Tag: Recovery

Guest Post: 4 Things to Determine If You Can Trust Your Sex-Addicted Spouse

For this guest post, I welcome Eddie Capparucci. He’s an LPC, CSAS, CPCS, a licensed professional counselor, certified in sexual and pornography addiction. He is the author of the soon-to-be-released book “Going Deeper: How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction.”
Pre-orders are now available at  https://www.blackrosewriting.com/nonfiction/goingdeeper  Use the promo code PREORDER2019 to save 15%. He can be reached at edcappa@gmail.com.

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

It is one of the most common questions a spouse will ask during a couples’ first counseling session when a sex addiction has been discovered. “How will I know when I will be able to trust him again”?

It’s a great question because at the core of the couples’ issues is the broke bond of trust. Sex-addicted partners:

  • Violate their commitment, to be honest, and faithful.
  • Drive a wedge in the relationship that feels like the size of the Grand Canyon.
  • Create a sense of hopelessness that leaves the other feeling numbed and confused.

Ask any partner who has been betrayed sexually and they will tell you, while the infidelity is like a punch in the gut, the worst part is the dishonesty and lying. While they hate being cheated upon they detest the lack of integrity their partner displays in their attempts to cover their tracks. That is why at some point, the focus on re-building trust is as critical as helping the sex-addicted partner manage the addiction itself.

So how can a betrayed partner start to become comfortable and regain a sense of confidence that their sex-addicted spouse is safe? Let’s examine four key factors to look for to determine if your spouse is becoming trustworthy.

  1. He is committed to his recovery

Of course, this is the one number key to not only learning to manage a sexual addiction but to begin the process of rebuilding a tattered relationship. A sex addict must demonstrate dedication to the game plan that has been created to assist them in breaking the bondage of secrecy and betrayal. I have seen partners who dive in and go beyond what is asked of them in recovery. I also have witnessed spouses who barely scratch the surface in doing the work that is required of them. When this happens, it is incredibly disheartening to the wounded spouse.

If your spouse is following a treatment regimen and sharing with you his progress, then have hope better days await both of you.

  1. He doesn’t shut you down when you vent

One of the first things I will tell a husband who has abused sex is that his wife has a barrel of rocks and she will be throwing them your way for the next 12-24 months. The ability for a woman to properly grieve the betrayal of the relationship is critical in order for there to be a chance for the relationship to move ahead.

But some men struggle when their grieving wives are throwing rocks. They become defensive and attempt to shut down the conversation. However, this is a grave mistake. When a woman is not given an opportunity to grieve she will continue to sit on those emotions and learn how to express them in other ways including perhaps being passive aggressive. As I tell men, when she grieves, she is healing. Let her grieve.

You can start to sense your spouse is getting better when they can sit with you in your pain. This demonstrates they understand the extent of your anguish and are committed to helping you get to a better emotional place.

  1. He starts to develop and engage in healthy communities

Clinical studies have demonstrated a critical key to recovering from sex addiction is participating in a healthy community. Yet, it’s the most significant pushback we receive from our sex addiction clients. In their intense shame and embarrassment, it would be easier to get them to agree to walk a tightrope across two New York City skyscrapers than attend a recovery group meeting. Men who refuse to participate in a support group are playing Russian roulette with their recovery. The lone wolf fails.

As the wounded spouse, if you see your husband is attending a support group; working with a sponsor and engaging in a men’s group, you should feel comfortable that he is learning how to step outside of his negative comfort zone. Establishing authentic relationships with others will help him maintain accountability, which for you and your relationship is a significant win.

  1. He demonstrates the ability to attach with you emotionally

A man struggling with sexual addiction is confused about intimacy. Somewhere along the line, they confused physical intimacy for emotional intimacy. They have an easier time connecting physical, and therefore their emphasis is on sexual relations.

When you find your spouse being able to identify and express emotions, or showing signs of being open and vulnerable, you know he is on the right track of recovery. Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder, and the course of treatment is designed to broaden the addict’s view of healthy intimacy to include an emotional connection.

An addict who is committed to recovery; supports his wife’s grieving; engages in a healthy community and begins to identify and express deeper emotions is an individual who is on the right path for recovery.

The Grateful Eight

OK, so if you’re reading this in the far-future, today is Friday, November 8, 2019. I’ve spent much of my week proofreading my (please, God, please) final galley of my book coming out next month. I’m so proud of the book and think it’s going to help a lot of people, but it’s been a lot of work. I need to remind myself that I’m grateful for having the opportunity to write it and see it published.

