Have you ever wanted or needed someone to affirm your sanity to you? Have you ever asked someone to reassure you that your response is normal and natural in the circumstances?
My ex used to constantly tell me that conversations I could remember clearly never happened. Even now, he tries to do this and he brings up every incident when I do actually forget to provide him with details to provide evidence of my failure to communicate.
We once sponsored a small group marriage bible study in our home. During that time, I was also leader of another church ministry. During group time, I mentioned I would be attending a church function as part of the other ministry and how I was looking forward to the evening. My ex and I had a conversation, in front of the group, regarding how he would need to take care of putting the children to bed that evening. The following week, the topic came up again and he looked at me in apparent stunned shock, demanding to know why I hadn’t told him about the upcoming event and complained about having to put the children to bed alone. The other group members looked at him like HE was crazy and my heart breathed.
It’s rare to get those moments. Usually the conversations he denied having were private ones.
More often than not, when an abuser is manipulating and gaslighting, they deny, deny, deny. Intimate family relationships are private, behind closed doors. The only witnesses are each other, and maybe the children. There is typically no one there to hear your conversations, no one to realize that the abusers denial is a lie. No one realizes their denial is abuse.
It was an “aha” moment for me. Even though I knew the conversations I remembered had actually happened, a part of me still wondered if he was right, if my memory was faulty. It was a huge relief to have others witness that I wasn’t crazy.
I’m not crazy.
You’re not crazy.
It really happened. It isn’t a figment of your memory.