Welcome to the narcissistic abuse recovery Podcast. I’m Caroline Strawson. And I’ll be sharing with you awareness, understanding and education about the devastating effects of narcissistic abuse to help you thrive. I want you to know that I’ve been exactly where you are now and I believe you and this show is all about taking you from trauma to transformation. So this is an interesting topic, gaslighting in the Narcissus, so I get lots and lots of messages about this and it was actually something I feel really hurt off. To be honest, when I came out with my divorce, it’s something that I see and hear a lot about now. They don’t really understand exactly what gaslighting was. And it really is a form of psychological abuse. You know, gaslighting came from a film many, many years ago. It’s a very insidious form of psychological abuse. And I want to see if you can relate to some of the things some of the stories that I’m going to tell you, because gaslighting really leaves the victims feeling crazy and insane and thinking, Is it me? I get so many messages asking me, Is it me? I’m either narcissist, because the nature of that insidious psychological abuse that the narcissist inflicts upon their victims, makes them start to question themselves. And I know because I felt the same. For a long time I kept thinking, Is it me, you know, are we not able to have a civil conversation now about our children, and we were married, and we’ve got children together. And I started to think, is it me? Have I done something wrong in all of this? And that is part of the gaslighting. It’s part of that manipulation. It’s part of nature to make you feel like it is you? You’re the crazy one. Are you the insane one? If you’re listening to this right now and you’re thinking, I think that all the time I keep thinking either analysis that as well. Firstly, let me reassure you. No, you are not. If you even think I’m either narcissist. Absolutely. You are not. Because no narcissist would ever sit there and think, am I narcissists, they have such strong protection, apart from their core wounds, that trauma from childhood is a narcissist that they will absolutely never, ever think, Oh, my Narcissus? How many times have some of you maybe sent a message to your ex or said to your mom or your dad or a friend? You’re a narcissist? How many of them have ever actually said now some of them might, because they’ve been very grandiose about it. But on the whole, how many of them have ever said, Yes, I know I do. I have narcissistic personality disorder. No, it just wouldn’t happen. Because they won’t say that because they will be projecting that onto you all of the time. It’s your fault. You know, anything that’s happened in the world is your fault. Anything that happens with their finances, or the kids or anything else, it’s your fault, anything going wrong in their life, it is your fault. So from understanding this gaslighting what it is, I’m going to give you a few examples. And again, just so that you can see it from the context of what happened to me. So I have a situation and this is all in my book, divorce became my superpower, which you can get on Amazon. And I had an incident where my ex husband worked for an airline, so he would normally be away for a chunk of time, and then he’d be home for a chunk of the time. And to be fair, that’s probably why our marriage lasted as long as it did, because we weren’t in constant contact, so to speak, you know, he was away for a chunk of time. Now, I know when I look back at the patterns in our relationship, and particularly when I look at photos of when I was in my marriage, particularly maybe I mean, we were married 12 years, we were together nearly 15 years. So I know maybe the last four years when I look at photos and let me say there’s not many photos because I felt that disgusted at myself. And I felt really disgusting and fat and horrible and in myself because that was the manipulation that had happened hardly even looked in the mirror. I just felt disgusted with myself that when I actually looked at photos and even now when I look at them, it just brings up so many memories of what I was feeling at that time. You know, you can see the picture but my eyes look dead. I am just existing and when I met my ex husband I was a bubbly ambitious what I thought confident woman and although the narcissist highlights those deep inner wounds, you know, I’ve kind of found a way of dealing with all detracted toxic friends and my sister always used to say to me, you attract really crap friends, Caroline, and yeah, I certainly did attract toxic friends. Absolutely. But my relationship with my ex husband, when I started that I felt good. But when I look at that progression, it didn’t happen overnight. This was a slow burn. It’s like a chip to chip away at your confidence and you start questioning yourself. And then because of course, being in that relationship, as you’ll know, from listening to my other episodes, that it’s really about that core belief about yourself that I’m not worthy, I’m not lovable. I’m not