Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome to The Gaslight Effect podcast. I'm Robin Stern, co-founder and associate director of the Yale Center For Emotional Intelligence, and author of the bestselling book, The Gaslight Effect. I'm an educator and a psychoanalyst, but first and foremost, I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, aunt, and healer. And just like many of you, I was a victim of gaslighting. Please join me for each episode as I interview fascinating guests and explore the concept of gaslighting. You'll learn what it truly means to be gaslighted, how it feels, how to recognize it, and how to understand it, and ultimately how to get out of it.
Dr. Robin Stern: Before we begin, I want you to know that talking about gaslighting can bring up challenging and painful emotions. Give yourself permission to feel them. Some of you may wanna go more deeply with your emotions. While some of you may hold them more lightly, no matter what you're feeling, know that your emotions are a guide to your inner life. Your emotions are sacred and uniquely you respect and embrace them for they have information to give you. If you want to listen to other episodes of The Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find them at robinstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for being here with me. Welcome to The Gaslight Effect podcast. I'm thrilled that this episode is all about Alyssa Haray and her relationship with gaslighting. Thank you, Alyssa, for joining me today. Please tell the audience a little bit about who you are and how you came to this podcast. Why, why did you say yes?
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having me, Robin. It, it means a lot to me. Um, I guess I can start with why I said yes. Um, I wasn't aware that I was in a gaslighting relationship, um, pretty much until we met and I knew that it had a label on it. I just thought it was a normal thing. It was just part of my life. Um, I think the hardest part too is that it's with a parent, so it's not, at least what I've experienced, what other people typically go through. So it's slightly different for me. Um, and again, I, I think the biggest thing is that I've just grown up my whole life with it, and I thought it was normal until I realized that it wasn't. Um, but a little bit about me is, um, I work in sales, I manage sales managers. So, um, I've been in that industry for a really long time. I really enjoy it. I love working with people. I love working with customers. So that's just a little bit about my professional life. But, um, yeah, I've decided to say yes because I hope that this makes somebody else's life a little bit easier, and it, it definitely makes mine a little bit easier to talk about it. As painful as it is.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you for being that generous. And, um, and I know it will be very meaningful for our listening audience. So, this thing that is called gaslighting and, uh, The Gaslight Effect, which you have struggled with and suffered from, what, how did you recognize that that's what it was? What were you experiencing that led you to connect it to gaslighting when you heard about what gaslighting was?
Alyssa Haray: Yeah, good question. I think, um, again, I, I'd mentioned that it just seemed like a, this is a normal parent relationship. So, uh, the backstory that I've grown up living with my mother, my parents are divorced, so I never lived with my father. I do have a relationship with him, but I primarily lived with my mom. Um, and I didn't really pick up on a lot of the, you know, things that she would say or do it, it never identified as anything to, oh, that's just how my mom is, or, oh, that's just what our relationship is. Um, but when I read things about, you know, oh, you know, I never said that, or You're crazy, like you're being sensitive. That one in particular, I literally grew up. I'm now 30, and I grew up thinking I am a extremely oversensitive person. I take things too personally.
Alyssa Haray: Um, I'm too emotional. Uh, it wasn't me. It was how I took something. And that just never registered to me that it's, that's not reality, right? That's not it. It's actually okay. My feelings are valid. Um, and that really struck with me pretty recently when I read, you know, those behaviors are, that's being gaslit, and I just never put two and two together. Um, and I think the other big one for me was, you know, not getting validation for, for things that I was doing or, um, yeah, just the biggest was hearing, you know, that it, it was my fault for how I was feeling.
Dr. Robin Stern: So how were you feeling when you heard all the time that, um, things were your fault or you were too sensitive, or just that your feelings weren't right? Feelings in some way or another that was communicated to you?
Alyssa Haray: I stopped communicating them. Um, I think that was the biggest thing was every time I would say, you know, oh, you hurt my feelings, or, you know, I don't think that was really nice of you to say that. Um, it got shut down so much. So I just learned not to do it. Um, and, and a lot of aspects, right? And work and personal relationship. I just bottled things up or kept things to myself. I was good at being alone, so I stopped bringing up those things because I felt like every time I would say, you know, you hurt my feelings, or, I don't like that you said that to me. Um, or that made me feel badly. It got almost auto rejected every single time. So it, it gets to a point that you just stop saying it, and then when something feels really badly, then you're like, okay, yeah, that was a big one.
