UPDATE: please check out the new author website and blog at adaloveless.com
A perfect trifecta of emotional chaos.
1. Gaslighting is a term for a well studied, documented, and academically accepted form of psychological abuse where one person gains power over another to such an extent that they are capable of rewriting their reality. You don’t have to be simple-minded to fall for this. Intelligent people are victims of gaslighting every day.
2. Borderline Personality Disorder is a very serious “Cluster B” personality disorder that manifests itself as a tornado of love, tornado of destruction, self-harm, impulsiveness, a bottomless pit of neediness, and an intense attraction to psychopathic/sociopathic romantic relationships.
3. The Guru-Disciple relationship is a relationship between a master and a slave. The Guru is often a cult-leader, political leader, business leader, or a powerful charismatic social character. The disciple is a person who works in the service of the leader, hoping to learn from the guru, achieve the guru’s success for themselves, or get closer to the guru.
The 3 of these things when put together make a volatile cocktail. Consider the BPD Guru. People with Borderline Personality Disorder are already natural gaslighters due to the extreme black-and-white nature of their emotional attachments, fear of abandonment, and deep need to have others take care of them. They have an emotional intensity that can be unmatched when they meet new people making them natural gurus in social settings. The BPD Guru’s natural ability to quickly form intense bonds with people, and their natural need to groom others to serve as backups when their romantic relationships fail can create much chaos. Their loved ones often work tirelessly in their service to prove their love for them, but to the person with BPD, it is never enough, because a person with BPD although possibly being of good intentions, feels empty and alone inside at all times. The ones who love them become their disciples, slaves, pouring all their love and emptying their pockets in the service of their guru who seems unable to be appeased at any cost. Furthermore, a person with BPD is often obsessed with appearances, and is unable to publicly confront their own faults, so any attempts to point out their bad behaviors result in excommunication or wrath. To continue to stay close to this person means that you have to be willing to accept their lies and half truths. Out of necessity, BPD individuals learn to become gifted liars in order to preserve their appearances of being perfect, and the people who care about them end up accepting their lies as truth. In effect, it is natural that the BPD Guru is able to rewrite the realities of those who love them.
Disclaimer: Note that I am not a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. I am just relaying personal experience and perceptions .
The term, “Gaslighting” has been thrown around loosely in social media and therefore in social circles. I think it is this way because people are uninformed and looking for a label to attach to the chaos in their relationships. A simple lie is not gaslighting, but it is one of many components that, when used together, create an environment where one person has intense control and influence over another person’s reality. My take on it is that it is a form of psychological abuse/manipulation that, when used to extremes, can result in the formation of a guru->disciple relationship. Once a guru wins a disciple, the guru has control over them and the disciple looks to the guru, alone, for truth and enlightenment, thereby giving the guru control over what the disciple perceives as reality.
You see this in political gaslighting and religious gaslighting, as dictators, cult leaders will employ gaslighting techniques to establish and keep themselves in power. But the same thing applies to relationship gaslighting. Regardless of whether it is political gaslighting (Donald Trump), religious gaslighting (Jonestown Massacre, Scientology, Branch Davidians), corporate (Theranos, Enron), financial gaslighting (Amway), relationship, or another kind of gaslighting, the process of creating a guru->disciple relationship is the same.
How a Guru-Disciple Relationship is formed
- Power Imbalance – There is a huge power imbalance, real or perceived. The guru has much charisma and social sway, while the disciple wants to be in the guru’s favor.
- The Love Bomb – The guru dishes out a “love bomb” to incite euphoria in the disciple. This love bomb is extreme and addictive, especially considering the power imbalance perceived. It can be as simple as staring into someone’s eyes, or it could be a stack of cash, stock options, fancy cars, vacations, private jets. In religious cults, various psychological tricks are often employed to cause members of the congregation to feel like they’ve been touched by god or angels… although this is just a real, scientifically explainable phenomenon. Regardless of how the euphoria is invoked, the disciple gets a taste of the thing they seek.
- Working and Tasking – The love bomb stops and guru uses mostly-negative sentiment (“you need to do better”) peppered with positive-reinforcement to keep the relationship off-balance and confusing. By talking down to the disciple, the guru is establishing dominance, in effect saying “I am better than you! You need to work hard to get what I have!” The disciple looks up, the guru, looks down. The disciple is motivated by the euphoria felt during the initial “love bomb” phase, and is basically willing to do anything to get those feelings back. Confusion is a key weapon, because the more confused the disciple is, the more control over his/her perception of reality the guru will eventually possess. The aim is to keep the disciple constantly working in the service of the guru, looking to the guru for truth, information, knowledge, enlightenment, favor, and/or love.
