It’s a little bit ironic, but my mother is the person who first introduced me to the 1944 film Gaslight. She and I never had a particularly close relationship, but for several years, we watched old movies from the local library.
It was the only thing we really did together. Growing up, we were very poor. My mother never had a paying job and instead relied upon welfare and subsidised housing.
She mostly just asked me to stay in my room.
Mia explains the term gaslighting and how to know if it's happening to you. Post continues below.
It’s funny. Now, when I watch the movie Gaslight, I can’t help but be enraged at all of the red flags I missed when I was young. If you’re acquainted with the film, then you already know the husband was a suspicious man long before he married Ingrid Bergman’s character. As a child and teen, I couldn’t see that, however. All I saw was my poor mother who’d been victimised and abused for her whole life.
Like a lot of women, I have a complicated relationship with my mother. But although we were never really friendly, I trusted her to want the best for me.
For a long time, I saw her as the most unselfish person I’d ever known. She pointed out everything she’d ever done or "given up for me," and I felt guilty for even being born.
As I got a bit older, interacting with my mum left me feeling like I couldn’t breathe. Of course, I thought it was all my fault. For so many years, my mum told me that I was becoming more and more rebellious every day. I was a monster, she said.
My mum spent years hammering it into my head that I was going to hell if I didn’t do exactly as she told me. At the same time, she taught me to see her as a perpetual victim.
Often, I was her abuser, she said.
My mother insisted that I was her abuser every time I saw my father, or anytime I spent time with him and my sister. I’d come home, and she’d ask me what we’d said about her.