Posted in Acceptance, courage, Emotional/psychological abuse, Healing Process, Inspiration, relationships, Strength and resilience

standing strong

To finally have the courage to break free from an emotionally abusive relationship is by far one of the most difficult steps one will ever take. It doesn’t stop there though. It requires a lot of work on your part to de-tangle all the tightly knit lies and twisted thinking that the other person carefully planted into your thoughts. Remembering that the longer you were in the relationship the more there is to de-tangle.

It is a lot to deal with and work through when on one hand you marry a person thinking they truly love you to then go through year after year of mixed messages from them that make you feel broken. They break you one bit at a time. YOU are put into situations that hurt. A person that is feeling hurt will at some point unravel and start falling apart.

As emotional abuse is so silent and undetected others watching on at times only see your reactions of hurt and may start to think that you are your own enemy. That perhaps you are reacting with hurt due to your own brokenness. The person doing the real damage behind the scenes likes to make it look like it was you all along. They not only convince you for years that your natural responses to pain are your own doing or your own unhealed parts not their actions. They also like to convince other people that you are broken, that they are not the cause of your reactions. Its so deceptive and silent.

Imagine for a moment that someone came along and hit you! Maybe they walked up to you and punched you in the face, your natural reaction to that pain would be justified. Others looking on would not question your hurt, they would say it was justified, they saw you get punched. Its out in the open, its obvious as day light. Emotional abuse is hidden in the dark, its only obvious to the person experiencing it. So you are then faced with other challenges after leaving the relationship.

There maybe people in your life that have been swept up in the idea that you are the problem. That you were not abused. That maybe you are the abuser!

This is where standing strong comes into the scene.

THE people in your life that don’t give you the opportunity to be understood will always misunderstand you.

They have a perception about you that has been weaved into their minds by a person and should they refuse you the opportunity to be understood for what you have experienced and gone through then that relationship will not move forward.

Yes that is another side effect of leaving an abusive relationship that you cannot control. It requires strength and daily reminders to yourself of what you have lived through and how your life is so much better now.

I personally have worked through so much in the past 4 plus years and am so grateful to have another chance at life to live peacefully. I write about my experiences to allow others who may be going through that type of abuse to give them strength and hope.

Its an avenue for me to communicate and share that what could help someone else.

Always stand strong in who you are and never let anyone destroy you. Hold onto the people in your life that love you no matter what, the ones that support you through thick and thin. I am so grateful for my fiancé and my family who love me unconditionally and understand my journey. I never have to justify myself to them and they see me as I am.

STAND STRONG ALWAYS!!!!!

At what point do you let go?

Agonising is the word that comes to mind when I relive that moment I was confronted with making a decision to stay or walk away. I had considered walking away several times before and was unable to commit to the process. It is a process to leave. The process often involves children and a good hard look at the finances.

On each occasion that I had considered walking away it was the thought of the children that had me stay.

I stayed in the relationship for the children. 

I was unable to comprehend how the children would cope with parents living apart, a family no longer one unit.

To leave involves taking into account finances. Finances were always an issue for me as I was a full-time mum for decades.

How does one leave a relationship with little to no finances of their own?

Children and finances locked me into the marriage equally as much as my commitment of ’till death do us part’.

When I nervously uttered the words, I do, on our wedding day, I was committed. I had made a pact with myself that I would never give up on marriage. I firmly held onto the idea that as adults we would communicate and resolve disputes or disagreements on every occasion and endeavour to maintain a healthy relationship to see us through right to the end.

“Healthy Relationship”.

A relationships foundation needs to be healthy from the start if it is to succeed all the difficult times. I was blind, unaware that I had committed myself to a very unhealthy relationship from the start.

I cant stress enough that some marriages or relationships are extremely harmful.

Harmful to you and everything you hold true.

You are not doing yourself any favours holding onto a person that chooses to hurt you. Holding on will lead to a life filled with contradictions, as you will be forced to neglect your needs and pretend your values aren’t important, all the while knowing deep in your core that something feels really wrong.

Abuse comes in several forms. Physical, verbal or emotional. It took me years to work out that I was living with emotional abuse.

I was in denial for years.

