Make Peace On Earth – Set A Boundary

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have a heart-wrenching share from V. She’s talking about holding boundaries during the holidays which is so difficult.

During this holiday season, please consider donating to help other women in pain

Holiday Boundaries To Keep Myself Safe From Emotional Abuse

V is sharing today about her Thanksgiving experience. So many of us have experiences like this: experiences where we desperately want our families to be a safe and peaceful place, but because of our husband’s behaviors it’s not an option at this moment. I have felt the terror of realizing, my husband hates me or my husband is always angry and irritable. That terror caused me to ruminate about our interactions instead of taking action to keep myself safe.

I’m so grateful for V’s share today about how she sets boundaries, even when it’s the holidays and even when her greatest desire is to be with her family.


My husband and I are currently separated. We’ve been separated for three months. He is not working recovery right now. That is what led to me asking him to move out… because he was lying constantly and was emotionally abusive. And I felt like I was going crazy and it came to a point where I said you have to be working recovery or you can’t live here.

The First Boundary I Set

He said he would go to a meeting. I found out that he lied and didn’t go. I asked him to move out at that point. And that was one of the first boundaries that I enforced.

I remember feeling so desperate for a peaceful home, that it was as if I had no other choice than to ask him to leave because I was so surrounded by trauma and pain constantly because of his lack of recovery.

I’ve held that boundary. It’s been really difficult. I didn’t realize how hard it would be. I did spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family and he was there. It was very uncomfortable because I don’t spend much time with my husband other than interacting when he’s coming by to watch our son while I’m at therapy or group.

So Thanksgiving was really hard. Physically being around him was very triggering.

We talked about getting a Christmas tree. I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday and I love the idea of my family being together and doing the holiday traditions together.

There’s so many things I want to do as a family. But I realized this morning that I needed to make a boundary about the amount of time I spend with him. I thought about it for a long time, and I talked with a recovery contact, and I prayed about it.

I came to the conclusion that I didn’t feel I was safe to go get a Christmas tree with my husband as much as I wanted to. He has not shown me that he is safe for me to spend that time with him and that time as a family. And I don’t feel comfortable spending that time with him.

So I wrote out what I would read to him.

I told him I wanted to feel comfortable with him. I expressed that the way I would feel comfortable is if he would work recovery with a sponsor and a therapist. After I was finished reading, he ignored what I had to say and asked about our plans to get a Christmas tree. Even though I had made it clear in the boundary I had made that that’s not something I’m comfortable doing when he’s not working his recovery. When I restated my boundary to him, he immediately started verbally attacking me.

It was aggressive. He started asking “What are we going to do about Christmas? Am I gonna get to spend Christmas with my son?”

I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t expect that. And so I tried to restate my boundary, but then I realized I had to remove myself from the conversation because I wasn’t going to get anywhere with trying to explain my boundary to him.

And so I said, “How about you take some time to think about this and we can talk later.”

I got off the phone. Since then I’ve felt uneasy, but not because I did the wrong thing. I strongly believe that I’m protecting myself and doing the right thing by holding a boundary with my husband when he’s not in recovery. But I feel uneasy because my desire is to spend time with him and to enjoy the Christmas spirit and holiday because I feel very lonely sometimes.

My Boundary To Avoid Emotional Abuse Caused Me To Doubt Myself

His reaction to my boundary caused me to doubt myself–am I doing the right thing? All those questions ran through my head. I was able to get back in contact with my recovery friend who helped me realize I was putting my husband at my center, and I needed to re-center myself. Which is what I’m doing this evening.

This has been the hardest boundary I’ve had to hold with my husband because it seemed like getting the tree as a family would be a positive and harmless thing. But I know that even though I’m excited to see my husband, once I’m in his presence I realize how uncomfortable I really feel. And how his lack of recovery makes being around him so undesirable.

I really do love my husband, and I really sincerely desire to work out our marriage. And it’s really hard when it doesn’t seem like that’s what he wants. And I’m trying one day at a time to connect with God and follow His will for me.

But I definitely don’t do it perfectly. I struggle with knowing what His will is for me. I’m just trying to be open and to let Him know that I desire to carry out His will and surrender my desires and my will. Because I know that He has a plan for me. And His plan is the best plan.

