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Living with a Gaslighter by Helen Puk

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For 17 years I suffered trigeminal neuralgia physical pain that doctors could find no reason for. At points, I could barely get out to bed. There was no physical reason. I was sent for 3 CT scans, an MRI scan, and so many blood tests. It was embarrassing at path lab when they say, “Hi, you know the way lol..”

After going to a Chinese doctor for acupuncture, he said, “You will be ok if you get a job.” I was like, how can I work the pain is so severe? Now I understand him, he was very astute, he knew if I had a job I would get out of the toxic relationship. 

The relationship started 17 years ago after my first marriage had gone wrong and I had returned from the USA. Looking back I was pressured from day 1. He was an old Tai Chi student and asked if I would like to go out. For some reasons, my gut said no and so did I for many months. How I should have listened to my gut.

One night I was bored so said ok thinking, one night won’t hurt. This is how a psychopath has you, gently they draw you in. I believed his lies–why would he lie, this was always my logic. Looking back there doesn’t need to be a reason some people are just liars. Don’t get me wrong I am not bitter, it is all life lessons– just thought I would never be caught like that.

He pressured me into sex on the first date, saying he hadn’t had sex for 5 years and begging me. This was not me. Usually, I waited at least 6 or so months. I am not judging people that don’t. This was just my mentality. In retrospect again this is good manipulation as this put him in a stronger position to see me again. One night I said it was over after a couple of weeks and he said he would commit suicide if I left him. This was a consistent theme throughout the relationship. He asked a colleague to look after me and the girls because he was going to commit suicide. I later learned this was just an idle threat for manipulation.

Then the gaslighting began from the onset. In the house my daughter and I had moved into someone tried to break in, eggs were thrown at my car. He convinced me it was my ex-husband. Although on a previous break up with my ex nothing like this had occurred. When a convincing liar tells you something you believe it. On this basis, he convinced me to move in with him to escape the danger of the ex-husband with my daughter.

My health deteriorated and I stopped working, had another daughter. Interestingly I was not sick during my pregnancy but did get pre- and post-eclampsia. I believe on one of our first meetings he drugged me as I went home feeling very off -the-planet and I have never taken anything other than prescribed drugs.

My gut always told me to never leave either of my daughters with him. Only as a very last resort did I do this. I never felt like this with my previous husband. I guess people think they would know. That is one of the hardest things, you see I always thought I was a good judge of character. I knew he had depression and you see I don’t blame him as he had a traumatic childhood but living with a psycho has its price.

The gaslighting occurred regularly with things going missing and turning up after 6 or so months. I blamed my daughter or her friends but strangely never him, how foolish I feel now. We had a tree full of cherries, and he’d come back from the garden and said they had all disappeared and blame the old lady that lived next door? It was like he got a kick out of telling these tall stories and I foolishly believed them. Necklaces rings went missing and turned up after months. After moving to another house, things carried on. My friend’s bracelets turned up in the back of the food cupboard a few months after the visit. All the spades in the garden went missing for months and then reappeared. I had an argument with my Father and then I had a series of punctures which he blamed my father for.

If we didn’t agree with his views, the verbal abuse was awful to the point that both of my children admit to a bad fear of men now. Funny, four of us searched for his credit card to go on holiday for 3 days. My daughter, her boyfriend, me and my other daughter, we turned the place upside down, checked pockets, etc. It mysteriously turned up in his pocket after security in the airport. He went to the toilet, put his hand in his pocket, and there it was. He said it was the security services that he was convinced spied on us because of his important job. This was his excuse when I caught someone following me. He was so obsessed with his own grandeur.

The gaslighting extended to his brother that he took a dislike to. The brother would spend time with us and he got jealous. The brother ended up having a mental break down due to the gaslighting. Each day he would return and the fridge had been turned down, the boiler flooded, doors would be left unlocked. He had problems with his car.

You see he always followed a pattern. Quite often we would return home and the door would be open or left unlocked. He convinced us it was spirits or security services. Why not put cameras up? you ask. We spent hundreds on cameras and they had mysteriously been switched off when the incidences occurred. Again you can guess who was blamed.

This unsettlement and maybe what he put in the food had its toll on my health and both my daughters. My youngest later revealed she had hated her father since she was 7 and wished he would leave. It came to the point she was throwing up 3 times a week and had stomach cramps. My eldest also had bad stomach problems, both I believe to be stress induced. The dog went missing 3 times in a space of 3 months and found on a local dual carriageway 8 miles away after 20 minutes of going missing. He is a tiny Shitzu, not a racing dog.

The incidences are too numerous to name but the major problems started when I set up a meditation centre. They got to a point there was at least 1 a week. In 3 months I went through 8 tires with nails in. I went to the Mercedes garage when my wheel was making a funny noise. The mechanic was really worried and told me to contact the police as the car had had an old second-hand tire of a people-carrier put on it recently. He had told me when it was in the Mercedes garage 2 weeks previously it had had a new tire, but the guy checked the records and the tires were fine 2 weeks previous. This was a 6-month-old car.

He withheld money at Christmas or birthdays saying we were short to make the time less enjoyable. He punished us if we argued with him by switching the internet off.

I asked him to move out and he said he could not afford it even though he was earning 12k a month so he moved into the log cabin in the garden as both my daughters were very sick from stress.

We had one-way footsteps in the snow from the field next to our house to the back door. The next day we had them to the side door I awoke in the night to hear the shower going.

The final straw was the day the electrician came in as the sockets were not working. OMG, he said, “Who has touched your switchboard?” I was too embarrassed to say he had looked at it a few days ago. Please realise he had done an electrical apprenticeship in his teens and rewired several houses. The electrician said, “How you have not had a fire is beyond me and whoever it is would be up for manslaughter. Also, the smoke alarm was removed.” 

I don’t know why this incident but suddenly I realised we were going to die if he didn’t go. I reported it to the police after my daughter pleaded with me but he was very clever to never leave any evidence. Not sure what it is being an empath you feel you don’t want to bring shame on them and come up with excuses. It is very hard to accept or believe someone would do this to you or your children.

He was bullied by his elder sibling as a child so I guess this behaviour started as a way to punish him and moved on to others. He shows no remorse and denied his actions. He would throw out anything we liked as punishment.

People would say, “Put up security cameras that are secret,” but his job is IT security for the government.  It would be picked up a mile off.

Anyway, our health has improved and I wake up every morning grateful to be out of that toxic sinister relationship. He left me with a £7000 tax bill as he used my tax code, but, hey, a small price to pay for your peace.


Helen’s Bio:

I am a Tai Chi teacher and a Mindfulness teacher. This was my sort of being caught by a narcissist after a divorce. My empathetic nature and open-mindedness made me a target. It has been an amazing journey and without my training, I am not sure I would have come out so positive. I hope this article gives an insight into the mind of a narcissist and gaslighter and how easy it is to become prey to it. I am so grateful for my friends and my training to bring me out the other side.

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