As I was reminding myself I need to be grateful, I came across another blog that I follow that said today was the Grateful Eight. Apparently, on the eighth of each month, this nice lady likes to list 8 things she’s grateful for. Despite the fact I’ve been cranky for a few weeks, I am actually someone who has included gratitude as part of my everyday recovery.

I had so much to be grateful for, even in the depths of my worst alcoholism and porn addiction, but couldn’t recognize it. I now understand how much work it is to create and operate a magazine, so I’d never do it again, but I think I still possess the dumb optimism that allows me to embark on grand adventures. And I’m very grateful for it now.

Anyway, along with that, and in the spirit of embracing other people’s blogging games, here are my Grateful Eight…

  1. My wife – I know it’s a sucking-up move, but she doesn’t read this blog, so it really isn’t. Despite our differences, we make a very good team and if it was not for her support, not only over the last 6 years, but also the 10 years we were married before that, I think I’d be a shell of who I am today.
  2. My mind – Despite the fact there are facets of it that seem broken, there are other facets that work far better than most people’s. From my ability to read people and size them up quickly to the photographic-like way I can remember trivia, I know that I was given extremes in how my mind operates. I’ll take extremes over average.
  3. My parents – If you can find two parents who have been dragged through more emotional highs and lows by their kid, well, I don’t want to have dinner with those people. Within the space of a year, my parents went from hearing from everybody, “You must be so proud of your son on the city council” and “His magazine is so terrific, you must be so proud” to having to deal with, “So, he didn’t really do it, did he?” Their support for me has never wavered, and at times, that has included far too much financial support. I hope I’m half the parent they’ve been to me.
  4. Vaccinations – Both because they may have saved my life multiple times and I’m sure there’s someone reading this who will get irritated and claim that I don’t know what I’m talking about because they once heard of someone’s kid getting Flying Squirrel Syndrome or whatever other disease from a polio vaccine. Realize this, though. Our grandparents could die from stuff that we don’t even think about. That’s science at work, not superstition.
  5. My kids – While I admittedly wasn’t the best father for many years of their childhood, thankfully they only have one father, so they don’t know the difference. Just kidding. I find as they get older they offer me far more wisdom than I offer them these days. Taking the cross-country trip with my daughter (it was just her and I the first 10 days, then other parts of the family joined up for a week, then just my dad and I the last 10 days) this past summer was one of the best experiences of my life with her and I can see my son and I developing a best friends relationship that will run deep into his adult life.
  6. The open road – The thing I missed the most while on bail, in jail, and on probation was my inability to move freely outside the state of Maine. If I had been in California, that’s plenty of space to roam around and experience different places and climates. Not so much here. While that August road trip sent me into the red, it was the soul cleansing 9,000-mile journey I needed to put the legal ordeal behind me.
  7. Chefs – Thank God there are people in this world who know how to take food and make better food from it. I have literally never made anything from scratch except for fried rice and pasta salad, and neither are very good. I don’t think they get enough credit for being true artists. My life would be far less joyful without them.
  8. The benefit of the doubt – I need this a lot in life now and I’ve learned there are many people who will never give it, nor give it back, to me. It’s an act of faith and means a lot.

As a bonus one, I’m grateful for all of you who will spend a few seconds looking at pictures from my awesome road trip. I keep meaning to put these up. I guess two months late is better than never, right? I guess if you click on the photo or hover over it you get a caption.

 

I don’t need your full eight, but I’d love to hear about a few non-obvious things that you are grateful for in this life, and you can’t say my photos. I already know you loved those.

Dialetical Behavior Therapy fun with Pink Floyd

I never talk much about dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), but it is the modality that probably best help me learn how to face what I don’t want to acknowledge, deal with injustice I can’t fix and ultimately learn the practice of radical acceptance. I only had a half-dozen sessions learning the technique at inpatient rehab and will admit that I only read half the workbook and barely filled anything in, but I learn by doing.

If you want to learn everything about it, I urge you to go read THIS article. It gives the basic outline, but I’ll tell you what it did for me. In moments of heightened emotion, good or bad, it gave me skills to bring myself down and not go off the deep end for a prolonged period of time.

It taught me how to pause, look introspectively, and let my mind be present in the moment, wherever that took me.

I drank alcohol and I used pornography as coping tools to handle the rest of my day. Now, DBT is not only a great coping tool for the rest of my day, but helps me to center myself in the closest way I’ll ever get to meditating.