Boundaries have been really important in my recovery. I’ve learned a lot about God through boundaries, and how He holds boundaries with each of us.

Why Boundaries Are So Important

I’ve also gained a stronger testimony that He desires me to hold boundaries to protect myself. He wants me to keep my son safe because it’s my responsibility to keep my son safe physically and emotionally–that’s where boundaries come into play for me and when I think of it that way, it gives me a lot of strength.

I do feel like I’m carrying out God’s will when I protect myself and my son. And I pray for my husband that he will find healing and recovery and that he’ll find God. But I can’t make him do any of those things.

I’m grateful for the support I feel from my sisters in recovery, and the strength I get from them. I’m trying to take life one day at a time, even one moment at a time right now. And I believe that things will get better. I have found peace and happiness through working my recovery. There are hard days, and today is one of those days.

I have faith that it will get better and I’ll have good days again.


V is a trauma warrior and I love her so much. I’m so grateful for all of you listening.

We’re grateful for your donations. Again on this #givingtuesday please donate so we can continue to bring you free content. Also we’re on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and I’m still going to try to get the podcast up on Youtube. I haven’t figured that out yet, but I’m working toward it because those of you who do not have iPhones can access it through a Youtube app on whatever phone you have. I’m so grateful for all of you. Keep coming back. It works when I work it, and I am worth it.

Thanksgiving Meditation To Heal From Betrayal Trauma

We’re going to do a gratitude meditation. So, right now, if you can, find a soft warm blanket and lay down on the floor flat on your back. Now cover yourself with said blanket. This meditation will only take a few minutes, but I promise, if you take this time to lay down and relax for a bit, you’ll feel better when we’re done:).

Instead of ruminating on thoughts like, why does my husband hate me or if I could learn how to check the cookies, give yourself a much needed break from the pain. You’ve been hurt enough, don’t let your thoughts hurt you more.

I’ll wait for a minute for you to do this. Feel free to pause the podcast until you get your blanket.

During this meditation, my words will become your words. I will speak in the first person, so that the words can sink into your subconscious. All you have to do is lay flat on the ground, with no pillow or anything–just a warm, soft blanket over you. This is my Thanksgiving present to you. I meditate often and it helps a lot with my Betrayal Trauma symptoms.

Okay, are you ready?

Meditation To Be Grateful Even When You’re In Trauma

As I lay here, a wave of relaxation comes over my body. The top of my head opens, and as the relaxation moves up all negative emotions and thoughts float out the top of my head. I am feeling calm and relaxed. 
My toes are like rubber bands dangling from the balls of my feet. From the balls of my feet all the way down through the heels, the muscles and nerves relax. The circulation flows through me, not only relaxing me, but bringing my muscles, nerves, and bones into perfect balance and health. All of my muscles are long, supple, strong, relaxed and flexible, my ligaments are strong and whole, and my organs work perfectly. 
This relaxation moves up through my ankles. The ankles relax and the muscles and bones are balanced. The relaxation moves up through the calf muscles and the calves relax and grow long. My calf muscles are like long cooked spaghetti dangling from the bone. Energy soothingly surges through my calves and up to my knees.

The relaxation continues up and my thigh muscles grow long and strong. My quads grow long and strong in gentle relaxation. The relaxation moves into the deepest part of my glute muscles. The muscles let go – relaxed, supple, and flexible as energy flows into my inner thighs and tightens them. My pelvic space relaxes and the energy heals all the muscles and joints.
Moving up through my hips and pelvis, I relax even more. Although the muscles in my pelvis are strong and pull my pelvis into place, the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones elongate and create more space for my organs. My organs are soft and whole. I see my intestines; they gently dangle over the side. The residue softly squeezes out of my intestines.

My intestines are relaxed, completely empty, whole, and clean. I slowly and gently place my intestines back into my lengthened pelvic cavity. As I let go, the new and vital and fresh flows through me. My pelvic cavity is healed, comfortable and relaxed. The energy surges up through my abdomen.  All my organs are healthy and strong. My liver and kidneys perform perfectly and are effective and clean.  

