes alone in the park were surreal.  I went over to the swing set and just started swinging.  I wasn’t crying.  I wasn’t planning what I was going to say.  I was just sitting there, swinging between two worlds – the one I had in my mind where I had a loving, devoted boyfriend and the real one that I was about to confront where he had been cheating on me.  The motion and breeze on my face were comforting, and the calm and still of the park at night were a direct contrast to the swirling madness going through my head.  All too soon his headlights cut through my reverie, and it was time to face reality.

©2008-2012 ~goose77

This screenshot shows Ingrid Bergman being gas...

This screenshot shows Ingrid Bergman being gaslighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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