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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / PTSD, gaslighting and what is abuse?

Topic: PTSD, gaslighting and what is abuse?

12 posts, 0 answered
  1. Kapable
    Kapable avatar
    6 posts
    19 January 2021

    Hi, this is my first post ever on a forum. I was diagnosed with PTSD dissociative disorder with symptoms of depression and anxiety approximately 7 years ago (age 58) as a result of a childhood of emotional and psychological trauma as a result of my mother and sisters.

    My partner of 15 years has in one way been very supportive. or does he use my mental health against me. If I get angry, which we all do, he tries to tell me and others "its my PTSD". I know and tell him there is a difference. He tracks me on my phone " incase you have an episode". Hmm they seem to occur mostly with him or when my stepdaughter. Not my imagination here... my son and friends have observed their behaviours towards me.

    Recently, we moved house 17 December. I had asked him to leave the move until after Christmas so we could spend a week with family which has been hard with COVID. "No he couldn't afford that leave". So 2 days after our stuff arrived we had my son, stepdaughter, her partner a 5 year old and 7 year granddaughter here for an early Christmas on 20 Dec. I asked him to leave all excess boxes until after everyone went home. We had bedrooms, kitchen and lounge room all set up. He insisted everything needed to be unpacked... a wall to wall garage of boxes. I begged him this was way too stressful for me... know when I am walking a fine line. His daughter smiled and said she didn't mind helping her dad. My son and I went out... he knew it was too much for me. Arrived home 3 hours later to tables laid out with all the excess kitchen items left for me to sort. Within 2 days I had a massive episode. Not sure if anxiety, PTSD or what. Yelled and screamed and hurled abusat him fighting to get my message across. This was as you can imagine damaged our relationship as I hurled all my negative thoughts ( I think the emotions and thoughts about my mother) at him. great for family!

    We are slowly getting it together. In discussion I said we could have avoided this extreme pain if he had listened to me and considered my way of handling the move. Said this to his daughter as well. Both responded " well you would have got unwell anyway!" and " what about dad's mental health?" (true). This is how it always goes they so how do they know I would always get unwell? Is this abuse? Would they do something to someone if they knew it would cause extreme physical injury? Could they be gaslighting to control someone they perceive or want to believe is "weaker" then them? How can I know?

  2. white knight
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    white knight avatar
    9755 posts
    19 January 2021 in reply to Kapable
    Hi,

    We'll abuse, it depends on the definition of abuse

    Google this thread


    Beyondblue topic the definition of abuse

    Or put "the definition of abuse" in the search bar

    I think the process your partner went ahead with and had help from your step daughter, was lacking un understanding on his part etc. For whatever reason. Mentioning your mental illness and using it as a lever to justify their views is not ok.

    Bare in mind that it takes an expert to determine if behaviour is person quality based or the cause of mental illness. I assume your partner is not a mental illness professional.

    Do you classify your outburst as abuse towards them? If you believe that his actions in not listening to you and continuing to unpack items justified your yelling then that is plain wrong.
    Could you have ignored them and closed the door?

    There is a good sign here that relationship counseling would be beneficial.

    TonyWK
  3. Katyonthehamsterwheel
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    Katyonthehamsterwheel avatar
    1676 posts
    19 January 2021 in reply to Kapable

    Hi there

    I'm going to chime in because I had a similar experience with my partner in regard to my mental health issue - anxiety. He would blame things on my anxiety, which were just normal reactions that anyone would have to a situation. If I argued this, he would say I wouldn't know, because my anxiety was clouding my judgement. This is gaslighting and left me really confused about whether I knew myself at all. To tell someone what they think and how they feel, is to take away their agency, and that's not ok. I asked him if he could please ask me about myself instead.

    I wonder if you would benefit from all sitting down together and having a gentle conversation about how things might work best for everyone? It sounds like things have been a bit challenging for everyone.

    Kind thoughts, Katy

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Kapable
    Kapable avatar
    6 posts
    20 January 2021 in reply to white knight

    Thank you for your thoughts. I spoke with my son who said I wasn't abusive but I was desperate and angry. I yelled "to be heard" I stated some truths like I don't want to be tracked by my phone, I don't think it it fair he grills me or as others have witnessed give me a hard time on any money I spend while he shops online randomly for things we don't need but he says "is his interest". I also raised the 7 years of lack of intimacy since I had breast and cervical cancer. He says he is scared he will hurt me ( another story there) or make me sick ( I am a transplant patient with a suppressed immune system. How he sleeps with pillows all around him and on his head so his own skin and mine don't touch him. How we no longer plan trips or go out. How he doesn't have friends and doesn't want people to visit us ( this has been for years) unless like a formal dinner party where people are like colleagues. I am grateful for your input any input so I can evaluate my situation more objectively. My 26 year old son says I consider raising your voice abuse as this is a trigger for my PTSD. My desperation was so great as I think it was the desperation of little K just trying to belong, to be valued and loved and not knowing why he/they didn't acknowledge I was unwell and talk me down. A hug usually works or a cup of tea to ground me. I watched them like on the tv.

    thx K

  5. Kapable
    Kapable avatar
    6 posts
    20 January 2021 in reply to Katyonthehamsterwheel

    thx Katy,

    The gentle conversation is a great suggestion... tried and he says he doesn't like "picking scabs", "he can't help the way I feel"(true), "he can't change".