My torso elongates even more, and all the organs settle vertically. I can see all the digestive juices in my stomach, they look like a calm lake – perfectly normal, completely relaxed and calm. My stomach gently shrinks back to the size of an almond, relaxed and peaceful. Satisfied and unruffled both now and at all times.
All relaxed, all resting, all comfortable. From the deep muscles in my hips, I feel the relaxation and energy surging up my back. As it moves up my back, all the discs, the nerves, the vertebrae and muscles relax into perfect position. The energy flows up through my spine healing all the nerves and creating space between the disks. Everything elongates and I am tall and graceful. I grow a tiny bit taller everyday. 
As the relaxation moves up toward my chest, I see my heart and lungs performing normally, breathing easily just like a sleeper breaths as I go deeper and deeper in comfortable, restful relaxation.  I relax the fingers on my hands. They are like rubber bands just dangling from the palms of my hands. On up through wrist to my elbows all the way up through my shoulders, the healing energy follows. The heat and energy surround my shoulders relaxing and healing them.  They are strong, supple and flexible. They perform perfectly. 
The energy flows through the nerves rhythmically, as the nerves in turn heal the muscles, ligaments, and cells throughout my entire body. The energy elongates my muscles and creates more space vertically throughout my body. The healing energy surges up through my spine and concentrates at the top of the neck. My neck continues to move deeper and deeper into complete relaxation.

The muscles that attach my shoulders to my neck relax. The warm energy flows around and through the muscles, discs, nerves, and vertebrae. All the nerves open to heal ligaments in my neck. The energy surges through the nerves, discs and vertebrae to heal my entire body, mind, and spirit. Energy is flowing through my body evenly. Every part of my body is open and receptive to the healing energy progressing through.
My jaw separates as the chin and cheek muscles relax. The energy surges through my jaw, relaxing and healing the jaw muscles. Stress floats away. I am relaxed. 
I relax all the tiny muscles around my eyes. Energy flows through the cells in my face stimulating new perfect cell growth in the deepest layers of my skin. My skin is even, smooth, and glowing. The skin tone is the same color everywhere on my face. My eyebrows and my forehead rest. My forehead is smooth and even.

From my chin sweeping up my entire face and the old cells turn into gorgeous wavy hair out the top of my head. From my forehead all the way back, my entire scalp relaxes to the base of my neck. This energy flows over my entire body, stimulating new beautiful skin cell growth.

Taking The Time To Be In The Moment Calms The Trauma

I imagine a brilliant white light above me. It comes in through the top of my head and fills my whole body. My entire body glows with this bright light.
The top of my head closes leaving me perfectly peaceful and calm. And keeping my eyes closed, I am completely healed. And because I am so relaxed, I have complete emotional freedom. I am confident and sure of myself. I am happy – happy with life exactly as it is. 

Oh, how grateful I am for my body!
I am pleased with my body. It is perfect in every aspect. The space where my spirit resides is a perfect structure made up of strong, elongated, healthy, perfect cells, bones, organs, ligaments and muscles. There is now space inside my body for joy and gratitude!
Keeping my eyes closed, I find that each and everyday I have a fresh start. From deep inside, I am calm, relaxed, and satisfied. 

I am so grateful for the sunrise!
So today I am glad to be myself. I am so thankful to be me! 

It’s Possible To Be Grateful Even When Faced With Betrayal

I am rich in every sense of the word. I have a flush toilet. I have a roof over my head. I have food to eat. I have clothing to wear. I am so grateful that my basic physical needs are met.  

I am so grateful for water! As I drink the hydrating gift of water, it nourishes my body and soul, it assimilates into my system perfectly and releases when unnecessary. I welcome new ideas and new concepts and prepare them for digestion and assimilation.

I am so grateful for my past experiences because they have made me strong, wise, and compassionate – able to overcome any obstacle with kindness and forgiveness. As I release the past, the new and fresh and vital enters. I allow life to flow through me with ease. I willingly release with joy. I am free to be me and I allow others the freedom to be who they are. It is safe for all of us to grow up.  

