R ight now, many Americans listening to their president are experiencing what I experienced frequently a child. Nothing means anything, and reality is being canceled. There is confusion, there is chaos, everything is upside down and inside out.
When facts and truth are being discredited, how is it possible to know what to believe, especially when it comes from someone we expect to embody both ethics and etiquette? To those new to the phenomena: the president and the current administration are gaslighting us. It derives from a movie — and the play and another film that preceded it — in which this happens to the heroine. I know this behavior well and I know how to navigate it.
As a child, I was experiencing a world where there was no emotional safety while being consistently told that I had a beautiful and happy childhood and that I was ungrateful.
What was I complaining about? Yet what I was exposed to caused me to feel unsafe. And those feelings had a verifiable origin. Whether it was witnessing violent arguments or being on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviorwhen I confronted my mother with the truth, it was denied; my reality was disavowed and asserting it would only instigate conflict. When I would confront my mother with things that she had said, or things that she had done, she would say I was making it up, that it was a lie.
When I confronted her with facts, they were batted away. What did the real damage was the denial that these incidents ever occurred. When I was in my mids, I had an encounter with someone who recognized me from when I was a child. I nodded. I had thought her only choices were suicide or murder. When I was told he said this, I felt validation. And that line stayed with me for many reasons. This outsider observed what I was living through, and having him as a witness confirmed what I knew.
One of the most insidious things about gaslighting is the denial of reality.Gaslighting- call from my mother in law
Being denied what you have seen. Being denied what you have experienced and know to be true. It can make you feel like you are crazy. But you are not crazy. To illustrate this, she cites an example that is easy to understand. A close friend of hers was always running late. Initially, she pointed this out to him noting that it was not respectful.
She began to doubt herself. This is what she calls the gaslight effect. This is the tricky part.My mother used the gaslighting technique on me throughout my entire childhood and in turn; I spent the majority of my childhood years feeling crazy and second-guessing myself, my feelings, and my own memories. I spent years wondering what in the world was wrong with ME.
If some of you reading this have no idea what gaslighting is; to put it simply, it is an emotionally abusive technique used by abusers to say or make us think that we are the ones who are going insane. The abusers will say and do things to make their victims question their own sanity, memories of events, values, and beliefs. Some examples of things my mother would say included:. Adults who are in relationships with gaslighting narcissists have the ability to leave, divorce the narcissist, or cut the narcissist out of their life to avoid any more of this emotional abuse.
But what choice do you have when you are too young to leave? How does one survive in such a toxic atmosphere and come out the other side a healthy adult? I stopped fighting with her about her lies and distorted facts because I realized it was a losing battle and a war that I was not interested in winning.
Sarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.
Or via RSS Feed. Find help or get online counseling now. My Gaslighting Mother. One comment:. APA Reference. Psych Central.
Last updated: 7 Aug Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network blogs. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral. All rights reserved.
Hot Topics Today 1. I Need A Break! God has a I had a nervous breakdown and anorexia I was naive and did not Ginny Reynolds : I just finished reading 2 of your books, and could not put them down.
Yes, she definitely had a KP : I read Why Me? I was fortunate enough to grow up in a lovingA mother-in-law that bullies you goes far beyond a difficult one. At one time or another, most daughter-in-laws struggle with their husband's mothers. Your mother-in-law likely learned her behavior in childhood. She may target you because she feels threatened or intimidated by your differences, and she feels that you are unlikely to confront her behavior, according to Deborah Ward, in the article, "Keep the Bullies at Bay by Building Your Confidence," published on the Psychology Today website.
Your mother-in-law has a need to be in control and is using intimidation to attempt to gain it. Like all bullies, your mother-in-law is hiding from herself. She may feel lonely or insecure since her son has created a life for himself that doesn't include her as a central figure.
Feelings such as jealousy, envy and sadness can cloud her judgment and may provoke her to put you down in an attempt to gain control. Your mother-in-law may not be consciously aware of the pain she carries inside, and her bullying is a direct reflection of those wounds, according to therapist, Roni Weisberg-Ross, LMFT, in the article, "The Basics of Bullying and How to Stop It.
A slim chance exists that you will be able to put your mother-in-law's behavior to rest by yourself.
Is My Mother Gaslighting Me? 9 Signs Of This Manipulation Tactic, According To Experts
Sit down with your husband and let him know what his mother has been saying and doing, and the effects it has on you. Let him know if you feel angry, anxious or intimidated in her presence. Ask him to pay close attention the next time you are together. If she doesn't act out in front of her son, this can be tricky. If your husband is unable to stand up to his mother or to set reasonable limits with her, marital counseling may be helpful, according to the article, "Can This Marriage Be Saved?
It can also help you to release your anger, communicate effectively with your husband and be more assertive with your mother-in-law. Even though it's not about taking sides, your husband's loyalty should reside with you. With his assistance, come up with a few comebacks to stop her in her tracks or ways you can exit the bullying situation. For example, if she says, "Your kitchen is a mess and not fit to serve a meal," say in return, "I wasn't planning on serving a meal and we have dinner reservations.
