Mindset

Stuck with a Manipulative Person: How I Broke Free from the Chains of Toxicity

I found myself ensnared in a toxic relationship for approximately two years. During that time, although I didn’t completely abandon my career, I gradually lost touch with my family, friends, and those around me. If even a modicum of my sanity had slipped away, I might have lost everything – my career, my social connections, and perhaps even my own spirit, crushed to the point of exhaustion.

The phrase “emotional manipulation” has become increasingly common in our vocabulary. It appears in newspapers, self-help books, and across social media. To put it simply, emotional manipulation is a tactic that causes you to feel perpetually guilty and anxious within a relationship, regardless of your actions or words. You find yourself trapped in a relationship where your mental state deteriorates day by day, yet you delude yourself into believing you are blissfully happy. Strange, isn’t it? This is the definition I’ve derived from my own experience of emotional manipulation. It’s baffling how we can be tricked into feeling happy within a relationship, even as it drains our vitality and leaves us with a gnawing sense of guilt. And this is why we often find it impossible to leave.

The first time I encountered the term “gaslighting” was when a friend asked me, “Do you know what gaslighting is? I think X is doing that to you.” It was a subtle warning regarding what was happening in my life, but at that time, I failed to recognize it. However, it did make me more vigilant, eventually leading me to break free from the cycle that was driving me to the brink of insanity.

Over the course of two years, I became entangled with an individual who believed he was the victim of depression and caught in a murky, undefined relationship with me and his ex-girlfriend. He insisted that I was the one who forced him to break up, the source of his torment, and every time I attempted to clarify matters, he labeled me as a full-fledged drama queen. Regardless of the circumstances, he consistently distorted the truth, leaving me bewildered and guilt-ridden. When I finally grew angry, he used his past pains to hold me back, claiming he had helped me grow and improve. If I were to leave now, he argued, there would be no one left to help him. He was lonely, and he had chosen to help me, but when it was his turn, I was just a wretched person who ran away. This was what I had to endure for two years, and throughout that time, he never actually broke up with his ex-girlfriend, nor did he suffer from any form of depression. For two years, a self-absorbed madman played the victim, and even now, he refuses to acknowledge any fault. I will delve into the details of this story on another occasion. Let’s turn to the main theme of this article.

Manipulative individuals are often highly intelligent, sensitive, and profoundly emotional. The stages I went through were:

  1. Suffering from the past’s torment.
  2. Receiving help and feeling grateful.
  3. Believing they are pitiable and require assistance.
  4. Being unable to abandon them because they are alone.
  5. Being unable to leave because I was alone.
  6. Feeling guilty for leaving and for my actions toward them, because they had turned out badly due to me.
  7. Feeling loved and truly understood.
  8. Returning to step 1 and repeating the cycle.

If these stages were graphed, it would reflect my own experience, where the torment I had once suffered was transferred to them, only to return, amplified, to consume me. They gradually isolate you from the relationships you have with others, by first learning about your background and then exploiting the vulnerabilities in your connections with everyone.

In my case, I was accused of ruining my manipulator’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend, forcing them apart, and subsequently shattering their happiness. This manipulation had me trapped in a never-ending cycle of guilt and anxiety. They employed emotional manipulation tactics, such as gaslighting, to blur the lines between truth and falsehood, ultimately pushing me into a state of constant turmoil.

Understanding and recognizing emotional manipulation are essential steps toward breaking free from its grasp. Once you realize that you’re caught in a manipulative web, it becomes possible to regain control of your life and rediscover your own identity.

Remember, you are not alone in your struggle to escape emotional manipulation. Seek support from friends, family, or professional therapists if necessary. Emotional manipulation can take a severe toll on your mental health, but with determination and support, you can break free and regain your life.

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