- Information Control – The guru denies provable facts, yet the disciple agrees to accept the Guru’s reality. The disciple is now fully in the cult. The disciple will now reject any information that doesn’t come from the guru and isn’t favorable to the guru’s interest. The guru maintains control over sources of information, often with physical barriers (Jonestown was cut off from all external communication), or with the pure charisma of the guru alone. The guru tells the disciple that everyone else is a liar, and that the cult the disciple has joined is the only good one. Once a disciple is fully indoctrinated, the guru can focus on other disciples.
- Loyalty – If the disciple wants to leave the “cult”, they are first lured back in with positive reinforcement, weak promises, or in some cases, they will be threatened with humiliation or excommunication. Furthermore, the threat of excommunication means that if the disciple leaves, they will also potentially lose favor with people they are close to inside the cult, including the favor of the guru him/herself who the disciple may see as the most important person in their life.
There are 11 red-flags to look out for that make all of this possible. Look for them when reading my story below. These 11 red flags are my paraphrase of a Psychology Today article on the subject of Relationship Gaslighting.
- Withholding what is valuable to you
- Words without action / words not matching actions
- Controlling sources of information
- Denying provable realities / rewriting versions of events
- Making weak promises, unkept, upon completion of certain tasks
- Vilifying defectors
- Positive reinforcement used as confusion
- Using confusion as a weakening mechanism
- Aligning people against each other… “they’re all liars”
- Wearing down slowly with time
- Blatant lies
Reread the above list and imagine how you yourself might become a cult leader using all of the 11 concepts above together, in concert…. Then imagine that someone you love is using those exact same ideas to exert control over you in a relationship.
Borderline Personality Disorder
People with BPD are intensely hyper-reactive to facial expressions and generally hyper-emotional. This means that if you stand in front of them and offer them love, they will beam it back at you 10x and make you love them more and more and more. This is a thing I always called the “feedback loop” in my unreleased book. However, when you’re not in front of them, their attention is elsewhere, with whomever is in front of them at the given moment as they tirelessly work to groom other people to catch them should they fall. During these times you might feel like you don’t even exist. In my case, I was 100% convinced she was in-love with me one minute, but then forgotten the next and it drove me completely up the wall. What she called “insomnia” was actually her staying up all night talking on the phone with others she was grooming. In fact it is a common pattern for people with BPD to disrespect their committed relationships, because they are tirelessly concerned with grooming their “friends”, and they feel they no longer need to groom a committed relationship or spouse.
I was never in a “committed” relationship with this girl. I was just one of a handful of friends she kept around in bizarrely emotionally inappropriate capacities. These behaviors naturally can lead to all kinds of confusion if you are a normal person… or a person with a set of personality disorders that are the Yin to their Yang.
People with BPD often invoke PTSD in the people they get close to, as the people who love them are often subjected to wild twists and turns in their relationships with them. This person may be, or may seem to be, a covert narcissist. There’s a lot of overlap in traits, but a couple of special traits really set them apart from a covert narcissist, principally: 1) Dissociation under stress, often resulting in “cutting” behavior, sex impulses, and drug addiction, and 2) Hyperreactivity to facial expressions (aforementioned), sometimes to such an extent that they might even believe they have a 6th sense of being an “empath” capable of feeling the emotions of everyone in a room. This sense will often draw them to be close to sociopaths/psychopaths… emotionless people. People with BPD need to be identified, recognized and taken seriously, as they are Borderline Psychotic. This is a serious brain condition that causes much destruction to the people who love them, thankfully there are some therapies that seem to help, but achieving a diagnosis typically takes more than a year.
My best friend had all the severe symptoms of BPD, including dissociation under stress. She’d forget who she was or where she was, or who she was with, or would cut herself to regain feeling in her body. She maintained a narrative that she was an “empath” for over a decade, and claimed that her intense love for me was because she could “feel” that I was a “good person” and “everyone else…. they’re all liars”. These things will come into play in my story.
This essentially describes the last decade of my life, as a disciple to a person I very much loved, looked up to, and took care of. I’m computer nerd, not a Jonny Quarterback. Love doesn’t come my way often. Therefore, I am embarrassed to admit that I am easily gullible when I perceive someone to love me and therefore an easy disciple of a powerful lover. I’m going to tell you a tiny piece of a larger story of a time 10 years ago. It was so emotionally extreme and bizarre that I wrote a book about it (which is nearing it’s final revision). This blog post will barely cover one chapter of the book.