Alyssa Haray: Let me say something. And then you say it and the reaction is, I never said that. And then you're sitting there and you're like, I'm almost so angry that I can burst. I'm like, you, you just said that, right? We just had that argument. No, I never said that. Or, it's not my fault. You took it the wrong way. I didn't mean it like that when there's, you know, there's some statements you can say that there's no room for gray, right? There's, there's no other way to mean that you just mean it. Um, so yeah, I, I just, I stopped responding. I just kind of took it and moved forward.
Dr. Robin Stern: Would you be willing to share an example of one of those statements that was, um, so clear that you couldn't misinterpret it?
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. Um, when I graduated college, I was the first one in my family and my degree when I came home. I was living with my mom for maybe a couple of months after I had graduated and my degree came to the house and I expressed my feelings that I was upset that she hadn't opened my degree or taken it out or wanted to get it hung. And to me, that was pretty black and white, right? It was sitting on a, you know, consult table, just collecting dust. And I said, you know, my feelings are hurt that you never wanted to frame my degree. And the response that I heard back was, I don't know why you're being so sensitive about that. I didn't know that you wanted it hung, what's the big deal? That seemed really black and white to me. Right? That's a really big accomplishment. And it felt like I couldn't, I couldn't get her to say, I'm proud of you, or I wanna hang it to her. It was like, I don't understand what the problem is. And it was so black and white to me that that's a, that's a very big deal and you're not making it a big deal. And that's kind of where I started to identify some larger problems.
Dr. Robin Stern: It was a v very big deal. It is a very big deal that you worked so hard and achieved that. And I'm so sorry that your mom didn't respond the way you needed her to, the way you would anyone would hope a mom would respond. How did that leave you feeling?
Alyssa Haray: I just felt alone. Um, I felt really unsupported. I had a really difficult time through college. There was a lot of factors going on with my brother and my mom and, you know, finances. And I felt almost alone. Like, because I was responsible, because I was doing the right thing, um, that it almost didn't matter. Like, oh, I don't have to worry about you so you can just, you know, go on. Um, but I, I wanted to hear that validation from her that I was doing something that made her proud, but instead all I could hear was, you know, your brother needs help, or this is going on with your other brother. And it always overshadowed because I was quote unquote the responsible one. Um, and I still am, bad dynamics still exist. Um, and I'm the youngest one. So it sometimes gets, it gets a lot to bear that burden that my brother's problems are, you know, almost more important than me either not having a problem or my problem's not as important as what my brothers go through.
Dr. Robin Stern: It sounds like you grew up with a lot of labels. Yeah. You were too sensitive. You are the responsible one. And, um, labeling rather than connecting with you
Alyssa Haray: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern:
Alyssa Haray: And I think the older that I get, the more I'm almost leaned on like a, like I'm one of her sisters or friends instead. So it almost continues that, you know, what she's going through is more important than what I have going on. Or very simply, you know, if she calls me, I will never, ever hear, how are you doing today? Or, how was your workday? You know, if I tell her I had a really stressful day or I went through something, it's always, yeah, I know. But I went through this today that's almost a, a confident of what our conversations sound like now.
Dr. Robin Stern: So here you are now in a healthy relationship because I happen to know you're wonderful.
Alyssa Haray: Yes. It's, it's very fresh for me.
Dr. Robin Stern: And what do you think about that?
Alyssa Haray: I think the hardest part is that he was part of the reason why I was identified. Right? Um, it was pretty clear, very upfront, um, that that was what was going on. You know, we'd moved away, so we'd been not physically near my mom for a while, and I think that helped a lot. Um, I also watched the dynamic between his parents and, you know, my relationship with his mother. And I knew like, well, granted, I'm not her actual daughter, right? This is so different. And I never knew that's what a healthy relationship looked like. And I was just aw, that that's what a connection between a parent and child should look like. Especially when you're, you know, a child is an adult now. Um, and like granted I have a very great relationship with them, but then, you know, something, it just like a light bulb went off of like weight.
Alyssa Haray: That's why I do that is because of my relationship with her. Right. Um, you know, if we get into, you know, something that bothered me, I can't tell him immediately that it bothered me or that he hurt my feelings. Um, and that was something that we learned really early on. He wants to talk about something right away. And I almost immediately realized like, I, I can't do that. I don't even have the function to do that because I can't tell if my feelings are even valid cuz that's how I grew up for so long. So it took me a long time to even say like, you hurt my feelings, or, I don't like that you said that to me. Um, and yeah, those, those were the biggest things. And again, i, I just, I went through life thinking that was so normal for so long and I was just a sensitive person instead of just having valid feelings. So it's very fresh to identify that it's okay, I'm not a sensitive person. I have very valid feelings for things that are not right. Um, and it makes me upset sometimes that she, you know, she can still do it to me and then I get mad at myself for doing it. But I think that's the hardest part is how do you break that cycle and be kinder to yourself.
