A classic abuser tactic is to exert control by defining your reality. They will tell you what you think or what you are feeling. Once they establish themselves as the authority and define your reality they can control it The is one type of covert abuse that might be done with a smile, so you may not recognize it as abuse at all. It creeps quietly into your life, settling in the deep recesses of our self concept. You can also expect thier associates join in. This will increase your level of self doubt. They will tell others all about the things you did, how you are jealous, can't let go or are crazy whatever it might be. These people will treat you in a way the reinforces these ideas. Before long even you will believe it. It's a long road of deprogramming to overcome this type of control.
In my case it started of the quiet subtle version "I know you are thinking.... and then it progressed to screaming in my face ""I KNOW you Carolynne!! Do you think I don't KNOW what your thinking! What you are going to do? I am wayyyyyyy ahead of you!" This is one of your tell tale signs that you are dealing with an emotionally abusive person. I bet he still thinks he knows what I am feeling, but I guarantee you he does not. He has no idea, because the truth is, he never knew me. The real me was in hiding during our relationship, I didn't even know me then. Now, I am not even the same person that was married to him.
I remember while I was married, I did believe he knew me better than I did. i was willing to believe he was more savvy and had a better understanding then the world than I did. This is laughable now. I believe this is part of the reason he would not let me get outside opinions on repairs and isolated me from others. So I would not figure out what a loser he actually was in life. Back then, I would accept he did seem to know what I was thinking at times. In a way he presented himself like a demi-god, all present all knowing. He wanted me to believe there was nothing I could hide from him. Given my lack of self-confidence I had a strong tendency to submit. He used to tell me, I know what your doing Carolynne. I know what your thinking. I remember the confusion and frustration I used to feel at these times because it wasn't quite adding up.
When I caught him in the affair, he was telling me how I was being eaten alive with jealousy. when I would try to tell him that is not what I was feeling he would just get louder. Drumming his message into my brain. My being eaten alive with jealousy was the narrative that fit with his story. That way, the problem was not that he was texting another woman all hours of the night, nor that he was secretly meeting up with her. It was me, having an issue with that. Of course it was perfectly normal that a man would tell his wife she was not allowed to be around while he hung out with his "friend". It was all just her crazy irrational jealousy. Not him, no way. He would strengthen this message by telling his family and others what I was thinking and feeling as well. I remember his family beginning to insinuate I was jealous. It was all confusing to me, because deep down I knew that is not what I was feeling, but you start to wonder. Maybe it's true, maybe I am not aware of my own thoughts. In any case, he wasn't going to accept any other answer other than his own. That was his way of deflecting the conversion away from the inappropriate behaviour and instead making it about me and some problem with my thinking. No matter what I was thinking it was wrong. At one point he even told me "Your feelings make you say this, You cannot say what you are feeling unless it is right!" That particular incident is recorded you can hear it for yourself https://www.carolynnes-world.com/post/what-does-verbal-abuse-sound-like-listen-here
The abuser wants you to accept them as the all knowing expert on your brain and emotions. It is form of mind-control, they become the authority of your mind, your inner thoughts and feelings. They achieve this by combining defining you with other destabilizing behaviors like gaslighting, isolating and belittling. They will do things that create confusion and chaos in your brain, then they will replace it with the beliefs and thoughts that they want you to hold. Once they have really succeeded, you will not trust yourself you be looking to them to tell you what is right.
This was something that was done with devastating effectiveness in my marriage. I lost my own sense of who I was, what I wanted and felt. I told myself I didn't believe the horrible things he was saying about me. But internally I held a fear that it was true. It caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety. I did not have the self confidence to just completely disregard his assertions. I became consumed with an obsessive need to convince him that he was wrong about me. I was actually a good person. For me, it was if my life and my existence was at stake. That if I couldn't get him to see all the accusations were wrong then they were in fact true. He had become the ultimate judge of my truth.
With the benefit of hindsight, I realize this is exactly where he wanted me. Desperate for his approval, willing to do anything for a crumb of positivity. He knew what he was saying was not true. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing. And, he achieved the exact result he was looking for, control. When I think back now, to how quickly he would change his position to suit the discussion. It was literally crazy, anyone with a clear head would hear how insane his statements were. But I did not have a clear head, I was just being bounced around completely at his mercy. Of course, every now and again he would revert back to the sweet charming man he is fully capable of pretending to be. Just long enough to keep you chasing that dream.