It is difficult to dig up this part of my past. This post is difficult to write, particularly because I didn’t figure out what was happening until very recently, summer 2021. So as I write/revise this, the experiences of an entire decade of my life are being rediscovered, twisted, reexamined, and reexperienced as something new, different, dark and cruel… because although I had heard these terms, I didn’t really pay attention to the definitions and I didn’t really know how to recognize any of the red flags. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you’ll be able to escape this kind of abuse faster than I did by relating to my story.
If you are someone who knows me personally or professionally in real life, I highly encourage you to turn back now and read no further. Being this kind of victim is embarrassing to me… and I’m very much still coming to terms with it and untwisting my mind. And this might be too much information and too private.
Sorry for the long wind-up. Finally, here’s my story. Again this is just a fraction of a bigger story told in my 50 chapter book.
My Story – Note: this is not an excerpt of the book, but rather a synopsis and paraphrasing of key concepts and a key episode.
10 years ago. I met the most beautiful and charismatic person I’d ever met. This girl reached into my soul and made me feel amazing. I was an insecure computer nerd with low self esteem, and she was what I called the “queen of all supermodels”, charming, delightful, glowing, and when she stood across from me made me honestly believe that she was deeply in love with me. I felt this glow emanating from her heart when I even looked at her as when I gazed into her eyes, she gazed right back… beaming… smiling… blushing… blissful. She plucked out all my insecurities, made me feel valuable, respected, confident, attractive, sexy, beautiful, and perfect the way I was. She would talk to me for hours on the phone, 12, 14, 16 hours about intense emotional things and inspired such honesty in me that I couldn’t help but profess my love to her for hours on end. I told her she was the greatest, sweetest, most beautiful, genuine human I had ever met in my life… repeating, over and over, in different ways for hours upon hours, and I honestly believed all the sentiments I relayed to her. I daydreamed about growing old with her and doing great things for society with her by my side. She was excessively charismatic, and more beautiful than anyone who was ever on the cover of any magazine or starred in a movie or became a rock star (I said exactly this to her).
But there was one problem. She had a boyfriend who was abusive, emotionally and physically. I got all the signals that I was supposed to rescue her from him. She would even give me these eyes of terror when she left with him the first few times we met and I worried that he was going to hit her for standing too close to me in the bar. “There’s nothing good about this relationship at all!” She said. He had apparently dumped her twice and a third dumping seemed right around the corner. It seemed like they were on the out-and-outs and she wanted to escape him and run away with me. She gave blunt signals with her eyes, her facial expressions, her body language, and other behaviors while also verbally spending a large amount of time cutting him down for being horrible to her. I had no doubt in my heart that she wanted me to rescue her from him, but when I tried to convince her to leave him, she said that although she felt trapped with him, that his sociopathic lack of emotion was comforting to her. In her own words, she had too much emotion of her own. (People with BPD will often seek out relationships with sociopaths and this guy had a comforting, expressionless face that lacked facial expressions. He had “dead eyes” as she referred to them. He was a “robot”, she said.)
I thought, obviously, I needed to save her from this madness. She deserved someone who loved her completely. She deserved me! I declared it openly and bluntly repeatedly, but, frustratingly, she stayed locked away in this grey, drab, building, with cement walls and cement floors in an apartment for which she had no key. I just wanted her to let down her hair and let me climb up the tower to rescue her.
But in between our fanatic hours-long phone calls, she would disappear entirely, as if I never existed. She would promise to call the next day, but then leave me alone for several days, even a week… and my attempts at calling her would go completely ignored. Having just heard all these stories of abuse from her partner, I initially worried about her obsessively during these times, as-if she was hurt, or being hurt or abused by him.
When she finally came around (usually after I’d given up and left her a depressed voicemail), she would tell me that she was a heavy sleeper, that she had sleeping disorders and would fall asleep for long periods of time. She told me that if I wanted to reach her I had to call her repeatedly at least 12 times in a row before giving up. I did this, I called her 12 times in the morning… 12 times in the afternoon… 12 times at night. 3AM, 4AM. I had no idea when she would answer, but I was told to just keep trying, and I did. In hindsight, I believe she was just being completely rude in not answering or returning my calls or that it was an exercise to condition me to work for her and to prove my love and devotion to her.
She and her boyfriend would show up to our favorite bar, on our favorite night, and she would find me from across the room, shoot me with her brilliant, laser-beam eyes and immediately with our eyes, locked, she would be drawn close to me, almost as if my eyes were magic and pulling her towards me like someone gracefully pulling a kite out of the sky. All night long, I would be awash in her love with our bodies close together and our noses almost touching. It was usually loud enough in the room where she and I could sit close to each other and I could profess my love to her, even holding her hands and caressing her forearms affectionally. There I’d repeatedly and sycophantically urge her to leave the abusive man that was standing literally 3 feet away from us as she told me sad stories of how he hurt her mentally and physically. She would praise me, tell me she loved me, that I was a great person, so much greater than all the “liars” standing around us. She told me that I was the most important person in her life, and made me feel more loved than I ever felt. But still….. she would never leave him.
