Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that allows your partner to gain power over you through manipulation and lies.

You start believing you’re crazy for being upset by something they have done to you. You question your memory and sanity because they tell you they haven’t done what you say they did. You become so insecure and detached from yourself because you start to look at yourself through their eyes. You are no longer sure about what is true and what is false.

Gaslighting is often dismissed and ignored because the victim is led to believe that their situation is only circumstantial and that things will get better in due time. That is a lie and abuse is not equivalent to love. Gaslighting can happen to anyone and by anyone. It happens everywhere. It is publicized and joked about on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We laugh at videos of couples gaslighting each other and call it “funny.” But gaslighting isn’t funny. Gaslighting should never be romanticized and if it is a type of abuse in your relationship, you need to get out while you can.

This form of abuse will leave you crying yourself to sleep at night because you’ve internalized all the negative things your partner has said to you. You no longer look at yourself the same because you start to believe everything they’ve ever called you. “Weak.” “Pathetic.” “Sad.” “Bitch.”

When you cry, you no longer show yourself love. You tell yourself that you ARE weak, pathetic, and sad. You’ve come to terms that the only love you will ever know is the love that tears you down and blames everything on you. You stop hanging out with people because you’re scared your friends will hate you as much as your partner hates you. But your partner has never even said they hated you. Instead, they ask why you say certain things, why you do certain things, and to stop saying and doing those things. They embarrass you in front of their friends and family. They call you out in public and around people who have warned you not to settle for a love that destroys you.

You can’t tell that this kind of abuse is destroying you. You do not know you are a victim of gaslighting until you come to terms with the fact that you have been lied to for so long. And when that happens, you will see that you are not crazy, pathetic, sad, or weak. You are not “too sensitive,” “jealous,” or “psychotic.” You were just wrong.

You were wrong to think that you are jealous and sensitive because your partner hurt you. You were wrong to think that you could find comfort in the same place that dehumanized you. You were wrong for ignoring the people that cared about you. But being wrong is being human and it isn’t human to gaslight someone. Although it hurts knowing you were wrong, it hurts more knowing someone could tell you to “shut the fuck up and stop crying” at 11 p.m. because they had work in the morning, but then go out until 5 a.m. with their friends.

What hurts is someone using all you have ever confined in them against you. What hurts is trusting someone who uses your weaknesses and insecurities as ammunition.

Although it hurts and you were wrong, healing starts with loving yourself. Healing starts with coming to terms with how things are and not how you wanted them to be. Healing starts with realizing you are doing the best you can, and that is okay. You are no longer subjected to gaslighting and that is your start.