Dr. Robin Stern: Sounds like you've broken the cycle and still have the feelings.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah, I, I think I don't give myself enough credit, which is also something that I've identified that I, I do because of our relationship. Um, I'm very hard on myself, extremely hard on myself. So it's almost like I have to, you know, walk forward and then I say, okay, you know, you're valid, you're okay. It's not wrong that you feel like that, you know, get it out, say something. Um, but you know, even with accomplishments or you know, work, whatever the situation may be, I always think like, well that's not good enough. You should be here or you should be doing more. So I think I'm still in that part of the cycle, you know, it's okay to be upset, it's okay to have those feelings, but how do you, you know, move past that?
Dr. Robin Stern: So, so it sounds like part of what happens is that you have taken on your mother's voice, some of your mother's talk to you, and then you realize, no, wait a minute, it's okay to have feelings. So then you, you go in and counter some of that with a much better parenting on your part for yourself than, than you had, um, with her. What helped you to, to learn, uh, the difference between, um, that kind of trash talking to yourself and, um, the more empowering, positive, empathic talking to yourself?
Alyssa Haray: I think I do it to everybody else. I'm super empathetic to everybody else. And then I realize like, why don't I do that to myself? Like, you know, there are a lot of great things that I do, um, that I should celebrate. And I think the biggest thing is I have a career where things that I do really well get recognized very publicly. So it always makes me feel super supportive. Um, and I surrounded myself with people who bring me up rather than tear me down. Um, a lot of her behaviors come from her mother and her siblings, and it's why she does what she does is because that's how she grew up. And it's almost like she doesn't know any better. Um, and for me it was really important to break that cycle. So I don't really talk to her family. Um, I finally kind of cut off her mother and we no longer have a relationship and it was very hurtful.
Alyssa Haray: It was like mourning, but it's almost like you're free. You know? Like, I, I don't have to entertain that anymore. So I've surrounded myself with people who make me feel like a better person cuz I am a better person. So, um, I think it was that identification of, you know, you don't need to be near people just because they're family and you know, if a friend is not making you feel great about yourself, then why are you in that friendship? Like, why is that relationship something you're a part of? Um, so I've worked really hard to separate myself from those and surround myself by people who identify with what I believe in and what I need in my life.
Dr. Robin Stern: What you're saying is, is so important, um, not just for you, but for our listening audience because when you realize that you're in a relationship with a boyfriend, girlfriend, um, friend, uh, and it's a gaslighting relationship, as difficult as it is, at some point you can decide to break free, but the bonds of family are such that it's so much harder, so much harder that your family is, you are of your family. And so how do you break free or even set limits? How do you get to the point where you realize I have to do this? Was there a a breaking point for you where you said, I've gotta do this?
Alyssa Haray: Absolutely. Um, you know, my relationship with my dad's set of family is much different. Uh, extremely different. Um, we're very close. Everybody is super uplifting and just what I always want a family to feel like, and her side of the family had never felt like that. Um, and my grandparents on my father's side has passed and one of them had passed most recently. And it, it was almost like a clarifying moment for me that it's okay not to give into these relationships if they make you feel badly about yourself. And I know I'm not a bad person. I have no one ill intention in my body, and I know that,
Dr. Robin Stern: How do you know?
Alyssa Haray: Because I would never wanna see somebody hurt. I would never wanna say something that would hurt somebody's feelings or make them feel less of themselves. Like, I wanna hear somebody else's problems. I wanna, you know, hug them through something. I'm a very loving person in that way, so I know that I don't act with the intention to make, make somebody hurt. Um, and I think that's a big difference. There are things that people can say that you absolutely know that was intended to hurt somebody's feelings, and I don't act like that. I'm nowhere near that. And a lot of her family is, or maybe they don't realize they are, I'm not really sure which one it is, but, um, they're essentially bullies. If I had to, you know, put a label on them and I just decided that family or not, like, I don't have to listen to these things and I don't want to, right?
Alyssa Haray: Like every time I leave a conversation from them, I'm in tears or, you know, I'm saying, wow, that made me feel so bad. Like, I feel terrible right now. Um, and I think most of it too was, you know, that starts to come out in my partnership, right? Like, my partner feels that when, you know, somebody in my family is doing or saying something that they shouldn't, that weighs on him. And I don't want to add stress, unwanted stress into our relationship from somebody else. So for me it was almost like, you can't treat me that way and I won't tolerate it anymore. So I, I think my, my grandmother passing was really the identifying part where I realized like, they're just not nice.
