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June 4, 2020

I was Gaslighted (& it was the Best thing to Ever Happen to Me).

I met him at a party.

A costume party—could it be any more cliché?

I was dressed as my own creatively licensed version of Tiger Lily from “Peter Pan.” He had come as a magician, peddling cute tricks to get attention (emphasis on getting attention). I was talking to a friend and laughing when he appeared as if from nowhere.

When people speak about “the spark,” which I have come to believe can be deeply deceptive, I would imagine that they speak of moments such as that one. When two people’s eyes meet, and there is an undeniable jolt.

He would later tell me that my laugh had been so infectious that after hearing it, he simply had to speak to me. It’s one of the most romantic things I’ve ever been told.

That’s how it began for us.

I want to say I was smitten with him, but smitten implies innocence and purity. Although that’s how it began for us, the way we would end would leave me in pieces. I would question who I was and, more importantly, what I had become. I don’t think I have ever felt more raw and rotten in all my life.

In the six months he was around he gaslighted me—this is what I learned:

Everything I had rightly questioned, everything I had rightly doubted, everything I had rightly felt in my gut, was discarded and thrown back at me. These kinds of people are master manipulators and lightning-quick studies in human behavior.

In an almost predatory way, they collect as much information about us as they can. Even going as far as to mimic resonation with things they know we love. They claim to love us while still pursuing their exes and multiple other women.

Are they evil? No, although I once believed they are. They’re terribly misguided.

To them, getting what they want is worth the cost of honesty, respect, and building a relationship built on trust. They want what they can’t have— insatiable in their lust. If there is only a part of them that is being fed, it’s their ego. They are slaves to it.

Sadly though, we often choose to abandon ourselves. The more they lie to us, the more our intuition persists, the more we cling to them, the more irrational we become, and the more we hate ourselves. We allow desperation to consume us.

That hideous emotion is a powerful messenger of a lack of self-love, and we often refuse to listen. Hindsight can be somewhat of a b*tch. Looking back on all the moments I have shared with people like that, it took breaking free from them for me to finally regain clarity.

We become so dependent on the narrative they create that we lose sight of their actions and our self-worth.

When the journey finally culminates into a spectacular fashion of utter destruction, we are able to recognize that our pain and anguish actually had nothing to do with them and everything to do with ourselves.

Yes, they hurt us, but we allowed it to happen.

I’ve had relationships like this that would end up proving to be my greatest catalyst for change. After them, I would fundamentally alter my inner world. It became time to stop running from myself and my own shortcomings.

I have done a myriad of things to delve into my psyche, and this June I will have proudly spent a year on it. One of the things I did was join a support group.

I would drive every Wednesday evening and sit and chat with people who were also struggling, but committed to themselves and their healing process. I can’t even express how much value it has given my life.

I took a beautiful journey to find my own happily ever after rooted firmly in the practice of self-love. I now know with certainty what my deal breakers are, where my boundaries lie, and how I deserve to be treated.

They have to become the villain of our love story to, ultimately, make us the hero of it.

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Amanda Van Graan  |  Contribution: 170,345

author: Amanda Van Graan

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Editor: Kate Force