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Posts Tagged ‘aftermath of abuse’

Over the last few years I have discovered that if I put certain things in place as rituals I didn’t stay in my self-induced funk as long as I had in the past. Man was I dedicated, I could make a funk last for days, and even weeks if I tried or rather didn’t try.

Anyway, one of the best rituals I have been doing for the past year or so has been listening to Joyce Meyers within the first 30 minutes that I am awake most days. While I don’t do this every single day, I find that on the days I do, I have more clarity, energy and focus and am less likely to let the little things bother me.

Joyce often reminds me that it isn’t what happens to me that is important, but rather how I react to those things.

I can’t count how many times I have been struggling and then listen it seems I somehow without thinking, reach out to listen to Joyce. I always feel that she is speaking directly to me about the things I am struggling with in that very moment. To me this is just amazing.

The experience I am sharing with you today took place close to 2 years ago but still feels relevant enough to share.  On this day, my thoughts seemed to stay stuck on some of the things she had said, she made me realize I had lost about a hundred pounds in the last week, obviously I don’t mean physical weight loss but for me, this loss meant even more as I had been carrying around enough mental weight to stop my heart, it was hard to breathe let alone move about my daily life with any type of happiness.

The invisible weight I had sitting on my heart and soul for the last 20 plus years was killing me, day by day, breath by breath.

Up until recently the fact that those within my inner circle were being hit with shrapnel from my self-inflicted abuse never seemed to stop me. While I knew for a long time that my daily thoughts impacted my life, I didn’t fully realize how much it was impacting the people that loved me today, loved ones that had nothing to do with the past that had damaged me do deep in my core that years later it still remained a big part of me, even if I didn’t know it.

I denied this to myself as I didn’t want to admit that I still feared the dark figure lurking in the shadows.

I find it ludicrous when someone whose life has never been touched by abuse says things like, “why doesn’t she just leave, “ or has the mindset that once someone is out of the immediate abuse they are now suddenly safe and should no longer either talk of the abuse or feel frightened in anyway. If only that were true I would shout it from the tree tops.

Someone wrote, “invisible fear,” for a reason, that is what the aftermath has in store, a fear that is all too real, invisible or not. For me personally this invisible fear has kept me trapped for just as many years as the initial physically, verbal and emotional abuse did.

To survive I was pushed to a survival way of thinking, my mind was always on guard.

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For me having been physically jolted from sleep many nights with a blade to my throat and being told, “scream, no one will hear you and if they do, I will slice your throat as the police pull in.” This alone has caused me to fear the shadows and for many years, just opening the closet in that same room, years after he was gone caused me anxiety.

Enough of that, back to that day, it was hard for me to realize or rather accept that my past, the one I was trying so hard to forget, was greatly impacting not only my daily happiness but those that loved me.

While it was never intentional I often blamed those around me for my bad days, “couldn’t they see that I was barely hanging on today?” I felt they didn’t care or they never would have talked back or argued with me about having to clean their room or take a shower, then again, if I didn’t realize how much pain I was in, how on earth did I expect them know.

This was a very thought provoking and even more important thought changing week for me. I know I can’t be the only one that hears something I really need to know or do and then I push it aside and never change.

You can lead that gal to knowledge but you cannot make her think, or is that something about water and a drink!

For the past year or two I have known something was wrong but I couldn’t or wouldn’t admit it to myself of those around me, after all, what on earth did I have to be sad about, great family, work, health and love.

While I was in a happy safe place, had the man of my dreams, great job, creative outlets and friends, but I was never living in the moment, I was always highly stressed and most days I took that out by nit picking my man and my little girl. I never saw or wanted to admit the issue was me.

You know friends that must live in a state of drama all the time? These are the people I have consciously removed from my life. It was a bit of a reality check to realize that in my own home, I was the drama.

At the time of this initial draft it was just a few days from New years which is my favorite time of year and I had already set my goals the weeks before. One of my biggest goals was that I was not going to allow my then 11 year old daughter to push my buttons, I was not going to yell and get upset. New years day I did great. She continued to push my buttons but I remained very calm. This lasted a few days and I really didn’t feel better inside as I struggled not to get upset, even though I was not showing my frustration, the struggle was still with me. Then something happened, she sat next to me on the couch and asked me why I didn’t’ like her? I just about died inside.