Loving A Safe Person Can Help You Heal From Betrayal Trauma

And now, I picture the face of someone I love deeply, someone who I can love without any reservation. For me, it’s my two-year-old daughter. Picture this person’s face. My body opens feel the love I have for this person surge through me. And with that love comes an intense sense of gratitude that I can feel this love. I am so grateful for this person in my life. I am so grateful for the circumstances that brought this person into my life.

For a moment, I just rest here in this feeling of love and gratitude.

I’m so grateful that there is safety in the world and that God will lead me to a safe and peaceful life.

And so, I am free to go forward. I am in charge of my mind and body. At this moment, I focus on that quiet place within me.  In this quiet place, great spiritual ideas are revealed. I take this moment to take a deep breath, my soul fills with peace.  I begin each day knowing that positive, gentle thoughts will guide me.

My gratitude for life and my gratitude for the help and blessings the Lord has given me, spills over and affects the way I spend my time, enables me to be a better person, and a better friend to myself and others. My gratitude and closeness to the Lord enable me to receive motivation, insight, and capacity to know and accomplish the Lord’s will for me.
Now it’s time for me to return to consciousness. I feel wonderfully rested. I will count from one to five and at the count of five I’ll wake up slowly and awaken completely rested with all the relaxation, healing, length, and change fully integrated into every cell in my body and element of my spirit.

In fact, as I begin to count from one to five, I become excited to face my everyday life, with faith that I can rely on God and He will help me. I am relaxed and confident – confident that I will make good choices that strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father and bring me closer the peaceful life I desire.
One: I am ready to live now, strong, satisfied, tall, and flexible. Completely peaceful in body and spirit. Two: more and more awake, the blood begins to circulate through my body down through my arms and legs healing everything as I rest. I am so grateful for the experiences that bring me closer to God.

Three: more and more awake, I am ready to know God’s will for me today. Four: more and more awake, grateful for the people in my life who are safe. I am confident that I will make excellent choices to keep myself safe.  Grateful for life and all my blessings. Five, eyes open, wide awake, looking forward to the rest of the day.  

So Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope this helps you get centered a little.

Thanks to those of you who have donated, commented and given us a review on iTunes! Every donation, comment, and review helps other women who are isolated and alone and don’t know where to turn find us on this amazing thing called the internet! I’m so grateful for the internet!

I love you all! Keep coming back, it works when I work it and I am worth it.

Ask Your Heart If It’s Safe Enough For Sex . . .

You know in the ED commercial when the narrator says, “Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for sex.” Today it struck me how many people are not emotionally and mentally healthy enough for sex. Being emotionally and mentally safe means that you CAN be emotionally intimate with someone, not just have sex.⠀

I am sad to say that I never felt emotionally connected when my ex and I had sex. I finally set a boundary and told him I wouldn’t initiate (because 98% of the time, I initiated). I told him that if / when I felt emotionally ready, I would initiate again, and that he was free to initiate, just as he always had been, and I would say yes or no depending on my emotional safety.⠀

After that, he only initiated twice in six months – which of course, made me feel totally unsafe. Plus the circumstances around when he initiated were totally traumatic. One time, I went along with it and felt violated. The other time I said no. He made no efforts that I could see to help me feel safe. And when I asked him what he was doing to help me feel safe, he said, “Mowing the lawn.”⠀

Part of my recovery will be to get to a place where I can be vulnerable again. But I’m not there yet.⠀

How do you know when your heart is safe enough and your relationship is healthy enough for sex?

How To Protect Young Children From Harmful Pornography Exposure

We LOVE the book Good Pictures Bad Pictures. The giveaway is over! Thank you for all of those who participated. Our winners were announced on Instagram! Thank you so much for helping us get the word out about this amazing resource and also helping women in pain find hope with Betrayal Trauma Recovery!

You can also get a FREE Poster To Help Children When They Are Exposed To Pornography
Text: CanDoPlan to 44222

Then reply with your email and a pdf will be sent to you!

How Good Pictures Bad Pictures Came To Be A Resource For Protecting Children From Pornography Addiction

Protecting kids became Kristen’s mission after she received a late-night phone call from a traumatized mother who was dealing with the tragic consequences of her porn-addicted son. That’s when she linked arms with Dr. Gail Poyner and spent the next three years writing the Amazon #1 best-selling book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Since then, Kristen has become a frequent speaker and guest on podcasts and radio broadcasts. She’s a member of the Prevention Task Force of the National Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation. She actively blogs at where she helps parents empower their kids to reject pornography. 

