Recently I learned a new word; I didn't know exactly what it meant so I looked it up. I quickly realized that while the term wasn't familiar to me, the definition was. I have had many failed relationships, some of them were good and positive experiences, and others were not so good and ended badly. For the most part, though I walked away from almost all of them have learned something about myself, and I'm better off for it. Many of those relationships failed, but they were not failures. I came out of them a better version of myself armed with more tools in my toolbox and more prepared for the type of relationship I have now. Honestly, it wasn't until my last two relationships that I even realized how previous bad ones were. The last couple of years has been hard work trying to break down the walls I built during one awful relationship. This new word I learned perfectly defines that toxic relationship.
gaslighting: to cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation.
The whole intention of gaslighting is to decrease someone's self-esteem and self-confidence, so they are unable to function independently. The person gaslighted will eventually become so insecure that they will fail to trust their judgment, their intuition and find themselves unable to make decisions. They will use tactics such as: discrediting you by making other people think you are crazy/irrational/unstable, use confidence and assertiveness to make you doubt yourself. They will refuse to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts by calling you a liar or deny having said something that they did in fact say, and if that doesn't do the trick, they will retreat into victim mode to try and get you to apologize even though you've done nothing wrong.
My experience with this started out slowly. I saw red flags, but I couldn't pinpoint the problem and when I eventually did it was challenging to get away from the situation because I felt broken and beat down both mentally and emotionally. By the end of the relationship, I felt like a much weaker version of myself. I felt isolated, hopeless and completely misunderstood. I thought I had lost a part of me that I would never get back and I was angry that I had allowed someone that much control over my thoughts and feelings. Looking back I wish I had ended things long before I did; the signs were there I just wasn't paying close enough attention.