It's about time for you to leave so I can get ready. If your mother-in-law is a serial bully, it's unlikely that exposing her behavior by telling others or spending less time with her is going to alleviate the problem. Careful, well thought-out planning can show others exactly who she is. If exposed, your mother-in-law may take on the victim role, in an attempt to turn the family against you, possibly causing marital issues, as well.
Remain calm and avoid acting out in anger or frustration. If possible, turn to a family member you trust. Write down the incidents and include details like the date and time the incident happened.
If you notice a pattern such as your mother-in-law tends to invite you into the kitchen to help with dessert, and then belittles you, have your confidant listen quietly at the doorway to intervene when appropriate, suggests the Mental Health Support website. Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since By: Karen Kleinschmidt. About the Author.While there are many reasons, the family history of your daughter or son-in- law may be a cause.
If they felt rejected, devalued and abandoned by their parents they may view you as that way, over-react to something that you do or say, and convince your child that you as parents are much more critical and rejecting than that child realizes. You see how this works? I have started a facebook group about Victims of Undermining Daughter in Laws. If you would like to join please do. I am so happy I am not alone. My daughter in law was raised with a silver spoon and thinks that the world revolves around her.
At age 33 she has been married to my son for 10 years and progressively alienated him from us and his siblings. When they first married she loved our family, so I know it is not us that has changed. She blames her parents for the dysfunctional life she has chosen, and projects their faults upon us. She has not worked in a couple of years, and prior to that changed jobs every year, and her parents are to blame for that in her eyes. I am thankful that they have chosen not to have children, because then I would be in a group of alienated grandparents.
I would love to join your group. How do I do it? A baby is due in a couple of weeks and has just about told us there will be very limited exposure and on their terms.
We feel we have lost our world. He was so kind and sweet and we were very close. He seems to have mirrored her mean and hateful spirit. Our hearts are broken. Trying to navigate that mess will only distroy you. Walk away, grieve the loss and begin a new life without them.
Let go and move on. My adult step daughter and I have never had a real chance to get to know each other. Her dad is adopted and his only daughter just had twin boys. On a recent visit I attempted to clear the air about a disrespectful comment her husband had made to me regarding my son and 3 yr old granddaughter.
The conversation escalated in a horrible fashion and he kicked me out of the house pm, cold rainy night- 4 hours from home. He and my stepdaughter will not allow me to return. The ramifications seem tremendous and could well affect several families.
I feel if they were convinced to allow me to visit with her dad, we would all be tense and the visit would be unnatural.
Any suggestions????Very interesting - but here is a question - do you think that the N remembers the abuse? I think both are possible--I know my ex-husband did both. But you have to remember that the abuse you have suffered may not be seen as the N as abuse. Remember their ability to rationalize and justify the WORST behaviour--and once they have settled on a rationalization, it is the truth to them.
Those rationalizations can be very convoluted, so much so that you or I would simply not believe it.
But if you think of people who can be lured to a wrong conclusion with a slippery slope argument, you have the picture of a narcissist who convinces himself that a lie is truth through his own slippery slope of rationalization. My NM's favourite form of gaslighting was simple denial. It didn't happen unless she remembered it.
So, any traumatic event from my childhood didn't happen if she had forgotten it. And anything she did remember could not possibly have happened any way except how she remembered it.
Their powers of denial, rationalization and justification are so strong that once they have come up with a convincing argument to support themselves, that is what they believe. But some of them DO remember the abuse That is how their twisted little minds work.
They remember, the moment that it comes convenient, then get angry when you spot it. This is an excellent statement as it clarifies exactly what my family has been dealing with,a narcissistic daughter, and mother of our grandson, who has been tormenting this family for years. Her latest unspeakable act of revenge is to accuse the loving and devoted father of rape and child abuse. Fortunately, we are educating ourselves and the Court has awarded the father total custody and her parenting rights have been revoked.
A trial is pending and to her surprise, we, as parents, have given our total support to the father.
How to Ladner with a toxic mother in law
We have agonized over our decision, but we now know the truth and we no longer are confused. We have disassociated ourselves from her and her ex convict husband of 3 months and know that we have made the best decision in the interest of our grandson.
Thank you for this blog as it goes far in keeping us sane. Thetabop, it had to have been a very difficult decision to support the father of your grandson rather than your own daughter. I had a similar ordeal. After almost ten years, my name was finally cleared of all the false allegations. Unfortunately, the Court's ruling on custody didn't go as in your case. It is not always easy to do the right thing when you are dealing with your children, Thetabop. As the mother of a narcissistic daughter, I can relate to you and your situation.
On the one hand, you love your child Expect that your daughter will retaliateThe relationship between the narcissist and their children can be very intense or almost non-existent at all. This page focuses mainly on the situation where you are still in touch with your narcissistic mother-in-law. This page offers advice for each stage your partner goes through unawareness, realization, acceptance, adjustment, and change.
