I had never heard the term “gaslighting” before learning of my husband’s affair. In the days following D-day, I scoured the internet to find…I don’t know what exactly. Any info, any similar stories, how people coped with infidelity, etc. One word that kept showing up in just about everything I read was “gaslighting”.
What is gaslighting? From Wikipedia:
Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.
When I first read the definition, I felt a sense of relief. For so long, I had been feeling a certain way (each time I confronted my husband and he denied it), but I couldn’t put those feelings into words. I knew my intuition was right, yet he would get indignant and of course, defensive.
About a year before D-day, I started thinking about things my husband was doing that seemed suspicious. He had bought new underwear. Now, my husband has worn boxer shorts since we met and loved them. All of a sudden he was buying form-fitting boxer briefs. Hmmm. Then I noticed he was taking extra cash out when he deposited his paycheck. I also started paying attention to his phone – and how he always turned it over when not in use, and how he just seemed so secretive with it. He had also bought some cologne/body spray that he said he just uses at work.
One day I just had a really bad feeling in the bottom of my stomach. I called him at work and said, “Who is she?”. He said he had no idea what I was talking about. I said, “I know…you need to tell me who she is”. He calmly denied that he was seeing anyone. I questioned him about the underwear, money, after shave, etc. and he came up with fairly reasonable explanations. But I still knew. He started sounding a bit nervous, but stuck to his story. He asked me why I accuse him of being unfaithful every couple of years. He said it’s really frustrating when he is not doing anything wrong. By the time we hung up, I felt a bit ridiculous. He had always been such a sweet and attentive husband (well minus about a 5-month span where he barely gave me the time of day). Why shouldn’t I believe him? I had been the victim of gaslighting for the very first time.
The second time was about 2 months before D-day. I had asked him to use his phone to text our daughter (we were out of town), as mine was almost dead. He was not at all thrilled about me using his phone, but did hand it to me after punching in his passcode. I texted her, and held onto the phone, waiting for her to respond. He damn near stood over me, and he was very uncomfortable. I sent another text to her and she still did not respond. He snatched the phone out of my hand and said, “this is ridiculous – I’ll just call her”. She did answer and I took the phone and wandered off with it. He was watching my every move. As soon as I could get out of his sight, I told her to hold on, and I pressed the home button twice to see what he had running on his phone. I checked his texts. Nothing. I couldn’t check very long as he was anxious to get his phone back.
Later that evening, we were outside sitting together and I started asking questions about his phone. He got REALLY angry and yelled, “just tell me what you are really getting at!!”. I asked him if he was seeing someone. He denied, denied, denied and was absolutely livid. He had never, ever yelled at me like that in our 20+ years together. We got in a HUGE fight. Finally he said a few things to try to placate me, and I had no choice but to believe him. He did make me feel absolutely crazy though, like I had serious issues with trust. We went on with our night, but I knew. I just knew, without a doubt, that my husband was cheating on me.
Two months later, I finally had the proof that I needed, and I confronted my cheating husband. If I learned anything, it is to not question too much until you have PROOF. Very rarely will someone confess when they think you are just grasping straws. I cannot stress this enough – wait to confront until you have enough information that they cannot weasel out of it anymore.
The gaslighting really took a toll on me. It left me doubting my intuitions, and ignoring my gut feelings. I wish I had heard this song about gaslighting (I’m Not the Only One – Sam Smithy) when it was actually happening to me. Sam Smith
You say I’m crazy
‘Cause you don’t think I know what you’ve done
But when you call me baby
I know I’m not the only one
When someone gaslights you, it is such a slap in the face. It is unfathomable that someone who you truly love and trust, could do this. It is evil, it is cruel.
Were you the victim of gaslighting too?