good enough. All of the things that then were happening in my marriage, they were my perception of danger by his behaviour. So of course, I would go down that trauma, Lanza, and feel in fight flight freeze or fawn. So pretty much most of my relationship, I’ve always said pretty much most of my 30s I was in a freeze or a foreign trauma response. So I was either just existing, functioning for my kids and doing what I needed to do. And then I was dipping in and out a form of trying to make my marriage work, trying to appease and trying to create this family dynamic that I thought we should have. And I want to give you an example really of gaslighting. So like I say, my ex husband worked for an airline. And all of this is in my book, there’s a number of stories like this in my book of divorce became my superpower. And when I look back now on this, that is the one that I’m going to tell you, I think, what were you thinking, but when you’re in it, when you are in it, and again, people don’t understand it, if they’ve not been in it. I’m an intelligent woman. This is what abuse does: it physiologically changes the state of your brain. Now, don’t worry, I don’t want to scare you and thinking oh my god, I’ve got brain damage. Now you can turn it back. Okay. So don’t worry, whatever you feel right now, we can shift all of that. But it does physiologically change the structure of the brain, because it goes into protection mode. Okay? Remember, the brain’s number one job is to protect you, and to move you away from the biggest perceived pain. So I know you might be in pain right now. But your brain thinks it’s less painful than something else. So again, with my clients, I really work deep and find out well, this other thing that your brain thinks is more painful, actually, we know it isn’t exactly where you want to be. But there is something stopping you from doing that. Because it’s stuck. Your brain thinks that that will be more painful. So what is that perception? So back to this gaslighting then. So I remember on one occasion, I was waiting for my husband to come home from work. And normally when he landed, he was a cabin crew, he would land and he dropped me a quick text design on my way home. So this particular morning, he was due back from Los Angeles, and no text came. So I went online, and I just looked because a couple of hours had passed. I still hadn’t heard anything. I thought, oh, maybe he’s delayed, sometimes checked, but landed on time. So I thought, okay, I wonder where here. So I just sent the text, everything. Okay, nothing back. So again, I started to think, oh, you know, maybe the batteries died, maybe it broke down. But then hour, after hour, after hour started to go. And after five hours, I thought there’s something wrong. And I was really starting to get worried at this stage. So I actually contacted the airline. And I said, you know, my husband hasn’t come home? I’m a bit concerned. Can you just tell me, were there any emergencies on the aeroplane? Bear in mind that years ago, I worked for an airline myself. I love travelling. So that’s how I met him. Even though I’ve got a medical background, I love travelling. And I had a period of time when I worked for an airline. So I contacted the airline and double checked. So I contacted crew support. And the guy that I spoke to, they managed to do it five hours later. So the guy that I spoke to I just said, you know, I’m just really, really worried about my husband. He’s not from home yet. Everything was okay, in the fight. And he said, Yes, the flight landed on time. And I said, and there were no emergencies, there was no nothing because I was trying to think of, you know, reasons why maybe he’d be delayed. I thought I remembered it. This man on the end of the phone and crew controls said to me, the flight was on time, there were no emergencies. There is no reason why he shouldn’t be home. And you know, at that moment, as he was saying that, all I could hear was, there’s another reason why he’s not coming home. And it was this judgmental voice of thinking, are you stupid? Do you not understand why? So, you know, I was already feeling really bad. I was actually really worried as well. But then to have somebody almost make out that am I stupid? Remember my core belief at that time was not feeling good enough. So that was like ripping the scab off my wound as well. So I was feeling very, very dysregulated at that particular point. So I hung up and I thought, where is it used? But I was getting what I was trying to call. I was trying to text nothing. So then another hour passed, which I mean six hours now. So I thought I needed to call the police. I was really that concerned. So I called the police and I said look, I don’t know what to do. My husband is doing it. How am I not hearing anything from him? So what they said is what routes would he come home so it would either be the M one or the M 40. Here in the UK, two big motorways, so they went off, and they contacted the paramedics to see if there had been any accidents because they logged the number