By nature I am a very compassionate and caring individual so to accept that I was married to someone who was emotionally abusing me was one of the hardest facts to face. The more I opened myself up to the truth, I started to realise I married this man out of sympathy. I cared about him as a person and felt sorry for how he had been raised. Each time he talked about his childhood I felt sad. I noticed that people often talked about him behind his back, and what they said was rarely positive. I thought I was helping him by loving him. I believed that if I loved this man enough he would change and others would learn to love him too. 

I was so wrong.

It didn’t seem possible that someone I trusted could mistreat me. I often excused his behaviour as a bad day he was having. Or perhaps I hadn’t been trying hard enough to be the wife I was destined to be. We grow up believing that significant people in our lives will protect and love us, sadly, this is not always the case. Some people are abusive.

Abuse is damage to your spirit, heart and mind.

As I struggled in denial, my heart and mind would exchange in conversation with each other. In desperation my heart would whisper statements of hope to my mind attempting to convince it into believing that one day this man would change and stop all the hurt/abuse. My mind would answer back pleading with my heart to wake up to all the mistreatment and hurt, begging me to leave. All my heart knew to do was give this man another chance to prove they had changed and did in fact love me.

I had these repeated conversations for 27 years.

How long should people keep trying?

How far do you allow damage to continue?

In the process of endless chances damage takes place. The heart shuts down. The individual has lost their voice. The person you once were is now lost.

In order to continue in an abusive relationship you master the ability to ignore your own cries for help. Forgotten are all the red flags that were waving at you from the very beginning signalling caution and yet here you are recognising that the same behaviours continue, nothing has changed.

Its as though you become a martyr.

You were not designed to be walked on, used, abused or treated as though your needs don’t matter. You may have held a long standing belief that you deserve bad treatment. It could be the bad treatment connects with a lie you’ve held onto about yourself for years, which has sold you a story, headlining; “your not valuable”, ” your unworthy” or “you don’t deserve anything better”.

The longer you ignore the mistreatment and hold onto the relationship the more broken and shattered you become. When feelings are ignored on a regular basis you become empty and numb, as its not safe to be yourself anymore. Slowly but surely you begin to shutdown. Anxiety becomes your best friend and you start living on high alert. The moment you think its ok to relax convinced the relationship is improving the cycle starts again. That is false hope, temporary pain relief. Good moments are short lived and outnumbered by the hurtful treatment that continues with no end in sight.

Should you choose to stay you will only arrive at this same place again and again.

It is heart breaking to accept and let go of the dream that your relationship will change.

From experience I can confidently say that if you are with a partner who has no intention of taking responsibility of their mistreatment of you, you have enlisted into a never-ending battle. You will find yourself empty, broken and desperate.

I also know how extremely difficult it is to let go.

It was the night I felt the least strong that I let go.

I couldn’t hold on anymore it was killing me.

Don’t keep fighting a one sided battle!

Excuses and denial can only go so far.

Don’t wait for the right time, there will never be a right time.

You should let go as soon as you have come out of denial and can accept you are in an abusive relationship.

Your health and safety should not come last, as soon as this is compromised its time to let go.

Posted in Emotional/psychological abuse

Yes, it hurts ….

A calendar hangs on my kitchen wall compliments of my very supportive younger sister. Most days I make it a mission to cross off each day fully aware that in a matter of no time the first year anniversary of a broken marriage will have arrived. In exactly one week it will have been one year that I have lived a single life after decades of raising a large family, being a fulltime mother.

Nearly one year ago my life changed as did my children’s lives.

Life also changed for my ex-husband.

The truth is that while most people recognise when things are not going well the reality of a family unit collapsing is a shock to everyone concerned.

Regardless of the pain and hurt within a marriage relationship when a family falls apart it affects everybody. The pain and emotion is tremendous and difficult to describe in words.

No matter the reasons for the marriage breakdown there are no miraculous formulas to help one forget about those family moments each shared. To remember them is to hurt and ache for what is now lost.

As a mum of five children my life revolved around my family. I loved being a mum and still do. There is nothing I can ever do to get those moments back ever again. They are over, done and dusted.

It is possibly one of the reasons why it took me so long to finally get the courage to leave my marriage as who in their right mind wants a broken family. I continued in the unhealthy relationship for decades. My children kept me focused on something wholesome and good. I had purpose. I was busy, too busy to think most days. And had my thoughts taken me to places in which I felt lonely in my marriage there was nothing I believed I could do about it. It was simply too difficult.

