Considering the title, the trigger warning probably is an unsaid understanding, but just in case. TW: sexual abuse, physical abuse and gas lighting.
I was in a relationship that could be no better summed up than to say that it was forged in something worse than hell. There was abuse of every kind. Physical, sexual, mental… I’m 5 years out now, which has allowed me a lot of time to think back on it, re open old wounds purposely or have them explode themselves, and reflect on what happened.
The physical abuse doesn’t have much hold on me, at least not on it’s own.
The sexual abuse has fucked my world up, and continues to do so, but yet… it’s not the worst.
The terrifying, blood forged and filled cherry atop this cake from beyond hell was the gas lighting.
Well, I know the other things happened. I knew they happened when they happened. I knew the first time I was hit that I was hit… until she managed to make me question it. I knew I was raped every single time it happened… until she turned things on their head. I knew that she was the cruel one, until I didn’t. The lack of solid understanding came from the gas lighting.
The way that every little thing was twisted. The way that things were slowly forged into the story line. The way that I was dragged, ever so slowly, into this demented world where nothing made sense… By the time I got there, I didn’t know I was there, and even now… I’m not always certain of things in my current life. Sometimes little things will happen that make me question everything. For example:
Sometimes R and I will have a fight. I’ll swear that he didn’t say something, and he says he did. It happens, I realize this is a totally normal misunderstanding in arguments at times, but for me, because of the world I got dragged into, and because of the way she forged her gas lighting…
I get scared and I start questioning everything about the argument, and wondering why I’m lying to myself about what he says. I get confused, and I’m no longer certain of what’s going on.
As it has it’s tendency of doing, fear breeds anger, and I tend to lash out at my poor husband because of it.
To this fucking day, I get lost very easily by crossed information, because of what she did.
I get scared in the bedroom sometimes, sure. The sexual abuse absolutely still gets to me, but nothing can get to me the way that the gas lighting gets to me.
You have to understand, outside of my bipolar and anxiety, I’m as rationally based as possible. I know what’s going on, I’m aware of my surrounding situations. The things that I came to believe and came to understand as true were so far from rational that it’d be more likely to find a live unicorn first.
I was living in a twisted fair tale that even the Grimm brothers would have envied, and I have never been able to completely escape from it. It lurks, every day. It’s around every corner, it’s in every question. At the drop of a hat, I can go from certain of what’s going on to questioning my understanding of everything around me with just a simple phrase or word.
The physical abuse wouldn’t have gotten to me so much if she hadn’t gotten me to believe that it didn’t really happen, because it’s not abuse if it’s defense (which to this day I’m not sure defense from what) but I sure as hell believed her that she was defending herself from me, though I never ever raised so much as a finger toward her. I wouldn’t dare harm those I hate, much less those I love.
Perhaps the sexual abuse wouldn’t affect me as bad as it does if she didn’t twist it like she did (she would yell at me for not initiating sex, and tell me how fucked up I was for making her do it every time and this was after I begged her to not do it)
I can’t question the abuse, I could see it, I can remember it, but to this day, I don’t know what was gas lighting and what wasn’t, at least not all of it. I’ve been able to patch a lot of things together from the stories of close friends, plus my understanding, plus her words, but there are things that I likely will never ever understand if they were real or not. I can’t put my finger on the gas lighting. It’s such a subtly, yet terrifyingly brutal thing, and the subtlety is the worst part of it. You are played into this hell so slowly and so precisely that you don’t even know you are in it.
It wasn’t really until I was out for at least six months that I really began to piece together the oddities within the relationship, that I started to understand just how fucking insane the world that I had been living in was.
If I look at it now, I can not understand for the life of me how I could have ever believed the world that she put me in and that is still so incredibly scary.
Even though I can’t understand how I believe it, I still question my current understanding of it. What if I’m wrong? What if that world is right? What if I’m just trying to separate myself against a reality that is so terrifying I can’t do anything but part myself from it? What if this is the false reality and what she was showing me was real? What if others are lying about her? What if others are lying like her?
I can’t answer these fucking questions with 100% certainty, because if I didn’t know where I was at then, how could I know now?
I don’t know how to stop something that I can’t see from haunting me. I don’t know how I can possibly be certain of the truth I am in now. I don’t know how I can come to terms with the idea that other people definitely are not doing it to me, because neither was she, and I knew it, and I was so terribly, terribly wrong. Why would this be any different?
I can grasp when she punched me. I can grasp when she bit me. I can grasp when I was pushed. I can grasp when I was raped time and again. They hurt, especially the last bit, but I can grasp that, I can understand that, but I can’t understand, at least not ever fully, a false world so meticulously created that I can not pull it apart from reality, and how am I ever going to be certain again that no one else is doing it to me?
I feel like, no matter how much I love and trust other people, I can not 100% guarantee that it’s not happening anymore.
The rape was horrifying, and yet… the gas lighting was worse.
Thank you for reading, and I love you my sunshines. You are beautiful people, and I hope your day is as well.