plates. And they went off and had a look back. And they, you know, police officers said to me, there’s been no accidents with that number plate or anything on those routes. So I was kind of partly reassured because I thought okay, so maybe that’s not it. So it’s just literally sitting there and bearing in mind, I’ve got my kids and everything. So of course they thought he was coming home. And I was getting really, really worried. Now that two hours have passed. So we’re now talking eight hours from the moment that he landed. And eight hours later, I got this phone call from him. And I was like, where are you? And no word of a lie here. The first sentence out of his mouth was, I think, like killing somebody. Now you might be listening to this now thinking that it killed somebody. But this will show you how insidious and the psychological abuse of gaslighting is. So he said, I think I’ve killed somebody. And I was like, what would you mean, you’ve killed somebody? And he just said, I’m on my way home now. And I just said, Well, are you okay to drive? Do you need me to come and get you again? concerned? Why? No, no, I just want to get home. So put the phone down. So of course I’m thinking well, you know, Lucy is safe at least he’s on his way home. Anyway, I remember it like yesterday, he walked into the house. He took his shirt off and he put it in the bin. They said there’s blood on it. And oh, and he was acting all shaky and weird and traumatised. All those in line with maybe what would happen if he killed somebody? Yeah. So I said, what, what happened then? And he said, Oh, there was a woman getting off the aeroplane, this elderly lady and she tripped up as she got off the aeroplane and fell onto the floor on the jetway and banged her head and it was bleeding. And I had to do CPR. And she ended up dying and I killed her. So my response was: Now bear in mind, I’ve worked for the airline, and I have a medical background. Probably his worst nightmare at that stage. I just said, Well, where were the paramedics? Where were the other crew? How did they take her away? Was she on a gurney? And I started asking all of these questions because my mind was going well, that doesn’t make sense. Because where would everybody else be? And why do you think you killed her? So then as I was asking all of these questions, he wasn’t answering the questions. What he did was he got really angry at me. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. And I was like, taken aback. So again, classic gaslighting is not answering the questions, but honing in on you. And the manner in which you’re asking the questions. So they’re not actually answering what you’re saying. It’s about how you are saying it is a classic gaslighting technique. So of course, then I thought it didn’t make sense. And my gut was saying, Caroline, that that’s not right, because the paramedics would have been there, the crew would have been there. And he was basically making out he was on his own with this woman that you did CPR wrong with and she died. So. So you kind of went off upstairs, I just need to be on my own. I just need to get my head around all of this. So of course, for me, I was thinking, Well, I can’t go and challenge this with my husband looking me in the eye telling me all of this. Yeah, my gut was saying, that’s not what would happen. That’s not true. So I got this kind of disparity between my head and my God, and my heart and just thinking, isn’t me, am I crazy? And all of this, because he’s not a husband? Why would he lie about this, but the other side of me was going, but that doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t make sense. So as the next day happened, I said to him, you really need to speak to the company and say, because I called them and they told me nothing. I said, you know you are eight hours late, so you need to speak to your line manager to say they need to make these phone calls because I was really worried. And the next day he kind of said, Yeah, I’ll speak to them when I go in on my next flight. Now I know this particular company, this airline, if there was something like this, let’s say a death that happened, they will be calling you the next day to check in on you to make sure you are okay as a duty of care, no phone call. So of course, there’s me saying to him, why haven’t they called you, you really need to tell them you know, not only did they not inform me, but equally now they’re not checking in on you. So of course he was saying yeah, yeah, I’ll do all of that when next time I go into work. And again, my gut was saying this is a right. But this is my husband telling me this looking me in the eye. So when he eventually did go back to work, he called me and said, Oh, Caroline, you’ll never guess what? And I said, Have you spoken to your line manager? And he said, Yes, she survived. In fact, she’s so grateful now that I saved her life. So we completely flipped the story around and again, my gut was going What the hell but my head was just going, this is my husband. Why would you lie about anything