Everyone will encounter a toxic person at some point in their lifetime. A toxic person is a person whose behaviour causes negative effects on others. Previously, I did meet such a toxic person with a gaslighting personality and it was not pleasant. After leaving him, it took me several months to heal from the ordeal.
My First Encounter In A Gaslighting Situation
My past experience with a gaslighter was during my first job in 2019. I was so naïve and had no idea that I would have to deal with toxic people. I had assumed that when I joined the workforce, the people whom I meet would be more matured than my university friends. It all began when a colleague approached me on the pretext to seek help with some work. Obviously, I didn’t suspect anything amiss because I thought he was just being friendly. Secretly, he began manipulating my life choices especially in career field.
At first, his actions seemed normal. I was feeling down due to work stress, he offered words of encouragement. He was actually trying to persuade me to quit my current job quickly rather than helping me cope with the challenges at work. His reasons were because he knew me better than anyone else. Because of that, I struggled a lot in building my career. He said that his advice was in the best interest for my future so I actually trusted him. I could say that we were truly close colleagues.
After a couple of months, he started to change and began to hurl abusive words at me. This happened after I gave him a birthday present and it got worse when he started blaming me for appearing in his life! He then regarded all the support and encouragement I gave him as useless, to the point that he wished we had never met. My existence was a nuisance to him due to the fact that I was a nobody to him, not even qualified to be a friend. I was devastated inside. Immediately, it made me feel that I was truly a failure.
Definition Of Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a term psychologists use to refer to a specific type of manipulation where the offender tries to manipulate a person, to question their own reality, memory, or perceptions. This often results in the victim suffering from low self-esteem and mental disorientation. Gaslighting is often used by narcissists, abusers dictators, and cult leaders. It is very dangerous because you cannot detect the signs from the early stages.
Cutting negative people from my life does not mean I hate them, it simply means I respect me.Marilyn monroe, an American actress, model, and singer known for her role in the comedy film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes“
Signs Of Gaslighting
1. You Act Like A Different Person
A gaslighter controls a person by manipulating their emotions in front of others. You tense up easily and tend to hide your true emotions. There’s no telling if you’re actually happy or sad in others’ presence. You always feel awkward with yourself.
2. More Anxious Than Before
Your anxiety level will increase when you involve yourself with a gaslighter. You become less confident than you were before. You’re constantly anxious because you’re worried if you did something wrong even in doing simple things, such as spending money for your own needs.
3. Feeling Isolated From Family And Friends
Gaslighters force their attention on you like spamming you with messages. They suffocate you from the inside but you don’t realise it as a result of constant brainwashing.
4. Always In Denial
When you disagree with the opinion of a gaslighter, they will rebuff you. Even with proof, they will claim the victim is delusional. In some situations, you definitely hear them mocking you. Even if you politely advise them, they will say you are making a mountain out of a molehill.
5. Gaslighters Lie A Lot
It is not easy to detect gaslighters when they are lying because they portray themselves as someone innocent and kind. So, the most dangerous part is they lie because they want to use you for their own selfish gain for as long as possible.
How I Recovered After A Gaslighting Ordeal
After making a clean break with the gaslighter, I decided to focus on improving my mental health and taking care of myself. I took up new hobbies and tried to stay positive. The following are several steps that helped me to recover from my gaslighting experience to become a better person in life:
1. Communicate More With Family And Friends
I decided to communicate openly and honestly with my family and friends. I shared with them about my life goals. Then, I realised that talking with loved ones helped me in overcoming my trauma from the bad experience with a gaslighter. I am glad that a lot of people are willing to stay by my side too.
2. Remove Everything About Gaslighting
Block, unfriend or unfollow toxic people in social media does not mean you are childish. This means you are taking control of your life and taking better care of yourself. You are trying to keep moving forward to achieve your next goal in life. Your life becomes more peaceful than before as you remove these negative people from your life.
3. Music Heals Me
Recently, I learnt to play the ukulele with my brother. Besides, I also began collecting vinyl records as I listen to Korean albums. The newest in my collection this year is the boy group Stray Kids. To be honest, I find the songs comforting to listen to. Their songs inspire me to always follow my path and keep doing my best to achieve my goals. Moreover, reading the English translation of their songs makes me learn new words in English.
4. Know Yourself
I love reading psychology articles about Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality. I am introverted with one of the MBTI personality types called INFJ. INFJ means introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), and judgment (J). INFJ is known as the “Advocate“, an idealist with high moral standards and a strong focus on the future. People with this personality are interested in deep topics such as finding the meaning of life and it is the rarest personality type making up only one to three percent of the population. INFJ personalities love writing and are creative individuals. A well-known celebrity with the INFJ personality type is Taylor Swift.
5. Forgive Yourself And Move On
It is never the victim’s fault when dealing with toxic people. Especially during the gaslighting situation, I was always blaming myself. When I broke free, I learnt to accept myself with all my imperfection because nobody’s perfect. It is alright to make mistakes. In short, I took this as a good lesson and forgave myself. I will be kinder to myself and avoid toxic people in the future.
It Is Okay To Leave Toxic People
In conclusion, this is the most poignant experience I have ever shared in my life. Hence, it is challenging for me to write this. I am glad that I managed to let go of the bad vibes. We must continue our journey in this life. Our life is like a blank canvas. We are the ones who paint our journey with every happiness this life could offer us.
Last but not least, if you think you are showing some signs of being manipulated or know someone was being gaslighted, please reach out to Befrienders for help. You can find out more about gaslighting on this website.
This article is part of Espoletta’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives.