The children were over, as usual, on Friday. My mother was due on Saturday. And, on the Friday night, we all had an early-ish night. I was asleep by about half ten. But the middlest was not. And he was winding himself up. He's been in a bit of tizz since Monday when we had a good night but he didn't want to play Pokemon and ended up sleeping in the following morning. I got him up but he was discombobulated and ended up having a mini-meltdown over being rushed to get ready and missing out on watching a video with me before I had to go to work on Monday. When he came back on Friday, despite the good evening, these feelings resurfaced.
But there was an additional feeling. He didn't want to wake me, as he feared I would be grumpy at being woken. So he texted Tilly, who was still awake. And then he worked himself up, texting her that he was "too scared" of me being "grumpy" and it got more and more heart-rending. Until Tilly tried to wake me, but I didn't hear the phone. Eventually the eldest came and woke me, handed me Tilly on the phone, and the middlest joined me in bed at midnight, and slept.
Come the morning the middlest went home early. When I went to pick him back up with the youngest, Tilly was waiting outside. She explained that this was the final example she needed to prove that I was emotionally abusive and dismissive. That I had to face up to how badly I had messed up the children and how dangerous I was and had been. She wasn't going to let me "ignore things" by being upset, I had to face up to the fact that I was manipulative, abusive, gaslighting and in need of serious therapy. My guilt was a defensive screen, a way of avoiding facing up to my problems. Tilly had done the therapy, and knew the difference between her anxieties and reality. I did not. And I was the problem.
She was happy wioth me looking after the children, but my gaslighting and emotional abuse was the reason for the toxicity that had ended our relationship. She had been talking with friends who pointed out that my vocabulary and style of writing in texts was manipulative, authoritarian and dismissive. I needed to get therapy, get fixed, and fast. She had an article on autistic gaslighting that she wanted me to read, it explained what my problem was. The first part she bade me ignore, it was a bit too extreme, but it would show me that I was gaslighting and abusive and she wanted me to face up to it rather than get all upset and then carry on as if nothing had happened.
The weekend thus ruined and all agreements off, I picked up the eldest from her dance class before Tilly brought the youngest two around and my mother arrived at the same time. I had forewarned my mother about what had been said. Tilly stuck around a bit then left, with the children all with me and my mother. My mother was also a bit off-balance by what had been said, and I was struggling (as one might, being told one is abusive and manipulative is a hard thing to hear). Tilly had even used the low-blow of comparing me to a bullying HoD that I have spoken about on here before - suggesting that I had analysed him as I have everyone else and learned how to be like him.
All of this followed a series of texts Tilly and I had exchanged in which she had demanded we change our financial arrangements to something far more complicated as the current method left her "vulnerable" as she was "dependent on my goodwill".
That night, Saturday, my mother and I compared notes. I showed her the text exchange. Now, my mother is biased, but she did not believe me to be manipulative. She did point out that me using Tilly's phrases back at her could have been seen to be manipulative but that, if it were, then Tilly had been manipulative first. Eventually, Tilly sent me this article. I'm not sure it said what she thought it did. The first half described how an Aspergic partner may deny the feelings his partner had were real and then would simply carry on as if the discussion hadn't happened, denying that anything had occurred. This was what Tilly had categorically told me we had never done. And we hadn't. The second half said that accidental or no, hurting someone still left that someone hurt. But that a guilty and remorseful Aspergic partner would defend the lack of intent to hurt - the trick was to respond with compassion and sympathy so that they could do the same for the hurt in return. And the article closed with the sentence "regardless, and this is important, without intent there can be no gaslighting". So... I can't be gaslighting? A brief text exchange and Tilly agreed that I had never dismissed her feelings, nor argued that they didn't count and nor had I suggested the discussions we had didn't happen - just that I didn't change enough afterward and would hurt her the same way in a different conversation.
So... not gaslighting or manipulating or abusive? Just bone-headed and incapable of change?
Oh, and the eldest reckoned the middlest's fear was that anyone being woken would be grumpy, but he knew Tilly was awake. He had told the eldest that he was worried about waking someone. Indeed, when he came in to me and I let him join me in bed, he had felt safe and happy. His biggest concern had been me not picking him after the discussion with Tilly - he was unaware of any fallout.
So... I don't know. I have written a formal financial agreement that Tilly is going to check with some free legal advice based on what we have already agreed. And my weekend has been not at all what I had planned. And I feel a bit awful. I think, think, that I am not abusive. But is that just what abusers tell themselves?