Most parents would relate to the idea of staying together for the sake of the kids.

The fact of the matter is that not all relationships are doomed. There are relationships that have the potential of being restored. When a relationship can be restored and operate in a healthy way then why not? Everyone wins in that case…..

When I was married my values and beliefs kept me in the marriage. I firmly believed that marriage was something you didn’t give up on easily. That no matter what went wrong, no matter how hard it was that it was each partner’s willingness and dedication that would have them forgive each other and sort out their issues.

Believe me, I tried so hard.

In the midst of trying so hard I got lost. So much of who I was went missing too. To keep the peace I had to refrain from communicating my needs. Whenever I did communicate my needs I got the silent treatment. I was made to feel like it was wrong to have needs. I recall the moments that I tried to communicate. It usually began with me feeling extremely anxious as I knew that it was not going to be an easy task, that I would be met with all sorts of resistance. Despite my intentions and desires of wanting to have a close healthy relationship, my ex-husband did not share that value.

He would make me feel de-valued, unwanted, rejected and confused. In my mind I thought it was normal to approach your significant other when hurting and needing to talk to sort things out. I believed in sorting things out. He on the other hand was always on the defensive. The minute that I attempted to have a conversation with him I knew it was not going to be easy. He would use his many words or even the lack thereof to let me know that whatever I was feeling was my problem. That he was not at fault. That somehow everything I was feeling was my character flaw.

Often he would quote the bible to me, telling me that I needed to forgive him.

When things got really serious he would then write me a letter. In the letter it would read and list out all of the areas he would ask for forgiveness from me. The difficulty I had with that was his actions continued being hurtful.

Often times he would inflict so much emotional hurt on me that eventually I would cave into depression for weeks on end. On several occasions when feeling completely depressed and overwhelmed he would suddenly turn into the ‘superhero dad’ and tell the kids he was going to take them out for the day. He never spent time with them unless I was depressed. He would then use his methods to convey to the kids that mum had issues, that she was the problem. When I had those moments of depression he would ignore me by giving me the silent treatment.

He made me feel as though there was something wrong with me even when I was depressed. He was not supportive or compassionate.  To him I was invisible.

This type of interaction created such anxiety. It happened so often that I knew what was going to happen every time I approached him with a problem. I knew that no matter how I spoke to him it was not going to be favourable. On occasions I experimented with different types of communication. I tried the meek and mild version, the strong and assertive. I tried the Christian wife version of being humble and loving. Decades later it was obvious that it didn’t matter what I said or how I said it, it was always going to be wrong. It was always going to be an issue that I had created which meant that he didn’t need to take any responsibility for his actions.

There were many occasions in which his attempt at doing something loving for me was equally as hurtful.

On one occasion I recall he and my eldest son had gone on a road trip to Sydney. When they returned I excitedly went outside to greet them. My ex-husband was pulling bags out of the boot of the car. He went on to say that he had bought me some expensive perfume. Then immediately after stating that fact he finished the sentence with “your son said you stink so I thought I would get you some perfume”. I’m almost embarrassed to type this as it sounds so awful, but that is exactly what happened.  Suddenly the idea of receiving perfume as a gift got turned into something so de-valuing.

On another occasion when we were at a shopping mall without prior warning my ex began walking into a jewellery store, all spur of the moment. Naturally I followed him wondering what was going on.  The store assistants were doing their job by asking my ex “how can we help you today”. My ex went on to say with a very loud and sarcastic tone “my wife is here to spend all of my money so can you help her find some jewellery”.  Hmm I’m not sure about most people however that moment was gone for me. I had no desire for any jewellery what so ever. Despite my sudden lack or desire of choosing jewellery he forced me to pick something by making such a spectacle of me in front of everyone in the store.  I felt so embarrassed in front of all the sales assistants.

These examples are only a tiny drop in the ocean of so much more that happened in my marriage. It is possibly the first time that I have shed a little more light into how I was treated.

One can imagine after being in a relationship that was quite unhealthy it is no easy task to recover from years’ worth of damage.

The first step to recovery was leaving. ….

Posted in courage

Break the mold before it bre/aks you.

