I have gone back and forth for a long time about whether or not to write this blog. It is sharing more about myself and my personal life than I typically like to do. Some years ago, an ex gaslighted me. I thought I would be the last type of person to be a victim of gaslighting, or any kind of emotional abuse, with my stubborn and independent nature. It turns out that my big heart, my inherent trust in people, and my unwillingness to see the bad in others have all worked to my disadvantage in this case. I have since learned the hard way.


Gaslighting can be done by friends, family, and lovers. I originally didn’t disclose who it was because I thought this person didn’t mean to do it. However, I have since realized that what he did was very intentional. He made sure to do things I asked him not to because they made me uncomfortable. He never treated me poorly when anyone was in earshot. I was the only one he treated that way, to the best of my knowledge. These things indicate that what he did was indeed very intentional.


According to Google, ‘gaslight’ means to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity”. You can find an article about gaslighting here. It has different manifestations in different people. Honestly, I didn’t realize that I was being gaslighted at the time. It was maybe a year ago that I figured it out after reading through the second article that I had come across on the subject. In that article, it had some of the exact phrases that were used on me. That’s when it became apparent that all of the things I was struggling with were the after-effects of gaslighting.


So why am I writing about this in a fighting blog? Because it affected my fighting and SCA life the most. It was my ex-husband/former squire brother who emotionally abused and gaslighted me. After the break-up, he told me that all of my SCAdian friends took his side and no one liked me anymore. I was still stupid enough to believe him. While I isolated myself from people (partially on my master-at-arms orders not to discuss it with anyone in the household to avoid drama), my ex-husband was busy lying to everyone. He told some people I cheated on him and others that I was mentally unstable. Well, to be fair, after 7+years with someone as emotionally abusive as him, I certainly did feel emotionally unstable for quite some time.  I still tried to participate in the SCA anyway, but it didn’t go too well. When I broke up with him, he instinctively knew which of my friends to badmouth me to. He also played the victim incredibly well. In addition, he seemed to know who to speak well of me to and played up their concern for my ‘mental illness’. The few friends who still talked to me started to treat me like I was crazy and they were afraid to upset me. I didn’t know any of this at the time. I just noticed that people were treating me so strangely so I isolated myself even more.

Honestly, I probably was acting crazy. I had random emotional outbursts and acted impulsively, making several stupid decisions in the process. These are all after-effects of leaving an emotional abuser. I vacillated from not knowing who to trust to choosing one person, telling practically my entire life story, then stopped talking to them because I was ashamed for telling them things I shouldn’t have. After being craftily manipulated for a long time to not trust myself or my own judgement, I had cut myself loose. But now there was nobody to tell me what to do and what was or wasn’t a stupid decision. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t take care of myself or trust in my own judgement.


When I first started this blog, I was an ‘up-and-coming’ fighter who was full of drive, enjoyed fighting, and tried to attend several fight practices a week. Some of you might remember that version of me. Then I slowly started to “realize” how much I sucked at fighting. It didn’t help that I was being told that or that it was insinuated at while I was at home whenever I tried to do pell work or did anything to improve my fighting. I got frustrated by it. I mentioned it in almost every blog post. I began to have emotional breakdowns at practices. Most of the time I was able to hide it well. Other times I tried to fight through the tears. I was told to stop writing about crying at practices so I did, but the crying still happened. It just wasn’t mentioned in my blogs and I merely called it “frustration”. I was embarrassed at my emotionality and my appearance at fight practices became sporadic at that point. I took a feminist stance blaming my failures on how people treated female fighters.  At this point, it became obvious in my writing that I didn’t even trust the truth of what I was saying. I ended blogs with something like, “What I have written may or may not be true.  I simply write how I see things from my point of view.”  In fact, this was about the time when things got so bad that he told me that my former master-at-arms told him to run all my blogs through him before publishing and I believed him.  Because of the lies he told  I was constantly in fear of accidentally pissing people off like I had in the past. People complimented me on how much better my writing was, so I figured it was for the best. I became ashamed of my former writing and changed all of my older posts to “private”. Maybe one day when I get the time, I’ll change them all back. I think only the blog posts from the last few years are currently visible.


Since I broke ties with this him, I have been trying to un-gaslight myself. Of course, it was slow-going until I had figured out what was going on. It took me a year before I could make a big decision without second-guessing myself or getting a second opinion. I struggled with depression. I considered quitting the SCA. I felt very alone. I moved. I rebuilt some of my life. I got a good job. I cemented my friendships with a few non-SCAdian friends. I still mistrusted SCAdians whether they were old friends or people I had never met. I somehow still believed the things I was told by this person. And many of them still clearly believed the things they were told about me. I became anti-social, prickly, and withdrawn at events. I still am at times. I took a year off. I cut some further ties that had nothing to do with my gaslighting, just for my own well-being. I slowly, very slowly, started feeling out some of my former SCA friendships.


