So the title of this post is deceiving, this post is not about the Americana rock band, The Gaslight Anthem. It is about gas lighting. I recently read the revered Teen Vogue article everyone has been shouting about from the mountain tops since it came out in December. If you haven’t heard about it, it is about the psychological phenomenon known as “gas lighting.” Gas lighting is basically when someone manipulates you to the point where you begin to question your own sanity. The article was being mentioned left and right for a few reasons; 1. It’s about how Donald Trump is gas lighting America and 2. It was extremely deep and progressive for Teen Vogue. Teen Vogue is usually just plastered with adult women who still look young enough to be teens in fashion spreads looking extremely sullen and moody. At least the last time I picked up a copy, that’s what it was filled with.
The article was interesting and had sound information in it, but I wasn’t super into the fact that it was about Trump. What really interested me was the definition of the term gas lighting. I had never heard it before and as I read an article the term began to resonate with me on a deeper level. Also upon searching for the article, I actually stumbled upon another article written by a different author for Teen Vogue from 2015 that discussed gas lighting at length. But instead of talking about politics the author, Arabelle Sicardi, speaks of personal experiences she has had with gas lighting in romantic relationships.
As I read the article, I kept nodding my head in agreement. I started to realize that in my last relationship, there was a ton of gas lighting going on. In the article, Sicardi explains in depth how she was feeling as she realized her partner at the time was gas lighting her.
“Gaslighting teaches you that your mind isn’t good or smart enough to be right about what is going on. It convinces you that if you try hard enough, lie correctly, and love harder, you can save your relationship with the person to whom you have given power, your trust, your love. Worth and love become a game of self-determination: maybe love, and strength in our love, can be enough. Maybe compromise will solve it all” (Sicardi).
This is precisely how I felt in my last relationship. I gave my partner all the power over my emotions and mental well being, and it left me feeling like the tank was empty. I remember thinking the exact thoughts Sicardi expresses in the article. If somehow I could just love her more and try harder, things would get better. But of course this is not how it works. I ended up feeling drained in every sense of the word, but I had already been swallowed up by the relationship. I lost myself completely.
Sicardi expresses this in the article as well. She says,”I lost so much of myself that it didn’t matter at that point if I loved them or not. Love isn’t enough if it is physically destroying who you are” (Sicardi). This is exactly how I felt.
But of course, gas lighting is a two way street. In my last relationship, we lit each other on fire emotionally and watched each other burn. I made many mistakes that contributed to the unraveling of that relationship, I’m not writing this to bash my ex. I know what my mistakes were, one of the biggest being staying in a relationship that made me feel broken. I doubted my worth. I learned to loathe myself. And I believed that I was always wrong or always had something to be sorry for. After reading this article, I had this revelation.
People are always going to try to manipulate you, whether they realize they are doing it or not. You have to understand that you aren’t crazy for feeling the way you do. If something feels bad, it is because it is bad. That is reason enough for you to change something. Listen to what your soul says. Also don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter or that you aren’t worthy of love. That is the worst punishment someone can place on you and it will weigh on you until you crumble.
Do not apologize for being who you are and feeling what you feel. Wear your emotions like badges of honor. You feel what you feel. Don’t let people break you down because of it. And be aware if you are doing this to people. No one deserves to be broken like that.
Send love out into the universe. You are imperfect and you hurt people sometimes, but to err is to be human. We can wear our emotions and scars like badges of honor.