But she would, on many (most) nights, find some way to convince him to go home without her so she could stay behind and be with me. She was a brilliant actress and she did this thing to him that I called the “goodbye dance”. Whenever I saw her doing this kind of thing, I knew that she was basically love-bombing him to make him feel confident enough to allow her to stay out with me… late at night, after bar. The things she did to him seemed obscene as she stood at the exit of the club and gazed into his eyes, bumped his nose, smiled, kissed him repeatedly and told him not to worry, “everything will be okay”. But, I, standing across the room observing this, knew that this little dance she was doing had a purpose and knew that when I saw it, that minutes later he was going to leave, and she was going to stay with me. She would even get him to politely walk over to me and ask me if I would look after her and take her home at the end of the night (as if he was imposing a burden on me by leaving her with me).
These late nights happened more and more often over time. We stayed out all night, holding hands in the park, going for walks, bearing our souls to each other, sometimes just sitting in a parking lot in my car, where I worshipped her with my words and my actions. Even if I had to work at 9AM the next day I stayed with her until 8:30 in the morning or later, going to work on 0 sleep… and she seemed to have zero understanding of how much I was sacrificing in my productivity in order to stay close to her on those evenings. Every one of those nights I hoped would be the night that she would stay with me, but every night, I took her home. Sometimes he would be leaving for work as we were arriving long after sunrise, and if he was not home she would invite me in. She would put her head on my lap and I would pet her forehead and tell her she was beautiful, over and over until she fell asleep. Sometimes she would look at me as if begging me to kiss her, but I did not. On those days I would be hours late for work as I stayed with her in the mornings, in this cement box apartment for which she didn’t even have a key (being late was acceptable as I worked mostly-flexible hours).
By this point I was deep, deep into this cult of 2. She was the cult leader, and I was her disciple… and already, unbeknownst to me, I was a victim of Gaslighting. She would profess to love me more than anyone on the planet while gazing passionately into my eyes, but also repeatedly reinforce that we could not be together, and sometimes argue that she never gazed into my eyes at all and that it was all just in my head. One time she even mocked my complaints, “It’s normal to look at someone you’re talking to,” she said as she deliberately, mockingly, batted her eyes at me with an adorable smile. Despite being told I was “#1” she would disappear and clearly put other people ahead of me, leaving me to ride in the “back seat”. She would say that I was the #1 most important person in her life for 10 years, and as recently as 1 day ago. But since we weren’t together as a couple, it was just a confusing mix of positive and negative reinforcement.
The cards were on the table. She knew I wanted more… but she was giving me reasons that we couldn’t be together. One reason being that I was “too emotional” and confusingly… she claimed she didn’t want a boyfriend to actually love her (which made zero sense to me, especially considering she spent a ton of time complaining about how much her boyfriends didn’t love her). Other excuses would follow over the years when circumstances changed… Yet in the very next sentence, I’d ask her what was wrong with me… what could I do better? She’d tell me there was nothing wrong with me, and even blatantly, when I asked her what she was looking for in a partner, she would describe me back to myself in exquisite detail, as-if to deliberately egg me on. Her descriptions would incite immediate and honest complaints from me… “You realize you’re describing me!” I would interject as she simply progressed forward in her narrative description of me back to myself. It was really messed up and confusing. I just stayed where she wanted me, a lapdog.
Her negative words were paired with positive body language and physical contact that gave mixed signals; her negative actions were mixed with positive words; and her positive words of praise and love were paired with actions of abandonment for hours, days, and eventually, down the line… years. Once I became her reliable disciple, I was ready to come to her aid and rescue whenever she needed me. Eventually I left a 3 year stable relationship with with a woman (who actually loved me) and her two children (to whom I was essentially a father) just because she called me up and suddenly needed me again, and the girlfriend and children moved out within just a few months of her coming back into my life. The decisions I made during this time would horribly, negatively affect me for possibly the rest of my life. I even sold all of my bitcoin just to pay for entertaining her in 2021, which would have a value of about $20,000 today.
On a big level, it was all “on me”. I didn’t have to make these decisions, but on some level, she played into my weakness and had zero boundaries and zero shame when it came to playing around with my heart.
