18th February 2021 at 11:51 am #121911
I spent a long time with my ex knowing things didn’t feel right, and not wanting to be with him, but struggling to justify leaving. I was stuck in the thought process that unless it was brutally physical or terrifyingly threatening it wasn’t really abuse, and I must just have been doing something wrong. Or maybe his criticisms were right and I just drove him to it.
Reading Lundy Bancroft, and doing Freedom programme online helped me feel a bit clearer, and I started to realise that I needed to do something to make myself strong enough to leave. I contacted a nearby centre and put myself on the waiting list for counselling (although realised there’s not way I’d be able to go there if he was around!)
Then I set myself a target to do something each day that moved me a little closer to getting out. From setting up my own bank account, telling work, calling Refuge and Women’s Aid, then eventually doing a 101 online report. On tough days it may only have been adding a song to my ‘freedom’ playlist that I could listen to on my drive to work.
And then I left. I went through an initial helpless stage. Thinking that I’d done the hard thing of reporting, hoping there’d be some magical process that would make everything better!
It’s been a while now. I’ve accepted that leaving feels like a mountain, but in reality is just a foothill and the struggle doesn’t end.
I had an initial burst of energy where I reached out and met up with other school mums, changed some things around in the house, dieted for about a week (!) but now everything feels a bit stuck in a rut.
I’m sure some of this is the limitations of covid, but I find myself searching through forums, the 24 books on DA on my Kindle, still trying to achieve some kind of light bulb moment, hoping for a hook where everything suddenly feels fine.
So I realised that I’m stuck again. I wasted decades of my life stuck with him, unhappy, controlled and fearful; I don’t want to waste decades more stuck looking back. So I figured I need to go back to small targets. Something achievable I can do each day to get ‘there’. Except I don’t know what ‘there’ really is. This was my only ‘adult’ relationship. I met him as a fun filled student and am now an older, working mum of several boys, including one with ASD.
I know recovery is a ongoing process, that I can’t expect to go back to the person I was before (and tbh she was young, silly and fairly selfish!) and there’s no magic wand.
So far my thoughts are: Recovery for me will be thinking about him less, having confidence in my intelligence and judgement, losing the automatic response to say ‘yes’ to everyone. Finding enjoyment in life and feeling comfortable in my body.
My little steps will be: Noticing each time I make a healthy choice, water over coffee, muesli over buttered bagel, and reminding myself that healthy choices are a treat to my body, rather than chocolate.(but not beat myself up on the days when I eat nutella out of the jar!) When I’m feeling that I’m failing at life, write a list of everything I have done that day, and anybody I have helped, remind myself that I can and do make the world a better place at times.
…And then I’m out of ideas.
So what does recovery look like for you, and what little things can you do to get closer?
18th February 2021 at 1:49 pm #121913DarcyParticipant
Good afternoon my beautiful angel …. Diverdi,
Well done for getting out of an abusive relationship and I love how you set yourself little steps.
Living with someone who is abusive in whatever way is a rollercoaster, and once you get off that rollercoaster you may feel a little flat. But better that and be safe than living with someone unpredictable.
Life shouldn’t be about those extreme highs and lows, drama and constant explosion’s. Everyday life can repetitive and mundane, but that gives us the chance to look for and appreciate the little things.
You are doing everything right, starting your little steps list again … but this times it’s for you, how exciting is that. You need to get to know yourself again, some of this process might be re-visiting what your interests and tastes were before you met him, remembering how care free you were.
Ask yourself who are you now, what do you like, what don’t you like, what are your new boundaries, what makes you really laugh out loud?
Remember there’s no big bang that happens to say I’m healed, and some of the processes is giving yourself time for everything to bed in so you can get up and go again. Its a journey not a destination
Look at nature, plants go under ground for the winter so they can bloom in the spring, the moon disappears in the sky so she can come out again and shine brighter, animals take the rest they need so they are ready to hunt when the moment presents itself to them… we are the same, give yourself time and you will shine again
Most importantly my darling you are on the right path, moving in the right direction so please, please, please, give yourself the credit and praise you deserve
Sending you love and Support
19th February 2021 at 6:16 pm #121984
Thank you Darcy for such a positive reply. I love the metaphor of plants going underground. One of my favourite things this time of year is watching my snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils coming up. Hopefully we will all be beautiful spring flowers
18th February 2021 at 2:05 pm #121914HawthornParticipant
Such a great topic for a thread. I know exactly what you’re talking about, getting out is such a huge mountain to climb, but as you say its something of a false peak, there’s another peak just behind it you couldn’t see when you started off. I suppose the difference is that as you continue to climb (to labour the analogy a bit😋) you not only get stronger but you start to drop some of the heavy things that are impeding your progress; the shame, the guilt, the lack of self-esteem, and gather things that make it easier; self confidence, self compassion and people cheering you on.
