Thursday, February 11, 2016

Feelings Are Not Facts


I was waiting for him to come back inside after taking the dog out, and I was starting to get impatient. I had already gotten the pizza out of the oven, I had the movie ready to go and placed on pause, and he had been outside for at least 15 minutes.

Finally, I hauled myself off the couch, peeked out the window, and just around the corner — almost out of my sight but not completely — I could see my husband smoking.

I knew he was smoking again!

For weeks I had been asking him why he smelled like smoke, why I could taste it on his breath, and why he was spending so much time outside. I had repeatedly and outright said "I know you started smoking again," but as usual he would just tell me that I was crazy.

Even when I found a pack of cigarettes in his pockets as I was getting ready to throw his pants in the laundry, he still held steadfast to the story that they weren't his.

When nicotine showed up on his life insurance blood test and caused his rate to skyrocket, he emailed me some crazy article written by some crazy doctor about false positive nicotine tests.

And when I walked into his work and saw him standing there with a lit cigarette between his fingers, he went above and beyond to "assure" me that he was just holding it for a co-worker who was in the bathroom.

It was absolutely maddening. 

Not because I cared if he were smoking or not (hey, if he wanted to die faster, I was not going to try and stop him), but it was maddening because of how easily he was lying to me. It didn't bother him a bit and it scared me to think about everything else that might be lying about (and oh boy, as I learned later, it was a lot!)

But then that night, with the movie on pause and a pizza quickly getting cold, I finally saw with my own two eyes that he was indeed, actually smoking. From roughly 25 feet away I watched as he went through the cycles of lifting the cigarette to his lips, inhaling, and then exhaling smoke into the crisp night air.

Validation.



I sat back down on the couch, waited for him to come inside, and when he finally opened the door, I said in a very frank tone, "so how long do you think you can keep this charade up?"

"I have no idea what you are talking about" he replied as he went about taking his shoes off and unleashing the dog.

"Man, come on" I said, clearly annoyed. "This is absolutely ridiculous. I know you're smoking, why the hell are you lying about it? You smoking is the very least of my concerns these days, so I don't understand why you're choosing to lie."

"And I don't understand why you are doing this to me" he said, topping my annoyed voice with one that clearly expressed how angry he was. "How do you think I feel when my own wife doesn't even trust me? I should be able to come home and know that you have my back, but instead you're sneaking around behind it and trying to find ways to drive us apart. I was really looking forward to having a nice evening with you, but do you think I want to spend time with someone who is always accusing me of things? Geez Eden, this isn't what a marriage is about! I thought you were my teammate, but all you do is try and take me down all the time. I don't even want to come home from work anymore because I get worried about everything you're going to accuse me of. It's not even relaxing when I have to be on edge with you all the time. I can't believe you decided to pull this shit tonight. Thanks for ruining our evening, I hope you're happy."

He then threw his coat on the floor and stormed out of the room.

So I sat there... and I started to think. "Geez... do I really make him feel that way? Wow I do sound kind of awful. He's right, we should be a team, and if he's smoking and not wanting to tell me why, then maybe it's because I've been too hard on him. I just don't know why he is lying to be, but maybe I should try and be nicer. Yes, I should definitely try and be more understanding. I mean, I guess I could be wrong. Could I be wrong? Maybe he wasn't smoking before, but I accused him of it so much that he gave up and started smoking. Maybe tonight was his first night! I guess there is a possibility then that everything he said could be true. It doesn't seem likely... but... he was really upset, maybe before the cigarettes really were his friends. In fact, maybe he wasn't smoking tonight... maybe I really did just see what I wanted to see. Wow, did I really see that, or do I just think I saw that? Oh my gosh, what if I'm wrong!? Oh my gosh I feel awful."

Do you see what happened here!!! GAAAAAHHH!!!!

That right there was pretty much our entire marriage and it was infuriating, but even that wasn't as bad as dealing with my mother.

My mother is the perfect combo of legitimately mentally ill, permanently brain damaged from having electric shock therapy that has stolen much of her short term memory, and devious enough to always try and pull one over on you.

We would have an argument, and then later when we would talk about it, it would be a COMPLETELY different version of what I thought had happened. She would claim that she never said what she screamed at me said, and would then turn around and claim that I said things I was pretty sure I had never said.

It became so bad that after a while — due to her unwavering insistence that I was always wrong and she was always right — I started to write down our arguments and what took place as soon as it happened. Not because I was planning on using the notes as proof against her in the future, but because I was legitimately starting to wonder if I was losing my marbles and I wanted to be able to compare my notes with the version that she was sure to spew back out at me later.