It was particularly common for her to pull shenanigans to throw me off balance. For example she would tell me that she was in the car, driving to my house and would be over in 15 minutes, and then make me wonder where she was for 6 hours before giving up. My first thoughts were to be worried sick. “Did she get in a car accident? Who is driving?” But then the next day she’d show up with another, newer man. “Who is this random person you are with that doesn’t even live in this state? Is he trying to take advantage of you?” And of course, when I worried about her and couldn’t reach her… I obeyed her command to always call 12 times before giving up, I might have called her 100 in those times.
Being with her was a constant tornado of confusing signals, emotions, and words. I felt really mixed up virtually all the time as she would state something in very concrete terms and then completely contradict it minutes later with an action. It was a slow but constant psychological torture. I could probably come up with thousands of small little memories that were completely messed up. But some of the events were bigger and more profound….
At the end of one night, back in the beginning, when she was still with the abusive guy, as I was driving her home, she insisted that I turn around 1-block from her house and take her back to my place. Once there, I played her favorite band on my dance floor. We slow danced for a bit and then she swerved her hips up against mine, wrapped her arms around my neck, and then she kissed me… It was the “first kiss” I had been dreaming of for weeks and weeks after hours and hours of conversation, romantic walks, phone calls, and love professions. My dreams were finally coming true! But…. immediately… she fainted… she went limp in my arms and we went, gently, all the way to the floor.
I tried politely nudging her to wake her up, maybe even slapping her cheeks gently a few times… Eventually I tried lifting her by the shoulders, at which time she sprang into action with incredible energy and acted like a completely different person, speaking Japanese. I politely escorted her to my spare bedroom where she could sleep on a futon, but she complained… “Oh so you’re not even going to let me sleep in your bed then?” I blushed. I knew something was not right mentally with her, but I shyly picked her up in my arms and carried her into my bedroom where she slept on my shoulder with one arm draped across my chest and one leg hugging my lower body. Occasionally she would briefly wake up and gaze up into my eyes before falling back asleep. I was happy to have her there, but I wasn’t going to push any physical boundaries with her in this state of mind.
The next evening, after spending all day with me, holding hands, and resting her head on my shoulder (skimming), she acted like the kiss the night before didn’t happen, and simply called her boyfriend to pick her up. As our time together appeared to be running out, I finally asked her, bluntly, if she remembered kissing me the night before. In my heart of hearts… I wanted her to say “yes, and I love you”… but… instead… she reacted in the most horrible way, beyond anything I could have imagined… she told me she didn’t remember, she blacked out… she started to panic. She said that she was “living her worst nightmare”, and would have to tell her (abusive) boyfriend about it. She berated me for telling her this while he was just minutes away from arriving at the house as she would have to regain her composure before he arrived. I was terrified and ashamed. I was hurt that what I considered to be a dream-come-true was being described as her “nightmare”. When he arrived, I answered the door with my head hanging so low that it was practically falling off my shoulders… and he knew something was up as I retreated into my studio and said nothing but a few mumbles and groans to both of them… he seemed to smile and gloat as-if he’d defeated me in some kind of sporting event… as clearly I had just been rejected by his girlfriend in a profound way… making him very happy.
Certainly this would have been the end of whatever we had…. right? (I mean… seriously how is this not the end?) But what happened, in fact, is that somehow, I got invited over to his apartment… I was clearly depressed, and they made it seem like they were trying to include me, but it’s a complicated chapter that I’ll skim over for now. The important part is that it wasn’t long before she was tired of me looking glum, and berated me in front of him. She told me that I could never kiss her again and used many hateful words to describe me. She yelled at me for not being thankful for the things that I have, and compared me to our handicapped friend, who didn’t seem to be as depressed as I was…. “He doesn’t have legs! You don’t see him whining and complaining just because I won’t be his girlfriend do you!?”
Her words made me feel shameful and remorseful. I instantly felt like I was no longer welcome, like I got hit by a bus. I hung my head in shame. I stood up slowly, like an old man with back problems. “Uhhh… that’s my cue… I’m just going to go now…” My voice sank down to it’s lowest possible octave. I walked out the door, never expecting to see her again…
I got 20 feet down the hall…. to my utter shock and amazement … she chased after me.
“Stay!” she begged, pulling me by the arm.
“I don’t want to go in there,” I said.
“We don’t have to go in there, we can stay out here,” she said.