I heard another abuse victim saying she struggled with the question, which one of these versions is the real him? Was he the sweet guy or the monster that terrorized her. I had those same questions. You want to believe he is sweet guy you met at the beginning, and that sweet guy will reappear just often enough to keep you hanging on. He will tell you that the monster that appears is all your fault, that's not who he is, he only acts like that sometimes because of something you did. My former husband came right out and said this to me. That all the terrible things he did only happened because "I drew it out of him" If I wasn't such a bitch he wouldn't have to be that way. I needed to change. He wanted the "girl he married back" (translation- the girl he could easily control).
The truth is, the monster is who he really is, the nice guy is an act that he uses to lure you in and to disguise his true nature from the world. I am only just beginning to truly accept who he truly is, the mask is very convincing. He could convince you even when he is threatening to punch you. Oh, if only you would not trigger him that way, then he will always be sweet. Its all just about control. As long as you do what he wants, be who he wants, and let him do what ever he feels like, it will be fine. But you can never do this, it is an impossible mission. No woman will ever tame that beast, because it's part of his toolkit.
This is hard to face, I thought I had a grip on what was happening and somehow if I could find the right words I would be able to get through and we could just have the happy family life I had dreamed of. I wasted years with this delusion. Like a cat chasing a laser light. But of course, that is absolutely not possible. A happy family life actually takes equality, empathy, listening and caring. He had none of those things. For him, it was only about getting what he wanted. So to get what he wanted he "managed my feelings" translation, lied and manipulated.
Breaking away from this type of mind-control takes a lot of time and distance from your abuser. When I first separated, I was in a state of complete confusion that took months, if not years to dissipate. I was numb and lost. This is why it takes so long to untangle the web after psychological abuse. First the dust needs to settle. After years of gaslighting and distortion, you need an opportunity to learn what is real. didn't really have my own hobbies any more. I couldn't really tell you what I liked. I wasn't to sure about how I felt about things. There is a saying, that a real friend is someone who reminds you who you are when you forget. I have one of these friends. And reconnecting with her, was the beginning of me remembering who I really am. There was so much I had forgotten. I am still re-learning who I am. The sensations and memories of who I was before he entered my life are starting to flow. They give me moments of pure happiness, joy that I had not felt in years. Joy I could feel in the deepest parts of my being. I had forgotten that feeling. I had become accustomed to what he told me I wanted. The degree that I allowed him to define me and my identity is shocking to me, I didn't even realize I had done that. I had stopped truly thinking for myself. He had the power and the control. My only indicator back then was a deep feeling of unhappiness and frustration that I couldn't explain. Supposedly I had everything I had ever wanted, I had this great guy, so why was I unhappy.
I found personally, once I could see what had happened, the anger kicked in. I am still angry. That son of a bitch. What he put me through. Honestly, I don't think he really cares. At a certain point he was no longer able to get what he wanted from me. Once that happened he had to just move on, and he did. Nothing that happened in our marriage really mattered anymore because it no longer served him. So he looked for a situation that would put him in control again.
So, how do you let go of this, I don't know. Still working on that one. Peeling back the years of confusion is not an easy task. It takes time to deprogram the brainwashing that abuser inflicted up you. This is why recovering after psychological abuse take so much longer and requires patience. I am hoping for someone out there when they read this might recognize the cycle I had gotten trapped in and gets out early instead of wasting years as I had. Or perhaps my story will give validation to a recent escapee.
The bottom line, If someone is telling you how you feel and what you think, its not that they are smarter than you, it is to exert control. It's bullshit and it's abuse. You know what was said, what happened, though they won't admit it they know too. Trust yourself, it did happen and it was as bad as you remember. One thing I do know, at first it's really hard to leave. You will feel confused and empty. Years of psychological abuse will leave you feeling lost, with little to no sense of self. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is sit with it, and in time the true essence of who you are will return. I can promise, it's worth it. Look to the horizon and have faith, a better day is coming.