Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation. It seeks to sow the seeds of doubt in the targeted individual. The goal of the gaslighter is to make the victim question her own perception, memory and sanity.
Befriending you and gleaning information from friends and relatives are ways the abuser gains insight into how to undermine your mental health. Should you have even a minor psyche issue, it will be greatly exaggerated and much-discussed.
Dominate or destroy is the basic premise of gaslighting. Usually early childhood issues are played out in the imbalanced mind of the aggressor. Anger and jealousy are often at the root of the situation.
This is not a one-time or temporary situation. It often continues indefinitely until a crisis shines a light on the situation. Concealment is a hallmark of this form of mental and emotional abuse. Isolation and emotional manipulation are common tactics as well.
My sister has been undermining my life, my role in our family and my spirit for decades. I’m not surprised her abuse escalated past vicious gossip and back-biting. As she gained recruits to her cause of discounting me, her feeling of power increased. She needed to flex that power as often and fully as she could.
I avoided meeting anyone in her world. There is no telling how many versions of untruths have been repeated. Her efforts to convince everyone that I am delusional and my mother has full dementia were constant.
There is a term called ‘double doc’ing.’ If two doctors deem a person to have dementia, a third party (my older sister) could commandeer care. The plan was to put my mother in a care facility against her will and be done with her. Her life was blocking use of family land.
She lived in fear and I joined her. As soon as I arrived and blocked her residency in the Lexington Place care facility, I became the target. Immediately, my mental status and the way I behaved was in question.
Both of us feared the end. When Mom passed, I became an open target. The police were at my door with an eviction notice within days of her memorial. A judge gave me and 10 elderly rescue animals five days to vacate.
Friends stepped in or the dogs and I had no choice but plan an extended camping trip at the lake. I literally shook with fear. Gabapentin kept the alcohol cravings at bay but it got dicey. After giving Mom’s eulogy, I started to emotionally shut down.
After the judge spoke, I just wandered out of the courtroom. They were calling to me about court costs but I barely had gas to get home. I got to our tiny trailer in the middle of the Piney Woods and broke down. I needed to grieve my mother.
Soon, more police. I walked out with my new Texas license in hand. I shook hands with both officers and apologized. I told them that they were being used to harass me by my sister Cindy. Clearly, they expected to find me in an altered state. I told the paramedics that joined them that I was willing to take any test. Not necessary.
My sister isn’t finished. Her anger runs through her soul. It has steeped and festered over the years since it began around high school age. Shaking my mental health and emotional stability is the goal. Constantly reminding others of my weakness-perceived or real-keeps the destructive energy alive.
No victim has to stay in the role. It surprised me to defend my mental state on multiple occasions but no one detected a serious defect. Depression/anxiety issues are now a constant. One 10 mg. Lexapro has now morphed into 8 meds per day since I came to live near family.
Gaslighting is serious abuse. It does more damage than is visible. When the core of a person is attacked, survival instincts kick in. I no longer feel safe being in the room with my sister alone. She has suggested often that I may be violent. She would stab herself and throw the knife down and say I did it. It’s that advanced in my case.
“Stop sharing what’s happening on ‘social media’ or you are going to get hurt,” she growled. Her husband chimed in, “And she’ll do it too.” I told her that I didn’t know our people physically threaten each other. My advanced degenerative disc disease quickly reminded me how vulnerable I am to injury.
My situation went way too far. I couldn’t leave my mother’s side and it was unbearable to endure. Watching my mother fade after burying my little sister caused a full breakdown. I had to be hospitalized. It was necessary.
I saw how one person could take my sensitive heart and caring nature and use it to try to crush me. She knew I would stay and take care of Mom but she wanted the credit for being the caring daughter. When I showed up and found her living in filth, I almost called adult services.
Cleaning that entire place was what was needed but with constant attacks by my sister, it was never peaceful for any duration. We did what we could and extended her life by a few years by rescuing abused animals. That part of this journey sustained us both.
Today, I am learning that it was announced through the elders in my family that I am delusional and ‘hooked on pills.’ There’s not an ounce of truth but Dad, my loving aunt and some nieces are worried. It irritates my soul to know I caused concern. My sister delights in the drama.
My feeling is that without divine intervention or a complete meltdown, my gaslighter will find the anger and energy to continue to try to reduce my value in the world indefinitely. It’s such a dark disorder. Many don’t recover. But, I choose to no longer be a victim.