Time and persistence with small goals are what have made the difference to me, along with educating myself and counselling. Feeling grateful for the little things- like no one has shouted at me since I left, or called me names, or having a cup of coffee in bed without being called lazy, or calling my favourite tv show stupid. Being kind to myself by cooking myself a nice meal, or making time for yoga or a bath. And accepting that I have bad days and it’s ok to feel sad and cry, or even wallow a bit, and that that’s all part of the healing process.
Being able to sit in a quiet room and be with my thoughts after years of needing constant noise and stimulation to distract myself from the all pervasive anxiety is probably the highlight though it sounds like such a small thing. I’m not afraid of being alone anymore. Learning that solitude and loneliness are not the same, there is nowhere so dark and lonely as the isolation of an abusive relationship. Solitude is pure bliss.
After many months out I am enjoying the climb. Although I spent so many years in the abuse, even prior to that I spent my time trying to please other people. My life is my own now, and I will please myself going forward. I dont know what that looks like yet either, but it’s going to be fun finding out😄
If you fancy a break from books about DV I can really recommend If Women Rose Rooted and The Enchanted Life, both by Sharon Blackie or Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Keep in touch and Bon Voyage xx
19th February 2021 at 6:22 pm #121986
Thank you for replying. Those books are now on my wishlist, although I’ve promised myself I won’t buy any more until my to be read pile has shrunk a little!
I think I read somewhere that, like the cycle of abuse, recovery is a cycle too. I keep looping back to moments of shame, guilt and doubt. It’s early days but I think they are less strong each time I regress, and when it passes I feel more confident in my conviction that it was abuse, and wasn’t fair.
My ex worked away a lot, so I’m used to being self reliant, it is great not to have to make sure I messaged him each morning to prevent a low up, and not having constant calls on my day off checking up on me. Just being able to enjoy time out with the children without having to keep checking my phone. Peace is lovely
20th February 2021 at 5:38 pm #122052
I caved and bought Untamed on my Kindle… Wow!
20th February 2021 at 5:55 pm #122054HawthornParticipant
Oh it’s great isn’t it? I often pick it up to read a chapter or two again. Enjoy xx
18th February 2021 at 3:25 pm #121917HettyParticipant
This is a wonderful thread. I’ve loved easing everyone’s comments.
It’s so true that the mountain we climb to leave (took me months of small steps too) is the beginning of the journey. When I got to that peak I was elated, on cloud 9, dizzy with adrenaline and sheer relief. Then I hit the ground fast. It was more family circumstances for me. I’ve had another very significant life event to deal with on top of leaving my abusive partner. I no longer feel like I’m on an upward hill path. I feel more like I’m on rocky terrain, surrounded by the rubble of my life. I don’t know what will emerge and like you, definitely don’t want to rewind to a younger version of myself. I feel like my life is finally beginning now I am older. I no longer care for materialism or what others think, I’ve worked hard for a decent career. I had sooo many insecurities and, like Hawthorn, worried about loneliness. Now I love my own company having spent years in the unhappiest and loneliest relationship.
I’m in the midst of sorting out practicalities with my ex and he frequent tries to draw me back in. That’s quite draining. I am looking forward to having those matters sorted out completely.
For me I have found enjoyment in renovating old furniture and gardening. I never thought those things would interest me but I’ve re found my creativity. Things that I had no space for because my ex took up all the room in my life and exhausted me. I’ve also found having a daily routine of waking early and walking such a lovely thing to do for myself. I’ve loved finding new paths and parts of the place where I live. I have found I am so much more resourceful than I have myself credit for. I’ve taken a break from DA material and have been reading a lot about simple living.
Safe onward journey ❤️
19th February 2021 at 6:27 pm #121987
Thank you for your reply. Sorry life has thrown another challenge at you. I hope soon there will be green shoots of hope showing through that surrounding rubble.
When I moved into my current house I bought lots of second hand pine furniture, with a view to painting it. Perhaps that will be my aim when the weather improves enough to do it outside.
My ex is also being ultra nice, talking to me during calls with the children and sending gifts. It’s nice to hear from someone else how tiring this is. I don’t know that anyone who had not been in this situation would really understand.