But enough about me babbling how it helps me keep my shit together, let’s try an exercise…

 

This is going to take about 7-8 minutes. If you don’t have the time, don’t start. If you do have the time, I promise you that you’ll be in a different mindset by the end of it. Come back and try later if you can’t do this now.

 

I want you to play the following Pink Floyd song, High Hopes. It was off  of their final studio album, 1994’s The Division Bell.

When the music starts, close your eyes and begin to listen to the lyrics. Try figuring out what the song is about. If you feel like a fool closing your eyes, you can just read the lyrics as I’ve included them. Again, start by trying to figure out what the song is about.

When your mind starts to wonder, let it. Let it go wherever it’s going to take you. Don’t fight it, don’t manipulate it, don’t avoid where your thoughts take you.

By the time the guitar solo kicks in at the end of the song, almost exactly the 5-minute mark, I want you to go to the comments section and write what you were thinking about at that moment. Where did 5 minutes of your thoughts take you? It’s not about deciphering the meaning of the song. It doesn’t matter what somebody commented before or after, or if you’re the first. After 5 minutes, what were you thinking about? Stop writing when the song finishes, at exactly the 7-minute mark. I’ll do this as well, after at least one person shares their thoughts.

 

Here are the lyrics if you prefer to read them instead of closing your eyes:

High Hopes by Pink Floyd

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun

Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut

There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before time took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
With friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide

At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There’s a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we’ve been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter

The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river
Forever and ever

 

Trying to Figure Out Why Local Election Results Tweaked My PTSD

Sometimes I wonder when I’m having a legitimate PTSD moment and when it’s just a combination of anxiety and borderline nausea. Last night, I think I had a PTSD episode looking at local election results.

I didn’t feel off because of any specific results. I, more than anyone, know how insignificant one person is in the vast machine known as our government. I’m not sure exactly why I had a physical and mental reaction, but I’m a writer, so I’ll work it out on the page.

In 2011, when I made the decision to run for the city council in Auburn, Maine, I thought that I could try to move the city in a more forward-thinking direction. Between my city and the one next door, we are the second-highest population density in Maine. The first, Portland, is a progressive city where things like art, culture and a view toward the future is a good thing. Here, not so much. I think most believe our best days are long behind us. The magazine I launched two years earlier was trying to change that mindset and I thought being on the City Council would also help.

I’m not going to deny that I knew being on the City Council would also raise my name recognition if I won. I really didn’t aspire to any higher office, but then again, I’d never made many plans in life, just going with the flow and seizing opportunity where I saw it. If nothing else, running would give me a good gauge of how popular I currently was.

I won, defeating the other four candidates with only one, a long-serving incumbent, coming close. It was needed validation that I was as awesome as I tried to convince myself.

The experience serving was not good. As you have probably surmised about me, I like to be the one in control. It’s why I started companies and didn’t work for other people. It’s why I now work from home. Being an equal part of a team, especially one as divided as that City Council, wasn’t fun. I had very little respect for a couple of the members as I was going into office and that number only grew during my tenure.

With my socially liberal, fiscally conservative bent, I usually ended up being the tie-breaker on a lot of 3-3 votes. Ironically, in the voting order, I came last, so everybody saw it as me making the decision, and since I was the only one there who knew how to give a good soundbite to the media, it was always me that was quoted. I liked that power at first, but grew to hate it.

Despite the fact I showed up to most of the meetings in the second half of my two-year term borderline drunk (or full-on drunk), I didn’t like making decisions that either way, hurt people. I didn’t like making decisions that would leave one group of people angry at me and the other feeling like I was on their side. My wife knew that I’d come back from most meetings angry and sad.

With about six months left in my term in early 2013, ironically just as I was seriously descending into the worst of my porn and alcohol addictions, I made the announcement I was not running again on my Facebook page.

I didn’t regret stepping away as I secretly knew just how much my life was spinning out of control. There hasn’t been a day that I wished I was back there and with the exception of seeing the results last night, I don’t follow a damn thing they do in the news.

I’m so thankful I left the City Council before my arrest. I don’t know if it would have been any bigger a deal if I was actively serving, but amidst the clouded judgment I was showing at that time in my life, walking away after only one term was probably the smartest thing I did.

