I never knew that you were gaslighting me. I was too smart for something like that to happen to me. The definition of gaslighting is “to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.” That wasn’t me. I would have spotted it and stopped it. But I didn’t. You were clever, never making it obvious. Never being blatant. That’s the way it works. You never know it’s happening until you are already there.
At first, we were perfect. How could we not be? You opened yourself to me. Told me your thoughts, your greatest fears, all your emotions. Told me you had never said these things to anyone else, never trusted anyone else like you trusted me. I marveled at the honesty. I had never had a relationship like that before. I felt so blessed that finally, finally, I had found the person for me. The person who would never disappoint me and never, ever hurt me. I decided to open up to you as well and tell you all the things I had never said. I trusted you to keep them safe. We were perfect.
So when the gaslighting began, I didn’t notice. Couldn’t notice. You would never. You would always protect my feelings, take care of what we had built together. The twinges of doubt and confusion I was feeling were wrong. Dead wrong. I got mad at myself for even questioning them. You were perfect. You promised.
The twinges got louder and stronger. The missed dates, the unanswered texts. The disappearances. The hours it took for you to call me back. But there was always a reason. Always. And I was always the paranoid one for questioning. How could I do that to you? How could I question you when you loved me? How could I doubt you when you promised me? Maybe I was the one with the issue, you hinted. It must be all in my head. I needed to learn to trust you more, hear you more, believe you more.
Maybe I was the one with the issue. So I pushed it down, all the questions, all the doubts, all the lies. I could do better for you. I needed to do better. You loved me, you needed me, you had given all of yourself to me. You reminded me of that over and over. I knew all your insecurities, all your struggles. You had shared things with me that you never shared with anyone else. I knew you best. You never let anyone else see what I saw, know what I know. So why would I ever doubt you? Doubt your love? Your sincerity? I was the one with the paranoia. And I needed to get over it and fast. Or maybe we weren’t what you thought we were. Maybe I wasn’t the one you should have opened up to, trusted. Maybe my issues were going to break us.
It was that quick. That easy. I was wrong. You were right. You had come to me baring your soul and now I was questioning you? Hadn’t you already told me, shown me? How many times did you have to say the same things? Suddenly I was just like everyone else. Everyone else who hurt you, who didn’t believe in you. You trusted me to be different, and I wasn’t. Whatever was happening between us was my fault. I was losing you.
I became obsessed with fixing it. Making it right for you. Making it up to you. I didn’t even know what I was making up. I just had to do it. I was ruining everything. I was killing everything we had because I was crazy. You said so. I stayed up all night planning. I stopped sleeping. If I just did this, said this, tried this, I could fix myself. I planned trips, loaned you money, listened sympathetically to all the things everyone else was doing to hurt you, to derail you. I took notes, vowed not to ever do those things.
Still, you were angry with me. It wasn’t enough. I couldn’t make up for the things that I had done to you. I didn’t even know the things that I had done. I begged you to tell me. Swore I would make them all right. Lost myself. Lost everything.
You told me terrible things. I was the worst of all. I should have done more, been there more. I was crazy, disturbed, mentally ill. You didn’t know if you could deal with me anymore. It was too hard, too much for you. I had ruined it, ruined everything. I begged you to tell me how, why. I begged you for another chance, another chance to fix it. This time I would get it right, I promised. I would change. I would change everything about myself. Just don’t leave me. I can’t live without you.
But it was done. The gaslighting was complete. You were sorry, but it was time to move on. I had damaged us and it couldn’t be repaired. You were sorry. I was broken. You broke me. And I was left alone, with no apology.