I hope things improve for you soon x
19th February 2021 at 12:06 am #121943WaterspriteParticipant
Love this I saw something recently on trauma that explained an initial honeymoon period then a big dip a grieving phase and then an upwards path where post traumatic growth is not only possible but a better wiser more authentic you emerges. I will try and find it and post it. Healing isnt linear even that last bit it has triggers and ups and downs. Recovery for me is freedom finding out who I actually am standing on my own (wow that used to be scary) what I like don’t like and am capable of allowing myself to not always be ok. What I am learning is to stop judging myself for my recovery or lack of it because it will take as long as it takes. ❤️
19th February 2021 at 6:29 pm #121988
Thank you for replying. I like your point about not judging yourself. I guess we all need to get into the habit of being kind to ourselves, I’ll steal that one and add it to my list to things to do!
19th February 2021 at 12:50 am #121945SunshinesParticipant
Well done !
And I’m with you every step of the way
This forum is my life line as I’m too embarrassed to tell friends and family the full scale of abuse. They know obviously but not the full scale.
I’m trying my hardest to do five small things in a day that are for me.
So today I played my favourite song
Made a healthy meal went on a walk and had a nap, done a small amount of house work
It’s like a complete rebellion me not doing any because I felt forced into doing it rather than enjoying it….
They aren’t spectacular things but they are simple things that wouldn’t of even been carefree with my ex
Afternoon napping was the biggest forbidden one despite how many times I’d been up with my child through the night.
I know how draining it can be to get that time to yourself. One of my children has ASD also. It’s finding that little hour to get a nice bath put on some candles. Make yourself some nice food. I began to feel guilty eating in the end when he was there as my weight would be an issue.
Such simple tasks you have to learn to enjoy again because someone has sucked every bit of joy out of them
Keep me posted and if you have any tips for me please share xx
19th February 2021 at 6:37 pm #121989
Thank you for replying. I like your username 🙂
I would never have thought I was being controlled at the time. But looking back at how much he criticised the music I like, how meals out had to be where he wanted to go. If he had been drinking he would sleep until lunchtime, I could occasionally have an afternoon nap but it would be timed for an hour then he’d send the children in to wake me up.
After reading this I put the Calamity Jane soundtrack on, very loudly and embarassed my children singing along with the tunes.
It is hard to find time for self care with children, and keep the parenting guilt at bay! I know some days when I’m feeling like a failure, I make a list of all the things I’ve done, from making meals, laundry, cleaning, homework. Just the regular day to day stuff is a significant list when you take time to notice
19th February 2021 at 3:46 am #121946BettertimesaheadParticipant
Diverdi, love this thread and your experience is very similar to mine. For me one of the most enjoyable changes is me and my boys can watch TV, play games or even just sit and chill in living room together. We rarely did when he was here because he’d never join in, would get grumpy if we were talking and there was just an atmosphere. Sad that so many years were wasted but glad it’s not too late to start over
19th February 2021 at 6:39 pm #121990
Thanks for replying. I’d forgotten this. How he’d often be sat in the living room, watching his TV, so nobody else could watch or do anything that disturbed him. I’m not sure Im enjoying the YouTubers my boys seem to love watching nowadays, but at least they’re happy!
19th February 2021 at 8:11 pm #121997SunshinesParticipant
You don’t think you are being controlled I used to go along with whatever rules he made. I didn’t see it as controlling. Now I know it was control every single move I made he would criticise. I would be like a servant the number of years together he made me dinner once meanwhile I would bring the salt to his plate. Ice into the drink. Running his bath making sure it was the right depth and temperature. Adding the favourite bubble bath.
Always hoping that the dinner I made was up to a consistent standard or complaints would be made.
Serving him first with his dinner the occasional nights I hadn’t purchased his dinner there would be digs and insults.
As for meals out I would get to choose but I would have to eat up quick. There was a time limit on how long I could be there. It would literally be in and out.
Certain music was forbidden and I wouldn’t dare put it on.
My children would also be on pins around him in case it kicked off, as it could switch at any given moment.
I’ve downloaded an app for communication over our child.
Tonight I made no dinner
We got a take out, and my upstairs is untidy but I have tomorrow
I think it’s important to always remember don’t be too hard on yourself
I want to fly through healing
Last night I had really bad nightmares
I’m struggling with anxiety
But I’m also hopeful, chilled and my kids are happy and laughing.
That’s the most important thing!
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