It’s Narcissist Friday!
The old movie, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman and released, in 1944 brought a new word into our vocabulary. “Gaslighting” has come to mean the process of making a person think he or she is losing sanity. The person who is “gaslighted” is being systematically weakened so that the abuser can control and manipulate.
It sounds horrible. Who would do such a thing? Well, perhaps the same person who would lie to get into a relationship with you. Perhaps the same person who would violate your privacy, lie to you, push away your friends and family, cheat in almost any competition, and blame others for his mistakes. Maybe the same person who would boast of his accomplishments after doing all that.
The narcissist needs to control. If he can’t overwhelm you with his brilliance and charm (like he probably did at the beginning), he will want to undercut your strength and confidence.
I suspect this is a favorite tactic of the covert narcissist simply because the covert doesn’t want to face conflict, but the overt will use it as well. The overt will try to overcome your objections, accuse you with lies, call you names, or sabotage your efforts. The covert will just act like a victim. Any problem is your fault. Any disagreement causes pain for the covert, pain that comes from you.
For example, you were supposed to meet the narcissist for coffee at 1:00. By 1:30, she still is not there. When she finally comes, she thinks she is early. After all, you agreed you would meet at 2:00. If you disagree, she will show you her note to herself that says 2:00. You suspect she wrote the note just before she got there. Of course, it could go the other way. She might not show up at all, then say that you were the one who was late. She didn’t wait because she knows how stressed you are lately. You are beginning to forget things, she says.
Remember that lying is easy for the narcissist. A lie that gives a “one-up” on you is worth a lot. Making you feel bad or incompetent is a great way to control. Narcissistic mom says “you always” forget or get things wrong. Narcissistic boss says you just aren’t ready for leadership. Narcissistic preacher tells you that you can’t trust your heart, but you can trust him.
Reject the lie. You are not going crazy. The stress you feel is a normal part of a narcissistic relationship. Mistakes and misunderstandings do not define you. The moment you suspect that you are being manipulated, that someone might be trying to undermine your sanity, step back. Protect yourself.
It is sadly common for narcissists to win in custody battles, job advancements, or property disputes because they succeed in making the other person look irrational. They push the buttons that will prompt unusual words and actions. They know what they are doing. They might even win.
But that doesn’t mean you are insane!
No, you have been tricked. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes the evil wins. Pick yourself up and move on. Never assume that you have lost your sanity. Frankly, it sounds strange for me to say that. But so many have said they found it nearly impossible to separate from the narcissist or start a new life because they didn’t trust their own thinking.
Look to the Lord for clarity. Let Him send a good friend—who has no agenda but to walk with you—and let that friend reassure you. Find a good counselor to talk with. Seeking counsel is not an admission of weakness or incompetence. Narcissists are experts at manipulating. Don’t disparage yourself if you get tricked by one. Find the way back to health and move forward.
Your sanity has not been lost, just covered by the narcissist’s lies. Doubting yourself is normal. Keep moving forward, and you will begin to feel good about your thinking again.