Dr. Robin Stern: So Was, was Doug a an important part of your, um, making that decision and your being able to trust yourself and being able to see like a different world out there?
Alyssa Haray: Oh, absolutely. Um, he would never tell me, you know, Hey, you have to cut this person off, or, you know, I, I don't want you, you shouldn't talk to them or anything, but he listens so well and he has such a clear cut of, you know, no, that's, you know, that's not normal or they shouldn't be doing that to you. They shouldn't be saying that to you. Um, and I think he's given me the validation I need to, to stand up and say, no, you're right. I don't deserve that. There's no reason I need to tolerate that in a relationship. Um, I'm not a hundred percent a confrontational person and if I am going to con confront you about something, it has to be very well thought out for me. Um, I wanna be able to think about something before I say something. But when you're dealing with people with Gaslight, it also comes back very quickly.
Alyssa Haray: You know, I never said that or I never did that. That's not the reality. And you have to like
Dr. Robin Stern: Oh, it's so interesting. Thank you for sharing so much of, of yourself with, with me and with us. Um, and what I was thinking as you were talking was that in, in a relationship that you get into as an adult, and when I was studying Gaslight, um, through my practice, identified three stages that people went through. First you don't really believe what's going on, then you're in defense of it all the time and defending yourself and proving and ruminating and, and then you are ultimately in depression. But when you grow up mm-hmm.
Alyssa Haray: Yep.
Dr. Robin Stern: You grew up in, in that kind of way where she was constantly undermining your trust in yourself and your belief in who you were.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. It's hard because it, it doesn't end right. Um, she did it last weekend to me and I caught it and I'm standing there and I'm listening to her and I'm just staring at her like, are we for doing this again? And it's almost like I I, you know, if you cut it off right then I don't have a relationship with my mother, which isn't what I want and that's not fair to me. Um, but if I continue, then I'm stuck here listening to this and I'm like, this isn't warranted. Right? And, and it's something very simple. Um, a again, a situation with her had come up and it was, you know, I change work schedules. I now work Monday through Friday. So she comes by the house on Saturday and she goes into this whole story about my brother then stops and says, why are you, why are you not working today?
Alyssa Haray: And I said, Hey, you know, we talked about this. No we didn't. We never spoke about that. You never told me that. Why didn't you tell me that? Did you not tell me that intentionally? Did you not want me to know that you were off this weekend? And I'm sitting there like, what, why would I not want you to know that? And I'm thinking to myself like, what? And I'm like, no, I absolutely told you that. We had a whole conversation about it the other day. So I just looked at her and I said, I thought we talked about this, right? Like, I'm not gonna apologize. So I've learned that I've learned to stop apologizing to her for something that she is forgetting and choosing to blame me for. But then it went back to the conversation and, you know, we were having to talk after and it's like, how do you keep going through this? And sometimes the answer is, I don't know,
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. And it's so much not about who's right or who's wrong in an argument, but ultimately about, especially when you know, you're right, it's really about how you feel. Mm-hmm.
Alyssa Haray: Um, I've learned to identify a lot of what I need for myself, right? I'm a, I'm a person who needs a lot of alone time. So I've learned to maybe not cut her off, but if she calls so much and I'm feeling like she's in this mood where it's just too much and everything is too down and she's making me feel worse, I'll say, you know, mom, like, I'm just having one of those weeks. I really need, I really need some time. I'll call you when I'm feeling better. Um, and then she, it, it almost like snapped her. Oh, right. She's, she's a human being too. She has ups and down days, um, and sometimes that, that makes her reach out even more. And she's like, what's going on? Are you okay? Talk to me. Talk to me. And I have to just identify to her, I'm, I'm not in a state that I'm ready to talk to somebody or, you know, I try to identify something that she would recognize, right?
Alyssa Haray: Like, do you ever have those days where you just don't wanna talk to anybody? You just need to feel silent for a day. And she goes, yeah, of course. Great. That's the day I'm having right now. I'll call you when I'm feeling better. Um, I found that that has helped. And I think as sad as it is, is is removing her part in it. So really making it about me so she can understand like, this isn't about you. I'm not pointing a finger at you. I'm not saying it's your fault, I'm just telling you this is what I need right now. Um, seeing her in person, I think I've been able to separate sometimes, like maybe Warners just her and I when we hang out or, you know, that has lessened slightly, but it just depends on my energy level and what I can give at the time. And I've gotten a lot better about being strict about that. Right? Like it's my energy space and I need to protect that. Um, but I find if I'm upfront with her about it, it becomes a little easier. But I, again, if it's something that she did that upset me, um, sometimes I need to wait to say it. Or sometimes I don't say it at all. But I'm not as angry about it anymore. Cuz I understand that she just can't help herself. She cannot identify being responsible for hurting somebody's feeling.
