Is this gaslightng?

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Julian R

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Is this gaslightng?
« on: July 08, 2019, 10:37:49 AM »
Hi.  Just trying to get an understanding of the term gaslighting and whether it is going on with my unPDw.

What follows would be a fairly typical, all to frequent kind of exchange - could it be qualified as a form of gaslighting?

  My wife will complain lengthily of say Mr A saying x to her and then concluding that  y and z are also true and wanting me to agree with her.

 I might concede that indeed in saying/doing x Mr A was somewhat out of place but that doesn't mean that y and z are true of him.

She will then, again  very lengthily seek to prove that y and z are indeed true but uses a lot of distorted thinking, resorts to claims of things that she says happened months or years ago where i was not present but she hasn't mentioned them before, uses selective memory - that is forgets or overlooks all the positive things that Mr A has said/done - lays the worst possible interpretation on what he says ans does - perhaps plausible - but always worst interpretation rather than giving benefit of the doubt - lots of black and white thinking and catastrophizing.

And if I dare to suggest that Mr A may not be quite as bad as she thinks he is then I will be belittled, told I am naive, that I don't support her, that I am blind, have no relational intelligence, that kind of thing (her voicing becoming screechy and hostile).  So, if I dn't accept her view of reality, then something is wrong with me - and I find this is affecting my confidence in what I think and could affect relationship with Mr A who I also know and have to work with.

What do you make of it?  What can I do about it? (I do my best not to JADE, to avoid circular conversations or escalation - which essentially just reduces the thing to a non stop monologue rather than a sensible dialogue).

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Hazy111

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2019, 11:38:59 AM »
Yes i believe it is.

I think you are doing the best you can. You seem to have a good grasp, so you see it for what it is. "Gaslighting" only "works" when you start to question yourself and the person doing it  persists until your opinion is their opinion. You have no self.

 To stop the PD in full flow monologue demonetisation of another is in their eyes "attacking" them as you are not agreeing or siding with them. You are not on their side. They dont want your opinion they want your agreement . They know already that they are "right".

To remain silent can also trigger the PD. So youre damned if you do or dont.

Gas lighting i see has broken into the mainstream discourse. But most people still dont get what PD is. Non PDs dont gaslight.

If people understood what PD was and how prevalent it is. It doesnt just happen on a personal level it drives politics. Black and white thinking. Its how scapegoating starts. Im right youre wrong. Were right , theyre wrong.

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athene1399

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2019, 09:45:47 AM »
Like Hazy said, gaslighting occurs when someone "tries" to get you to doubt yourself (I put tries in quote because I'm not entirely sure it is a conscious decision to make you doubt yourself). Like they keep telling you the sky is red and after they say it so many times you start to wonder if you're crazy for thinking the sky is blue. A gaslighting phrase that happens the most to me is "I didn't say that" when I remember that person saying it. It makes me doubt that I did really hear it. If it goes on long enough, you begin to doubt everything and your perception of reality.

It does sound like it is very driven by black and white thinking (aka splitting). It's created as a maladaptive protective mechanism. In the case of a child who is being abused, they create in their minds the "bad mom" who yells and screams and the "good mom" who offers comfort, nurturing, and acceptance. It's like a way to deal with a caretaker being abusive, you think of them like two people. Then when the child grows into an adult he/she has difficulty accepting the grey areas.

I have this issue. if someone does something mean I instantly change my mind about them and think of all the little "bad" things they have done to reinforce why they are a "bad" person. I am self-aware so I combat this by thinking of good things they have done as well. This occurs across all relationships in my life, and obviously no one is perfect so I have this conversation a lot in my head (trying to remember good things they have done when I am mad at them). 

I also have in the past needed to be validated by getting others on my side about the "bad" person. This sounds like what your wife is doing. But even though she has this need, that doesn't give her the right to belittle you. I am sorry this is happening. I think you not agreeing with her may count as JADE (you're defending your view of Mr A or explaining why he isn't a bad guy). It is so tricky not to JADE!

It's tough to know what to do. When M gets like this (it's usually not about a person, but a situation so I don't know if this will be helpful), explaining to her that her thinking is delusional doesn't help (My first reaction is to JADE so I try not to respond at first). I usually just say "okay" like I am agreeing with her when I am really not. Sometimes that doesn't stop her and she just goes on longer. But sometimes that gives her pause long enough for me to change the subject. I don't know if you've tried anything like that, like giving a neutral response that she may see as agreement.