Maybe reading those results was a flashback to the night I won and was so smugly full of myself. I didn’t like that guy. I don’t attribute the City Council to my downfall, but maybe subconsciously I do think those long Monday nights contributed to my trip toward rock bottom. Maybe it reminds me that despite winning the seat, I felt like the time I served was a failure or it could be that it just shows this community marches on without me, never missing a beat, as if I never mattered at all. And while the magazine, film festival, co-workers, award ceremonies, friends, etc., are all gone, the City Council always remains.

I’m still processing why I had such a visceral reaction, but at least I’ll have something to talk about at therapy this week.

It’s Time to Admit the Reasons We Tell People to Stay Away From Porn Aren’t Working

I use Einstein’s definition of insanity too many times on this blog because it explain the frustration I feel with a lot of people’s attitudes and actions toward pornography and pornography addiction. I’ve never made my fight against pornography itself because I think it diverts attention from education, but it seems a correlation could be made if people were effectively dissuaded from using pornography, there would be less pornography addicts.

The problem is that our current list of reasons for urging people to stay away from pornography are ineffective. I’m not saying that they aren’t valid reasons – they almost always are. They aren’t scare tactics, which don’t play well with most, but well-reasoned rationalizations for putting down the porn. And none of them work.

I recall about 15 years ago, fast food restaurants were forced to put the calorie content on all of their menus by the FDA, with the belief if we only knew how bad it was for us, we’d stop. Yeah, that didn’t work. People knew fast food wasn’t quality food. In fact, fast food revenues exploded with the invention of the value menus with popular items for $1 or $2. People didn’t want healthy, they wanted cheap. It’s the same story with porn. If you’re paying money for porn these days, you’re doing it wrong. I think most people see it as junk food for the brain. It’s not healthy, but it’s not going to create lasting damage. Our standards reasons to stay away don’t combat that attitude effectively.

Why don’t our go-to reasons for staying away from porn work? I think I’ve figured most of them out:

The actors and actresses are exploited, don’t want to be there and had bad childhoods – All of this may be true, but has it stopped a single person from watching pornography? I think on some level everybody who watches porn understands its very essence is about the exploitation of the human body. As for not wanting to be there, I recently wrote a blog for a freelance client where I had to dig up statistics on job dissatisfaction in white-collar corporate America. Depending on the study, it ranged from 70% to 85%, so nobody likes their job.  As for having bad childhoods and still needing to seek out work, that isn’t a porn-exclusive thing either. I think when most people look at porn, they’re just not thinking about the poor professional conditions because they have to live with those conditions themselves and most would rather be having sex with beautiful people in pretty places than washing dishes at Buffalo Wild Wings.

It’s not realistic and doesn’t depict love – There have been a million and one studies on why people look at porn and one of the top two or three reasons, usually the top reason, is that it is an escape. People understand it’s not realistic because they only have to look to their own lives to reach that conclusion. I don’t think pizza guys and tennis instructors get into those vocations because they see a lot of sex in porno movies for guys in those industries. How many people would want to watch porn if it was people who looked like them doing things that they do? When it comes to love, I don’t think people turn to porn. If they want to see love, there’s a whole Hallmark Channel showing a slightly different version of the same Christmas movie for the next two months.

It’s going to rot your brain – For addicts, it actually does change the brain chemistry, but by that point, any standard reason to not use doesn’t work. I think that we’re told that so many things in this world are going to rot our brains and it simply doesn’t, and most people know that. First, you had people claiming rock music would make us all miscreants and Satanists. Didn’t happen. Then, kids raised on video games would all be prone to violent outbursts. Proven untrue. Porn certainly isn’t good for your brain, but enough people walk away without permanent scarring – or we’re still not talking about that scarring – that this argument falls on deaf ears for lack of proof.

Looking at porn brings you further away from God – I’m guessing this might work on some very devout people, but data would suggest otherwise. Two of the four fastest growing consumer groups of porn are members of the Roman Catholic Church and LDS Church and those who work in service of god (rabbis, priests, reverends) all report higher-than-average porn usage rates. This doesn’t even take into account that there are a lot of people who don’t believe in God or that he doesn’t play an active role in the consequences of their decision making. I have no hard statistics other than my own experience, but I bet 75% of the blogs I find on WordPress that talk about recovery from porn addiction give a lot of credit to God, but threats of the almighty fall on deaf ears prior.

I wish I had some great new techniques and solutions. I think most of the solutions are going to come from talking to our kids while they are young and informing them about the potential physical and mental dangers of taking porn use too far. We can argue whether that has or hasn’t worked with drugs and alcohol, but I think everybody who has a kid that is clean is thankful they said something.