Dr. Robin Stern: So your understanding and, and perhaps even compassion for her limits has been helpful for you. I think that's really important and thank you for sharing that. And also very helpful to hear how you opt out of those conversations that end up going nowhere. Right. You know, noticing that you've no point in saying certain things because not gonna get you anywhere. But then setting the boundary by saying, I need to leave this conversation for whatever reason.
Alyssa Haray: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern: So why do you stay?
Alyssa Haray: Um, because I know it's not her fault. Um, I know her mother and I know how she would raise and I just, I feel for her, like I know what she does to me and I can identify it now, but I know what she's been through from her own parents and her own siblings and she's still going through it and it's a million times harder than what I've gone through. But she's not in a state of recognizing it. Like she can't see through it. She just thinks that it's normal. And as much as I try to even help her identify, you know, you're in the same relationship with your mother, except it's almost worse. And I don't wanna not have a relationship with her because it's not her fault. She's a product of her own environment. And then I'm a product of that environment. But I can break that cycle for myself and my future kids. But she's not at a point in her life yet where she can recognize it. Or maybe she doesn't wanna recognize it, but she is a, she does not have a great relationship with her mother. Her mother's almost a million times worse.
Dr. Robin Stern: So you have a very loving heart and, and you're so compassionate and, um, you are saying that you are staying because it's not her fault. Are you getting any needs met by having a relationship with your mom?
Alyssa Harray: Um, yes and no. Um, I think there's still things that I really wish that she would do or hope that she would do. And it's not there and I'm not sure she can even ever recognize it. But I also know what she gave us and how hard her life was and how far she's come in her own life. And I'm proud of her for that. And she's done so much for, you know, me and my brothers, that I don't think it's fair to set a boundary of, I don't wanna speak to you because of something that she can't help herself. Um, I think eventually she can help it, but she's still in a place where she's seeking approval from her mother that I don't think she's ever gonna get. Um, and she watches her mother's relationship with her children be extremely toxic and, you know, that makes it worse for her.
Alyssa Haray: So she's, she's still in that spot of, again, she's seeking all this acceptance that she's never gonna get, but she's done so much for us and she's given up a lot and she's come, like I said, so much further in her life than I think she ever thought. So I think it's important to celebrate her for the things that she does do right? Cuz she does do things that make me feel good about myself. Um, they're not as often as I would like, but they still exist and I still have, you know, memories of things of, you know, I I would never want her to think that she's a bad mother because of it.
Dr. Robin Stern: You're incredibly generous and as I said, loving. And, um, what are some of those really nice memories? You have some of those, um, memories you're so grateful to have?
Alyssa Haray: Um, she's a very, uh, when she's in a very great mood. She's a very goofy person. Um, she loves holidays, a lot of big holiday traditions. Um, birthdays were always a big thing for her. And, um, she does have these really defining moments where she can just sit so clearly and say, I'm really proud of you. Um, they're not very often, but when she does have them, I can feel them. But I know that if I needed anything she would literally give me the shirt off of her back. Um, she's a very compassionate person too. I just don't think she recognizes how much she has in her. Um, but she's taught me a lot of things that, you know, you would want to have in a relationship with your mother. Right. Um, you share a lot of great stories, a lot of, you know, vacations growing up. A lot of traditions, like I said. Um, she was always super supportive of what I wanted to do in life that never, you know, she never discouraged me from that. Um, she always wanted me to have better and she never ever let me forget that. She would always tell me like, I, I want you to have everything that you ever want in life. Um, and I think that's really important. Cause I know there are people who don't get that with their parents. So there's a lot of things that she does give
Dr. Robin Stern: Mm-hmm.
Alyssa Haray: Um, I think I had other people in my life during that time, and I still do that helped me pull me out of that. Um, you know, my dad was great in that area, wasn't always around for that, but if I needed just an open conversation to speak, he'd always be there. Um, I had my stepfather for a really long time, um, and he was able to see very clearly, you know, things that she would do, um, identified some of the things that she would say or how she would say it. And again, I think the hardest part that we ever went through when I was in college, which is a really defining time in someone's life, that was when our relationship struggled the most. Um, and I had a, a really difficult time in college because of it. And, you know, he was, he was all part of that, you know, just that confidence and you're doing the right thing and you're a good person and you know, there's nothing wrong with the decisions that you're making and you should be deciding to do things just for you and nobody else. And I think that helps solidify my confidence a lot at that age was no, I he, he's right. I that's true. That's right. Um, and it was really helpful because I was not home. I was away at school, so it really helped to separate that. Um, but I think if I didn't have that relationship, you know, I don't think I'd be leaving school as confident as I was or, you know, maybe I wouldn't have even made it through school. I'm, I'm not really sure.