She was driving me so crazy, that I started to truly wonder if maybe I was actually crazy.

Then, when I realized that I was not indeed crazy, that I was in fact correct in my memory of the situations, then I couldn't tell if she were becoming even more mentally unbalanced, or if she was purposefully messing with me.

WHICH MADE ME FEEL EVEN MORE CRAZY.

And that my friends, is called gaslighting.


We've talked on this blog before about gaslighting, which is a tool that abusers use to manipulate their victims. It is when someone twists and turns reality in an attempt to make someone else doubt their own version of events, which in turn makes them feel crazy.

It's a very real phenomenon and unfortunately it's pretty damn effective.

So effective in fact, that we sometimes gaslight ourselves.

Not on purpose of course, but just as effectively.

We gaslight ourselves when we let our own feelings become our facts.

Feelings are not facts.

Feelings are not facts, and yet often times we allow them to become facts:

"I know he said that he was really tired and going to bed when he got home, but he didn't even call me to say goodnight... I hope I didn't say something wrong. Wow, maybe I did. Maybe I should call him. No, I shouldn't call him, clearly he doesn't want to talk to me. He must be really mad.  He probably doesn't even want to be with me anymore!"

"I can't believe I didn't get a raise this year. I know the company said that they were on a salary freeze because of the changeover, but still, didn't they notice all my hard work? Am I not doing a good enough job? Maybe they are unhappy with my work. Wow, are they unhappy with me? Should I start looking for a new job? Am I going to get fired? I had better start looking for a new job!"

"He broke up with me and I really liked him. He was the best boyfriend I could have ever had. I'll never find anyone else like him, I'll be alone forever! This was the worst thing that ever happened to me! Is something wrong with me? Something is definitely wrong with me. My life is basically over. No one will ever want me again, because clearly something is wrong with me."

"I know he is lying to me, but I don't know what I would do if he really were cheating on me. I've found enough evidence to know he is cheating... but wow that hurts. I thought he loved me. He says that he loves me and that I'm just jealous, that he isn't cheating. Why would someone who loves me, hurt me? He says he loves me and I'm so scared of losing him that maybe I am just jealous and over protective. Now that I think about it, I am jealous, maybe I need to relax a bit. I don't want to be the jealous girlfriend. Oh gosh, I am the jealous girlfriend! What if I'm pushing him away and I'm not even right? Geez I'm awful, I need to cut him a little slack or he will leave me. I'm going to stop accusing him of cheating. I had better stop or he will leave me for something that's probably not even happening. He can't be cheating on me, he loves me. It's not him, it's me."

Do you see what happened there?

In all these situations, feelings manipulated the facts of what was actually known to be true.


Here's the thing, just because you are gaslighting yourself, doesn't change the fact that what you are feeling is just as unrealistic as what a manipulator makes you believe when they gaslight you. And while you may not feel as crazy as when someone gaslights you, that doesn't mean that you aren't acting a bit crazy.

Feelings are not facts.

Feelings cannot create facts.

Facts on the other hand, are facts.

Feelings are not facts.

When you let your feelings become facts, that's when you become your own worst manipulator.

Feelings are emotional representations of what we perceive to be facts. They bring attention to things that we should be thinking about, alert us to underlying issues, and are good indicators of our mental health. They shape our likes and dislikes, help us to set goals and experience everything from happiness to empathy, and give us insight into how our decisions are going to affect our futures. You need feelings and you need to listen to your feelings, but you cannot do is to allow your feelings to be accepted as facts, because feelings are not facts.

When you allow your feelings to become facts, you give away the power to remain in control of your logical thinking.

When you become gaslit by another person, they have taken control of your feelings and turned them into facts; facts that support their position. When you gaslight yourself, you hand the power of logical reasoning over to your imagination. Do you really want your imagination to be in control of your logical thinking?

Of course not!

Emotions are the #1 reason why people jump quickly in and out of relationships, angrily quit jobs, make impulsive financial decisions, and hang onto bad friendships. It's especially hard if you are someone who is recovering from a trauma because our sadness, fear, anxiety, and suspicion often scream so loudly at us, that they are much harder to ignore than the silent and impartial facts of a situation.


"He cheated on me, so they will all cheat on me. They cheat on me because I'm not good enough. I'll never be good enough. I'll settle for someone sub par because I don't deserve anyone better. In fact, the guy I'm seeing now, he's probably already cheating on me. I shouldn't trust him. I should break up with him before he hurts me. He is going to hurt me, they all do."

