Michelle’s ex boyfriend made her feel crazy for years and watching Harrison’s gaslighting behaviour on Nine’s Married At First Sight (MAFS) has helped her make peace with the way things ended.
Michelle, 33, explained that seeing Harrison’s behaviour was like holding up a mirror to her previous relationship.
“Having the opportunity to be an outsider looking into toxic relationships is the only way I could take off the rose-coloured glasses and see the bullshit for what it is,” she told news.com.au.
“It’s only when you see similar traits in narcissistic men that you aren’t in love with that you can reflect and think ‘get me the hell out of here’, which I thought when watching the very first episode of MAFS this season.”
When Harrison sauntered onto our screens, he came across as handsome and confident and quickly wed Bronte.
Immediately, she was disappointed to discover he’d been talking to other women before the experiment, and their relationship has been going downhill ever since.
Last night we saw the two have an argument because Harrison wrote that he wanted to leave the experiment, and Bronte wrote that she wanted to stay. The rules of MAFS means that because one of them wrote they wanted to stay they both have to stick out the experiment for another week and so Bronte was feeling betrayed by Harrison.
Why was she so mad? Well, because Bronte was under the impression that Harrison would elect to stay with her. Where did she get this idea from? Harrison.
The two ended up arguing about it, and Harrison claimed that just because he texted her saying he wasn’t going anywhere! That did not mean he was saying he was going to elect to stay on the show with her. Huh?
Bronte rightfully called him and said: “You’re literally sitting there gaslighting me! You’re a narcissist, Harrison!”
Even when Bronte reads out texts Harrison sent which confirm he said he’d stay. Harrison refuses to back down and for Michelle it reminds her of the relationship she only recently got out of.
Michelle explained that just like Harrison her ex was would continue to gaslight her even if she found physical proof.
“I remember the very first time I found messages from another woman only a few months in, and despite having read the inappropriate texts with my own eyes, he later denied having said all the things he had typed and told me it was all in my head and that I’ve got his ‘friendship’ with this other woman all wrong,” she said.
Still, even in hindsight, Michelle can see why she fell for her ex initially. He came across as the “coolest guy” and so she ignored the fact his behaviour always made her question herself.
For Michelle, it’s hard to pinpoint one particular moment where he gaslighting climaxed because his lying was so ongoing.
“Every day, I was made to feel like I was completely insane and inventing situations out of nothing,” she said.
“Once, we argued at dinner because he was being rude, and when we got home, we had sorted it out. A couple of hours later, I was sitting on the couch watching TV in peace when he came and sat next to me.
“Without me getting barely a word in, he had told me I was the cause of every fight. He told me I was the problem. He told me we would never be happy so long as I continue to ‘create things out of nothing’, although he created this argument out of literally nothing.
“I had a panic attack that night and had to lock myself in the bathroom just to get away from his verbal assault on me.”
Even when Michelle finally got the courage to pull the plug on the toxic relationship, he still wouldn’t relent.
“I finally just ended it, and he continued to manipulate emotionally for about two months after we ended, and I even tried to get back with him,” Michelle said.
“The fact that we had already ended allowed me to see the relationship as an outsider. His ex-girlfriend also reached out to me and validated me.
It was the part of her text message where she said, ‘you’re not crazy, and you’re not any of the things I’m sure he’s said to you’ that I sighed a deep breath of relief and thought this emotional terrorist has done this before and will continue to do so, so I have to get as far away as possible to save myself.”
Michelle explained that now she is free from the relationship watching someone like Harrison on television is interestingly helping her heal.
“Men like Harrison have made me realise these men are just like this, and they won’t ever change because they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong,” she said.
So while Harrison’s behaviour on MAFS is hard to watch, ironically, it might be helping women.
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