Is your wife in therapy? I think you said in another thread she isn't self-aware. Maybe therapy can help her with this (and you).

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Julian R

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2019, 01:13:22 PM »
Thank you for your helpful replies and insight

Yes I still have some improvements to make on not JADEing but I am making progress - lol.

I don't believe my unPDw is deliberately trying to make me doubt my perceptions and convictions but it does end up having that effect and is a particular nuisance when it concerns people I have to work with too.

Yes I can see that my wife does do a lot of this black and white thinking (splitting) and it does not take too much to happen for a person to become "bad" in her eyes and then  to analyze everything through that lens, adopting the worst interpetationsto not only forget or overlook the good the person has done but to question the motives that lie behind that good, suggesting it is false, a pretence, hypocritical.  Relating this tendency back to past abuse is helpful, that sadly has been the case for my wife.  She did suffer abuse for a long time but does not or can't recognise that her present reactions have been shaped by her past.

I have also tried the tactic of neutral replies - "I have heard", "I understand ..." and sometimes tried to divert the conversation (not usually successfully, at least not for long) but what I find really difficult is the length of time she can go on once in this plaintive mode and the frequency with which it returns, often just repeating what has already been said - so my attempts at patient non JADEIng are pushed to the limits - and sometimes sadly beyond.  It is this wearing down like a dripping tap that gets to me and begins to affect my confidence in my own judgement about people or situations.

Although on the whole my wife is not very self aware, it is interesting to note that recently she has become more aware of her anxiety and has arranged to see a therapist through our health service - this free service is quite limited however, just a few short sessions I think and so I don't think they will get beyond very surface issues onto the real deeper ones. I have suggested to her that she should tell the therapist of her childhood abuse just for background context but he was quite dismissive of the idea.  And my wife doesn't like to spend money - to do so on long term therapy would be quite unthinkable for her - again this is part of her anxiety.  We are by no means poor but she still feels very insecure financially despite my assurances otherwise.

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Hazy111

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2019, 02:11:25 PM »
Hi Julian R,

The anxiety is probably the repressed trauma seeping through. I think you are right it is probably very deep seated. Its not a surface issue.

I had a uBPD mother who suffered chronic anxiety all her life and had uBPD girlfriends w ho  also had severe problems with phobias and anxiety. My mothers i believe was from very early childhood trauma, she was raised partially by an alcoholic wet nurse and maybe experienced near death experiences severely traumatising. She never connected the two despite her training as a psychiatric nurse. Or maybe she did but couldnt do anything about it.

Good luck


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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2019, 04:10:21 PM »
I love Hazy's explanation here. I don't know how to copy your quote: gaslighting has made it into the pop culture.

And I agree, most people don't understand PDs. Hazy your post here should be required reading for people who need to learn PD vs NonPD. Not every annoying argumentative person is a PD. But all NPDs are probably  frustrating and argumentative.

A non PD doesn't need to invalidate others. ie they can tolerate the grey area, people can have different experiences and both are valid.

I wonder if Gaslighting is done to match their level of instability... so relatively stable people, ie non PDs, would not understand why to gaslight anymore than non-cleptomaniacs comprehend or think to steal. Thinking aloud here about why they gaslight.

I think my parents gaslighting was compulsive. 

Its kinda like how hoarding is different from simply owning a lot of stuff. A person suffering from hoarding has a full basement for a completely different reason than a non-hoarder does. This is why I think it's not helpful to joke about being OCD, or being PD, it blurs the difference between someone who needs help for anxiety compared to someone who can plan a garage sale to clean out their clutter. If you can sell your junk without having a panic attack youre not struggling with hoarding.
I think hoarding is now understood as a form of anxiety or OCD? Someone correct me if you know. My point is that gaslighting is not the same as disagreeing or arguing. Hoarding isn't the same as having a cluttered room. They can look the same from the outside.

If a person can talk about differences without persistently invalidating others, they are not gaslighting. I think its the "you're not really x" and "you're wrong and what you're feeling isn't valid" that is gaslighting, and it is not like disagreement and argument.

I've been gaslit a lot. It always involved having my experience be invalidated. I'm told that I'm not actually upset. I'm just tired (or vitamin deficient or too sensitive or what ever she would choose that day).

NPD parents are on a whole level...only others who've been gaslit would be able to predict what happens if I agree and say "Yes, I am tired."

She would disagree with me! "No you're not tired." First questuoning or challenging and invaldiating that I'm upset by saying I'm tired. Then if I agree, yes I'm tired, now more gaslighting. I'm not tired now that I said I was, clearly I'm wrong about that too.

