When people think of abusive relationship, the biggest abuse to fear is physical. Yet, mental abuse is just as scarring. In the realm of mental abuse, there is just something about a certain term that strikes fear in the hearts of many. What am I referencing?
Something about gaslighting makes a chill go down your spine. If you don’t know what gaslighting is, it is when a person manipulates you to the point of you questioning your own sanity. They use blatant lies, denial, exhaustion, isolation, confusion, and a general sense of hot/cold “love” to make you believe that you are crazy.
I never thought I would admit this, but I am in a relationship where this occurs daily. And it is not my husband.
I gaslight myself every single day. It is sick. It is wrong. It shows how little respect I have for myself and the lack of control over my emotions.
Now, before you click off, call me crazy or dramatic, and swear to never read my content again, take a minute. I think that just about any person who has ever dealt with mental illness in any shape or form can understand what I mean, even if it is on a small scale.
My anxiety (and therefore my brain) gaslights and sabotages me every single day. As an emetophobe, my brain will convince myself that a food is unsafe, or that I am going to be sick and so I shouldn’t do something. It goes like this:
Me: “Wow. I sure could go for Chick-fil-a right now. That is my favorite.”
Anxiety: “You do know that fast food is touched by other people and prepared in an environment that probably isn’t safe. If you eat out you will most likely get a stomach bug or food poisoning.”
Me: “But other people eat out all the time and things rarely happen to them, what are the chances?”
Anxiety: “I guess, but is it really worth the risk and the panic? If you eat there you will be anxious for two days at least. Leave it. Go eat something bland. Or actually, maybe not, you aren’t feeling too great because you thought of throwing up.”
Me: “You’re right. Not worth it. Maybe we will skip dinner tonight.”
And so the cycle continues.
My anxiety has isolated me from my family and friends. Has convinced me that they won’t understand my anxieties and panic, that they are out to get me, that social situations are out of my control and therefore dangerous.
If I am excited about going somewhere, my anxiety will automatically come up with reasons or symptoms of why I shouldn’t go. I will have unrelenting anxiety for days so that by the time I get to the anticipated event, I am either too anxious to attend or too tired to enjoy it.
My anxiety robs me of sleep. The more I am tired, the more I am susceptible to fear. Yet I allow my anxiety to keep me up at night with worries that truly do not matter.
My anxiety tells me it loves me. It is keeping me safe. If it didn’t cause me to panic, something bad would definitely happen to me. While at the same time, convincing me, no, screaming at me that I am not strong enough to live a normal life. This “love” is stealing everything from me. And I let it. Every day.
My anxiety knocks down my confidence and my self worth. Whenever something good happens, or I have a success in my therapy or my exposure practice, the next time normally goes like this:
Me: “I can do this. I was a bad bitch last time. I took care of myself and handled my anxiety. I can live a normal life and have fun.”
Anxiety: “That was a fluke. You were feeling really good. There is no way that you can keep this up forever. There’s danger all around you all the time. Can’t you feel that? You are going to fail. There is no way you can ever beat this. You will always be nothing.”
Me: “…You’re right. I am weak, and I am unworthy. I will just stay home.”
This is my day to day life with anxiety. It abuses me physical and emotionally. I skip meals, I lose sleep, I mess with my digestion, I exhaust myself. Most days I feel like I am unworthy, weak, and I believe downright lies.
So there it is. I am in an abusive relationship with myself. The way I allow my own mind to treat me is unacceptable. Anxiety knocks me around every day and feeds me lies that I take as truth. Anxiety is a monster.
Anxiety is an abusive gaslighter.