I was her disciple, so if she asked… of course I stayed… I would have followed her anywhere… I don’t know… I loved her, so of course I stayed. But instead of going into his apartment, we stayed in the hall. We found a comfortable bench by some vending machines, and I had a frank talk with her where I laid out “boundaries” of our friendship and what kinds of physical and emotional exchanges should be appropriate vs. inappropriate for us. I firmly declared that we should never come within 12-inches of touching each other and she immediately obeyed, removing her clutch from my arm and her head off of my shoulder, curling up on the bench with her toes exactly 12-inches away from my body. It felt horrible to me, but it had to be done. We talked for a while, until she began speaking so softly that I couldn’t hear her very well from the other end of the bench. To hear her better, I sat on the floor in front of her, with my forearms resting on the bench out in front of her. There, during a brief lull in our conversation, she “spider walked” her fingers up my wrist, and then grabbed my hand and pulled it close to her. At that moment I was instantly transformed, lit up with euphoria once again… renewed. I held her hand there for hours, saying all the most romantic things I could conjure up to say to her, our faces inches apart, like we were many times before. I gazed into her eyes for hours and I told her how beautiful she was, and how much I loved her, and she told me she loved me repeatedly and filled me up like never before.
Like I had done many times before, I pet her forehead and she eventually fell asleep with a glowing smile on her face. I just continued to stay with her all night, holding her hand, while she slept… the sweat from our palms co-mingling into the early hours of the morning. I went to work, late, on zero sleep, utterly confused, in love, but heartbroken at the same time. I was mentally and emotionally completely twisted into a million knots.
But if you asked her, NONE OF THIS HAPPENED. She even very recently proclaimed “All that stuff you wrote about 10 years was absolutely garbage! I don’t know where you came up with all that crap!”
I kept a journal, in book form, of all our interactions.
Although to be honest I am recalling this from memory, simply because I don’t want to relive what’s in the journal. 10 years after being convinced by her to bury the book, I uncovered it and read it. And upon re-reading it, I realized that things were far more twisted and dark than even I remembered them to be. I had a DAILY log of events and experiences that were written while these events were FRESH in my mind as I was contemplating the meaning of it all. Because I trusted her and was worried about her abusive situation, I even SENT her every journal entry I wrote as I wrote them. I even copied our mutual close friends, because I was concerned for her safety and thought we should all try and get her out of this bad situation. When she bothered to read them, or IF SHE EVEN READ THIS TODAY… she would tell me that “THIS NEVER HAPPENED!”. “YOU’RE REMEMBERING THIS WRONG!” “YOU’RE MISINTERPRETING THINGS!”. She would tell me that “it didn’t mean what you thought it meant.” “You’re just obsessed with me.”
Her words of love, and my starvation for more never ceased… they went on for months until, when she didn’t show up for her own party at my house, which she was supposedly co-organizing with me… I became upset… After all I had bought her a $500 sexy wolf costume, at her urging, with the promise that she and I were going to spend Halloween as a “wolf pair” together (another unkept promise and bizarrely positive signal… that “didn’t happen” or that I “took the wrong way”… long story). When she didn’t show, I got drunk quickly, and found a beautiful friend and we slept together that night at the party in my house. Eventually she called me at 7:30AM the morning after, while I had still had this other, beautiful, love interest literally sleeping on my shoulder. She told me she couldn’t come to the party because she was getting dumped (skimming a lot here… but it had seemed at that point that she was getting dumped every day and then getting back together with him for the last week after she and he had a huge physical fight resulting in a severe head injury a few weeks before… which… by the way… I was personally present during… A huge climactic event).
The girl on my shoulder overheard what she was saying on the phone… “Tell her you’ll go rescue her,” she whispered into my ear. I got out of bed, with the phone still on my shoulder, with 25 people still in my house, left a beautiful woman in my bed, literally the 2nd most beautiful woman I’d ever met at the time, and drove across town to go pluck her out of his cement apartment… only to find that they hadn’t actually broken up. She, in fact, never left his apartment that day, if I recall, and instead I waited around for hours. Eventually he left her there alone with me to fall asleep in my lap again, and since I had to take care of my dog, I just let myself out.
All this was a tornado! A mess! A trail of destruction! This was just the beginning of a 10 year story.
Obviously, there’s a ton of Gaslighting there. A principal part of it was the blatant positive messaging mixed with messages of “you’re not good enough”, combined with saying things while doing the opposite, no apologies ever rendered. Let’s reexamine the 11 red flags I mentioned earlier and pick out a few examples.
- Withholding what is valuable – she kept her love for me just barely out of reach at all times. And love was the absolute most valuable thing I desired on the planet.
- Words without action / words not matching actions – neglecting to call, despite promising, declaring she would show up in 15 minutes then stop answering the phone for 24 hours. No physical contact declaration, followed by immediate physical contact.
