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Gaslighting memory loss


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When I first moved in with my husband he would constantly be in contact with me and ask me what I was doing or where I was when he knew I was at work for 12 hours. When I would answer “I’m at work. I’m working.”  His response would be “mmmhmm”, often times, or “oh yeah? You having fun?”, “you’re awfully quiet”. 

Because of my job I couldn’t text whenever and he knew that. Whenever he responded with those responses or similar, I always felt like he was insinuating distrust in me. But anytime I said I felt that way, he would ask what I had to hide, because I am obviously paranoid and be told I am either crazy or cheating.

As time progressed I felt like we had a hard time communicating. Like neither one of us would understand what each other were expressing. When I would try to convey my feelings it would end up with him explaining that what I was saying and the way I was communicating was completely wrong. So I would try to reword and work around the communication problems. It honestly feels like we are speaking two different languages at times. And when I feel like I’d finally get out what I needed to say, he would nag on the misuse of a word and change the subject, to how can I communicate if I’m not even using correct words. But sometimes words had two meanings and he refused to use the other meaning that I had intended.

I used to try very hard to do better and be better for the relationship. So much that I would concede a lot just to avoid an argument I knew would go nowhere. It became habitual to not even question some things. So when he started to tell me that I was misremembering things I believed him. And then there were incidents where I had truly misremembered, and he has been able to catalogue those times to use at every argument, to win his case. And I feel hopeless to combat it, when there is proof I forget. I have been feeling like I’m going crazy for a decade and losing touch with reality at times. 

 

I know I am human and bound to make mistakes. So I have gotten in the habit of never believing myself or my memory to buffer an argument. But for the past few years I feel like all of this has led to me quickly losing my memory. I have severe lapse of retention and focus. Lately it has gotten to the point that my children will ask me something and I have forgotten what they are saying by the time they finish their sentences. My husband is growing irritable with my complete lack of focus. I can be looking directly in his eyes and focusing on every word, but by the end of the conversation I’ve forgotten a lot of it. He tells me I am not listening because I cannot quote him verbatim and it leaves me feeling frustrated because I am honestly trying so hard. I always end up getting frustrated and just giving in to whatever he is trying to say or just cutting myself off emotionally to avoid embarrassment and pain. Because no matter what I do I cannot answer correctly, even if I try my hardest and do retain enough to converse. 

 

I have times of worry that I am the person gaslighting and I don’t even know it. Because I will say things like “every time!” When I don’t really mean every time, it just feels like it in that emotional moment. And then I have moments where I question his emotions and say that I don’t believe how he is feeling. I fear I could be on the wrong end of this. I would never want to do it to someone, so I am actively trying to restrain from words like “always” in our discussions.

Do you think I am being gaslighted? If so, has anyone ever lost their memory from years of gaslighting? Or am I the gaslighter and that’s why my memory is messed up? 

 

 

 

 

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That's a difficult question to answer. I'm sorry you're in this oppressive situation. 

Would it help to know you're not alone or going crazy? I experienced memory loss as a result of dissociation due to severe anxiety. I would try to write out a personal check, I'd forget what the numbers were the moment I began to write. I'd watch a movie and forget everything that happened 10 minutes before.

Dissociation protected me from being overwhelmed by too many confusing, conflicting intense feelings happening all at once. The mind has ways to protects itself. Anxiety took up 90% of my mental bandwidth, making concentration impossible. I spent much of my time walking from room to room, unable to remember what I was meant to do or get from there. 

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I think that the mind is very elastic and is altered very easily. This is good news and bad news I think. Bad news in that it can be altered in a detrimental way very quickly,  but also good news in that it can be altered in a positive way very quickly. 

It sounds very much like your husband has severely gaslighted you and it has indeed affected your mental functioning and memory. I have experience of this and have witnessed my sister's memory evaporating over the years through years and years of gaslighting from my narcissistic mother. 

I think you know deep down who is doing the gaslighting here but your altered functioning is making it difficult to always see clearly. 

My advice? Get out. He is eating away at your confidence and your ability to function normally. Get away from him in order to hear your own voice. 

Do one thing every day to start the process of becoming independent from him. Don't argue with him. Just tip toe away quietly. 

I'm not usually one to make such strong suggestions but in this case I feel so sure and so strongly that you would be so much better off away from him. :hugs:No doubt you will do what you will and what you feel comfortable with and it's ultimately your call.

If nothing else I'm glad you reached out here. With mentioning the gaslighting it shows that you have an idea of what's really going on here. Can you get a counsellor or do you have a friend to help you work through this? It would be really helpful for you to be able to hear your own voice. It sounds like he is evaporating every trace of you. 

Also, journalling. Here and on paper. Make sure that he has no way to access any of it though. He will use it against you. 

Lots of hugs to you :hugs:

Nightjar 

 

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17 hours ago, Nightjar said:

If nothing else I'm glad you reached out here. With mentioning the gaslighting it shows that you have an idea of what's really going on here. Can you get a counsellor or do you have a friend to help you work through this? It would be really helpful for you to be able to hear your own voice. It sounds like he is evaporating every trace of you. 

Also, journalling. Here and on paper. Make sure that he has no way to access any of it though. He will use it against you. 

It’s funny you mention him evaporating parts of me. I used to be extremely happy and bubbly individual. I had so many interests and hobbies. But he said “everything can’t be the best or the greatest! Stop saying words like this. It makes you sound immature and ignorant.” So I stopped. And then he made sure to make me feel stupid about all my interests. He still downs regularly makes fun of the fact I was into a predominantly “male” sport and tells me that he could easily beat me in the sport. If I ever made a friend at work it was automatically insinuated I was cheating and couldn’t be trusted. When he found out I had a friend I confided in he took it upon himself to text her and end our relationship for me, because I shouldn’t talk to her about him.

 

I honestly do not know if I could end it with him. We have children and he has made it abundantly clear he would control my life if we divorce and make me stay in a state where I’d have no way to make a living on my own. So I stay. But I feel emotionally drained, exhausted and empty so many days.

 

I love the idea of journaling. It might help me keep my memory and sanity. I will be using that suggestion. Thank you so much for listening and guiding me in the way I should go, as well as something more realistic to obtain for now. I appreciate it so much.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am late responding to this thread and hope things have changed for the better.  

IMHO -- Some of the things you said in your last post sound like real red flags.  I suggest you get input on this from an uninvolved professional -- counselor, lawyer, or whoever seems appropriate to the situation.  It sounds like you need objective, knowledgeable input on which to base future life decisions.

 I wish you the very best!

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