    He has also used my mental health and physical health as ""excuses" to not babysit the grandchildren when he doesn't want to. he has used it for financial release of my super when I had cancer, which did help pay debts so we only had the mortgage but there was something else at the time my gut said was wrong. He mentions my physical health to others in a way which makes people say "poor K"... so patronising.

    I am so confused at times and now as I know I am not my all together self at the moment. My counsellor in VIC ( I now live in QLD and don't have the same supports, said I am very high functioning and it isn't obvious to others. I have an employment history of working in management and significant uni studies. So on the outside I appear all together even when I am NOT. I flick between dissociative K's throughout the day when I am unwell.

    I am in a I must please him and keep him content... re clean and cook and wash and have everything under control perfectly. I must not talk about any emotions just functional conversation. He is checking on how much "work" I do when he get's home.

    I sound paranoid but when I ask the same questions of him he raises the volume of his voice, body language is defensive and storms off. He tells me I am nagging him at these times and "why do I need to know" when I ask him. This is how I try to measure what is fair at these times.

    thx K... I have a Telehealth appt today with psychologist hopefully this will guide me on strategies to get me well again and understand what is happening.

  6. Kapable
    Kapable avatar
    6 posts
    20 January 2021 in reply to white knight
    hi, I asked him to go to relationship counselling. We went 3 times and he told the counsellor the the was only going because I might get something out of it. He didn't think "picking at scabs" helped. I responded I felt reflection and discussion with someone else actively listening was beneficial. He felt I should continue with the counselling but he wasn't getting anything out of it. Although at the time I noticed improvements in our relationship. He stopped going and things deteriorated. He won't go he says "talking about the past and emotions or why people behave a certain way to you doesn't help. Only changing behaviour does". I find understanding why we behave they way we do helps to understand and respect other people and change your own behaviours and often accept other people's behaviours even if they feel hurtful to you.
  7. Katyonthehamsterwheel
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    Katyonthehamsterwheel avatar
    1676 posts
    20 January 2021 in reply to Kapable

    Hey K

    It really sounds like there are a lot of issues in this relationship that are ongoing, and I'm sorry it's got you walking on eggshells. Life shouldn't be so hard. I truly hope that you have a positive meeting with your psychologist today, and can find ways to move forward. Let us know how you get on.

    Katy

  8. Kapable
    Kapable avatar
    6 posts
    20 January 2021 in reply to Katyonthehamsterwheel

    hi Katy,

    Thank you kept me on the straight today. Meeting with psychologist was very productive. She has met and worked with my partner several times. She has provided me with supports and information about the power and control and coercion by narcissists. NOT all in my head.

    She worked with me to identify a critical support network so I have a safe place/strategy in place of sheer panic and a harmful plan as I have not an established one as I moved from VIC 12 months ago.

    Hope your doing ok! Believe in you. Maybe talk with your partner to clearly identify what you consider are signs your anxiety is impacting decisions or if it is purely you disagree etc. Maybe right them down and then next time it occurs ask if he minds if you use this together to check. I don't think we should have to "justify" ourselves but it can help others to learn and understand anxiety vs disagree or other choices.

    Again thx Kaz

  9. therising
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    therising avatar
    2702 posts
    21 January 2021 in reply to Kapable

    Hi Kapable

    You definitely sound like a powerful person who has mastered many challenges while, at the same time, facing intense mental and emotional challenges.

    You mention 'I find understanding why we behave they way we do helps to understand and respect other people and change your own behaviours and often accept other people's behaviours even if they feel hurtful to you.' Agree with you 100%. I find that understanding our self also helps us define what we won't tolerate from others. So, with greater awareness, you could say 'I've come to understand why you behave the way you do and I accept the reasons (they make sense) but I can't tolerate this behaviour for these reasons...'. Typically, if there's no negotiation, no reformation of the relationship in any positive constructive way, intolerance remains. While 'intolerance' often gets a bad rap, I personally find it to be a very telling and handy emotion at times. Key question often comes down to 'What am I trying to tolerate here?'