Validate your feelings.

Validate them, allow them to be heard, and then weigh them against the facts. Do not discount your feelings, but do not let your feelings void out the facts.

"He says he isn't smoking, he looked hurt when I accused him, and I really want to believe him, but if someone else were telling me this same story, which person would I believe? What do the facts support?"

Your brain and your heart, they are team, but it's easier to listen to your heart because it speaks the loudest. It's not your brain that feels, it's your heart, and it's not your brain that hurts, it's also your heart. We let our feelings cloud out our rationale thinking because the facts are easy to ignore when they don't resonate in our hearts as much as cold, hard facts do.

Do not allow yourself to be manipulated by other people, but even more than that, do not allow yourself to be manipulated by you.

Do not base your logical thinking on your current frustrations, anxiety, fears, hurt, happiness, and excitement. Give credence to your emotions but only if they are supported by the facts.

If they aren't supported by the facts, then it's time to look for the underlying issue. Your feelings aren't wrong, they are often just misplaced. Do not discount them, but do not give them credit in situations that they don't deserve.


It's you against the world love, so you had make sure you're all in it together; mind and soul.

Emotions are a tool that we use to either build up the future of our dreams, or a weapon we use to cloud out the reality of truth. 

This is your life from now until it no longer is. Emotions will fade away and change over time, but the facts will remain even when you stop believing in them. If you want the future of your dreams, then you had better make sure you are building it on a foundation of reality.

Validate your feelings, but don't count them as facts.

*****************************



Photo Credits

Stop and listen

What the F

Stop No

Yay

System inoprerative

24 comments:

  1. Love this article, Eden. It's a great reminder to me. I've come a long way in separating feelings and facts, but I still struggle sometimes. Thank you! *hugs*

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  2. I'm far too familiar with gaslighting. But I hadn't thought about the amount of times we say or think what is convenient for us. You have a point - whether it's coming from us or from others, it's crazymaking behavior. This goes in line with my New Years resolution to pay more attention to my thoughts than my feelings (specifically, since the latter changes all the time...)

    Knowing what I know about your ex, I'm guessing the cigarette story happened pretty early on?

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    1. No one likes a crazy person, especially when we realize that it's us!

      That me looking out the window part was after my daughter was born, but before my son. Actually... maybe right after my son was born. I'm not totally certain... Some of that stuff just blends together as the years go on, but the suspicion had been going on for much longer than that.

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    2. Lol, just because I'd think it was a minor concern considering the OTHER things he was smoking.

      (That's what you do with meth, right?)

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    3. You would think... but it took me a long time to put 2 and 2 together, so looking back, I don't think I knew about the meth at that point yet. I knew something was going on, I just always thought he was sick or something. At that point smoking seemed to be the one thing that I thought I could really catch him on and prove that I wasn't crazy for not trusting him...

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  3. Ms. Strong,

    I have read several of your articles and posts. But this one into words some things that I do not know if you have even noticed.

    First - yes your ex is the poster child (and I mean child) for a d-bag. No argument there.

    But.....

    Would you rather be right or happy?

    Of course he was smoking again. Of course you were right. But in being right - it trying to force him to admit it - did that fix it? Did that make you happy? Did your validation feel good? Or did it just make you think "See, I'm not crazy" because G-d knows if your not right your crazy.

    Take the whole angle from the happy side - everything not just the smoking post.How much happiness have you let go of , ignored the chance for to prove (to who b/c I am not sure other than yourself) that your right. Of course your right - but who cares? What does being right get you other than validate a reason to be miserable and pass that to your children?

    Stop. Please. Choose Happy and see how things change. Will your ex still be a d-bag. Yes of course b/c you whether or not its validated its who he is. Will you still be struggling? Yes - BUT - the struggle just might seem a little more worth it than some kind of sentence that he did.

    And you'll teach your kids by example that winning the fight isn't the true victory, its tickling your child until you're both laughing yourself silly and not fighting a thing, just enjoying every second. His misery isn't worth it - your and your children's happiness is.

    I'll probably get bashed, but good luck

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    1. I always find it funny when people take the time to write out these long, drawn out, advice giving comments, but don't take the time to read what they are actually commenting on.

      If you've spent any time whatsoever reading Eden's blog, the entire thing is about letting go of your anger and finding your happiness in life. But nope, here you are, commenting on the one post that has absolutely nothing to do with her anger other than furthering a point (which was a very good point), and trying to hand out advice that is completely irrelevant.

