Hindsight can only be 20/20 if you are viewing it through a filter of reality and honesty. But what if your sense of reality was taken away from you? What if you no longer knew what to believe or who to trust? I first experienced gaslighting in relationships with friends and family members when I was a child; I just didn’t know there was a term for it. And as long as you don’t know what gaslighting is, you’ll not only think that *you* are the problem, but you’ll be dependent on whoever is gaslighting you, to be your eyes, ears, and mental health assessor.

Gaslighting is something that I have experienced in romantic relationships, friendships, familial relationships, and in business. I’ve coached thousands of people all over the world who are victims of gaslighting. And even when they are able to take a step back and see the manipulation for what it is, it’s still incredibly hard to accept.

What is Gaslighting and where does the term come from?

Gaslighting is when someone manipulates you into questioning your mental health and reality.

The term originated from the 1938 play, Gas Light (which has two film adaptions). It centers around a husband who attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights in their home (the lights were powered by gas at the time). When the wife notices and points out the dimmed lights, her husband denies that the lights have changed.

The most horrific example of gaslighting that I have ever seen depicted on-screen was in the movie, Rosemary’s Baby. Rosemary is gaslight from the conception of her child (where she was drugged and raped but led to believe that she got drunk and sexually aggressive with her husband) to the birth… by an entire community (including her husband and neighbors; even her doctor). This doesn’t just happen in the movies. Gaslighting happens everywhere, every day. How does this happen?

Unfortunately, very easily.

I speak from personal experience when I say that once you’ve been gaslight, you start to allow the cynical audience in your own head to gaslight you. This starts an internal war with your intuition, which leaves you feeling completely helpless (and even more of a sitting duck for anyone whose egoic meal ticket is total control over your emotional weather). This is something that I still struggle with every day. I have to remind myself that the proverbial light has actually been dimmed and that I’m not just imagining things – as heartbreaking as it is to remind myself of. Continue Reading

You thought that you and the person you were dating had a great connection. You made each other laugh, the chemistry was there, the conversation flowed naturally, and you both talked about the future. After a few weeks/months, however, the constant back-and-forth texts between the two of you started to peter off. You’d be left hanging for hours without a response. They suddenly seemed to be a lot busier and more unavailable. You felt a disconnect but chalked it up to “overthinking.” And then one day… the communication stopped altogether. They ghosted you.

Getting abandoned out of the blue by someone you care about, being met with radio silence, and left without an explanation is one of the most awful feelings. All of our un-dealt with trauma gets brought back up while we obsessively rehash a past that doesn’t support the pain/reality of the present moment in any way.

“How did this happen?”

“What did I do wrong?”

“How will I ever be able to trust again?”

You want closure but it’s nowhere to be found.  You need to know how to get over someone who ghosted you, ASAP.
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Have you reached a point where your patterns and behavior have become so painfully clear, embarrassing, and destructive… you start to lose hope? And because you don’t know how to get out of the cycle, you accept that your intuition will never be something that you’ll have the self-esteem to actually befriend and act on. All you know how to do is prosecute your intuition down to nothing and turn a blind eye via self-blame. I know I’ve been there. But for most of my life, every time I thought I had reached the point of BFF status with my intuition, I’d somehow find myself in a vastly different situation with the same damn outcome: heartbreak, unnecessary drama, insecurity, jealousy, lies, blaming myself for everything, and being crazy-labeled. Years later, I found out that these symptoms of my relationships were all signs of codependency.

“Am I codependent?” I thought. I didn’t even know what codependency was. All I knew was that I was in pain. The kind of pain that is so over-powering, you become convinced that without a toxic partner to save you, you’ll never find a way out.

If the healing of your pain is completely dependent on the decisions, actions, and behaviors of other people, you completely disqualify yourself from being an active participant in your own healing (and life). By doing this, you communicate to the universe that you’re more comfortable being in a dependent relationship (with your triggers, the cynical audience in your own head, and other people) than you are addressing your codependent personality.

For me, the idea of overcoming codependency sounded so much better than actually getting better.

Getting better was too scary. I didn’t know where to even begin sorting myself out.

Denial and avoidance were so much easier.

And since the universe has a way of always bringing back to us what we put out, I just kept getting more and more of the same. At that point, I had abandoned myself for so long, my life had become nothing more than micromanaging the “please don’t abandon me,” of every relationship I had and every opportunity that ultimately, I sabotaged.

I was so thirsty for validation; so busy trying to secure acceptance, there was no room for genuine connection or meaning in my relationships – starting with the relationship I had with myself. And as long as you don’t know who the f*ck you are, you will always look to toxic people/bankrupt sources to tell you who are and what you’re worth.

This was my reality for over 20 years of my life. Wash, rinse and humiliatingly, repeat.

What is codependency?

Codependent relationships are always one-sided. They have the highest highs and the absolute lowest lows. Although these relationships can feel very intimate (because an “us against the world” mentality is needed for survival), they are the opposite of what true intimacy is all about.

Codependency is when you have an excessive, unhealthy emotional and psychological reliance on your partner. It’s when you sacrifice your own needs and mental health to serve theirs. In your servitude, you live outside of yourself but are always able to quickly shift gears and make your partner’s behavior all about how you are somehow, never enough.