After hearing tragic stories of kids getting exposed and addicted to pornography, Kristen wrote Good Pictures Bad Pictures; Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids to fill a much-needed resource gap.

“It all started when I received a late night phone call from a traumatized mother who told me about her 17-year-old son. He had been sexually molesting his younger siblings—imitating the pornography he’d been viewing from the time he was in elementary school. The next morning I searched for a children’s book to explain the dangers of pornography addiction and provide an action plan for how to keep kids safe online.  But I couldn’t find any. So I linked arms with my dear friend and licensed psychologist, Dr. Gail Poyner and we wrote Good Pictures Bad Pictures to fill this much-needed resource gap.” 

Learning How To Check Cookies Isn’t Enough

Anne:  Why did you start Protect Young Minds?

Kristen: I started Protect Young Minds to begin educating parents about the risks of their young children seeing pornography.  So many parents are not aware of how young  children are when they begin seeing it and how accessible it has become.  Also, I was writing my best selling book Good Pictures Bad Pictures. I have a friend who called me one night and started pouring out her heart.  Her 17-year-old son was molesting his siblings and was involved in pornography. When she called me and told me this sad, tragic story, because not only did he have to leave the family and go into a program and be prosecuted, the younger children had to go into counseling–and I realized what a huge trauma this was. When it got out to their friends, the kids became more isolated because no one wanted their kids to play with them. When I woke up the next morning after hearing her story, I realized there needed to be a resource to help parents teach their young children about this danger.  So I went on line and did searches and I could not find anything.  I began doing research and felt compelled to write this book. I thought, “Even if it’s for my own future grandchildren, there needs to be a resource out there.”  Happily, it became a number one bestseller on Amazon and it’s growing and growing and getting out there!  We are really happy that it is helping so many families.

Anne:  It’s on our bookshelf and sometimes we pull it out and talk about it.  My son talks about his frontal lobe and if he’s throwing a fit I’ll tell him his frontal lobe isn’t working.  He’ll say, “Let me reattach it!” So is your book for kids or parents?

Kristen: Both! I have parents tell me all the time that they learn as much from it as their kids are because what we are trying to do is start a conversation.  It’s a read-aloud book that gives parents a script.  You and I inherited scripts from our parents to deal with certain problems. When I was a child and I got bullied or teased, my mother had a script that she got from her mother. She told me, “Kill them with kindness. Don’t let them see this bother you.” This is a script that she learned from her mother. But we don’t have any scripts about the reality of internet pornography. Parents don’t have a script in dealing with this so I thought, “I will write a script.”  It took us 3 years.  It models a proactive approach so that parents get in there and begin the conversation, hopefully before their children are exposed or soon after so that they know how to process it and respond.    

Kristen:  The first year we sold the book I thought our sales would plummet in December because who wants to think about this during the holiday? But actually they went up a little because people were giving this as a gift. I’ve heard from so many that they give this as a gift. I want to tell you a few of the things we do in the book for parents.There are five things: 
 It defines what pornography is.  If a child has a simple definition they can recognize it and have a vocabulary to tell about it.

It gives kids a plan for when they see it. We have the CANDO plan.  It includes closing their eyes, telling a trusted adult or parent about the exposure, naming it when they see it so they label it and recognize it. How to deal with the memories. Pornography creates shocking memories.  Many of us can still remember when we were first exposed and can call up the memory if we want. 

The third is it gives children the power over porn by teaching them how their brains react to it. You were telling me about your son and his frontal lobe.  Kids learn about their thinking brain and their feeling brain.They learn to keep their thinking brain in charge so that pornography can’t hijack their feeling brain.

Number four is that it protects kids from addictions of all kinds. Although we are focusing on pornography, the addiction process is very similar, no matter if you have a behavioral addiction like pornography or gambling or video games or a substance addiction.  It’s really important for children to understand about all addictions and how they can avoid them.