      I'm sure that as much as you love to hand out advice, that you most likely don't like to receive any, but I would highly suggest taking a little more time to read her blogs. She does quite a few on how harboring anger only hurts the person that harbors it, and how if you waste your time being angry, you lose out on all your time being happy.

      I learned that from Eden. Clearly, you did not.

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    2. Morning Mommy-- no bashing here bc I feel that you really hit the nail on the head with this one!! Knowing you'll get attached for voicing anything but eden-worship on here is discouraging and I often wonder why I continue to read each time there's a new post but the simple fact is HAPPY is where it's at. Who hasn't been dealt a shitty hand in life? Its so easy to be right, to need to be right and to have that feeling of "oh I knew this would happen or I knew I was right" etc and YES that feels great at first but being right about someone you love that disappoints you shouldn't make you feel good and validated...it should be terrible. Get over it, ALL of it, and be happy in knowing you've for amazing children and a great support system and run a successful non-profit. Be happy and feel validated bc of all YOU have accomplishes independently not bc someone else failed their resonsibilty to you. Who cares if you were right about him smoking 4 years ago? That unwillingness to let go of such animosity doesn't make him look bad it makes you look like you're clinging to the past. Just be ☺.

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    3. Oh my gosh, you two are both blubbering idiots. It's amazing how two people who appear to be able to write out cognitive thoughts can both be so stupid. She is not still mad about the smoking, she was clearly using that as an example of how her ex husband was attempting to make her feel crazy. The post was about gaslighing. Have you have been gaslight by someone? It's a form of abuse. How is she supposed to explain it without examples?

      You two morons have TOTALLY missed the point of the entire blog and are now doling out advice as if you know what you are talking about. "It's not about being right, it should be about being happy." So an abuse victim shouldn't worry at all about the fact that she was abused, she should just let it go (even in the moment) and focus on being happy? WTF kind of advice is that? She didn't say she was mad now. She said she felt crazy at the time. He was manipulating and abusing her and she should have instead been focusing on being happy?

      It's really quite hilarious.

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    4. This, right above me, truth. I am so confused as to how people seem to think that I should have just been totally fine with my husband lying to me, and choose to be happy instead. The entire point was that he was purposefully making me crazy, and causing me to doubt myself. He was doing that to lead me away from figuring out the truth, and damn right I was mad at the time, because the person in my life who was supposed to be my partner, was betraying my trust. And I was right, SO MUCH more was going on than I even knew; drugs, cheating, etc. How on earth is ignoring the red flags, going to make your life better?

      By your theory a wife who has suspicions about her husband, should just ignore them all and be happy. Well, look what happened to me. I didn't ignore them outright but I didn't get to the bottom of the truth, and the truth was he was hiding an entire second life from me.

      Your theory of being happy vs. being right is completely moronic, and if you read this blog or my comments at all, you would know that I'm not usually that forward with my readers, but there are abuse victims here and the last thing they need to hear is someone telling them to ignore the lies/abuse/red flags, and be happy instead.

      That's dangerous.

      And in no way did I say that I was still angry now. As the above person said, I was jumping back in time to portray an example, which in case you didn't know, is a writing technique.

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  4. I have read it. And I am not talking about anger. Being happy shouldn't take effort. Too much of her blog and her articles (which is how I was introduced to her history and this blog) is centered on being right and the effort it takes to over come what has been done to her. Even the name of this blog - "Its not my shame to bear". What shame? There is not shame for her in anything that has happened let alone having to bear it. Where is she seeing it?

    That she is on welfare? People try to guilt and shame others for taking advantage of welfare - is that what she is doing. No? Then no shame.

    The guy looking her over b/c of her phone? Say "hey, you like it?" Whatever, but why get defensive, why feel the need to explain, and why let it get to you? Because you want to make your point over and over and over again? Who are you trying to convince?


    And about taking advice - I will take any that is given, some to heart, some to mull over, some to open my mind, and some to recognize that I feel comfortable in my past choices and hope to be the same in my future. Do you think I come up with my points all by myself? No I was taught, I tested, and I lived. The question of being right or happy is a standard in psychological practices. They ask everyone from depression patients to serial killers. Happy by far turns out to be the better choice (although those who answer right try to justify it by saying being right makes them happy)

    I comment not for the advice per se but to open the stage. Eden may be strong - but plenty disagree with her. This is not an attack, its a disagreement. Is this blog not open to that? Then why promote it to the extent on the web? If it has true value testing it will simply increase its value under scrutiny. If both arguments have value they will both increase under comparison.