- Controlling sources of information – “everyone else, they’re all liars”… she declared the two of us as-if we were the only two honest people in the room and therefore establishing that she and I were in a special club together, specially bonded. Not mentioned in this story were the ways in which she would demonize certain people in such a way that I would be discouraged from talking to her ex-boyfriends, “roommates”, and other people she was gaslighting.
- Denying provable realities / rewriting versions of events – to her “none of this ever happend”… she also would deny that she ever promised to call, that she never gazed into my eyes, and even if she did, that it meant nothing, that I was interpreting it the wrong way
- Making weak promises, unkept, upon completion of certain tasks – “If you buy me this wolf costume we can go out on Halloween as a wolf pair!” (also “didn’t happen” according to her)
- Vilifying defectors – her boyfriend, who tried to defect from her cult two times, was constantly being vilified and emotionally manipulated and tortured by her wild interactions with me… it was as-if she was putting on a show to see if she could get a rise out of him at times, in effect she was testing him to figure out just how sociopathic he was. In later years she accused her “roommate” of rape, something that is a little hard to believe. She called him “roommate”, but if you asked him, he honestly believed he was her boyfriend, after-all they slept in the same bed together for two years and talked about getting married… and he trusted her enough to drive her over to her other boyfriends’ places to spend the night. I would eventually become excommunicated after I called her hour for making out with me in the car after a night on the town. She now says I took advantage of her when she was drunk… but I also pointed out that it happened in the morning again… after she sobered up… so… that doesn’t add up! She was constantly making up excuses to explain her impulsive behavior. I’m supposed to be responsible for my behavior when I get drunk… she should be responsible for her own bad behavior.
- Positive reinforcement used as confusion – the dance floor kiss, physical contact despite only moments earlier establishing that there should be none, and the mere fact that she would listen to me profess my love to her for hours on end
- Using confusion as a weakening mechanism – clearly I walked out of that apartment building that morning completely weakened, unsure of where I stood in her heart and just completely ready to grovel and beg and do whatever it took to win her favor.
- Aligning people against each other…
“they’re all liars”
“___ took advantage of me when I was drunk”.
“___ raped me”
“___ broke my car window”
“___ stood in my doorway shouting insults at me for no reason at all, all the time!“ — (I’m sure she lobbed plenty of volleys herself)
“___ physically abused me”
“I never even told you all the fucked up shit ___ did to me” — (this is a effective statement, because it is non specific, and a disciple will just imagine all sorts of things that might have happened, while praising the guru for her ability to forgive and move past, and not bring up the sins of others)
- Wearing down slowly with time – 10 years of this
- Blatant lies – “This didn’t happen.” “I never said that.” was often her response to me whenever she broke a promise.
Eventually, a few months after our first kiss, her stories of abuse would be used to drag her boyfriend through the mud and get him banned from many places and hated by mutual friends and her family… but telling that part of the story would take me another 50 chapters. Note that I’m not accusing her of fabricating any stories of abuse per se… I know there’s at least some truth to it, and I witnessed a very major event, but I think it also should be noted that I’ve never talked to him about it because she controlled who I talked to and heavily influenced my interpretations of what I saw. I never got his side of the story, and because she was the most important person in my life, I never wanted anyone’s version of events to be true except the ones she told me.
In the years that preceded and followed she controlled a small collection of followers at all times. I ruined my potential for future love for years with countless women I dated as well as those I could have potentially loved. For what? What gain was there for her even? Was it just a demented sport?
Of course I spent money on her, bought her things… usually with zero thanks, but I don’t think she was out for money, despite the fact I did volunteer a lot of it. But I suppose if I were a person of lesser financial strength, the money part might have been severely damaging… and if I’m being honest with myself, I actually almost declared bankruptcy during that time (due to a number of factors). But other than that, I showered her with words of love that her boyfriend refused to say, and I ran countless errands for her … she had a particularly hard time being an adult on her own despite pushing 30 at the time and maybe just wanted someone to do things for her, fetch her meds, buy her expensive makeup, and tell her she’s pretty. Truth be told, I would have done even more for her if I had more time and access with her, and despite now recognizing that she has (deliberately?) been abusing me over 10 years, and she is now pushing 40 years old and is just as bad at being an adult… I still do love every inch of her. As of this moment I am actively trying to train myself to escape this inappropriate emotional attachment. Writing blogs about it isn’t really helping I’m sure.
But for years, I even told myself, (and my most recent partner) that “there was never anything romantic between us“, because all of the statements of “this never happened” and “you’re misinterpreting things” got into my head and rewrote what I accepted as reality…
She eventually told me that my book was a “piece of shit” and tore it apart with all of those cliché gaslighting phrases, and, because I was her disciple, at her command, I buried the book and tried to forget everything that was in it until very recently, when I realized how blatantly messed up and cruel it all was.