We can keep repeating the standard “evils of pornography” list and while they certainly are valid, they are also ineffective. It’s tough to admit that, but the sooner we do, the sooner people far smarter than I can work to develop the new techniques and solutions we so desperately need.

Don’t Blame Me, Blame the One Who Gave Me the Blogging Award

As some of you who are very old to this site know, I generally am not very gracious with the fake awards, and never post anything about them. Part of that is because awards were like catnip to me in my old life, if I were a giant feline. Too easy to go for the Are You Being Served?-style pussy joke right there. But, it’s the weekend and I’m avoiding my real work, and nothing immediately springs to mind to write about, so my new rule is that I do one of these per year.

And I mean no disrespect calling it a fake award. It’s just that, at their core, all awards are subjectively fake, or at least I have to tell myself that to keep my walls free of them.

I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Food.For.Thoughts, which is one of my favorite blogs. The award is designed as:

“The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award of recognition given to bloggers from fellow bloggers. It recognizes those who are creative, positive, and inspiring. It celebrates people who spread sunshine.”

Yup, that’s me.

So, I’m supposed to nominate a bunch of people and ask them questions, but I choose not to do that. Two or three weeks ago, I posted a list of a bunch of smaller bloggers (in terms of followers, not their actual BMI) I like, and you can see that list HERE.

Then I’m supposed to answer some questions so you can all get to know the deeper me:

  1. What is the best advice you’ve ever heard?

I bet this is a question that doesn’t get asked a lot in the deaf blogging community. Most advice are clichés, like “It’s nice to be important, but important to be nice” but they’re true. It’s hard for me to point to one nugget and say that’s the one. I guess “Don’t do it for the money” because that’s never been a priority in my life and as you read HERE, I’m still struggling with the concept.

  1. What is a lie you tell frequently/with ease?

Many of my freelance writing/ghostwriting clients know nothing about my addictions, crime or recovery. I worry what they would say and if they’d dump me. So, I use an assumed name in all of our dealings. And no, I won’t tell you that name, even if you’re currently working with me and don’t realize it.

  1. Do you have a blogging routine? If so, enlighten us.

I either write my blog first thing in the morning and wait for between 10 a.m. and noon to publish it, eastern time, or I write it the night before and schedule it if I know I have a lot to do the next day. Either way, serving you is my priority.

  1. What is one thing you really want to do/accomplish?

I only need to go to Colorado, Utah and Alaska and then I’ll have been to all 50 states. I need to get that done before I die because it would be a cool line in my obituary. “Former city counselor, magazine publisher, film festival founder, professional wrestler, ex-con and 50 states visitor — you see George, you really did have a wonderful life.”

  1. What is your biggest pet peeve?

When my dogs bark at the door, but won’t come in. My biggest human peeve is when people are late. It’s just as easy to be early or on-time as it is to be late. I think it’s one of the most disrespectful things you can do. The next closest is willfully embracing ignorance. The next is being susceptible to the placebo effect.

  1. Do you have a ‘pick me up’ song?

Depends what I’m doing. On long road trips, I like peppy 80s music. Best of the Go-Gos is a staple on that playlist. When I’m doing yard work like raking or shoveling snow, I listen to 90s gangsta rap. I don’t listen to music when I work anymore because it distracts me too much.

  1. What do you like the most about blogging?

I think it’s the best way for me to follow my passion of educating about porn addiction. As a professional writer who doesn’t run a newspaper or magazine anymore, where I could write about whatever I wanted and ensure thousands of readers saw it, this is as close as I can get to sharing my thoughts with an audience I couldn’t otherwise reach.

  1. Which household chore are you most likely to skip?

Cleaning the garage. It’s been like four years and aside from my mostly clean house, it looks like an episode of Hoarders in there. Speaking of which, has anybody seen my cat lately?

  1. Which event from history is most fascinating to you?

I wish I could go back and record the Big Bang to shut a lot of deniers up, although these days, even photographic, scientific proof doesn’t stop a lot of people from believing what they want. I’d also like to see what really happened the week of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, maybe pick up a T-shirt. That week set off waves that, believer or not, we’re all still feeling today. Not many weeks in history that are over 2,000 years old can claim that. It would be interesting to observe what really happened, even if I’m not religious.

  1. Are you superstitious? If so, what do you do or believe?

No. Much like religion, I think we codify things we can’t explain to make them more palatable. I’m perfectly OK walking under a ladder or believing there is no afterlife. I’m not an atheist, I’m just a realist and don’t sweat too many questions I know mankind will never be able to answer. And I’m cool with anybody believing what they want as long as they don’t pick a fight, try to make me join their team, or shame/pass judgment on others. Although I may have problems hiding my smirk when you tell me about the benefits of essential oils and reiki.