    If emotions or feelings are your 'compass' in life, good for you. Personally, I can't live without my compass. If someone was to tell me to suppress or ignore my feelings, I'd be wondering why. Actually, there are times when being told to stop feeling the way I feel I've found myself effectively detaching in the blink of an eye. I suppose it's kind of like 'Alright, if we're not going to have feelings here, I can do that'. Such a conversation can turn to pure logic with no feeling at all. To use your unpacking scenario, it would be like 'I can't help but wonder why you're so dismissive and you just go ahead and unpack. I can't help but wonder why you can't manage to understand how I feel and negotiate on some level. I demand a reason. I insist you become reasonable (reason able)'. Once I detach, wonder and the demand for reason comes into play. Pure wonder is a natural self esteem booster. My husband finds my sense of wonder, in this way, to be quite challenging and aggravating at times. The search for simple reason, a simple answer, rarely causes aggravation in a person with an open mind, for in their mind you trigger the same sense of wonder.

    Kapable, I've found that I typically feel when people are raising me, I feel when they're bringing me down, I feel when they're leaving me vibing at the same depressing level and I feel when they're challenging me, leading to the question 'What's the challenge here?' What feelings do you get from the different people in your life?

    :)

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Kapable
    Kapable avatar
    6 posts
    21 January 2021 in reply to therising

    Thank you so much theorising!

    You appear to understand and give some sound and understandable tools. Your not feeling which allows you to be logical is similar to what my psychologist advised me to investigate called grey stoning. To wonder is to question and to question is considered by my other half challenging him.

    I see challenge as a positive experience. Something to think about, something to learn, explore, embrace change or direction. He does this in his interests but not in relationships... interesting.

    The ultimate question is what am I trying to achieve through all of this. I am finally getting off the spinning around and around not seeing a door out of my head. I am getting back to me. I am 'wondering' therefore exploring my own goals again. Not some much if I want to be in this relationship at this stage. More what will rebuild my confidence and self belief to make future decisions to ensure I am well, happy and living life to my potential.

    Today I am applying for a job! I have a substantial work history and think but not actually know I can get back out there. This will build my logical thinking, reduce my social isolation and provide me with some income (part time work to start). Although he says 'be careful don't overdo it as it makes you sick' that he HAD somehow convinced me was right which has some truth there.... I wonder.

    To be safe I need to build my foundations and support so if this relationship of 15 years isn't my choice I have something of me to move on.

    With this in mind I already feel stronger and can maintain calm at home and do what I have to do to keep him calm.

    thx K

  11. Katyonthehamsterwheel
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    1676 posts
    21 January 2021 in reply to Kapable

    Hi again

    I just want to say that this was fantastic to read. You sound like you have strategies, and you're clear about the direction you want to go to get back on track. I'm so pleased for you :)

    Wishing good things for you. Katy

  12. therising
    Valued Contributor
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    therising avatar
    2702 posts
    21 January 2021 in reply to Kapable

    Hi Kapable

    As I say, you are definitely a powerful person, gradually coming into more of your power by the sound of it.

    I find wonder to be kind of like a superpower. Sounds intense but wonder has changed my life in significant ways. Give you an example

    • I used to wonder why my husband was never all that enthusiastic about us going away on the occasional romantic weekend. I accept the fact he's more of a home body and doesn't feel the need to go out but I used to be so hard on myself about it all. 'Aren't I worth taking out or romancing? What's wrong with me?' Then I began wondering...'What's wrong with him; why doesn't he seek difference, adventure, new expressions of love and bonding, the evolution of the relationship?' My list went on. Through all my wonder, I reached the conclusion 'I'm a great person who's pretty much always vibing at home with him because that's what he wants to do'. This epiphany was a self esteem booster. I actually went on to wonder out loud at him about why he doesn't want to invest more in the relationship. His response, 'That's just who I am, that's just me'. My response, 'No, that's who you think you are'.

    I imagine you've had plenty of those moments in life where you think your this person or that person only to find out you're wrong. You could say you're the sort of person who's too scared to vent in any major way toward someone that intimidates you somewhat and then BAMM, you find yourself in some full on vent without an ounce of fear because pure intolerance is fueling you. There you go, you're not the person you thought you were. Deep down, you're actually fearless when you need to be. You may actually find yourself saying 'Wow, I had no idea I was this person! I'm feeling pretty pumped. I'll feel even better when my nervous system calms down' :)

    Wonder, adding ventures (adventuring), seeking excitement/difference, being amazed by simple things and facing challenges fearlessly are typically the traits we possessed as kids. Kids are super natural little people, until their supernatural abilities are slowing conditioned out of them. Returning (turning again) to who we naturally are is one of life's greater challenges, for sure.

    Good luck on your adventure (that job), have fun diving into wonder, seek difference as often as you feel inspired to, stop and smell the roses on occasion and always remember that the rise to courage can feel like the rise to fear. What thoughts we attach to a feeling can make a difference.

    :)

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