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    1. As we can clearly see gaslighting comes from all sources, it's everywhere, be sure to recognize, dismiss it, then move on .........

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  5. "Being happy shouldn't take effort."

    Clearly, you have never been abused. It takes women (and men) years, decades, and sometimes entire lifetimes to retrain their thinking. They have been so mind warped that they need to relearn how to be happy and how to even allow themselves to feel happy.

    You then go on to say that happiness is a choice. Well, choices take effort. They take dedication. They take work until they become habits. She is trying, just as so many abuse victims are, and you are undermining their work.

    You honestly sound like someone who has had the easiest of lives and cannot understand how people struggle to find happiness and meaning in a world that has been destroyed. I'm not sure that this is the right place for you to be handing out advice, anymore than a white person should advise black people on how to be black. You don't seem to know the meaning of empathy and that is really sad. Happiness for you, seems to come in the form of feeling superior and self righteous.

    Another point that I would like to make, is that as Eden said on Facebook one day, that she realizes her Yahoo articles make her come off as depressed and whiny and that it is not at all how she feels in her daily life, but rather a glimpse into certain situations, situations in which Yahoo has asked her to write about. Why people fail to realize that writing is an actual paying job, is incomprehensible to me.

    If her blog states "this is not my shame to bear," then why does it bother you so much that she is choosing not to be shamed by her past?Why are you bothered that she feels shame in some situations, but overall decided not to let the shame define her?

    Why are you discrediting the exact point that you are trying to make?

    You really don't make any sense and it shows very clearly in the way that you portray how little you know about domestic violence.

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  6. Really....

    Well I do have experience. I was raised by severely mentally ill mother who was abusive -but I have clearly accepted she was ill. What healthy individual wants to be an abuser, never wants love only obedience and accomodation? My father was not around until my mother's death when I was in college (he left).

    I didn't mean to but married a husband with the same mental health issue apparently as mommy dearest although not as severe (thought I had dodged that bullet). After his temporary commitment and continued mental health appointments we are still married with two high needs (I don't typically use special needs) children.

    Part of my lack of will power in resisting posting to this blog is my parallels - but we have handled things differently. Do I think Eden handled anything wrong - no, not at all. I just believe there are other viewpoints and options out there. I think after reading for awhile now I just noticed this theme of having to be right and I think many people can be healthy and not struggle with things if they let that go. I posted on this entry specifically b/c she put into words so much of what I was seeing - forcing someone to admit they're lying when she already knew they were. Writing things down to prove she was right (because otherwise she would feel crazy?)

    I am not trying to de-value what is written. Same coin, other side. I don't say "Why me?" I say "Well, me." Getting upset, angry, or justifying is just hitting yourself in the head with a baseball bat and expected the other person to get a headache.

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    1. Sweetie, I really think you have a lot of work to do on yourself before you start pointing out what you believe to be flaws in others. The fact that so many people have found healing here, and yet with your words no one comes to defend you, it's quite telling.

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    2. OH "Sweetie" it seems as though multiple people did comment that they could relate to what Morning Mommy was saying BUT all comments are moderated and selectively allowed (or not allowed) to be added to the conversation bc hey, that's what a blog is for, right? Everyone weighing in not everyone being told that they must have the same opinion in order to feel welcome. And EVERYONE has issues--you for example are condescending and intolerant and that's clear from the single small blurb that you wrote yet no one is advising you to "work on it" WHY? Bc that's immature and oppressive. Each person is permitted to have their own point of view and that's the beauty of it and while I don't agree with everything Morning Mommy writes I RESPECT that she has input and contributes to the conversation in general.

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    3. If she were really moderating comments out that she didn't like, I doubt yours would be here. And I don't see any evidence of "multiple people have commented that they could relate and been removed" or whatever you said. I think it's just you two nuts.

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    4. And now that I'm looking at it and can see that this morning mommy profile was set up the first day it commented here, I'm willing to bet you are both one in the same person anyway. Great job supporting "each other."

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    5. Yea, I'm not really sure why you would think that multiple people tried to comment in her defense, but they were filtered out, because I've been passing through all the comments that aren't spam bots.

      Sorry, apparently it's just you two. Or maybe you really are just one...

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  7. Oh- and sorry. I don't have facebook. Since I am not welcome I will leave. Goodbye.

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  8. That was interesting...Hard to take a side,.... but maybe the whole point was not to.

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