Number five may be the most important. It unifies the family to fight the dangers of pornography together by getting it out in the open.This is a common danger for all of us.  We need to fight this together. You aren’t going to be alone. Kids whose parents aren’t talking about this are fighting this alone, whether or not the parents know it. These kids are fighting alone and many are losing the battle.  So let’s pull together and help our kids and hopefully Good Pictures Bad Pictures will help parents to begin this conversation and empower their kids with the skills to fight the effects of pornography.

Anne: Absolutely. If we want to protect our kids, the number one thing we can do is be in recovery ourselves. If we need to be in recovery, we are attending our meetings and we are becoming healthy. For me, this is a process and I am still in the process and I am on the path but it is a process.

The second thing is to be able to talk about anything. Your book helped me to have a script to talk to my kids. One day we were watching some simple show on Netflix and my son said, “There isn’t any pornography in this show!” I said, “Nope.There’s not. It’s a great show!” This is something he could say and we could talk about.

Kristen:  If you can talk to a 4, 5, or 6 year old about pornography, when they are 13 it’s not going to be awkward. If you wait until they are 13, it is going to be more awkward. We’ve been asked to write a junior version. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Kids is geared towards kids ages 7-11. Although many have read it to their young children, many parents have asked for something simpler because every 3-year-old is on the iPad.  We’re coming out with this in February 2017:  Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr:  A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds.  It’s a picture book, all good pictures, a simplified version of our original book.

Anne: If you’d like to read more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures, you can visit Kristen’s site

If you’d like to purchase Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, visit our supply page:

Kristen, thank you so much for being on our show today!

Kristen: It was wonderful talking to you Anne.  I’m so glad for people like you who are getting out there to help others with this problem, helping women to recover from betrayal trauma, and then in turn helping their children get healthy. It’s a challenge in today’s environment. There are a whole lot of problems because of pornography, as you know.

Anne: Yes. My family was destroyed because of pornography. It’s a mess. So many women all over the world and our children and the addicts themselves are dealing with the effects of it constantly in our daily lives. We have true heroes who are healing from the trauma and setting good boundaries to keep themselves and their children safe from the behaviors of active addicts and learning to heal.

Kristen, you are a true hero! Keep coming back.  It works when I work it.  

14 Signs Of Gaslighting – How To Spot Lies & Manipulation

Our APSATS coaches will help you discover your husband’s gaslighting and how to deal with it. Coach Sarah is APSATS trained and an expert in helping women find safety in when faced with gaslighting in their relationships. Click here to register for her group Detecting & Confronting Gaslighting.

Gaslighting – Why is it so important To Know How To Spot It?

I am CONVINCED that until a person can identify how they are manipulated, what they lost because of it, and what made them vulnerable to it, they will not be able to stay connected to their truth and their voice (or their intuition); they will not be able to gain clarity in their marriage and will be susceptible to gaslighting in other relationships as well. 

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is the attempt to convince another that what they perceive, believe, think or feel is inaccurate or untrue.

Gaslighting is a VERY complex, nuanced issue, but that is basically it in a nutshell. ANY time someone tries to make you doubt your reality – your memory, your judgments of a situation, the validity or your feelings, etc – they are attempting to gaslight you.  

Here’s a fairly “innocent” example – one that I realized I did to my daughter when I first started studying this. Here’s the gist: my beautiful, creative, DRAMATIC daughter would get upset about something, and inevitably start crying like the world was coming to an end. I would tell her, “It’s not that big of a deal. You’re acting like a TV fell on your foot, when really, all that happened was you stepped on a pebble.” Sigh. Was I trying to shame her, or invalidate her feelings? NO! I simply wanted my daughter to stop hurting (and maybe wanted small reprieve from the drama – maybe). But here’s what I (unknowingly) caused to happen within her sweet little head and heart: she had to question whether what she felt was okay; she now had to choose between honoring the very real pain she felt in that moment, or listening to her mother – someone she loved and trusted.  Do you see the effect of gaslighting at work here?

As I learned about what gaslighting is, and how NOT to do it, my response to my daughter changed to: “I’m so sorry you’re hurting right now. That must feel like a really big deal! Can I give you a hug?” The amazing thing – once I started validating her pain (even if I thought it was WAY over the top), she learned how to move through her pain and go on to the next thing.  Brilliant.  