  1. What made you happy today?

There are so many awesome wiseass answers to this that sprang into my brain. I don’t really shoot for happy anymore. I shoot for contentment and thus far, I’m there today because nothing bad has happened yet.

Much like seeing the doctor, that wasn’t as painful as I thought and much like seeing the doctor, I don’t plan on being back here for another year. Don’t forget to set your clocks back if you’re in the United States. Set ’em back anyway no matter where else you live.

 

 

The term ‘Gaslighting’ Comes From a 1944 Best Picture Nominee, And I Can See Why

It’s been somewhat of an every-few-years tradition of mine to listen to War of the Worlds on Halloween night, ever since I stumbled upon it on the radio when I came back from an eighth-grade party where I kissed a girl for the first time. BTW, the mass hysteria we all have been retroactively led to believe happened that night, didn’t actually take place. The original broadcast of War of the Worlds, I mean. Not me kissing a girl. Although it was a phenomenon rarely duplicated in the next few years.  The War of the Worlds “hysteria” is a fascinating story, but you know how to use the Internet and I’m not wasting space here. Instead, for the first time, I watched a nominee for the 1944 Best Picture Oscar (based on a 1938 British play and remake of a 1940 British movie) that is probably better known for creating a key piece of the Addiction/Recovery/Betrayal Trauma lexicon: Gaslight.

Starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, it’s quite a far-fetched story, even for early cinema standards, and I’m not talking about the actual gaslighting that takes place. Any plot that involves assuming another person’s identity and jewel thieves automatically goes into the “ya, sure, whatever” category for me. That must be why I don’t like Nicholas Cage films.

The psychological part of the movie, however, is very well done, and it is indeed the place that we get the term “gaslighting” from. Boyer hatches a plan to make his wife, Bergman, think she’s going crazy, hoping it eventually results in eventual financial gain. He does this slowly by setting her up to believe she’s a kleptomaniac when in fact, he’s taking things and planting them on her. For good measure, he also deliberately dims the gas in the lights in their house. He insists he never touches them and claims they are always the same brightness, yet they get darker, night-by-night, contributing to Bergman’s self-doubt and belief she is losing her mind. Finally, Boyer flirts with the maid (played by Angela Lansbury, about 300 years before Murder She Wrote) in front of Bergman. Lansbury develops a bit of a disdain for Bergman because she reciprocates the flirting, but when Bergman brings it up to her husband, he again tells her that it’s all in her head.

You’ve had 75 years to see the movie, so I’m going to slightly ruin it. In the end, the husband is tied to a chair by police and Bergman’s learned about his deception…however, he can’t stop. When the police briefly leave the scene, Boyer tells Bergman to untie him so they can escape and be free together. She comes to her senses and lets the police take him away.

While it’s the Hollywood ending the viewer wants and can somewhat see coming a mile away, real life often doesn’t end like that and the gaslighting takes place over may years, not months. It’s not just pornography or sex addiction either. If there’s an addict in your life, there’s a gaslighter in your life.

I heard of cases much more worse than me when I was in rehab and recovery, but I think that’s because I had my hand involved in so many different things I didn’t have to convince any single person of anything too ridiculous. I didn’t spend enough time with any one person for them to get too close to my addictions.

My wife – just like with every couple that has a male addict – was the biggest victim of my gaslighting. Most of the time, it was convincing her that I wasn’t nearly as drunk as I was and fully capable of driving.

Occasionally, she would say things like, “I guess you don’t like us anymore” or “Nobody has to work that much.” I didn’t like anybody, especially myself, at that point, which is why I wanted to be alone. And she was right about how much I worked, but it was the only place I felt like I was in control of my life until the end. I always convinced her she was wrong and acted offended she’d even bring up such things. I even surprised myself  how often I was successful. The last person to say “sorry” loses and I was never the last person. Like I said, not the worst gaslighting stories, but I certainly knew the drill.

Manipulating someone into believing they’re the crazy one, to the point it becomes second nature: Yep, that’s gaslighting and now you know where the term came from.

While none of the Q&As I sometimes post on the site are in the Top 10 most popular you can find on the right side, the one that I wrote a while back about gaslighting is by far the most popular and talks more about the nuts-and-bolts of what it is. If you’d like to take a look at it, click HERE.

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