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Posts Tagged ‘aftermath of abuse’

“Everyone agrees it’s important to live in the moment, but the problem is how,” says Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard and author of Mindfulness. “When people are not in the moment, they’re not there to know that they’re not there.” Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes intentionality and practice.

 

Do you struggle to live in the moment?

Are you safe and away from abuse but still struggle to stop and smell the flowers?

You are not alone, for many, myself included, letting your guard down and enjoying simple things can be a struggle after years of domestic violence. Most times I feel like I am doing everything that I can to avoid living in the moment by thinking about my past or thinking about what I am not doing or need to do for my future.

Living in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled living in the moment after domestic violence

Definition of Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them.

I am very aware that I struggle to stop and smell the flowers as the saying goes, “living in the moment.”  Tonight in a moment of inner reflection I realized why I struggle to live in the moment.  This sudden epiphany happened while doing one of my regular calming rituals which is taking a scalding hot bath to the glow of any resemblance of a candle, could be a fake one, real one, doesn’t matter, just the glow is what I am looking for.

Tonight as I sank in the hot bath I realized why I still struggle with fully living in the moment.

Anyway, tonight I put the candle on the side of my tub, shut off the lights and stepped into my sanctuary of bubbles. I know I really need this me time when I have gone the extra mile and added some bubbles.  Just like the glow of the candle, as far as the bubbles I don’t care where they come from either, could be some shampoo, just something about the bubbles helps put my mind in that relaxing, stress-free place.

When I take a bath like this, I am totally living in the moment.

I am one of those people that never stop thinking (talking too I am sure) but definitely thinking never stops. So here I am, laying in my hot bath and thinking about how much I was really enjoying this specific moment as the hot water started to work on my tense muscles and the candle, dark room and bubbles started to work on relaxing my mind.

So tonight I realized that other than the clarity of a hot bath, I struggled with being fully present and living in the moment.

Then it hit me full force like a punch in the gut why I am this way, as a child I lived in abuse and was surviving moment to moment, and then later in my marriage, which was the most traumatic time of my life as I didn’t know what level of violence was in store for me today, I was again, surviving moment to moment. 

I can still remember the days I drove home from work sick to my stomach, wondering what I was about to come home to. I would often stop at a pay-phone (no cell phone then) and call the Domestic Violence Hotline, sad I had it memorized in those days. I would just vent to the poor lady on the phone that I was terrified I would die today, she would beg me not to go home but I would thank her for letting me vent and I would hang up and head home.

I was living in the moment wondering, when I turned the knob was he going to come at me drunk or when I was washing the dishes later would I be struck from behind with a cast iron pan or turn to see an ax at my back.

I was living in the fucking moment alright!

I was so living in the fear of the moment for so long that now I wonder if because I had to live that way for the sake of my survival do I almost now struggle living in the moment. Does this make sense?

If I were fully living in the moment now, they are great happy moments, I have been safe physically for many years, I have a loving man that was meant for me, a great family, health, food (fell in love with a man that loves to cook and is amazing – put that on your list of must-haves) and a roof over our head and dreams of an amazing future.

Out of everything on that list, feeling safe in my own home and being able to sleep without fear of the monster in the closet means more than anything.

The reason that I wanted to share my inner struggle with living in the moment isn’t to hear, “poor me,” but to help you understand why you too may struggle with living in the moment once you are free from abuse.
Living in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled living in the moment after domestic violence

I am sure that I can’t be the only one that struggles with this. Even if you are out of the abuse and you are safe and not worried about being terrorized you may struggle to live in the moment, especially the really good ones.

I encourage you to share if you still struggle to live in the moment or what you have done to overcome this. Just having this moment of clarity on why I struggle to live in the moment has helped me to be more fully present.  LIke they say, “you can’t change what you don’t know.”  I know this has been true for me.

How can you learn to live in the moment now? 

  • Focus, your attention, thoughts, and feelings on the task at hand.
  • If you are speaking to somebody, then your attention and energy must be focused on them and what they are saying.
  • Give your full focus on the task you are doing, enjoy even the little things from doing the dishes to sitting in the sun for a few minutes.
  • Learn to love and appreciate that you have learned to live in the moment.
  • Be kind to yourself, you do not have to be perfect, it may take time for you to feel that you are really living in the moment.  If I can do this, so can you!
  • Create morning rituals to set up you for success.

The biggest thing that has helped me is my morning ritual of coffee in bed and really appreciating that time and the taste of that coffee.  I then pray and say what I am grateful for, I really focus on my enjoyment of those moments just for me.  For me, coming up with rituals to pull me into the moment by being focused as I enter a situation to be conscious of the importance of the moment has helped.

Click to read 19 Seconds of Conscious Breathing to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.

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Living in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled to live in the moment after domestic violenceLiving in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled to live in the moment after domestic violenceliving in the moment after domestic violence

 

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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.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall – how staring down that woman in the mirror can help you recover from 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 or 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.

to read the rest of this post please click here
Love & Peace,
Rebecca

 

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Dedicated to slain officer’s Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz, their families, co-workers, community, and pets, especially Ace.

Violence is not the problem; it is a consequence of the problem – Jim Wallis

German_Shepherd_police_dog_tribute

Dedicated to slain officer’s Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz, their families, co-workers, community, and pets, especially Ace.

I wrote this around 6 years ago but never posted it, while looking at some past writing I stumbled on it and felt that this was something I needed to share as nothing has changed over the years. I decided to post this on January 24th, on the anniversary of this event.

That night, some 6 years ago on January 24, 2011, I sat glued like the rest of the state as we saw a house being turned to ashes; even wood beams and concrete were not safe from what happened today. Riddled with bullets, tear gas and death, for the safety of everyone involved, the house was destroyed.

to read the rest of this article click here 

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

Dream_Focused_Inspirational_Poetry_children_adults

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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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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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