Have you ever met someone for the first time and suddenly they announce that you’ve been cut from the same mold.  Immediately this tells you the person knows someone significant in your family whether it be a parent or a sibling. Families share the same genes and as they grow up together they develop similar habits and patterns of behaviour and communication. This sets families apart from others; it gives you a sense of belonging and branding.

There comes a time in families where the children grow up and begin to take their own journey discovering who they are on their own two feet. Deciding for themselves what they will adapt as part of their own family. Incorporating values and beliefs with another set of values and beliefs of their partner.

It is wonderful to appreciate our heritage and where we come from as a person. It provides us with our own uniqueness in a world that doesn’t always appreciate the differences in people.

How about the molds people throw us into?

As parents we may place expectations onto our children leaving them to feel suffocated and restricted. We may instil our vision of the future and make it a mission to persuade them to believe it is their path.

We think we know best!

The child may feel unable to wander into a direction that is not in line with what you as the parent have been dreaming of. Of course as parents we have every good intention for our children. We want what is best for them. We ourselves have traveled through life making mistakes hoping to prevent those same mistakes from being repeated.

Perhaps you are your own worst enemy?

We don’t always need people to place restrictions upon us. We can quite easily manage that for ourselves when we keep holding onto the things that didn’t work out. Our failures can keep us believing we will always fail. Our disappointments and hurts keep us stuck in the same place perhaps for years.

We are after all creatures of habit? Settling all too easily into patterns of thinking and behaving which keep us comfortable. We all like comfort. That place of familiarity and comfort can be dangerous. Especially if it involves a relationship with someone who repeatedly breaks you down until you turn into a person you were never intended to be!

If it isn’t enough to deal with our own negatives voices in our head we often have other people’s voices guiding our next move. If you have ever been in a long term relationship with someone who causes you emotional harm and has managed to manipulate your life you would be familiar with what I am talking about. It’s quite frightening to stand on your own two feet breaking out of the mold of manipulation. Your own sense of knowing has been lost along the way, as you’ve been made to feel like you don’t know what you are doing. The ocean of doubts can be deafening.

Now that I am six months into this journey of single mum no longer in a damaging marriage relationship I’m discovering on a regular basis all of the restrictions that have kept me from being myself. At times it may feel like you’re never going to relax and have the freedom of knowing who you truly are. It takes tonnes of courage to do things you may have never done before for fear of it not working. Almost like an animal that has been locked up in a cage for years and when set free the animal chooses to go back in the cage as it feels comfortable and safe.

This is precisely why unhealthy relationships can be so damaging to a person. It isn’t something to joke about or make light of as it is so much more serious than one can ever imagine. It is very difficult for a person who has been so broken to bounce back again, as they have to fight through every imaginable lie and fear to get to the other side of where freedom is waiting for them. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve had to battle with all sorts of thoughts and fears.

I can however encourage you by saying that as you just keep moving through each fear one by one they start to lose power. Yes it is frightening! Yes it is very uncomfortable! And YES it may or may not work out as there are never any guarantees in life. Yet you have the choice to risk it and step out of that place of doubt and failure testing the waters for something opposite to what you have ever experienced.

We often believe we deserve the same as what we have always had. It gives us an excuse to stay the same and keep holding onto our fears. Until we decide to do things afraid we will stay where we are and never move forward. As much as I could so easily settle and remain the same in my comfort zone I know it will continue restricting me. I may still carry hurt that needs healing however I’ve discovered that the more I choose to break out of the mold of manipulation and emotional hurt from my previous long term relationship the more I am experiencing healing.

If I choose to stay where I am perhaps the healing will have no opportunity to present itself?

What does healing look like?

Well for me healing is noticeable as I become aware that I am smiling a lot more often rather than feeling anxious and stressed out. I’m learning to trust people and myself again. All those dreams in my life that got squashed for some time are slowly bubbling to the surface reminding me that there is still hope to fulfill the purpose I was created for. Confidence is returning, confidence in my choices and decisions.

In times past I would have lost momentum and motivation in a heartbeat as my life circumstance taught me that while something might be going well for a week it won’t last as drama is only around the corner. It was a constant cycle of ups and down’s. I could have sat in a field of flowers picking petals one by one repeating the phrase “life is normal, no it’s not, life is normal, not it’s not”…..

What’s trying to break you?

