“He is influencing your thoughts and has been since the moment you touched – if he was not before, then he certainly was then, for I can feel the echoes of it in your mind. He would have you think his behavior typical, and mine aberrant. I ask you to trust that it is the converse that is true, and to accept that there has been a violation in his conduct – one which he compounds every time he violates your right to privacy.”
I wrote this today, for a story I’m working on. It struck me as I wrote it that it met the prompt – echo – but also that this statement could be applied to any situation in which one individual is gaslighting another. Or, when an individual or group with a common cause gaslights other groups or individuals to advance their plans.
I was raised in a family where gaslighting was so common, I accepted it as a matter of course until my 30s. I was taken in every time. Someone did something that violated my rights, and I ended feeling guilty and making amends to the party I had “forced” to wrong me.
Coming to the realization of what was happening was painful, but also liberating.
A side effect was that I can recognize the language and manipulations of a gaslighter in seconds. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a member of my own family, a fictional character – or the president.
A gaslighter will try to limit your access to the truth. They’ll repeat lies so often they sound true, and they will attempt to force you to ignore any sources they haven’t directly approved of. It wouldn’t do to have you getting hold of new information and changing your perspective. If you did, you wouldn’t be fit for the role the gaslighter has cast you in.
With a gaslighter, everything in the relationship revolves around them keeping the upper hand. The victim must feel vulnerable and powerless – and blame themselves for their lack of “backbone.” That’s crucial, because, should the victim realize that they aren’t to blame, and that they don’t have to accept the gaslighter’s twisted version of truth, they are free.
The gaslighter doesn’t like people who are free. They tend to seek out their own sources and think their own thoughts. They can see through the mirages the gaslighter is weaving, and they are free to reject them.
In a strange way, I owe a debt of gratitude to my gaslighting family members. Without the decades spent cowed by their influence over me, I might not have known how to write this character – or to spot a gaslighter even if he’s sitting behind the Resolute desk.
Till Next Time!