like that? And I was feeling crazy, insane confetti. used, you know, the more I would quiz him over it, the more angry he would get towards me about it. So I was just kind of left thinking, it must be me. Now we call this cognitive dissonance as well. So cognitive dissonance is almost like two opposing thoughts about one event. And again, when you’re in an abusive relationship, this cognitive dissonance will almost be like, Okay, if my gut is saying this, but my husband is saying that, what’s the kind of path of least resistance, so I literally just tried to forget about it. But again, it was just this constant, reinforcing all of the time about what he was telling me to my face looking me in the eye as my husband, but what I was feeling inside, it didn’t make sense. And it left me feeling broken, lost, like I was the crazy one and the insane one, you know, why shouldn’t I believe my husband, but it didn’t make sense. And these are all classic signs of gaslighting. I’ve got so many of those stories, a lot of them are in my book, divorce became my superpower that you can go and get on Amazon, if you want to have another read to see if you can relate to any of those. And gaslighting again, is very much like you feel like something is right. And you might question them, they don’t directly answer the question. What they do is they hone in on the manner in which you are asking things like Oh, you’re so sensitive, you know, I want to talk about it now. Or are you always like this, this is always about you, they will deflect it back to you deviating away from exactly what it is that you want to know. And these are all classic gaslighting, it is an insidious form of psychological abuse, it really is because it leaves you feeling like you are the crazy one. Hence, why are getting any messages going on by the Narcissus because you feel crazy, but you’re not. And again, when you come out and you start to heal, one of the things that I went through was a lot of anger, not just to him, but towards myself, how could I be so stupid. And I had to realize then that I wasn’t stupid, I was in an abusive relationship, my physiological changes that happened in the brain. So again, for those of you who are listening to this, maybe who you’re listening to, because you think you have a friend or somebody in a narcissistic relationship, and they’re not leaving, for instance, you know, meet people with where they’re at, support them with where they are at. Because remember, when you’re in an abusive relationship, whether that be child or adult, the changes that happen in your brain happen to protect you. So it was only then when I slowly started to heal, and process that trauma, that I could start to see all of this. And of course, how many years later, I look back and almost it makes me chuckle in a way now. But when I was in that it was no laughing matter. It was really, really traumatic for me. And coming out of that. And then recognizing the gaslighting made me feel really angry, angry at myself for not trusting my own gut. So that’s another thing I teach my clients, we learn to trust the gut, the gut is our second brain. And it has lots and lots of neurons in that and it will react. You know how many of you can think about times when your gut was telling you something and you ignored it, we don’t ignore our gut, our gut is our signal for us to check in with what we might be feeling. So I’d love to hear Have you got any stories of gaslighting or they are as wild as wacky as mine about, you know, saying that I’ve killed somebody I know today that that never ever happened. I now know that that was probably a time when he went and spent with somebody else. And although obviously I can’t prove it necessarily. I’m sure I could prove it if I wanted to. But I don’t need to because my energy isn’t on my healing as to why I would think that. So again, bring that energy back to you. Healing from narcissistic abuse is not about giving our energies to the other people and getting them to change. Yes, it’s important to understand, but that’s where it ends, you don’t need a PhD in it. What we need to do then is revert our energy back to ourselves and think about why we ended up in a relationship with a narcissist. Why did we then feel like we were the crazy ones? What were the preceding factors from our perspective so that we can change that and take responsibility so that it never ever happens again, because gaslighting is that insidious form of psychological abuse. And it’s really really important for you to get to the root cause of why you ended up in that relationship because you can not just heal the trauma of narcissistic abuse you can go on and absolutely thrive and live a more deeply connected and loving life because of the trauma of narcissistic abuse. Thank you for listening to the narcissistic abuse recovery podcast. Come and find my warm, welcoming free and private Facebook group called narcissistic abuse recovery for women only to help you heal the trauma and thrive

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