Gaslighting is so easy to define, but so hard to describe. In fact, often when you start to describe it, you end up sounding like a loon, or like a vindictive person, you’re going to pick the tiniest little thing to gripe about.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity.
What people don’t understand is how insidious it is, how the lies start out like a the tiniest drip of sewage in a clean pool, and then continue, tiny little drips, until the pool’s chlorination system is overwhelmed by all the shit that’s being pumped out … and you FINALLY realize everything ever said and done was pure poison.
Then when you realize the extent of what’s been done to you and realize how many people are still swimming in the pool and don’t even realize they’re swimming in sewage … and you shout from the rooftops that it’s happening, and even as they see an enormous turd float by, they think it’s the best thing ever because of who shit it out …
It’s a tragedy.
I was asked in a business setting to define a lie that I’ve believed in my life (we all have them, many of them are self-imposed – the ones I describe below are often picked up in childhood, not from a sociopath, but from family/authorities. These are common lies, but they were placed into my mind very deliberately by the one who gaslighted us).
#1 – You don’t have what it takes to be the CEO of your own company (pastor, prophet, LEAD person). You are not a person that other people would want to follow. You should never trust successes at anything (business, family, church, etc.). The fact that you are seeing results doesn’t mean that you’re actually called to, or capable of, doing anything.
#2 – “If you do something outside of (your cultural context, your family context, your social status, someone’s expectations of you, what I believe God’s called you to, God’s “timing” (which is really their abusive timing), your own level of surety in the call, etc.”) then you are in rebellion. You have no right to do those things. If you’re not SURE (how do you know that you’re sure? Are you sure you know? What if you’re not?) then you shouldn’t act.
Interestingly, sociopaths often do this type of gaslighting while pretending to build you up … they’ll counsel you. EXTENSIVELY. They’ve “been there”, so you should listen to them. They’ll either train you, or send you training (often, though, they’ll want to train you themselves). They’ll announce to the world how they believe in you and how you’re called to be the CEO, the pastor, the prophet, the lead person. Then they’ll suck the life out of every dream you have. They will set you up, often sending you to do some sort of task and then, behind the scenes, they orchestrate your abject failure at it. He’ll produce all kinds of PROOF that you suck, you’re terrible, you’re some sort of monster in need of more counseling, and that you need their help, because without their help and guidance and counseling, you’ll never “make it”.
THEN at times they will turn on the flattery and charm, especially in public, and you’ll really be on top of the world … but you’re not really on top of the world. Look around. Look at the water in the pool you’re swimming in.
I’m fairly convinced that sociopaths open the door to tiny little zombie demons that attack your mind, clamoring to drag you down to the depths that they live in. Some of the zombies are the hordes of adoring flying monkeys that surround the sociopath, but many of them are in your own mind. They demand that you shut down your brain and become one with them. They pick pieces of excrement out of the water and proclaim the greatness of the sociopath and his shit. They giggle like schoolgirls in adoration of the object of their affection. They become puzzled, and angry, when you climb out of the pool and refuse to exalt their master any longer. And some of the demons are your thoughts that spin and spin and spin out of control, replaying scenarios over and over again, trying to make your mind line up with the sociopath’s ever-changing version of reality. Eventually, paralysis sets in.
It eventually sets in to the flying monkeys, too, even the ones that still adore him. This is how high-performing organizations settle into mediocrity … I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes.
This is, of course, exactly what the sociopath wants. He has to be the top man. He’s keeping you down because your destiny is to not only have a clean pool, but to become a clean, pure, flowing river of joy and love, and he can’t have that himself, so he can’t stand that.
If this has been you, and your story, I invite you to take some time with the Lord right now. It’s time to empty the pool of every bit of the water that’s in it … drain that thing into the cesspool where it belongs … dig the concrete up … re-align the framework … pour new concrete, and be filled with the fresh, pure water of the river of heaven. Immerse yourself in that clear River … and never let anyone shit in your water again.
** Yes, my husband and I are church leaders. Yes, I used the word shit in a sentence. Is that shocking to you? I don’t do it casually or carnally. Some things just cannot be described with lesser words, and the shit a sociopath wants people to eat is nothing less than shit. Shit is shit, and part of the cultural context that allows a sociopath to thrive is that people don’t want to call shit shit, they want to soften it, make it smell less, and pretend it doesn’t exist. As long as people do that, the shit remains and all of the harmful things that shit brings with it happen to people. And that is really shitty. Shittier, in fact, than the word shit. **