She would go on and on and on like that for an hour or 2. I would spend the following days just numb after those exchanges.

In the span of an hour dialogue my NPD mother would contradicts herself at least once. If not several times. That's professional level gaslighting. So glad I left that nonsense. I was wrong about everything. And she was right about everything all the time.

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StayWithMe

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2019, 04:39:33 PM »
Hi.  Just trying to get an understanding of the term gaslighting and whether it is going on with my unPDw.

What follows would be a fairly typical, all to frequent kind of exchange - could it be qualified as a form of gaslighting?

  My wife will complain lengthily of say Mr A saying x to her and then concluding that  y and z are also true and wanting me to agree with her.

 I might concede that indeed in saying/doing x Mr A was somewhat out of place but that doesn't mean that y and z are true of him.

She will then, again  very lengthily seek to prove that y and z are indeed true but uses a lot of distorted thinking, resorts to claims of things that she says happened months or years ago where i was not present but she hasn't mentioned them before, uses selective memory - that is forgets or overlooks all the positive things that Mr A has said/done - lays the worst possible interpretation on what he says ans does - perhaps plausible - but always worst interpretation rather than giving benefit of the doubt - lots of black and white thinking and catastrophizing.

And if I dare to suggest that Mr A may not be quite as bad as she thinks he is then I will be belittled, told I am naive, that I don't support her, that I am blind, have no relational intelligence, that kind of thing (her voicing becoming screechy and hostile).  So, if I dn't accept her view of reality, then something is wrong with me - and I find this is affecting my confidence in what I think and could affect relationship with Mr A who I also know and have to work with.

What do you make of it?  What can I do about it? (I do my best not to JADE, to avoid circular conversations or escalation - which essentially just reduces the thing to a non stop monologue rather than a sensible dialogue).

these types of conversation seem familiar to me as I to some degree feel it's natural to vent and disclose to my spouse.  But I have learned that there is a limit.  Fortunately, my husband has made an effort to understand and commiserate.

for example, I have vented about the fact that I was an officer in a local chapter non profit.  I found that my name would be taken off the email list so I would not receive notices about conference calls.  My husband tried to make out like oh, everyone makes mistakes; if you correct someone once, it's not a mistke the second time.  not to mention, regularly taking someone's name off the e-mail list takes more time than leaving it on.

then my husband would tell me story about how he was put on a project at work and he missed 4 months of conference calls because his details weren't put on the list.  And see, he turned out ok.  How do we know that?  He may have missed a promotion.
I told him that it is his choice if he wants to find excuses not to attend meetings or to make it easy for someone to diss him, but I have different objectives.

Is this how your conversations go, where she is telling you about real life things that happen and you are denying that they are happening?   It seems more that you are gaslighting her.

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Julian R

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2019, 06:45:05 AM »
Hi StaywithMe

Please let me reassure you that I do not deny the facts of the incident that my wife is complaining of, nor do I invalidate the distressing feelings associate with the incident.

What I sometimes, in vain, try to challenge, are some of the conclusions that are drawn from these facts - which tend to interpret events towards the blackest end of the spectrum, in this case the conclusion that Mr A is trying to make her leave her job.  There is no objective evidence for that at all and whilst he is far from perfect I can quote facts that would suggest that he is very far from being as hostile to her as she believes, but these are always dismissed and she can be unpleasant to me when I suggest these things. (This behaviour is what motivated my question about gaslighting - i am quite happy to be told it is not gaslighting - at the end of the day it makes little difference, but to me it feels abusive and it does undermine my confidence in my opinions and convictions and judgement).

My observation is that my wife often concludes that people are fundamentally hostile to her when this is not necessarily the case and i can fully understand that she reacts this way as her own parents subjected her to quite serious abuse.  Her thoughts and feelings, when confronted by a triggering incident, immediately jump to this conclusion that people are fundamentally hostile towards her.  If only she could have a less black and white view of people, be a bit more generous or gracious in her interpretation of the ups and downs of relationships, then I feel her anxiety levels would decrease and everyone would be happier.  But I understand this is not going to come about easily, probably never, which I find disheartening.

I also understand that people do have a need to vent sometimes.  I accept that.  My problem is that my wife vents at length - the incident of which we are talking about occurred early June and it is still the subject of regularly and lengthy complaints that just go around and around, repeating the same old thing, getting nowhere, achieving nothing - except making me miserable.  Last night I politely asked her why she felt the need to keep on repeating the same things day after day.  She did not answer me.  i requested several times that she answer my question but she just carried on speaking over me, getting louder.

