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Gaslighting

strugglingSM's picture

DH has ADHD, so I get regular e-newsletters about living with ADHD, so I can understand him better. 

Today, this article about gaslighting was included and it resonated with me. The central premise is that adults with ADHD often become the victims of gaslighters. I saw BM use his ADHD against him all the time, telling him he was stupid or asked dumb questions or "of course you would say something like that..."

This paragraph in particular struck a chord: 

"Gaslighters sense vulnerabilities in a person. They specifically target people who are grieving a loss or who feel inadequate or isolated. If you have ADHD, you probably grew up with the feeling that you were “less than.” You may have had difficulties maintaining friendships or relationships. You may have been dismissed by others who said you were “difficult.”"

https://www.additudemag.com/gaslighting-adhd-adults-women-risk/?utm_sour...

DH was almost the perfect storm when he met BM. He had recently lost his father unexpectedly, so he was grieving and he has also felt inadequate his entire life, thanks to MIL always pointing out his ADHD to everyone and having extremely low expectations for him. 

The other piece that struck a chord with me was how the only way to move on from a relationship with a gaslighter is to go complete no contact...how many people on this forum who have SOs who can't go no-contact from a gaslighter because they have children with them?

 

 

Evil3's picture

In the past, my DH would gaslight me like crazy if I ever brought up a concern regarding SD. DH knew my sensitivity about feeling abnormal for growing up in a very violent, abusive home. I'd bring something up very tactfully and DH would gaslight me with, "well that's just you," or "given your past, you don't understand a close bond or healthy relationship." It used to work really well, because it would stop me dead in my tracks and I'd wonder if I was really that off from my "faulty upbringing." One day, I lost my shit on DH about the gaslighting. I left my job due to bullying and warned DH that my job isn't the last to go if people in my life don't smarten the fuck up. I then went on to say it goes the same for gaslighters. DH asked what a gaslighter was and I told him. He just about shit, but he never did it again. But, yeah, he definitely gaslit me with my most insecure parts of me.

strugglingSM's picture

In my case, MIL tries to gaslight me all the time about BM and Silent SIL. According to MIL, Silent SIL, who has talked to me once in five years is "just a bad communicator." Also, she repeatedly tells me that DH "just needs to work out his differences with BM" - what if DH's differences with BM are that BM is a mean, abusive, terrible person? Instead of doubting myself, I just distance myself from MIL. 

 

Kes's picture

Pertinent to the discussion of gaslighting - although a slight tangent - my exH used to gaslight me, then eventually in his 40s it came to light that he had Asperger syndrome.   There can be a pattern of behaviour - particularly with men with AS - that can feel quite abusive to their partner - this article describes it very well  - this is exactly what happened to me, down to the being awful to me every birthday etc.  I eventually left when the kids went to college, like it says in the article women often do.  https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/married-with-undiagnosed-autism-why-wom...

 

ITB2012's picture

that sent me to therapy. That article is my life. Completely. Exactly to the stage of life/kids I'm at. And I'm not sure if DH has aspergers or is a covert narcissist, or is just massively insecure.

strugglingSM's picture

The story in that article reminds me of one of my friends and her husband, who I predict will divorce when their children are grown...she's told me that if they didn't have children she would have divorced him long ago. 

I have another friend who divorced a man that sounds similar to the man in this article. They didn't have children, so she didn't think about walking away once she decided that their relationship was not fulfilling her emotional needs. They would have made better friends than significant others. 

 

sandye21's picture

Thanks for sharing this article.  Like  ITB2012, it is hard to tell if my DH has Aspergers or is covertly narcissistic.  But the article described my life with DH to a tee - to the part where he changed into a completely different person shortly after we were married.  He also refused to give me a party on my 50th birthday, and became irate because I expected him to make an appearance at my retirement party.   Doesn't have a clue about what real affection is about.  I have kicked myself in the butt many, many times for not leaving him sooner.  I guess someone with a history of childhood abuse is a prime candidate for a man like this.  I am finally taking action now.

Rags's picture

Now that article was interesting. And enlightening.

My XW was likely dyslexic.  Though I am of the opinion she was just a lazy reader.  She struggled with words longer than 3-5 letters.  She would get extremely frustrated.  I would make her sit and use the two thumbs, three letters at a time, and sound it out method. When she slowed down, she could read extremely well.  She was extremely intelligent and did well in college as far as her grades were concerned.  It helped that from half way through her sophomore year of college until she graduated that I wrote every paper she was assigned.  

We met when I was 22 and she was 18-ish.  We married a month before I turned 24. She was 20 and had just started Nursing school half way through her Jr. year of college.  She was beautiful, smart as a whip, appeared confident.  I was struggling with focus as far as my studies were concerned, had just started my own corporation and was growing the business, courting investors, running corporate operations and I was going to school.  My slower progress on finishing my undergrad was one of her gaslighting topics of choice.  There were several things she would badger me about but that one was interesting since she was too F-in lazy to write her own papers.

