I recently realized my parents have been gaslighting me for years. A lot of my life has been spent living a cruel lie because of this. What do I do?
I feel like your experience is the first time Iu2019ve seen something close to mine. So, Iu2019m going to tell my story and bolden hopefully helpful paralleles.About 3 years ago, I had a bunch of traumatic memories come forward. Suppressed memories. Three months after they came forward, I realized a hard truth none of it was my fault. Which meant everyone who did these things to me. My church (now cult) was a lie. My u201cloving familyu201d was a lie. My u201cspoiled childhoodu201d was a lie. My extended family was at least broken, and my entire belief system was a lie. In fact, it felt like everything I ever thought was a lie.I almost immediately went no contact with my church. I should have gone no contact with my parents as well, but I emotionally couldnu2019t do it. After a traumatic conversation, I fully broke contact with them 2 months later and wonu2019t ever reconnect.(If you havenu2019t gone no contact with your family, you need to start making plans. They will continue doing what you described and they will never stop.)I struggled for the next year trying to make sense of it. How could they go along with this known and proven cult, and how could they treat me how they did? They even left for over a decade and still returned. That doesnu2019t happen like ever. If you asked here on Quora if it happens, you will get answers that it doesnu2019t happen. I asked.Eventually, I put the dots together that my father was a narcissist. (Iu2019ve since my changed my mind that he is a sociopath, but in terms of what narcissists/psychopaths/sociopaths are capable of doing in terms of cruelty is the same)What slowed me down in coming to that conclusion is people who have ignorant views on the existence of narcissists. These people think everyone is fundamentally the same. They believe every personu2019s sins are unintentional. If the person acting cruel had a better childhood, had more control of himself, could handle trauma better, could control his anger betteru2026then the cruelty wouldnu2019t happen.They are wrong. Everything these people say is wrong.Your parents - the people who gaslighted and sabotaged your life - do not fit into this view of humanity. Their actions require calculation, planning, and a fundamental lack of care for others. They do not merely have a character flaw. They do these things on purpose and are fully aware what they do. You can read about them more and decide for yourself how much they are at fault for their actions, but what is clear is that they are fundamentally different than the average human being.Please do yourself a favor and trust yourself other these people about everything. Even the most well-meaning mentor will lead you astray if they donu2019t have this knowledge. Also, if someone takes the bible inerrantly, they are basically guaranteed to be ignorant about narcissists. u201cEveryone is sinful. All have sinnedu2026we are all sinnersu2026etcu201dSo, after a year of eliminating arguments against my dad being a narcissist, I could feel good about disconnecting. These people do not change. Even though thereu2019s a lot of bullshit on the internet about them, it is true that they donu2019t change. Iu2019m sorry to say that there is no hope in your parents changing for the better, just as there is no hope for mine changing - even if they were to leave the cult they dragged me into.Then, I could more easily assume everything they said was a lie. And 2 years later, thatu2019s still proven true.So, hereu2019s some important things I had to investigate more thoroughly:Iu2019m a wild child, and Iu2019m over dramaticI have sensory integration disorder or ADHD (I would investigate whether or not you have actually asperger's. As you know, psychiatrists can be manipulated by your parents)Jesus, God, the Bible. Jesus is absolute Lord. God is provably true. The bible is inerrant and internally consistent. The bible has all the answers. Iu2019m going to hell if I donu2019t believe in Jesus. And many statements like that.my extended family on both sides. Who knew what and could I trust them.Politics. Being Republican and watching Fox News is the absolute way to go.The meaning of all my memories. Virtually everything I ever did and said was defined or labeled by people. I had to go back and redefine a lot. Does falling down and say u201cowu201d mean I am oversensitive?As I figured out more of these things, there were and still two extremely helpful facts that come up: (1) my parents were different than basically everyone and (2) I can trust myself.Several times since I left, I trusted the logic of the situation over myself. My gut said u201cdonu2019t trust this personu201d, but the logic said u201cThey are helping me, I have no reason to distrust themu201d. Each time, my gut was right and I got hurt.In my opinion, trusting yourself is the most helpful and most difficult lesson to learn. After all, everything your parents did to you screamed u201cdonu2019t trust yourselfu201d. Even though you know now that they are the cause of your distrust of yourself, the damage is still there. You still donu2019t feel like trusting yourself. Even assuming that u201cevery single reason I have to distrust myself is falseu201d is for some reason not enough.So after I u201csolvedu201d many of the problems I already list, I continued investigating my extended family and my mom. Something didnu2019t feel right, and my extended family was treating me badly. I was trying to understand them and felt like they were just like my dad and the cult leader, but the ignorant people were telling people u201cNo. Youu2019re wrong. They are good people. They are helping you. Trust them. I know your parents and the cult are bad, but you can trust them.u201dThey were wrong.My impression of them, my analysis of them is trustworthy.My extended family on both sides fits the descriptions of narcissists and sociopaths. I later had sexually abusive memories about them that completely ended all doubts.So, then, I undid another very important thing that the ignorant people said. Probability is irrelevant.Itu2019s not something that should ever cause you to doubt yourself. Anyone who tries to say that your memories, your conclusions, or your circumstances are unlikely is ignorant. Plus, knowledgeable people know this stuff tends to cascade. Itu2019s not uncommon for an abusive situation to get worse or have lots of complications.I forgot to mention therapists. Iu2019m told specialists