Maybe I did misremember things?!….maybe I was just too emotional and in love?! I questioned myself all the time. All the questioning of reality and motives and her impeccable charisma caused me to cave-in and accept her versions and interpretations of events. But the true reality is that these things happened, and my emotional responses to them were in the vector of normal, although admittedly fanatical. Furthermore, if she had no love for me, then countless actions on her part were blatantly reckless over the years. No reasonable person can explain away every sentence of this story and conclude that absolutely all this romance was just in my head… and this story only covers a tiny part of a much bigger story inside a much much bigger story full of thousands of red flags.
But that night in the hallway and that kiss (which wasn’t the last nor most passionate) inspired me to write a song in the day that followed as I was wildly confused and off-balance. When I wrote it… I figured it was an ordinary longing love song… but now I realize, 10 years after I wrote it, that it describes gaslighting in every single word… and when I realized this, I cried like a little child…
Kissing and Crashing (Gaslighting)
What does it mean when our eyes meet?
Does it mean that you care about me?
And if it’s nothing to you, then why
do I still feel the need to try?
Can’t figure out why I’m still kept in the dark
And peering out at things I’m not supposed to see
Your body tells me things that your words just won’t say
And I’ll never know the things I’m supposed to believe
What does it mean?
What does it mean when I hold your hand
And walk with you across this land?
Dreaming of rainbows and packs in the wild
And the simpleness of a happy child?
These fairy tales don’t need to be disbelieved
My eyes can’t tell if you’re an illusion or what
The palms of our hands sweat and tell me it’s no dream
and fairy tales are real if you believe them or not
What does it mean? When our eyes meet?
What does it mean when our lips touch
and you collapse into my clutch?
And when you wake you don’t remember much
and I just feel so fucking dumb?
Then you treat me like I’m terrible and diseased
And tear me down in public, and prompt me to go
Then chase me down the hall and apologize,
then let me hold your hand and gaze into your eyes all night?
What does it mean when our eyes meet?
That song was just sitting on a hard drive in my studio, I hadn’t listened to it in years… I never really regarded this song to be special, let alone complete… super rough… but I listened to it and I cried… I cried my eyes out… I cried like a little baby… I cried harder than I did at my own father’s funeral (which she wasn’t there for)… I cried harder than I did when my beloved dog died a month later (which she also wasn’t there for … but her [boyfriend] was) … Was she ever there for me at all? Suddenly, I realized what it really was that she did to me! 10-years of my life turned completely upside-down, and every positive emotion I ever had about her seemed like a cruel sham!
And now I don’t know what love is. Because whatever she gave me was hyper-ideal but hyper-abusive at the same time. No love will ever taste the same again. I now have serious PTSD and am in therapy and on anti-depressants as well as sleeping pills. I feel like I will never recover from this.
UPDATE: please check out the new author website and blog at adaloveless.com
October 2021 Update
I went batshit crazy for a while. PTSD was very real for me. I went all-out on trying to rescue myself from my own brain with meds and therapy and aggressive attempts at changing my circumstances. When all that didn’t work I turned to alcohol heavier than I ever did at any point in my life. Socially, I was usually trying to connect, frantically, with anyone and everyone to surround myself with people. Through much therapy, including EMDR, I managed to keep my head up long enough to win a few dates. I dated 4 women in 2 months as opposed to my usual pattern of 1 every 3 years. It was all just to try and numb the pain (I never knew this was possible at any other time in my life). I thought one or two might stick around, but they didn’t. Maybe if I pretend to be a positive person, they’ll swing back my way someday. Right now I’m alive because I have hope that paths into the future will present themselves eventually. I don’t spend as much time ruminating over the traumas I went through, but I really just want to find peace in my life and this exact moment in my life is not at all peaceful. But I’ll just try and be my best self at all times. Karaoke seems to bring out the best in me, so I do a lot of that, travelling the city at night trying to find the best room to entertain. Vague, illegitimate, uncommitted relationships bring out the worst in me… as well as outright romantic rejection, which I struggle with constantly.
November 2021 Update
I took advantage of my PTSD and put it to work. Figuring I was obsessively ruminating over the tragedy I just experienced, I figured I’d finish revising the book I wrote 10 years ago, and publish it. You can now read it, in its entirety, in Hardcover, Paperback, or eBook editions. There are almost 4 chapters available to preview on amazon.
Read “How to Sacrifice Your Lover – A Tale of Gaslighting and the Cult of Borderline Personality“
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Thank you for reading this! Check out my author website, adaloveless.com