When I asked her why she felt that way she told me I bullied her and she never felt she could do anything right. She shared how hard school was then she came home and I was on top of her from the moment she walked in. I didn’t try to explain my reaction to things, my past, my inner demons, I just hugged her and told her I was sorry and that was the last thing I had ever meant to do to her. Yes, I loved her.

I have always been honest and told her age appropriate responses to life so I knew I wanted to share enough for her to understand I was not perfect. I told her this had nothing to do with her, her mother had some things happen in her past that just seemed to make her crabby and sad some-days and when she didn’t do what I asked time after time bit frustrated me and I took it out on her. I let her know that I was learning no matter what she did, I was the adult and should never make her feel this way.

Since that talk, I am not perfect, far from it, but it really made me realize that if I do not let go of the anxiety of my past, I will never fully enjoy and appreciate what I have today. We often hear success is the best revenge and that you need to let go of some things to let more into your life, both very true for me.

The good news is that it has been close to 2 years ago since that conversation on the couch and I honestly feel this is weight off of my heart and soul. I do not nit pick at my daughter or man (as much) . I think more before I say things, I think, do I really need to say that? When asking my daughter to do things, I ask, then give her time to do them, in her time, not mine. Our home is more peaceful than it has been in years. Don’t get me wrong, it has always been a happy fun home, just that my thoughts and anxiety would creep in and spoil things now and then.

The last thing that I wanted was for this beautiful little girl to grow up thinking her mother didn’t love her or bullied her. In order for her to grow up in that safe place I knew I had to stop bullying myself.

Learning to let go of a difficult past is hard, even after you think you have let it go your reaction to things, your sadness and thoughts may still bring you back to a state you became accustomed to living to survive. It is time for this next year to go from Surviving to Thriving. My hope is that you join me!

My story and your story will help and support another person that is struggling, do you still struggle years after being away from the abuse or have you found ways to feel more in control? Sharing as you know by now is the key to moving past many things in life.

Love & Peace,

Rebecca

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I wrote this poem years ago and still read it daily to stay inspired and focused:

Dream Focused

Focus,
Focus,
Focus,
Look at nothing else
Put on all your blinders
Or what you want you will lose sight
Concentration is important
Even though it may not seem
If you wish to have what you want in life
You must focus on the dream
Live it
Feel it
Be it
or nothing you will have
For those without a dream in life
Wander down the path
Someday you will feel frightened
Lost and all alone
Close your eyes and search your soul
For something to pull you through
A memory
A dream
A promise of tomorrow
The fate is in store for you must first be thought by You!

 

Today I was reviewing advice online to help rebuild self-esteem after abuse and this article was to the point, don’t try to fix everything, be patient with yourself. I wanted to share the link to the article after reading this part as I have often shared the same advice:

Be patient with yourself. Think about how you’d treat a best friend who had just been through your same situation. You likely wouldn’t tell them to “get over it already.” Let yourself take as much time as you need to sort through your emotions, feel what you need to feel and slowly come back to a positive outlook on the future.

The site offers a ton of resources such as forums and groups to support you in the aftermath of abuse, for teens and adults.  My goal is to provide you with resources and this looks like a pretty good one.  To read the rest of the article click here Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem after abuse.

If you have a site that offers support or know of one please share it in the comments, we are here to help each other heal, if not, what was the point of all of this?

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

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Jim and Cindy have a lot in common, they have never met but both are in counseling to help them stop being abusive and learn what is causing them to be so angry and out of control.

Jim has already lost everything and knows that he is ready to change.  He discovers in counseling that he never confronted the physical and sexual abuse he and his brother endured at the hands of their father.  Jim wanted to be a tough, strong man, he now realizes even though he’d buried the memories, they still controlled him and his life.

Cindy has only recently accepted that she is abusive to her husband and children.  After a recent separation from her husband, she knows she doesn’t want to end her third marriage in divorce.  Cindy had always been jealous woman, but the the anger  she was inflicting on her family was new to her and she had a hard time accepting it.  She doesn’t want to live this way anymore.