are helpful. I didnu2019t have the money to go to one. Non-specialist therapists might be ignorant people.I went to 6 different therapists in 3 years. Only one was consistently helpful, and even he got my extended family wrong. Three were unhelpful, and two were just good sounding boards.So if you do go to one and you see them trying to make excuses for your parents, trust yourself over them. They do ask really good questions most of the time. They can help uncover things and assist in creating new conclusions.At this point in my life, I donu2019t have any answers about romantic relationships. I havenu2019t for a while. I have too much anxiety to get that close to someone.I donu2019t feel like I made it totally clear, so u201cyes, I can relate.u201d I was gaslighted by my parents, my extended family on both sides, a professional mentor, a cult, and childhood bullies. I was also sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by these people (not all sexually abused me).You can get help from people like me - those who have gone through it and those who have done study about gaslighting, abusive families, and so forth. Other people can only emotionally support you, and you may want to let them know you donu2019t want advice. Thereu2019s a ton more I could write, but Iu2019ve done a lot and my arms. If you have any questions in comment or PM, Iu2019m glad to answer them. Itu2019s nice to talk with someone who gets it.A couple things on your wiki I wanted to mention:CodependentCodependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaCodependencyIf you are somehow blaming yourself for tolerating your parents abuse for so long, donu2019t. Itu2019s absolutely not your fault and this doesnu2019t make you co-dependent. If your current significant other is doing one of these and you are supporting him/her, thatu2019s different.I too thought I was co-dependent for a while, but Iu2019m not. Thatu2019s for adults with good childhoods who stumbled into these situations and knowingly help people. For me, itu2019s the adult cult members who know the cult leader sexually abuses people. Itu2019s not me or my peers who were forced into that situation.I really donu2019t think co-dependent changes healing either.This reminds meu2026because of how much your parents labeled your behavior and potentially accused you of mental disorders, you may have a tendency to quickly diagnose yourself. I would do that very slowly and get professional opinions. I know I said a lot about trusting yourself, but this is one where instinct can be wrong. But this is because of how they trained your brain. While this line of thinking can get scary u201cWhat if they trained my brain on everythingu201d, itu2019s not as bad as it sounds. Even if they are still patterns where you make mistake and canu2019t trust your initial reaction, you can still trust yourself in the long run for everything. I feel like thereu2019s a better way to say this, but itu2019s just not that bad. The cult trained my brain extensively, and I still should have trusted myself when I choose not too.The extent of the manipulationIu2019m not sure how you discovered the landlords got anonymous calls about you, but my point is this: They could have done a lot more that you will never discover evidence about. What this means is that trying to do intellectual ways of healing is more difficult to impossible. You canu2019t u201cdiscover and prove everything they did was badu201d. You can find a lot, but there will always be the possibility that they do more you havenu2019t discovered - even when it seems like nothing more could have happened, even when it seems like no one else in your past was a bad person.TherapistsMost of them can still help process emotions, thoughts, help with depression ,and suicidal thoughts. They are basically all good at that. Itu2019s very standard. If you want help with any of those, they are helpful and the cheap ones can help too.Going no contact.I feel like you havenu2019t cut them off. So, Iu2019m going to write a basic plan of how to do it:Understand what you need emotionally to let them go. Maybe itu2019s one more chance, maybe itu2019s a face to face conversation in a public place (do not do more than 1 of these and do not under any circumstance do it a private location), maybe itu2019s a letter. This may take some deep soul searching and some time.I needed to ask them to stop and tell them how I felt. I should have ended it after they proved they didnu2019t care. Not doing so was easily the worst mistake Iu2019ve ever made.Prepare everyone your parents has a phone number for. Let your friends/family/boss/landlord/local police know what you are about to do and what your parents will say. This will help them believe you. Being the first one to make an argument and predicting what the opponent will say usually convinces people - regardless of the logic of the arguments.Move. I got really lucky on this one. I happened to move the day after I was forced to go no contact. They will come to your apartment and bang on the door. You will feel so much better if they donu2019t know where you live.Create a support network. If you have friends, understanding family, maybe get a therapistu2026just be ready for the strong emotions going to flow from this choice. Itu2019s very important to stay emotionally healthy and discharge those emotions quickly so that you donu2019t reconnect with your parents. I got lucky again. I had no choice but to disconnect, so I just happened to have enough support and internal strength to stay away until my feelings slowed down.Lie to your parents. Donu2019t give them any idea of your thoughts or plans. Keep up the facade that everything is great.Allow people to help you. Your significant other can help a lot, like with the local police. It should be much easier emotionally for him/her to talk with them instead of you.Demolish religious arguments. If you came from Christianity, thereu2019s some bullshit about forgiving people meaning that you canu2019t cut them out of your life. All of these have logical errors. All of them. There is nothing in any serious religion that suggests you canu2019t get away from abusive parents. u201cHonor your mother and fatheru201d has no connection whatsoever to u201cremoving yourself from parents where violence is normalu201d. You can bring any up to me. I had about 6 to go through in order to disconnect.Love Yourself. The more you do this, the more power you will gain to stand up for your own needs. By your description, you have had more success at this than me. I hope it goes well for you.