In the past year, once I have realized what has actually been going on in my head, I have been improving by leaps and bounds. I am doing a lot better, but still suffer from some of the after-effects of gaslighting. I am trying to get back into fighting, though weight loss is more of a priority right now than fighting is. What people don’t understand is that every fight practice I attend requires an internal battle between my true self and my gaslighted self. When I show up, my true self wins. Then I have to go through a similar battle again just to put on my armor and fight. Every blog post you have seen about me attending a practice and fighting is a victory for me, as sad as that sounds (since they’ve been few and far between). I can not always be relied upon to do what I say I’m going to do with regards to fighting. But I do try.  With everything else, my word is my bond (unless I’m promising you embroidery when I’m drunk, because I won’t remember it then).  I believe very strongly in doing what I say I’m going to do.  I am now the KM of my current Canton. I am working to build a fight practice out of nothing, which is an uphill battle, but I need a new challenge to help me pull my head out of my ass. Being in a new place with new people who have not been told those things about me is helping, but I still struggle sometimes. Someday I will attempt to pursue my fighting goals again. Maybe I will squire again. I have no desire to become a squire now. I do not have the drive to succeed that I once had and I feel that I need to re-find it in order to start taking fighting seriously again.


Because of the personal nature of this subject, the embarrassment that I was fooled by and succumbed to it, and the fact that I was afraid to share something so personal with the world were all reasons that I put off writing this. Because I withdrew from the SCAdian world, put on an unpredictable appearance, and really kept to myself, I know people believed some of the things they have been told about me. And that’s understandable. Nobody heard my side of the story. Honestly, I didn’t even realize the whole side of my own story until much later. When one friend confronted me about my ‘mental illness’ a few years ago, I even agreed. After all, what else were the random emotional outbursts and lack of trust in myself and others? So here this is, my side of the story. I don’t expect most of you to believe it. Why? Because most of you have already believed his lies and have distanced yourselves from me. It is almost always the male who is believed and favored after a breakup, so I can’t reasonably expect it to be any different now. You don’t have to believe it, but at least it’s here.

I also had a number of friends who I told about the emotional abuse respond by saying they weren’t going to take sides. Uh, I just told them I was emotionally abused and they said they were still going to be friends with my abuser!? Then they’re no true friends of mine! I do truly feel bad for those who were dropped by me and don’t know why. After being told by some who I considered my best friends that they weren’t going to “take sides”, I just unfriended and dropped all friends we had in common and did my best to move on from some of the friendships I valued so much. It’s been a long tough road, but things are finally starting to look up!


I have learned many things out of this:

  • I am not playing the victim, I was a victim.

  • Being gaslighted and emotionally abused doesn’t mean I was weak, it means that I chose to put my trust in the wrong person.

  • Being put in that situation and still managing to find the strength to sever ties proves that I am strong, even though at the time I didn’t understand why.

  • Being able to turn myself and my life around and learn to trust again has made me even stronger.

  • I am still going to be dealing with this, but it will fade with time.

  • I will still be emotional sometimes and it’s okay.  It’s just part of the healing process.

  • I am now stubborn about things for too long or stubborn about the wrong things, merely because I’m still learning how and when to assert myself again.

  • I am not pathetic, I chose to believe in someone enough to make me feel pathetic.

  • By the time I am done with my recovery, I will be so strong and secure in myself, that I will be unshakable.

  • It’s become a lot more apparent who my friends are.

  • The SCA is important enough to me to still go through all this shit just to continue participating!


~ by Gunnvor on November 6, 2016.

4 Responses to “Recovery”

  1. I think this is brave of you, and I’m glad, even though I never met you and have no idea who you are! I feel like the last few years (for real, like 2006 onward, especially 2008 onward) have been superhard for many people, and a lot of us feel completely gaslighted, intentionally or not. It’s like the world got more bogus and then people who are not bogus got really messed with, to the point of doubting themselves and their own judgment and all, and withdrawing since it was too hard to knpw who or what was trustworthy. I certainly did, and it destroyed me as a person who used to know myself and be proud of myself. I’m female too, older than you, in and out of SCA since 1983, and recently I finally feel like I too am just going to be honest to myself again all the time, and still avoid all jerks when possible, but try to regain the best relationship with myself. I hope that you can too. Thanks and best wishes–

  2. Ditto with the previous commenter. I’ve been reading your blog for years and did pick up on the change in tone of your posts. But, not knowing you, I had no idea what the nature of the impetus was. I’m so sorry it was bad. A pox on your abusers! But I’m glad you’ve figured out what was going on and are working towards recovery. Hugs from afar and best wishes on your journey.

    • Haha! A pox on my abusers! Seriously though, I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the difference! Hopefully I’ll finally be over it soon. It has taken more years off my fighting career than I would like, but it is what it is. Thank you!!!

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