It did not take long for the characteristics in this article to show up after we married.  She would gaslight me on any number of things.  All while I was writing all of her research papers.   I did not recognize her gaslighting or toxic crap for about six months. After that it was pure survival instinct to continue writing her papers, put in killer hours at work, and schedule night classes.  Not a conscious thing by any means.  Pure avoidance and survival instinct kicking in.   

I went from a confident, even cocky, intelligent, driven person to a wilted, walked on, shadow of my former self.

I get what this author is talking about.  XW was never Dx'd with any of the ASD syndrome of the month developmental issues and if she had been that would not change the fact that she was a bitch from hell adulterous skank whore of unequaled toxicity.

I was lucky to get out of that marriage alive much less with any spark of the person I enjoyed being before I met her.  A great therapist helped me through that. She started out as our marriage counselor.  I picked her out of the Yellow Pages because she was cheap.  It turned out I got lucky with that choice.   XW and I were in marriage counseling/therapy for about 7mos.  Until Doc sat us down at session and said "Now we we will start addressing the intimacy issues in your marriage."  Things had been improving steadily to that point. Interestingly XW had finished her BSN a month before that session.  When Doc dropped that topic, XW stood up, pronounced that she did not have a problem with sex and walked out.  6weeks later she informed me that she wanted a divorce.  I did not know it at the time but she was knocked up at that point.  Not mine. We had not been intimate in more than 8mos.

ASD certainly exists but it is not an excuse for people to be assholes.  

That is why I focus on behavior and don't really give a crap about the why of it.  The why really does not matter.

Many people would salvage decades of happy life if they would just focus on the behaviors of the people in their lives rather than tolerating an epic epidemic of asshole in their SO.

IMHO of course.

Post XW karma.  My DW, SS and I ran into my XILs about 5-6 years after my divorce from XW.   DW and I had been married about a year and a half.  We walked into a restaurant near our home and came face to face with my XMIL and XFIL.  My wife says all of the blood drained from my face.  I quickly introduced my DW and SS to my XILs then asked DW to head on to our table. I could see XILs doing mental math on how old my wife was, how old the Skid was and the years since the divorce.  Their whore of a daughter had two out of wedlock spawn with her geriatric Fortune 500 executive sugar/baby daddy breeding partner.  her two with him book ended my SS.  I said my hellos and we exchanged pleasantries and I went to our table.

About 4 years later I moved to an office not far from my XILs home.  I ran into XMIL at lunch one day and she invited me to their home for coffee.  I declined but ran into them fairly regularly after that. Eventually I did accept their invitation.  That couple of hours visit was extremely enlightening.  XW had two OOWL spawn with the guy she was cheating with when we divorced.   She got into Grad School but flunked out due to crappy grades on her research papers.  She did marry GrandPa Baby/Sugar Daddy a few years after their second son was born but got knocked up by a boyfriend while she was married to him.  

So, karma kicked her in the ass.  It couldn't have happened to a more deserving bitch from hell.

It buried her and the entire XIL clan a number of years later even deeper. But that story has nothing to do with my XW's toxic cesspool of likely ASD narcissistic crap.

sandye21's picture

Submitted by sandye21 on Thu, 02/06/2020 - 10:23am

"Many people would salvage decades of happy life if they would just focus on the behaviors of the people on their lives rather than tolerating an epic epidemic of asshole in their SO."

In the article the woman finally left her DH because she realized she didn't owe it to him to cater to his Aspergers or anything else.  She was no longer willing to deny herself the loving respect that a 'normal' DH provides for his wife.

When I joined this site in December of 2010 I had just taken the steps to create boundaries for DH and SD.  SD was banned from my home and I informed DH he was on his way out unless he could focus on the marriage.  He improved drastically but there have been several backslides which have been hurtful and damaging to the marriage.  As you wrote, I have been concentrating a hell of a lot on the 'whys' instead of the 'just is an asshole' concept.  I have let him know I'm at the cusp of moving on - finally.  After years of serving as DH's financial security blanket, I have asked that he sign a post-nup, to which he (surprisingly) has agreed,  I am no longer afraid.either way it goes. 

Thank you for your down-to-earth advice.  (((HUGS)))

Rags's picture

I am happy that you are confident and that your DH is at least working with you to deal with the issues.

IMHO it is not only SO's who should be dealt with on the basis of their behaviors.  It applies to kids as well.  Fortuneately most SOs and kids are not behavioral train wrecks.

This is a great community. However, it is a concentrated environment where the struggles with challenging SOs, SKids, and the blended family opposition occur at a much greater concentration than they likely do in the comprehensive population.

Happy 10yrs on STalk.  I am glad things are getting better for you and your family.

Keep doing what you are doing and take care of you.

sandye21's picture

repeat