She also has one rule for her and one for me, for if, on rare occasions I start to vent about something she soon puts me down and says how unbearable it is - usually after less than five minutes!  And yet If I try to explain to her after hours, even days ... that her constant moaning is making me miserable, well, she takes no notices and just carries on.

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StayWithMe

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2019, 11:24:32 AM »
I do agree that she can't endlessly talk about these matters with you, especially if she is repeating herself.  She needs an outlet.  Maybe an online forum is all that she needs.  A coach of some sort or a therapist. 

It is also unfair that after your tending to her issues that she would cut you off when speaking about your own.  Maybe the next time she wants to vent you could remind when she is begining and ending to see how much time you devote to her.

however, time is only one  component of this.  It is possible that she is right.  Bookstores now have a whole section on how to manage office politics.  Someone must be buying those books.  Is it really possible that you never had a problem at work with a boss or a co worker.  Or even in your social circles in which you felt diminished by ambiguous behavior brought on by someone else. 

My husband has gotten better but it has been an uphill climb.  One way I have gotten him to think more critically is that I pointed out to him that when we were dating, he was "friends" with a woman who made several false and negative comments about me which he believed without cross checking with me.  Guess what?  I had never even met the woman.  Where did she get her intelligence from?  That was an eye opener for him. 

Your wife needs a safe place to vent and someone who can give her strategies to avoid problems and strategies to manage any that she couldn't avoid.


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athene1399

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2019, 11:34:13 AM »
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She also has one rule for her and one for me, for if, on rare occasions I start to vent about something she soon puts me down and says how unbearable it is
This is probably projection. In my case, I drive myself nuts but sometimes do what drives me batty (like seeking approval). If someone else does it I hate it so much because it reminds me of the quality I hate in myself. It is possible that your wife can't stand how much she vents, so the second you start it reminds her of herself ans she gets upset. I'm just speculating based off my own tendencies. And I'm not saying she can't help it, just it's difficult to not do so especially if you aren't self aware (which it sounds like you get that). And I think she just has to get there on her own, and maybe she'll never get there.

I am so glad you are able to recognize her trauma responses. That being said, you have every right to be upset by her behavior. It is stressful and at times sounds slightly abusive (how she is belittling(sp) you).  Gaslighting is awful to go through. I'm also sorry I really can't come up with a better solution than "she needs therapy". Maybe it will help knowing that gaslighting is occurring and that you aren't wrong for having your own views about Mr A (or whatever the other situations that come up are). AT the very least we can offer you support on here.

 I used to gaslight sometimes and it is an automatic response. Your so used to the world being out to get you as a child that you assume everyone is still out to get you. You're just programmed that way. I still trust no one, but have been working on that with SO.

Just a random thought i had about her going on and on and on, maybe you're the only one she feels comfortable talking to and that's why she vents extensively to you. Maybe she feels safe venting to you and just like word volcanoes on you (because she saves up all her frustrations over the course of the day and lays it all on you). Maye that's why she can't stop. I could be totally coming from left field on this, but wanted to throw it out there.

And I JADE my M all the time and don't realize until I come on here and someone points it out. It is so hard not to. it is usually my first reaction. I think it's a work in progress for all of us. And even if you still JADE sometimes, think about all the times you haven't. :)

Treesgrow- Yes. I do believe that hoarding is anxiety driven.  OCD I think is as well. It's a compulsion to help alleviate the anxiety, to feel some type of control when things are out of your control.

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StayWithMe

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2019, 11:41:04 AM »
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Your so used to the world being out to get you as a child that you assume everyone is still out to get you.

I used to assume that people will do the right thing.  I wonder now how many people were laughing at me for being so naive.  Even my mother has screwed on a few occasions.  I've written about them already.

Just because you assume that people will do the right thing does not mean that they will.

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Julian R

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2019, 12:25:41 PM »
Thank you for your comments

I just want to add, for the sake of clarity, that myself and my wife work for the same organisation and have the same manager (this in itself makes like a bit complicated) - so when i speak of Mr A it is from my experience and not making blind assumptions or second hand hearsay.  Furthermore, whilst I was not present at the original incident, I have been present at a couple of subsequent conversations with manager A.  So again I address the situation as a first hand witness. My assessment is that manager A has actually handled my wife better than previous managers and has been more positive about her and encouraging towards her than previous ones (I have never told him that my wife has been abused and that I suspect a PD or CPTSD as I feel that would betray my wife (any opinions on that??)).  Nevertheless he is not perfect and I don't deny that there are office politics issues floating around, and that sometimes he has had to address issues with my wife that he could have done better, perhaps would have done better if he knew more of her background.  Maybe my wife is right - but her conclusions don't seem to fit with what I have experienced of the man or heard from him. 

