So, you’ve left the abusive relationship. You are free and everyone is making comments like, ‘how great you are away from that person’, ‘you’ve wasted your time on him’, (this comment is more than unhelpful, cue voices in my head that my clock is now furiously ticking) ‘you need to get back out there’ (again, all I am hearing in my head is oh my f&$^£^ god) meanwhile, you are watching your friends reach their 3 year mark in their happy, normal relationships, getting married, having babies (and I would be sat nursing my broken heart, on my 3rd day of struggling to eat due to anxiety, and crying into my pizza)
I don’t know about you, but I felt like a sack of potatoes leaving my last abusive relationship; overwhelmed, scared and totally not ready to move on, but telling myself I should. Sound familiar? It gives me anxiety thinking about it.
The worst thing I did was pushing my trauma into the pits of my soul. I pushed it right down there- thinking that because I was away from my ex (and the 3rd abusive relationship in my 20s, cue unhelpful voice saying will you ever learn?) I was free from the worst. I was not, because as we all know, the subsequent impact of that trauma on my life will be far reaching. So, how do you date when you have been abused in the past? What are the first 3 steps to getting to the point you are ready to date.
First things first, do NOT put pressure on yourself… and to those reading this that have friends that have been abused- here is your chance to play one of the most important roles possible in your pals life by reiterating point 1 over and over to them...
1. There is no rush. But there is also no right time.
I have spoken to many survivors and the time to move on/ find the right person varies. Mine took 10 years of wrong, horrid, abusive relationships to find the one last year… at 29, and that was one hell of a journey laced in mayhem and chaos (which I will go into in another post).
2. Detox your life- take back ownership
The most important thing is to take stock when you leave your abusive partner and detox from the pressures of life. This can come in any form from but requires ownership of cleansing something in your life that doesn’t serve you. For me, this was quitting smoking. Smoking was my pacifier (as disgusting as that is)- it was my comfort blanket and it was my ‘cure for anxiety’.. if I was anxious (which was 99% of the time- I know, lord knows how I made it this far) I would smoke. This meant I had an eating disorder, because I just wouldn’t eat, because I would be smoking and not hungry (you see the unhealthy cycle…). As soon as I went cold turkey, after 13 years of smoking and bearing in mind I was going through the break up from the abuser, being able to control this habit and be in control was hands down, THE BEST THING I EVER DID in my life.
3. Journal your life within an inch of itself
This is a hard one, because with this, I went backwards and wrote down all areas of my life and things that happened to me in the most incredible detail. Putting pen to paper on the things I had gone through, what my abusers had done to me helped me massively. The biggest issue I had leaving my last relationship was that I didn’t see the abuse. It was emotional abuse and it was laced with layers of complex 'fuckery' I can’t even begin to explain in this post… (but I of course will one day 😉 ). I glamorised him and took blame for everything and couldn’t see the wood for the trees, so when we ended, I wanted so badly to be with him, I thought we were soul mates- made for each other. It was only when writing down the episodes of our 3 year relationship that I saw the abuse on paper. This helped me move on and despise him rather than love him.
These were my first steps I took to moving forward and helping myself. The first few weeks of any break up is tortuous but leaving an abusive relationship really is something else. Be mindful of allowing yourself to take longer than most and don’t be rushed by expectations to move forward- I rushed into dating people that weren’t right for me and it never ended well, and more importantly I wasted time I could have spent on working on myself and figuring out what I wanted from life and love.
My next post I will talk about the next steps in this process and what I did to inch myself closer to finding a happy relationship.
As always, love to you all. Stay strong angels.