Jim and Cindy aren’t their real names but I receive countless comments from those being abused and abusers themselves, both wanting it to end.  We all want the cycle of violence to stop, but in the end, you must either be the one that leaves the abuse or the abuser must make the decision they want to change.  Most abusers have already lost everything that mattered to them when they come to the realization that they really want to change for all the right reasons, even if they can’t get their old life back.  This is the key, they are ready for the change, not you.

I had thought for many years that if I loved my husband and endured his anger, which would indeed show my loyalty by staying, someday I would be rewarded and he would stay sober, deal with his demons, stop being abusive and we would live happily ever after.  How many of you are clinging to this pipe dream today?

Well, I am  living happily ever after, but he isn’t.  His anger killed him, at 42 he died of a heart attack.  His years of abusing his body and mind killed him.  I often felt that he had wanted to die for such a long time that this must have come as a relief to him.  He too had wanted to change which I said is key, but the next step has to be actual making the changes and committing to them. This is the one thing that can’t be done by anyone else but you.

Everything has a lesson, the lesson in this for me is that it is hard enough to get myself to follow through on things that are important to me, I have a hard time breaking bad habits.  I learned to realize that I could never change anyone else.  I would want it, wish it and pray for it, but that would never be enough.

My point, you can’t insist, force, plead or pray for someone you love to stop being abusive or to make any other change for that matter, they are the ones that have to want to make that change.

Put yourself first, don’t let the abuser change you!

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

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Five Ways to Write About Your Anger
By: Lael Johnson

Most people have mixed feelings about feeling and expressing anger. Various influences suggest everything from practicing extreme self-control, holding it all in (end result: stoicism) to showing no boundaries about sharing anger at all(end result: anarchy). Finding the middle ground is the place where you can communicate feelings and the facts of a given situation, without hurting or blaming the other party, and vice versa. When this first scenario occurs, you are creating more space for positive communication changes to occur. When communication is less than ideal, continuing to express anger in old ways will reinforce old habits., aggravating an already difficult situation.

I’m recommending the following journal exercises to assist you in finding more positive ways to express your anger, and become a better communicator. When I have shared my feelings, and the other party has been receptive, I’ve been surprised at how calm I became, compared to how uncomfortable, I felt prior to sharing my feelings. I also have had some situations where I either didn’t receive a response or the other party remained silent. What is most important in any situation, is that I reached out and began the process.

Here is your exercise list:

ANGER SCRIBBLE:
When you have a strong reaction to a situation, start to pray and write about it. Remember to include a detailed description of your strong feelings including the facts of the situation. Remember to use as much space on a page as you can when you scribble. After filling a page, choose one scribble, and start drawing a specific shape over your scribble. Continue to scribble over the shape until you are finished. (e.g. You may feel tired or relieved. Your words may slow down or you may run out of time to write.) When you notice any of these reactions, it’s time to stop writing. Wait a few minutes for everything to settle, then move to the next exercise. (Note: You may substitute any ritual here if praying isn’t a good fit for you.)

To read the rest of the article and access a great selection of writing tips, click here …entire article by
Lael Johnson, owner of Writer’s Eye Advisory Service.

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One of my all time favorite books is called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. If you never read another book of self discovery, read this one. A dear friend gave me this book a few years after I was out of the abuse. It is set up to read a quote and then one page for the day, something to inspire you and make you think. I read that book front to back for over five years. I would finish the book, then a month of so later pick it back up and start all over again. Each you I was growing so when I read the same thing again it meant something different. I grew more each time I read this book.

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One day I have this book to a friend in need, knowing how much it had already helped me. For years I thought of getting the book again but I didn’t. After all, I had read it to death, so I had thought. Every now and then I thought of the book then pushed it out of my mind. Today I had taken my son to a used bookstore to find a book he wanted. As I browsed the self help section for I love those types of books for they not only help me but they help me to help others, there it was. The shelves were covered with books but the pink hard cover book that I speak of seemed to jump off the shelf at me. I immediately pulled it off the shelf. I knew I stood before this book for a reason today. I was so happy I my life I just needed to be reminded of what was important, me.
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I would buy all women this book if I could but I ask that you do this one gift for yourself and buy it. I am sure you can find a copy cheap at a bookstore or online at Amazon. Once you read the book I encourage you to share it with other. Do not my any means give them your copy for you too will want to read it over and over as you will feel your growth each time. Buy them a copy they will thank you.

