Crazymaking. It sounds kind of fun, right? Like maybe we get to all cut loose, throw caution to the wind, and make ourselves some crazy! At first blush, count me in! The reality, unfortunately, is quite the opposite.
Crazymaking is emotional turmoil a partner inflicts on another with intent to manipulate the other person into feeling wrong and doubtful, in spite of being correct. There are many forms that range from subtle passive-aggressive behavior to manipulation. The "crazymaker's" mind games are intended to make the "crazymade" person doubt themselves and their sanity. It depicts my unnerved sense of reality in the early months of suspicions and discovery of my husband's infidelity.
Up was down, left was right, and forward was backward. I couldn't grasp facts fast enough as they were made to disappear. What should have been honest answers to my questions were warped in endless denials and false alibis. It resulted in feelings of guilt, nervousness, paranoia, and being apologetic for no good reason. To say I felt topsy-turvy would be an understatement. The second I heard the C-word from the mouth of a therapist and got an immediate sense of comfort, "there's a word for this! I knew I wasn't making this stuff up!"
I remember one moment vividly in which I knew I was officially crazymade. I was attempting to purchase a bagel and coffee on my way to meet with a new attorney. I was nervous; it was a big decision and I was on my own. At the point of purchase, my credit card was declined. My mind rapidly jumped to a learned-paranoia about a worst-case scenario of what my husband could have done. In a riveting 3-part series, I explained to the entire barista team and people in line that (1) my husband had cheated on me, (2) that I was on my way to meet with an attorney, (3) and that I was certain that my husband cancelled all my cards to prevent me from securing an attorney and he would some how find a way to blame me for it. Cue: jaws on floor. I had crossed about ten socially-appropriate boundaries in less than a minute.
Needless to say, I got a free bagel and coffee. People are so nice, right? As for my card--my husband didn't cancel it. In my betrayal trauma fog, I forgot to pay my bill and the company responded appropriately. I didn't give myself the chance to contemplate a more plausible answer and to make logical sense of what was happening.
In fact, it was impossible to make sense while I was crazymade. I was desperately trying to structure my people, places, events in an effort to act accordingly, but I couldn't at that point. It took finding out this definition to be able to spot it and regain my sense of confidence--to know what was right and wrong and to see the behaviors more readily. Importantly, to remove myself from them by keeping a healthy distance when I needed to.
I now see, with clarity that only hindsight brings, I was really hard on myself in that time. I didn't know what I didn't know and I wasn't very gentle with myself. As time clears the betrayal trauma fog, I know how important it is to listen to my gut, and above all, trust it.