This page describes each stage briefly and offers advice for you to help and protect you and your partner. Having a narcissistic mother-in-law most likely means that the child has been exposed to emotional abuse, such as manipulation, blackmailing, splitting, gas-lighting, and guilt tripping click here to read more about these types of abuse.
A narcissistic parent uses these techniques to get what they want: control, power, and satisfaction they enjoy it when they can humiliate someone. Some children of narcissists even believe that their narcissistic parent is wonderful. When these children grow older and become adolescents or even adults, they may notice that other parents are usually kindhearted and friendly. In this stage, they are not ready to admit to themselves that their parents are not such good parents after all.
You can look at their interactions and relationship with a healthy distance, and you can see how badly it affects your partner. It is likely that your mother-in-law surreptitiously tries to drive the two of you apart. By actively opposing your mother-in-law or by complaining about their behaviour a lot she gets exactly what she wants: being in control of the situation.
A narcissist who is in control of the situation is very dangerous. By complaining a lot or by opposing your in-law, your partner feels forced to choose between the two of you.
And this is something that is unacceptable! So you are an enemy. Another often used strategy narcissist use especially when they are jealous of their own child is to win over the friends and partners of their own children. They do this by being very charming and friendly to you, while publicly or confidentially down-talking your partner their child. Here are a few signs to take into consideration:. We are interested in your experiences.
Please fill out the poll and see how your experiences are compared to the experiences of the other visitors. View Results. Instead, focus on the details: every time the narcissistic parent behaves in a narcissistic way, mention it to your partner in a subtle way. Make it look like an observation without judgment. Whenever your partner complains, try to be understanding.
Whenever your partner has an issue with the narcissist, emphasize that your partner is not to blame. Occasionally, you can draw a parallel between a narcissist and the parent, but refrain from labeling your in-law as a narcissist.
Allow them to figure it out themselves. At the same time, make sure to keep your distance.
7 Ways to Extinguish Gaslighting
This is the stage where your partner realizes that their parent is narcissistic. This usually comes as a shock and can have a huge impact on your partner: suddenly all your partner believed in was a lie or only partly true. Their trust in others gets a blow just like their self-esteem. This can be very upsetting to your partner, because they may realize that their parent never loved them the way they perceived it.
For you it may start to become clear as well in case your narcissistic mother-in-law is jealous of your partner their child that your in-law is playing games.
Feelings of confusion, anger and shame are common. Talk about your feelings and the situations that took place with your partner when they are ready for it. How does our life change when your partner has a narcissistic parent and just starts realizing this? Stage 2 may be the most confusing stage. Despite the fact that you and your partner get a lot of answers, your partner will have even more questions and doubts.Not everybody in the world gets along with their in-laws.
This is the basis of one of the oldest bits of humor in the world; but it can be a lot less funny if their behavior stops being simply annoying and starts getting toxic.
In case you can't quite figure out if your in-laws fall in that category, there are nine different kinds of toxic in-law behavior that might indicate where they stand. If you're truly unlucky, they might fall into several of them. Isn't love grand? One of the best books ever written on this topic is Toxic In-Laws: Loving Strategies For Protecting Your Marriage by the psychologist Susan Forward, who's also done some valuable work on the experience of surviving toxic parents.
If your in-laws strike you as potentially toxic, it's a wise investment to get hold of her book, as it's chock-full of strategies to deal with them and determine precisely what kind you have on your hands.
Toxic in-lawsrather like rare birds, come in a variety of colors and species, and identifying the precise kind you're dealing with can be difficult indeed, they might fit into several categories at once. Click Here To Buy. Otherwise, dealing with a toxic in-law takes finesse and a united front between you and your partner. You'll have to learn to establish boundaries, protect yourself, and figure out how to deal with the problem direct confrontation with the in-laws?
Working out an action plan to minimize damage? In particularly strained circumstances, like if an in-law is an addict, counseling may be a good way to help you going forward as a couple.
Boundaries are important in every relationship, and these kinds of in-laws will completely ignore any line you draw in the sand. Don't want them to call when the baby's asleep? They'll do it anyway. They'll visit unannounced, talk to people about your personal business even if you've told them not to, demand to know all your intimate news, and be extremely offended if you tell them "no" and demand reasonable adult accommodations for being a separate entity. This equally applies if they mind your boundaries but can't seem to realize that their own offspring is no longer a child and now deserves a life apart, without being checked on constantly or walked in on.
This is one of Forward's definitions. Controlling in-laws, she explains, "believe that your partner is incapable of handling his or her own life and step in to do it better. The term "gaslighting" is taken from the film Gaslight, in which a husband attempts to convince his wife she's going insane by frequently denying her beliefs and experiences, including turning down the gas and then denying that the light has changed.
In-laws don't have to be in control of the dimmer switch to do thisthough. They'll simply have their own version of events, and be utterly unable to admit that yours is wrong.
These are the in-laws who really require your spouse or partner to be the dominant force in their life, and feign complete helplessness without them. It can be particularly dominant if one parent isn't actually around.
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