It’s where one (dysfunctional) person enables another (dysfunctional) person’s poor mental health, addiction, narcissism, immaturity, irresponsibility, gaslighting, sociopathy, avoidance, etc.

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Let’s get right to the point, because if you were in a relationship with a toxic, emotionally unavailable, or narcissistic person and despite it all, continue to miss this person during a No Contact period, the question “does he miss me during No Contact?” probably lives in your bones.

Especially around the holidays.

The answer is: Yes. Your ex misses you in the very same way he was in a relationship with you…

Inconsistently.

I’ll explain.

As with many things, to understand the answer to the questions “does he think about me?” or “does he miss me during no contact?” requires that we unpack those questions first.

You already know this, but the purpose of no contact is to remove yourself from a toxic relationship and avoid being triggered by someone who brought you pain, so that you can heal and move forward.

Should you feel shame for even asking these questions?

Does the constant, banging refrain of “Does he miss me during no contact?” mean that you are not healing?

Does the very fact that you are asking these questions mean that you miss your ex so terribly that you are actually destined to be together?

No.

Wondering “does my ex miss me?” is normal.

If you are grasping, desperate, and obsessed for some sign that he misses you… that’s normal too. If you feel like you somehow exist a little bit less in this world or that the holidays are void of joy because you are hearing radio silence, please know that you are not crazy. You make sense.

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When you keep your relationship private, it doesn’t mean that you never talk about it or share what’s going on in your love life.

It doesn’t mean that you have to bottle anything in either.

Keeping your relationship private should never feel like you are depriving yourself of part of the joy of being in a relationship. You should, however, make sure that your definition of relational joy is more about your relationship and less about pleasing/triggering/wow-ing other people. If it’s even slightly more external, you will be robbing your relationship of the very intimacy that you complain about (and question your worth over) an absence of.

Outside validation used to dictate the success of my relationships. Keeping my relationship private was out of the question. I would prioritize the opinions of friends and family over my mental and relational health.

As a kid, it was ingrained in my head, both at school and at home, that I had/was nothing without other people’s approval. I ended up becoming a very superficially dependent, people pleasing and insecure young adult whose sole source of validation came from the outside. I always felt like I had something to prove because I was never taught that true validation can only come from within.

There was no way I could keep my relationship private. I was so desperate to make it known that I was good/sexy/smart/attractive enough to land whatever guy I was with. (No matter how narcissistic he was, I would pedestal).

The goal was to make everyone either jealous that they didn’t have a Happily Ever After relationship as fantastic as mine or put them in a state of crippling regret for blowing it with me and hopefully, make them all feel as inadequate and lonely as I did deep down.

And I did this in such embarrassing ways. I would do this while posting quotes about gratitude and self-love and not comparing yourself to others. I was a contradictory, self-sabotaging, compulsive liar whose desire to prove everyone wrong and be one of the cool kids, outweighed the self-love that I had no idea how to jumpstart.

None of those relationships ever worked out.

As I got older and matured, I calmed down a bit. There were relationships where I felt so genuinely happy, I just wanted everyone to know. What was so wrong with that? I was able to keep my relationships private in ways I had not been able to before but most of the time, there was some new argument or drama that I needed to run by everyone I knew and get their advice on. I had a terrible tendency to overshare.

If your emotional core is not solid and your boundaries are not intact, your relationships will only be able to feel (falsely) solid if insulated by the applause, (social media) attention, and validation from everyone other than you and your partner.

Just over ten years ago, I met a man who was everything that my triggers were not attracted to.

This included being very private.

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Even if you don’t know exactly where to start, you will always know when you need to raise your standards.

Standards, boundaries, and mental health go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the others. 

Your life is a direct reflection of the standards that you have for yourself and for other people. Most people who have impossibly high standards for others have very little for themselves. This used to be me. My intuition kept saying “raise your standards,” but I was frozen in my fears, triggers, and insecurities.

The scariest but most life-changing and rewarding thing you can do for yourself is to implement standards. This isn’t about “he/she has to make X amount of money” or look a certain way or whatever other superficial bs. Those aren’t standards. Those are conditions that rob your life of substance and meaning.

When you have real, substantial standards, the quality of your life will increase because you are finally able to ACT on the realization that your mental health is more important than:

  • Your job.
  • The expectations/hopes/dreams/plans that your family and friends have for you.
  • Your relationships with them.
  • Your romantic relationship.
  • People pleasing.

No matter who they are or what it is, your mental health is more important than anyone or anything. Without it, you have nothing. However, raising your standards can be scary.

It’s scary to go no contact with someone that you still love and miss.

It’s scary to commit to non-reactivity.

It’s scary to block them.

It’s scary to let people live with the consequences of decisions that they chose to make.

It’s scary to experience the first symptom of standard setting which is loneliness.

It’s scary to ACT on “I will lose anyone and anything before I will lose my mind.”

But it’s worth it. 

Prioritizing my mental health cost me friends I never thought I’d lose and family that I was convinced, would always be there.

And I’m not a failure for still missing them.

I’m human.

If prioritizing your mental health means disappointing them, then, by all means, disappoint them. You will finally stop being a disappointment to yourself and be able to reclaim this life as your own.

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