So now that you have discovered you are in a toxic or possibly abusive relationship from Part 1, now what?
You may be feeling all sorts of emotions including shock, disillusionment, confusion, guilt, shame, grief, anger, rage, disbelief and maybe even feel guilty for seeing your partner you thought loved you so deeply in this new light.
The emotional process a woman will go through from the first point of awakening to the truth, to the possible end of the relationship can take a week, a month, 6 months, or many years.
This is because of the trauma bonding experience – the partner who has been emotionally and psychologically manipulated into believing that this person actually has their best interest at heart.
And because they may be on the receiving end of ‘Mr Nice Guy’ during the honeymoon phase of the abuse cycle, they become addicted to the high of feeling so loved and accepted, that they keep trying to get more of that drug.
What is most damaging about this cycle, is that the very person that claims to love and care for you so deeply, can also hurt you so deeply.
And then, they swoop in to comfort you in your breakdown, a breakdown they caused.
We are often living out unconscious patterns that are often linked back to our formative years (years 0-7). If we were taught in our family that love also meant hurt, perhaps by being abused by those who are supposed to love and protect you, we had to settle with not getting our needs met, we will carry this on in adult hood, still trying to get those needs met.
But when we are in a dysfunctional relationship, we will never get those needs met. We are drawn to someone who feels familiar. That triggers familiar feelings that we experienced with perhaps with an abusive parent. This is often an unconscious way we are trying to heal the wounds from childhood.
The sad thing about this, is that opening up these wounds hoping an abusive person will heal them, will only re-traumatize the person who is looking for healing through her partner.
Somewhere along the way, we learned, or accepted as truth, that love also means pain, So we recreate that dynamic in our adult relationships.
So, now that you know that there is something going on in your relationship you can not ignore, here are some ways to cope with what lies ahead, and also your options for continuing forward.
- Prioritize Your Self Care: As I mentioned in Part 1, Self Care is your best friend. Aside from our children if you have any at home, your main focus in taking care of YOU. At this point, I don’t recommend confronting your partner about what you know, as you will only get sucked into another emotionally reactive argument that goes nowhere. Right now you must conserve your energy, and turn your focus inward. Take lots of walks, lift some weights, move your body. This is super important! Get those smoothies in, take your supplements, and be very selective about where you are putting your energy right now.
- Love Your Adrenals: During times of stress our adrenal system can go haywire. And if you have been living in a stressful relationship for awhile, chances are your adrenals need some love anyway. If you feel especially exhausted lately, and have any of these signs, take the steps to create a ‘stress cushion’ around you are this time. I offer Holistic Adrenal Fatigue Strategy Sessions for this purpose, to help you develop a stress management and lifestyle plan to support your body during this time.
- Find a therapist: Do your research, interview more than one, and find a professional that understands these unique dynamics who can help you stay strong and clear when the ‘abuse fog’ comes in. I have a 12 Week Therapeutic Healing Immersion program to help you connect wit your worth, self esteem and personal power. This is a deep level of emotional support you will not find easily anywhere else. You can apply by clicking the button below. Having the right support is critical. You will want to forget what you know, rationalize bad behavior, and believe it will all magically get better. It won’t. You must take action if you want things to change. Likely he isn’t going to do it on his own, since he doesn’t think he has a problem.
- Establish some boundaries: This is where having someone who can help you see where you have not been setting clear boundaries can help you develop a plan, clarity and the dialogue to present these to your partner. And also having preparation for how to respond if he gas lights, manipulates, projects or blame shifts when you try to assert yourself. How you respond to this is everything. If you react emotionally, you have given away your power. Get grounded, in your body, and connected with your power.
- Take space. I don’t know your situation, and every ones is different, only you can decide what this looks like. You may be in a place that you can leave the home for some time to get some distance, maybe you don’t have children and you can go away for awhile, or have family you can stay with. You may even be in a scenario that logistically you can’t up and leave, you need to do some planning, or perhaps you are not ready for that step yet. Maybe you want to see if change is possible before taking any steps to leave, and you will focus on your own self healing and getting clear on what needs to change for you to stay. In this case, is there a spare room you can set up and create a haven for yourself? How you present this to your partner is important, depending on the severity, your safety is of utmost importance. If there is a chance your partner will become hostile or violent, please take precautions in moving forward. Your distancing could trigger more abuse, or more sever abuse. Safety first. I have a friend who had to leave town with her young children because she felt this was the only way to truly get away. She did return to town eventually, but had received strength and healing in support groups and self healing work where she was staying to finally stay away for good.
- Take it moment to moment. You might be asking yourself what you are going to do now. You might feel like cleaning the home has lost it’s appeal, and you aren’t excited about upcoming holidays, decorating the home, or even making family meals. You don’t know what the future holds, and this can create intense anxiety, and loss of vital sleep. Stepping into the unknown is uncomfortable for all humans, be gentle with yourself. One of the things that keeps women in these situations is the fear of the unknown, at least an unhappy relationship is familiar, and you know what to expect.
You may also be wondering if he can change and if this fixable.
Press play on the podcast for 2 things to ask yourself if you are wondering if change is possible.
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