Dr. Robin Stern: Have you told him, um, how pivotal he was and your You have
Alyssa Haray: Tell me. I have, yes. Um, so they actually got divorced when I was in college, and I'm not surprised by that. Um, you know, I was old enough to know what was going on in their marriage and, you know, their relationship with their relationship. And I always made that very clear to him was your relationship with her is your marriage, and it's separate than our relationship together. Um, and I choose to continue to have a relationship with my stepfather because he's an extremely supportive person and a lot of different, you know, senses. Um, and I, I tell him that all the time and I think especially now as I get older, and I, and I really kind of recognize some of the things that he gave to me. And it has nothing to do with money or gifts or anything, just the, the time and the appreciation and the relationship and, you know, he doesn't have children.
Alyssa Haray: So that was all very brand new to him was to have, you know, three stepkids, um, um, older. And, you know, again, I was the youngest. So yeah, I shared pretty early that I had no idea what I would do without him, especially in college. But as I grew up too, it was, it was, was like having a, a sounding board that I never knew I needed until I was finally out of it and then realized, wow, what would I, what would I have done if he wasn't around during that time? I have no idea.
Dr. Robin Stern: Was he also gaslighted?
Alyssa Haray: I would believe so. Um, again, their relationship wasn't perfect and there was a lot of factors that went into that. Um, but I very much believed that, you know, she would say similar things to him and if she said something, um, you know, no one ever said that, or, you know, I don't know why you're feeling like that. I had nothing to do with it. That's your problem that you feel like that I think she does it to most of her relationships.
Dr. Robin Stern: You were so lucky to have him, as you well know.
Alyssa Haray: Yes. Very, very much. Still. Um,
Dr. Robin Stern: And with your mom, do you, um, was thinking about this when you were talking about her mom mm-hmm.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah, absolutely. Um, I, I have tried when she most recently brought up a situation with her mother, um, I think it's another black and white example. So my 30th birthday was last month, and her mother did not have birthday. Thank you. Um, her mother did not contact me. Her mother did not say anything. I did not say anything back to her or out reach out to her. Um, and my mother had asked me, Hey, did you know, did grandma say happy birthday? And I said, no, I haven't, I haven't spoken to her. Um, that obviously upset my mom. And she had reached out and said like, you know, you forgot Alyssa's 30th birthday. Like, did you wish her a happy birthday? Did you say anything? And my grandmother went on the defense, and again, these are in text messages, so they're very black and white. Um, and she blatantly said, your daughter does. Your daughter doesn't want anything to do with me.
Alyssa Haray: And you know, my mom didn't acknowledge that. She just said, well, why wouldn't you say happy birthday? And then she went on a social media site, said, happy birthday. I chose not to react or respond to it. Um, and she completely deleted me off of everything. And I said to my mom, you know, I'm too old for this, right? Like, I'm not gonna deal. That's something a a, a child would do. Or, you know, a teenager, like, I'm 30 years old, this is supposed to be my only living grandparent. Like, I'm not going through this. That was the solidifying relationship part for me. And I said, you know, I feel sorry that you have to deal with a mother like that who does things like that to you. Um, she read me the messages of them trying to, you know, her trying to tell her, you hurt my feelings by hurting my daughter's feelings, or not paying attention or saying something about her birthday.