How Can I Tell If My Husband Is Gaslighting Me?

Ideally, you’ll have a therapist or APSATS coach and a group of safe women who you can talk these things over with. These people are crucial to help you identify the gaslighting that may be happening in your relationship. Identifying gaslighting in our relationships can be scary, but it’s OH so important! I encourage you to sit with the list below, and consider how strongly you connect with each bullet. This list is ten signs that indicate you may be experiencing gaslighting in your marriage. As you sit with each statement, try to rate how strongly you connect with it. On a scale of one to ten (One being you don’t connect at all, ten being, “This is totally me!”) do you find:

  • You make excuses for your partner’s behavior to yourself, friends, and family.     
  • You constantly second-guess yourself.        
  • You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” many times every day.    
  • You often feel confused or “crazy.”            
  • You’re husband tells you what you are really thinking and feeling, but he is wrong. He doesn’t believe you when you tell him the truth about how you feel.                          
  • You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you feel a sense of doom.    
  • You sometimes lie to avoid the put-downs and reality twists.                    
  • You think twice before bringing up certain seemingly innocent topics of conversation.        
  • Before your partner comes home, you run through a checklist in your head to anticipate anything you might have done wrong that day, make sure everything is just right, or think of the “good” reasons you have for not having done everything perfectly.    
  • You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, and more relaxed.    

Manipulation & The Tactics Used To Gaslight

If you are in a relationship where there is prevalent gaslighting, you are likely experiencing MANY things. Three of the most common experiences are being lied to (whether through concealment or falsification), the crazy-making that comes with the mind games, and feeling confused about reality. 

Another way to tell if your husband is trying to gaslight you is by identifying whether one of the following common tactics is at work. There are four main tactics someone uses when attempting to gaslight:

  1. Redirecting responsibility by blaming you for the problems in the relationship.  The roles in the situation are reversed – he becomes the “victim”, and you become the “offender.”  “Well of course we’re having problems in the marriage!  You’re always so angry!”
  2. Discrediting your reality by saying the problems are your imagination or “faulty” thinking.  “I wasn’t staring at that woman! You’re just insecure!”
  3. Saying you need OR dismissing the help you’re getting (Therapy, coaching, support group, etc).  “You’re the one with the problems!  You’re the one who needs help!” OR “That’s not really what you want; your coach is the one telling you to say that.”
  4. Highlighting and criticizing your character flaws. “You are shrill, blaming, and controlling, so of course I’m going to watch porn!”

Okay, My Husband Is Gaslighting Me! Now What???

Now that you’re beginning to see and understand what has been happening, you can begin to stop “the dance” and start a new one. It takes a LOT of time, learning, understanding and practice – but you can stop the gaslighting and become more connected to your truth and your voice than you dreamed was possible! Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Pay special attention to the feeling of confusion.  If you start to feel confused, take a time out until you clear your mind. 
  • Stay connected to your FEELINGS. Many times we get sucked into gaslighting when we get caught in the “who has the best defense of their thoughts” game. When that happens, stop and ask yourself, “How am I feeling in this moment”. If you feel disrespected, or like your thoughts, feelings, or opinions are not being considered, take a time out.
  • Sort out what you know is true and what is a distortion. If he says something that doesn’t make sense, or you feel you are being blamed for something you don’t feel you should own, take a break and when you’re safe, ask yourself what YOU know to be true. 
  • Remember – no matter what is happening – you deserve to be treated with respect and loved well. If at any time you don’t feel these things are happening, give yourself permission to say, “That might be true, but I don’t like the way you’re speaking to me.” Or “I’d like to hear what you are saying, but I can’t hear you when you are raising your voice or calling me names.” Or “I’m not sure what to say right now, but I know I just feel like something is off. I need some time to clear my head.”  This is how you begin to regain your truth, voice, and power. 

Gaslighting is a VERY complex, nuanced issue.  For the past four years I’ve been teaching, coaching and continuing to study the topic of gaslighting. I’m STILL adding to what I bring to my teaching and coaching!  If you want to know more – more ways to recognize gaslighting when it is happening, more ways to opt out, or the ways you can plan for it ahead of time – I’d love to help you, schedule an appointment today.