Manager A has actually said to her / us that he has been hurt and puzzled by my wife's reactions following the incident in question - if he knew what was really going on maybe he would understand better but I feel reticent about what to say to him about my wife.

You are right, I am sure my wife sees me as a safe person to vent with - but the knock on is that I end up feeling emotionally very weary and sometimes bruised (and I do occasionally end up angry but less so recently since I have been learning to not JADE a bit more).  I end up feeling emotionally unsafe and overly watchful about what I say all the time. The irony is that I would actually be more sympathetic and supportive if she vented a lot less - it is her going on and on that makes me feel more negative towards her.

She has a little therapy coming up - free on our heath service but just a few short sessions.  Hopefully they will help her - but I am not optimistic.  We shall see.

She does have other friends she occasionally talks things over with - they probably only get it in acceptable doses.

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losingmyself

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2019, 07:37:51 PM »
Julian, as far as continually bringing up past "wrongdoings", real or imagined, I have noticed that my updh will bring things up from the past, and be just as upset, if not more, than he was originally. Often times this is because his perception of the event has changed, along with very many of the facts. He retells these events, that I was present at, as though I have never known of the situation, and gets visibly angry and upset about it. I think, somewhere in his mind, he just can't let things go. And I don't think this is a choice. I believe, if I wasn't able to successfully change the subject, he would go on for hours. Usually, this is done when there's a pause, then I say "Uh, hu" as though I agree, or understand, then go to a different subject that involves him, preferably something complimentary. Or something we'll do when we get home. Distraction, like a child. Someone on this site once said that they say something like "Can you believe how some people are??" Which is neither agreeing or disagreeing, nor saying anything about that person specifically. Then changing the subject. I don't believe I'm ever going to change his mind about these stories. I just placate. I know for a fact that none of his vitriol is told to anyone but me, because he has alienated everyone but family.

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Julian R

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2019, 08:33:09 AM »
Hello losingmyself

Yes I can very much Identify with what you say.  If there is no present issue preoccupying my wife, she will return to things from the past and yes often amplify what happened and  yes sometimes her memory seems to do odd things - very selective memory and sometimes facts can change in a way that reinforces her views and distress.  She seems t have a memory that can recall in detail conversations from a longer and what exactly people have said - and I have often forgotten these details.

Yes I guess distraction is a technique I can try to work on when things go on too long.  I do sometimes try it - but not necessarily to great effect.

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athene1399

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2019, 10:58:43 AM »
I don't know if telling Mr A is a good idea. While it may help him understand your wife better, she may see it as a breach of trust. If anyone should tell him, it's her IMO. But the way she currently seems to feel about him, I'm not sure you could convince her to say anything to him. And even if she does, it may not work out as expected.

I am sorry I cannot offer a better solution for the venting. It sounds like it is really wearing you down.

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Julian R

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2019, 06:15:21 AM »
Athene

Yes I do agree that it would be better not to speak to Mr A about it - I guess I feel that way about speaking to anyone about it, so I don't (except here) but this just leaves me feeling isolated and lonely in a situation that is wearing me down - with the pressure building like in a pressure cooker ...

The weekend was quieter - I thought maybe the wort of this episode was over; I was wrong.  As soon as I opened an eyelid in bed this morning it all kicked of again; very bad timing, a bad start to the day.

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athene1399

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2019, 10:39:13 AM »
I am sorry, Julian. Is there something you can do for yourself? Like go for a walk before going home after work? You need to find a healthy way to get rid of that pressure that you are feeling. You may not be able to find a way to stop your wife from venting for so long, but maybe you can find something to do after she vents to make yourself feel better.

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Julian R

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Re: Is this gaslightng?
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2019, 12:50:14 PM »
Thank you athene

Yes I do try that kind of thing.  I actually am able to walk to and from work most days (25 mins each way) and often go out for a walk at lunchtime.  I pursue other interests, going out at least once a week, independently of my wife.  And at this time of year going out to potter in the garden is a helpful way out but this is not so easy when the evenings get dark towards autumn and then throughout winter.  That all helps somewhat ...