The thing with emotional abuse is that it takes long for the victim to recognize that they were or are being emotionally abused. You cannot heal from a condition you are not even aware you are suffering from. Sometimes even the abusers themselves are not aware that their behavior is tantamount to abuse.
For those that are aware of their behavior, they do their best to ensure that the person abused remains under their control. They will manipulate them by taking them to extremes of highs and lows. One day they are exceptionally good to you and the next day they are the complete opposite. This confuses the victim and makes it even harder for them to walk away from such a relationship.
Survivors of emotionally abusive relationships are mostly left with low self-esteem. They have a tough time trusting people again. If you’ve been in such a relationship, you might have experienced months or years feeling unworthy and unappreciated.
Nothing you ever did was good enough. You got so used to being controlled and manipulated that you no longer know who you really are. The abuse somehow became a lifestyle and at some point you started to believe the lies you were told and made to feel. And maybe you still believe. Unfortunately, that too is a lie. There is a way for you to take back control of your life.
We all have the power to create for ourselves an environment that empowers us and makes us feel worthy and wanted. We don’t always need to wait for someone to come into our lives and love us back to life.
5 steps to healing from emotional abuse.
1. Grieve: Do not hold back expressing your emotions over the end of your relationship. You have every right to be angry and resentful. Pretending that you were not hurt or that nothing happened will only make the heart become more bitter.
You need to recognize that you were hurt, manipulated and made to feel unworthy. You need to mourn your losses. Vent if you like. And then stop. You can only cry for so long. Eventually, you will need to stop and do something that actually turns your life around. You need to heal.
2. Take time to focus on yourself. If you recently walked away from an emotionally abusive relationship, chances are that you are dying to get back into a new relationship. You are not used to being alone. Your previous relationship left you feeling drained. You just want someone to hold you tight and love you like you’ve never been loved before.
It almost feels natural for humans to desire to find their self-worth in someone else. Except, that shouldn’t be the case. Before you can get involved with someone else, it’s important that you take some time to be alone. To heal. This is the time to reflect on everything that went right and wrong in the previous relationship(s).
3. Fall in-love with yourself. Use your time alone (single) to rediscover your true self. It is a time to invest in yourself. You deserve to treat yourself. Before you can attempt to love another person, you need to first learn to love yourself. And before you can expect someone to genuinely fall in love with you, you need to love yourself.
If you are still bitter and resentful over your failed relationship, it means you have neither healed nor moved on from it. It would be unwise to jump into another relationship like that. The chances of repeating the mistakes of the failed relationship in the new one will be high. The patterns of emotional abuse will emerge again because you gave a broken version of yourself to someone.
You gave them total control over your life. You gave them the responsibility to heal you and make you happy when such a responsibility was yours, to begin with. So create the best version of yourself whilst alone so as not to give anyone else the power to gauge your worth according to their standards.
4. Get support. You need support. There’s an implied emphasis there. You need the best support you can get. Create a support team for yourself. Get your family, friends or even a trained professional to help you on your path to healing.
You can’t heal in isolation. Trusted friends and family can hold your hand through the toughest times. They are a pillar to lean on. They can keep us in check when we are losing the way and they can encourage us in tough times. A counselor or psychologist can give us professional help on the appropriate steps to take to recovery.
5. Invest time in a hobby. Instead of getting yourself a boyfriend immediately after a break-up from an emotionally abusive relationship, invest in a hobby. Or better yet, take up a course or join a fun club or book club. Find something you love doing and spend time doing it.
You can do this alone or you can involve your friends. However, resist the temptation to become too dependent on your family and friends. The idea is to get yourself back on the ground on your two feet. Your friends are your cheerleaders but you’re running the show. So have fun while you’re at it.
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