41. Gas Lighting And Cognitive Dissonance

Gradually as the relationship progressed, I started to question myself, my sanity and my sense of reality as Kevin would say that I had said things or other people had said things that I could not recall. This became more and more frequent and I began to doubt myself. He managed to get past my common sense filters in my mind and I started to believe everything he was telling me. This is called gaslighting. Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that causes the victim to doubt and question his or her sense of perception, identity and reality. In this case, Kevin was trying to make me question my mannerisms and my behaviour towards him. Cognitive Dissonance in the context of narcissism is psychological discomfort as a result of gaslighting. It is when one’s thoughts and beliefs contradict and run inconsistent to the information that is presented to them by the narcissist.

Kevin would often dictate to me how I was feeling even if I was not feeling that way. At first, I would resist and tell him that no, I was not feeling what he was describing. However, the more I resisted, the more easily he would lose his temper so over time I began to give in and accept how he said I was feeling. One time over Skype, after we had had another argument, I had told him that I did not love him anymore. I could not feel any love for him. I explained to him that it was because of his behaviour. Every time I told him this, he could not accept it. He could not handle the truth. It would go over his head. Instead he would manipulate the information as part of his gaslighting. Every time I told him that I did not love him, he would tell me that I did love him and the fact that we were fighting meant that I loved him. This particular time, however, he made me say the words, “I love you”. I told him that I did not love him and that he could not force me to love him if I did not. He could not accept that. Then he told me to repeat after him the words, “I love you”. I resisted but he persisted and after some time, I gave in and repeated the words after him, word by word, just like a child repeating after a teacher, except he did not have the values of a teacher. For me, saying those words to him felt so difficult and so wrong. It was disgusting. Unlike him, I cannot spit completely meaningless words out like he does. In hindsight, this really disgusts me.

He would go as far as inventing things that never even happened. A couple of times while we were arguing, he said he knew about my past and that I had caused so many problems for the people in my life. I had no idea what he was talking about so I asked him to explain, and he said, “I just know”. I never gave in to that because I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about and I could not think of any incidents in my past which would have made him say those words. And yet when I asked him to explain, he could not provide any substance. His words were nothing more than plain, old meaningless words. When I think about it, he was actually quite bad at gaslighting. However, his persistence and his rage allowed him to succeed.

At the beginning, I would make excuses for his behaviour, such as, “maybe it’s a cultural difference”, “we’re all different and that’s just his personality”, or “maybe my parents did not teach me right”. The latter came from the fact that he was constantly talking about how he had no money. He told everyone that he had no money – even strangers. My parents always told me that money was a private matter and should not be talked about in public. Yet, whenever Kevin whinged to the world about the fact that he had no money, everyone’s reactions appeared unruffled. As if revealing his complete financial woes to the world was normal. That was really confusing to me. Then I thought that maybe talking about money in public was in fact normal and that my parents had taught me wrong. But no – my parents taught me right!

Before meeting Kevin, I was carefree. I had no stress other than the level you would expect of healthy stress. And at times when I was a little stressed, I could manage it well. With Kevin, however, I became stressed every day and I knew very well that it was because of him. He was projecting his misery onto me and draining the life out of me. However, he kept telling me that it was the school that was stressing me just to divert the blame onto something else, as he usually did. To keep the peace, I would agree with him. I found this very confusing because I knew exactly what was the problem was. What he was saying contradicted my thoughts and beliefs.

He believed he knew everything. He believed he knew more than me and I fell for it. He managed to convince me with his bullshit. He was so convincing and if at any time I did not believe what he had to say, he would start stressing out and raising his voice. The only way to calm him down was to show him that I believed the incredible shit coming out of his mouth. It was always easier to shut up and agree than to discuss or question. I was not his dream woman. His dream woman would be someone who silently nodded to every word he said.

One time when we were on our way back from a mölkky tournament, we made a dinner stop. While we were having dinner, Kevin said, “Oh my god. I think I just saw the gardener” (he was referring to Maxim – Chapter 10). I did not look and pretended to not care because I could feel that if I reacted in any way, Kevin would take the opportunity to attack me about being interested in seeing Maxim. About a minute later, I went to get some cutlery and I tried to see if Maxim was around but I could not see him. I could see that Kevin was watching me to see if I was looking for Maxim. This is not normal. If we see someone we know outside, we naturally take an interest to see them. However, being with Kevin, I couldn’t even look without the risk of being yelled at. I actually believe that Kevin did not see Maxim. I believe Kevin was trying to set me up to see if I would take an interest in looking for Maxim so that he could create drama, start an argument and then take the opportunity to yell at me and justify it by projecting the blame onto me by saying that I was betraying him because I was showing an interest in Maxim.

Whenever I expressed to him how I felt by his actions, he said that my views were distorted. After everything I had gone through, how much distorted could it have got? I know that I am not that blind. Now that I’ve broken away from his manipulations and gaslighting, I think back and question everything he ever said to me. So many things just did not piece together and whenever I questioned them at the time, he would either always divert the questions one way or another, start shouting at me or project it back onto me. I cannot believe a single word he has ever said in this relationship. Not a single word. He is a sick, manipulative pathological liar.

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