Part of breaking free from abusive cycles is identifying the voices in your mind that keep you tethered to the stink pole. Here are 9 thoughts that may slip under your radar, or evade the awareness of someone you love.
“They have been through so much in their life. Who’s going to love them? They deserve love too.”
You are not running a care home. Care homes exist for people who cannot function on their own due to limiting physical or mental conditions. Abusive and manipulative people often thrive on their own, yet when they enter into a relationship with you, they are suddenly extremely dependent. This is not true dependency, however, but a masked helplessness that is genuinely rooted in measures of control.
One must be careful here, as abusers will often become physically ill as you gain in emotional and psychological strength – to ensure your shackles remain intact.
“Maybe I should just give up my routine, change that characteristic about myself, or go to therapy to work on my issues. Maybe then things will get better.”
Self-care is not an act of selfishness (it’s actually the opposite); one cannot gift from an empty pocket. At risk of sounding cliché, we must continue, with great endurance, the activities that allow us to feel like we are healthy, belonged, and accomplished. Sacrificing sleep, time with friends and family, and skipping meals to continually appease another is a lie if you think it’s going to help your situation.
“What if I don’t find anyone else?” Being alone forever is way worse than the fights and feelings I’m going through now.”
The difference between solitude and loneliness is formidable, and worthy of investigation. Loneliness is what you are feeling in an abusive relationship, because loneliness is what happens when you are surrounded by people who don’t see you for who you are. Solitude may be an area you probably haven’t spent much time in, but it involves cultivating an ability to enjoy time with yourself. We want to grow in union, and our Western Psyche is relationship obsessed. Few have ventured into therapy (my email and website are below if you wish to seek this out), learned the art of meditation and basking in silence, or discovered creative ways to enjoy their own company. Take the weeks or months it takes to harness solitude, and it won’t even be worth it to entertain abuse. You will simply feel the difference and relief.
“Why can’t they just be nice, thoughtful, understanding, or just plain old respectful. Is it really that hard? I mean, sometimes they’re nice. Maybe if I just showed them how…”
If you have to ask this question, that heavy boulder you almost rolled up the hill just tumbled back to the bottom. Attempts at changing another person is one of humanity’s most common Sisyphean tasks. You cannot teach empathy, compassion, or authenticity to another adult. No amount of modeling will ever be enough to break open a heart that is closed. People who control deal kindness like a currency, always expecting something in return, and enjoy the fact that you hope, one day, they will change. Each time you do this, their exchange rate goes up, and you pay more.
“I haven’t given this relationship all of my effort. I need to make sure I do everything I can.”
The greatest trap ensares because it is adorned with the most delectable treasures. It is debatable whether getting into a relationship with an abuser is foreseeable. They love you, compliment you, sex you, and perhaps even heal you in the early go-rounds. You have to try your best. If you don’t, you will never know. As soon as your trying your best turns into you being the only one really trying, this thought begins to lie to you – beware.
“The financial loss of separation or divorce is too much to bear.”
Financial loss is never a reason to stay in a toxic atmosphere. Just ask the guys who worked in coal mines or the drywall industry. I get the social pressure to make tonnes of money, but that, and this thought, are plain false.
“We just have to get back to the way things were. Work and other things have put so much pressure on us. Things can get better”
The bar with which to measure the status of your relationships is the day to day status of your nervous system, not love’s cover page or introduction. Conclusions, like a fully mature tree, are dependent on the love and nurturing that detail the journey. Turn back to #5.
“Me feeling terrible is my problem. I don’t have to let it affect me so much. Maybe I just need to find a way to get over my own wounds, and then we can live better together.”
Feeling terrible is your problem, yes, but it is also your responsibility to remove yourself from situations that perpetuate this. Subtle twists in logic can end in a choose your own adventure nightmare. You wouldn’t keep your child in a daycare where the teacher enforces capital punishment or favoritism toward one gender, and then tell them to stay positive. Treat yourself with the same dignity.
“This is just an opportunity to grow and learn about myself. Spiritual growth is hard, and if someone triggers me, it is an opportunity to go deeper. Crisis means opportunity.”
Life provides adequate challenges based on our current inner framework. It knows when to blow wind and when to rain and it knows when you need a dose of pain. No need to go out of your way to produce additional strife. This is actually something I believed while married to an abusive partner. I thought I could rise above it, and sublimate my way to another level. All I did was wreak havoc on my immune system. Loving and validating environments bring more opportunity than anything else.
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