Posted in Healthy verses unhealthy

Reflecting back on 2016 <—

Thinking too much about the past isn’t always so helpful in terms of the future especially when you’re hoping to move beyond certain issues that have held you back for far too long. We can get so caught up like a fish stuck in a net and make life harder for ourselves. Imagine being a fish for a moment………. fish never know when or where a large net is going to silently pick them up against their will and take them from their environment. Ironically that is what happened to me this year!  I was suddenly put into a position in which I had no choice but to leave my marriage of 27 years and move states all within a matter of hours. Had I been compliant perhaps I could have stayed however being in a marriage only to be compliant was no longer appealing.

It’s natural at this time of the year to start reflecting back!

With good intention we set goals for the New Year however we cannot guarantee what the future holds as much as we cannot change what has taken place in the past year of which we are on the verge of leaving behind us.

Goodbye 2016!!!

It’s useful to reflect back and consider what we do or do not want in our future. We may decide to do things a little differently to how we would have done them previously.

Albert Einstein in his simple yet powerful quote says:

Insanity  =  doing the same thing

over and over again

and expecting different results!

In reflecting back on this past year with breath in my lungs and hope in my heart,  I consider what I do OR do not want for myself in the New Year. I can use this past year as a guidebook to keep me from losing myself and ending up in situations that I don’t belong in.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in this past year is that my self-worth and value does not need to be compromised. I don’t need to lower my standards and accept any sort of treatment. The fact is that not everyone on planet earth is going to treat you right. As I reflect back it concerns me that I allowed myself to be treated so badly for so long.

What was I thinking?

The trouble was when I was younger I had little value in myself. This meant that I didn’t need a net to come out of nowhere and take me away. I was the fish that swam into the net having no resistance thereby reflecting my low self-worth. As much as I dreamed of being treated with respect, love and honesty I continued gravitating towards harsh treatment.

The less you value yourself the more opportunity there is to be in relationships with people that do not value you either. It feels comfortable, you feel like a fish in your own man made environment.

The circumstances that took place of the night that saw me walk out of my marriage were not ideal in any marriage breakup story. It was rushed and painful not only for myself but for all of my children. There are certain parts of that night that my 9 year old will always remember along with my adult children. While I wish that the night of the breakup were a lot less intense my hope is that in time the kid’s hearts will heal along with mine and we will all be able to move forward into the future. Even with all the scars my hope is that everyone will find their place in this world and have clarity about what they do or do not want in their relationships.

No one deserves to be in a relationship that is damaging. In my previous blog I introduced the topic of ‘emotional abuse’. Emotional abuse is quite silent. It generally happens in such a way that you are not even aware of what is exactly going on. The relationship keeps you full of questions only to provide the same answer each time which tells you, you’re the fault! This results in continually having to attempt fixing the problem as you are led to believe you are the problem. When you are trapped in this type of relationship the other party leaves you with no rights to question their behaviour. No matter how many times I had tried to get to the bottom of the real issue my words, feelings and thoughts were always twisted around to be turned into knots that couldn’t be untangled.

Emotional abuse creates a controlling relationship. The person doing the abusing has power over your emotions. They create situations or conversations that set your emotions into a spiral. When your emotions are all over the place you are easily manipulated into whatever it is that the abuser has in mind for their own purposes. It is always about them! They are not in the relationship because they love you; they are in the relationship as they have power to abuse you.

To others the abuser can seem like the most Christian citizen that walked planet earth. The person being abused knows what they are really like. The abused watches on and lives a life filled with contradiction and heartache. Nothing about their life makes sense. Constantly questioning why life feels abnormal and insecure. The worst part about the whole scenario is that no matter how hard you may try to be the best wife that walked planet earth it will not change your relationship with an emotional abuser.

For Christian women in particular this can be extremely difficult. The amount of times over the years that I had tried to get counsel or advice from other women in church left me more confused. Unless someone has ever been in an emotional abusive marriage they will not understand the way it works.

You need to talk to someone that does understand and a professional counselor in this case is very important.

In a normal healthy marriage advice on how to be the good Christian wife can be helpful. However in an emotionally abusive marriage the advice can leave you stuck in that damaging marriage for years.

In the New Year my hope is to continue healing from all of the damage caused while being in the unhealthy relationship. This means to continue going to counseling and allowing myself all the time necessary for recovery.

Life can hurt so I’m keeping it real.

Happy New Year…. ♥