Alyssa Haray: And my grandmother immediately flipped it on my mom and me, and it was everybody else's fault except for her saying, Hey, you know what? I take responsibility. I did not reach out to her for her birthday. And you know, I just, I, I blatantly said to my mom, like, mom, that is the definition of gaslighting right there. Your mother is gaslighting you right now. You feel like you did something to warrant her not reaching out for your daughter's birthday. That's not right. That's very not, that's not right. Um, I've tried to get her to go to therapy, but I think therapy only works if you want it to work. And if you're going to work through those issues, it's very emotional and it's hard, but you have to put yourself in that position. Um, and she's just not there. I, I think she can't accept the fact that her mother chooses to say things like that. Um, or maybe she even recognizes that she does it and she's not ready to admit, oh my God, I'm turning into my mother. I have turned into my mother in, in some aspects. And I, I think that's the biggest thing that she's afraid to admit. It's like that behavior is translated to her and she doesn't want to have to say like, I do something that my mother does. I think that makes her feel shame.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. Shame is something that keeps people very locked in to guess. Mm-hmm. Ships, you know, I'm ashamed that I could do something like that. When people find out, you know, this is gaslighting that you've been doing. Oh my God. Um, even if they're not prepared to stop it, maybe feeling shame that they're engaged in it to begin with. When they can let that ray of light in or, and shame on the other side that, that you're in it, how can, how can you put up with things like that? Right. Like, how can she put up with that from her mom? And yet you well know there are things you get, there are things you get from having a mom to talk to Yep. That, um, that you want. Certainly you still want things from your mom. And it sounds like there are, there have been many things that you've gotten from your mom. Maybe she can say the same about her mom and maybe she can, I don't know.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. Yeah. I, I agree. I think that's the biggest thing. I, I think she feels shame and I think that's what holds her back. And I think it's, it's really hard for her to self-identify. It's extremely hard for her.
Dr. Robin Stern: It's hard, it's hard work, right. Hard work to feel your feelings, even when you're calling up feelings from years ago. It's hard.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. It's, it's uncomfortable. And I think in a parenting situation it makes you feel worse because, you know, she doesn't quite do this to my brothers. It, it seems to be just our relationship. Um, and I think that's because, you know, my grandmother doesn't have sons. She just has daughters. So it makes sense that it's continued to me, but not my brothers. Um, but I also think their relationships are different. My brothers are, you know, older but younger in the sense that they need her for more. And I think that makes her feel wanted where I tend to be more independent. And I think that sometimes comes off as, you know, she takes it as, I don't need you for something.
Dr. Robin Stern: It is interesting that, um, likely you were as independent as you were just because you had to be. Right. Yeah. Not that you don't have also an independent spirit, but a lot of the way she treated you said, I'm not getting too bad. Right.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah.
Dr. Robin Stern: So when you think about becoming a mom, how do you think about that?
Alyssa Haray: Um, I think I thought for a really long time that I would be a bad mom. I think, you know, we talk about like how hard I am at myself, right? You know, I need to be in a certain place in my life or I need to have a certain amount of things done. But I think the biggest thing for me was I never wanted children up until a certain age. Cuz I wouldn't feel like I'd done enough in my life yet. Um, anything twofold, right? Like, that's not right. You don't have to be in a certain place per se. I don't think anyone ever really feels ready to have children. You just know I either want children or I don't. Um, and I always knew I wanted children, but I wanted to be in a better spot with myself before I thought about having children.
Alyssa Haray: Cause I would never want to make a child feel like that, you know, that there's a lot of things that my mom did that I absolutely loved. But I think that there were a lot of things that, like you said, forced me to be a certain way that if I can go back and change some of them, I probably would. Or I'm working on changing right now and I wanna learn to be different about that when I have children. Um, so I, I, you know, put that pressure that, you know, I needed to wait till a certain time until I felt like I was ready or it made sense. But I never wanted to emotionally put that onto a child until I felt better about myself. It was really important for me to feel that. And I think my partner's relationship with his parents was really clear.
Alyssa Haray: Like, my relationship is not like that. And when I look to, you know, how I would want to be with a child, you know, with my partner and, you know, just with me and a child, like, I want that to look differently and I need to heal myself before I decide to do that. Um, but I also think, you know, I spent a long time thinking like, could I even have kids? Like, am I gonna be a good mother? And I think a lot of the time that's, that's what I think I, i, I doubt myself and how I'd be able to raise a child in terms of emotional intelligence. I think I think of that, not the physical part of it. I think about actually emotionally raising a child. Like am I strong enough to do that? And I think I doubted that for a really long time.
Dr. Robin Stern: And now,
Alyssa Haray: Now, no. Um, I think I've healed a lot, um, and I've learned a lot. Um, and I'm really good about self-identifying things and I think I just needed to learn that I was. But I think I spent a lot of my twenties not knowing that. Um, so it was daunting, right? Like everybody is having kids and I'm like, I don't feel emotionally ready to have children. And I think that's a really big deciding factor. Um, now it's very much different. I'm a lot kinder to myself and I'm proud of how far I've gotten and how far I know I'm gonna go and things that I've been able to accomplish. So I feel emotionally in a totally different spot now when I think about having children.
Dr. Robin Stern: Well, I've only known you for a short time, but I think you're gonna be such a great mom. Thanks. Full of abundance and, and love and generosity and compassion. I think you're gonna be just a great mom. And just the way you parent yourself now with kindness and compassion and curiosity. I know you'll parent your children in the same way. Might have a few moments.