Today I wanted to share with you what Ms. Breathnach wrote on for January 5th as it jumped off the page at me. The quote at the top of this page read:
The Woman You Were Meant to Be – Many women today feel a sadness we cannot name. Though we accomplish much of what we set out to do, we sense that something is missing in our lives and – fruitlessly – search “out there” for the answers. What’s often wrong is that we are disconnected from an authentic sense of self. This quote was written by Emily Hancock.

The Simple Abundance chapter asks have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered who that was looking back at you? I wanted to share with you how I overcame looking away from the mirror. Chances are as I continue to read this book it may have been a lesson from Sarah but today I am not sure.

I remember when I could not look at myself in the mirror and barely looked up as I washed my face, maybe out of shame for who was looking back at me. We can lie to others but we can never lie to ourselves. I had laid enough guilt on my heart to stop it from beating, after all, I was the one that was supposed protect my son and I allowed him to stay in a home with a man that abused me. I married this man, I invited him back after he had tried to kill me. I, I, I. It was all me, the lady that couldn’t even look herself in the eye.

I had read a lesson somewhere that encouraged me to look myself in the eye for ten seconds or more. I was to stare in the mirror and count. Honestly, I would look away before I had counted to three at first. I did this lesson everyday until finally, weeks, maybe even months later I was able to look myself square in the eye. It took months of healing with assistance from self help books and tapes for me to be able to stare down that wounded lady in the mirror. Once I was finally able to face myself, I began to forgive the woman in me that had let all this happen. Everyone tells you to forgive the abuser, that part was easier for me, I had forgiven him years before I could even think of forgiving myself.

Finally, I was able to look at my reflection in the mirror and smile and tried to do so every morning for at least ten seconds as a reminder of who was in control of my life. It has been many years since I have allowed anyone to disrespect me or to physically or mentally abuse me. That will never happened again, the end. I have finally stopped reading self help healing books and moved on to inspirational books that help me set goals and live the life of my dreams. For me this was a true measure of my success. I never asked for money or fame in my life, I just wanted to be able to look at the woman in the mirror and like who I saw.

I encourage you to try this lesson. Each day look in the mirror and stare deep into your soul through your eyes until the count of ten. Don’t fret if you can’t, try again the next day. Eventually, once you can get past ten you will slowly begin to realize that you deserve to be forgiven too. Once you forgive yourself, nothing else will matter. I feel it is not really forgiveness of the abuser that is needed to heal and move on, it is the forgiveness of oneself, at least I found this to be true for me.

Let me know how this lesson has helped you too.

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

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I am posting emails that I received from a very strong lady that I will most likely never meet. Her story is your story and it is my story. My focus has always been on supporting those in the few months after leaving abuse as I feel this is the most crucial time in knowing what to do to stay strong and not return to that life. I thought it would be helpful to this courageous woman to share her story and process of healing with others. She will benefit from letting go of things and we will all benefit as we watch her grow stronger every day. Although she asks that I not share her name I will call her Hope, for that is what she brings to all of us. I encourage Hope to post in this location rather than emailing me directly so that we can share her road to happiness together. Thank you Hope, we are here for you every step of the way.
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Dear Rebecca,

I just wanted to write and thank you for your wonderful blog. I too endured 8.5 years with a controlling abusive man. We split up many times and I always tried to get away from him, but I would always find myself going back – and always to the same results. He promised he would change many times, but it was always the same.

I have finally gotten away from him but I don’t like to look at what is left of me. I feel like a very angry old woman even though I am only 35 years old. I am so angry with him and myself for allowing me and our two kids to go through such humiliation, physical and emotional abuse.

The thing which I can’t get over is the fact that I don’t know what is ‘normal’ and what is not anymore. What I do know is that when I tell my friends some of the horrendous things I went through they look at me in sheer horror. It feels like it is somebody else’s life and story but unfortunately it is mine. I feel like there is a long painful road ahead of me, and now he gets to feel just fine like nothing happened.

Love & Peace,
Hope
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Dear Hope,

Thank you, when I receive an email likes yours it makes me grateful that I started this blog and journey. The aftermath is the hardest time I believe, we spent most of our time trying to survive moment to moment we never had the chance to stand back and see the big picture. I too remember the horrified faces of family and friends. One day I just started keeping the most shocking moments to myself, sometimes something will slip out and I just laugh it off, realizing it hurts others to hear more than me.

I look back after being gone over ten years now and it seems like I am looking at another woman, it couldn’t have been me.

Focus on what you want your life to be, don’t focus on what it was. Find others that can understand your fears, guilt, anger and sadness. I created this blog to be a resource for men and women who have left the abuse and wonder, now what, what do I do now. The silence after is the worst for you are now left with all of the memories and fear. They choke you worse than the abuser.

Be grateful that you are where you are, rather than still living it like many are. I am happy that you have changed for the hardest thing is to change another. Once I realized that things fell in to place.

You are strong, just being away from him know proves it. Feeling like the angry old lady is a familiar feeling. You are suddenly feeling raw, angry for the wasted years and what he put you through. You have another choice, just like leaving or staying. Choose to dwell in the pain of that past of take all of that anger and fight for a future that is bright and happy and all within your control. There is no normal, you decide what it will be for you now.

I also encourage you to be angry, it is a stage of mourning that you must go through or you never really heal. I was angry for a good year, sad, afraid. I even had nightmares up until 1 and 1/2 years ago. I met a wonderful man and suddenly, they were gone. My abuser was the only man I really knew and it was all my dreams had to focus on.

I encourage you to write in a journal, set short term and long terms goals. A great book that helped me in the early years was by Dr. Phil, Self Matters. It helps you to let go of what was, get over worrying about what others think and say and focus on what is within your power. Attitude is power, keep positive and real.

The fact that you are already sharing means you will go far. I hope that you stay in touch. Everyone blog post that you contribute to supports another woman that is in your shoes.

I sincerely wish you all the best that you life has in store for you. Grow and thrive from this, don’t let it beat you down another day. Show the world you are more than what happened to you.

Love & Peace,
Rebecca xo
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Rebecca,

Thank you for finding the time to reply to my email. I will keep this email you sent me as a reminder to where I want to be in the future. The bitterness, anger and hurt is eating away at me right now but I know I can get through it because that is what I have done with far worse situations over the years – get through things. (In fact I spent a lot of last night going through old police records and court documents trying to start the healing process).

Thank you for your honesty and talking from your heart. You are right about the aftermath – I always thought if I got away it would make everything okay, but I am coming to that awful realization that it is not actually the case, although I am a fighter and refuse to let this sink me.

Your story gives me hope, courage and the strength to go through this separation safe in the knowledge that whatever I go through it is better than those horrible feelings of terror and uncertainty of him coming through the door.

I know how you feel when you say it must have been another person going through the terror and it couldn’t be me. I have spent all my time minimizing the whole thing and being led into this belief that I was the crazy one, and was imagining it all! I think by sharing it with other people and seeing how horrified they are it really starts to hit home, although I would always make it out to be less than it was.

Love & Peace
Hope

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I wrote a post some time ago and I decided to start a new blog post in regards to My Last 15 Minutes

The link above was about my last 15 minutes being terrorized by my husband, it stays crystal clear in my mind, like many of you it will always be there.  I can watch it second by second as if it were happening to someone I did not know. Ten years later I do not know who that woman was, how she was able to finally leave.

I encourage you to write you last 15 minutes here, my story and yours will encourage another man or woman to leave their abuser.  We never think we are the strong one, I thought I was the weakest person God had made at that moment.  It was not courage at the time that helped me leave, it was sheer fear.

When I am asked that horrid question, why does someone stay in abuse, I  reply, “You stay in the abuse because the fear of leaving is greater than the fear of staying.  You leave the abuse when the fear of staying is greater than the fear of leaving.”

I had always thought he would kill me if I tried to leave and in that last 15 minutes, I realized he was going to kill me if I stayed.

Please post your last 15  minutes, what finally made you leave?  Most of all tell us how you have managed to stay free and strong.  This is what those in the aftermath of searching for, a connection to you, someone who has been where they are.  Sitting in the room in the dark afraid of their own shadow, feeling worthless, wondering how they allowed this to happen.  Your words can change another person’s life.

By posting here you are allowing me to  use your story or a portion of it in upcoming posts blogs or books.  I appreciate your strength and courage.

Love & Peace Always,
Rebecca

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