Alyssa Haray: Well, yeah.
Dr. Robin Stern: But we all do. Yeah.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah, I agree. It's
Dr. Robin Stern: About being involved and about being empathic and, and seeing your kids for who they are and giving them the space to become who they will become.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. I think it's always emotional to talk about it. Gabby and I were talking about this before you got in. Um, it never feels good to, you know, I don't, I guess label it as traumatic cuz it it is, it's very traumatic. And I think the other part is, is, um, I don't want my mom to feel judged. I think that was the hardest part for me was I know if she heard this, it would be really hard for her to hear it, but I can't let that take away from how I feel as a person. But I also maybe hope like she would get help. Right. You know, she hasn't soughted help for herself and that makes me feel terrible that she lives so deeply in these feelings. And like I said, her relationship with her mothers way deeper and it's 10 times worse. Um, but I never want people to, you know, think badly of my mom. Um, because I mean, we've talked about this before, people who gaslight, um, they don't go into it, you know, wanting to be mean and wanting to be intentional, at least in, in this form of a gaslight relationship. And at least in my situation, um, I know she doesn't go into it needing to be mean. Um, so I think it makes it harder.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. It's not a question of blame like you, it, it's really a question of impact. Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern: Very often when I see people, especially if, um, they're young enough or, um, they, I have occasion to meet their parents, they say things like, I don't want my my daughter or my son to end up hating me. And, you know, it's just not, and I always say, it's not about blaming you. You are who you are and you are a product of your family as well. And, and you obviously did the best you could, but it had an impact. Whatever you did had an impact and your child is here because they were impacted and are impacted by, um, your parenting. So I think that holding onto that will help you in your own mind think about why you said yes. You know, it's not like you're here to, um, have everybody thinking, oh, she was a terrible mother. It's like you're telling your story. Yeah. It's healing for so many and it's so generous of you really, and especially because it is painful to dredge that up.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. It's extremely, and I think there, you know, there are other examples I could have given to show like what that cycle feels like or, you know, continuous, but you know, the, the basis is mostly the, the denial of feelings. And when you do have the feelings, it's, you know, you, you're just so sensitive and you really do, like, you grew up this whole time and you're like, it's one of the first things you tell people. It's like, yeah, I'm a sensitive, you know, I'm a really sensitive person. Then it's like, you must have be like, oh, I spent this last decade in a lie. Right? That's not even true. I have very valid feelings. It doesn't make me sensitive. Or even if I did make, it makes me sensitive. Why is that wrong? And I grew up feeling that that was wrong
Dr. Robin Stern: And hopefully you are sensitive not only to your own feelings, but to other people's feelings. But that doesn't mean your feelings are not valid. Just because you're sensitive, it means you're better able to feel them better able to identify them, better able to identify other people's feelings.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. I think that was the biggest too, was identifying the things that I should be proud of that came out of that. And then the things that I know I wanna change, right? Like be kinder myself. You're too hard on yourself. Um, you know, set up the boundaries when those boundaries make sense. Be respectful of them. Don't break them down because you feel like you have to, but you know, you know, writing helps me a lot. I just write these things out of, you know, telling myself that I'm proud of myself for a lot of things and I think that helps me.
Dr. Robin Stern: I think that's a fantastic strategy. I think it's a fantastic strategy and, and yes, you have walked away with a lot of learning mm-hmm.
Alyssa Haray: Yeah. Absolutely.
Dr. Robin Stern: Amazing. Thank you Alyssa.
Alyssa Harray: Thank you, Robin. I really appreciate you.
Dr. Robin Stern: I'm so grateful to have you on this podcast and, and I know that people who are listening are going to learn so much and hopefully heal, feel less alone in their relationships. Thank you so much for coming. I know we'll talk again and I hope to have you back as a guest again.
Alyssa Haray: Darn good. Love that.
Dr. Robin Stern: To all the listeners, I know you're appreciating Alyssa and her generosity and her story, and thank you very much for coming to this podcast episode. And please join me for the next episode. And if you liked what you heard, please tell us on the website. Thank you for joining me for today's episode. I hope you found today's podcast helpful and meaningful. If you want to listen to other episodes of the Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find firstname.lastname@example.org or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the handle at Dr. Robin Stern. The Gaslight Effect podcast is brought to you by The Gaslight Effect Production Company. This podcast is produced by Ryan Changcoco, Mike Lens, and me. The podcast is supported by Mel Yellen, Gabby Caoagas and Suzen Pettit and Marcus Estevez from Omaginarium Marketing LLC.