It is already a tough decision to think about, let alone execute. Some respect the decision though they may not understand it while others can’t for the life of them “get it”. These people, no matter their intent, don’t really make things any easier. In fact, it is not really a particular person that give you the strength to follow through such a big decision. It’s that “it” factor that you can feel but don’t really know what it is. All you do know is that you have had enough and come hell or high water you are done – and this time done for good.
You are FINALLY leaving that unhealthy relationship!!!
For starters, when I use the word “unhealthy” I am talking about the kind of relationship where there is abuse. This is the kind of abuse that is designed to control the actions of another. The abuse could be physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, or spiritual. Abuse is a pattern of negative behavior from your partner that results in a pattern of submissive behavior from you. This is not a clinical explanation but a quick and dirty definition that will make sense to those who have been in an unhealthy relationship. Additionally, abuse can happen in any relationship, but the intimate ones tend to be the longer lasting ones due to the intimacy factor. (We can dive deeper into this in a later conversation.)
Leaving is the first tough step but the real challenge is how you stay out. One of the toughest things to deal with after leaving an unhealthy relationship is re-igniting an old friendship, or in some cases a new one, with yourself. Being out on your own is not like moving out of mom and dad’s, which had a sense of excitement and liberation. Leaving an unhealthy relationship does come with a similar sense of freedom along with a sense of fear, anxiety, and “what the hell do I do now?”
Don’t worry; those are all normal feelings and questions. What’s more? You should be feeling those things! Those are great signs that you are on a path towards healing and getting you back. What sucks about these feelings? They don’t feel good. They can easily position you for another unhealthy relationship.
I know what you are thinking…”WTF? Why? Why do we have to go through these crummy feelings to move on?”
Well, my dear, because what you were involved in didn’t happen or evolve overnight. It took a lot of time, for some of you years, to get to where you were. So, it is pretty unreasonable to think that a new normal occurs by simply moving out. Moving out and spending some time alone is just the first few steps down the road of healing. The real work starts at this point despite how tough all decisions were to get here.
So, a few things to keep in mind as you venture down this new road:
- Do recognize you will question what you have done! This is normal and to expect it is what makes it easier. It is totally fine to wonder if you are doing the right thing or if you made a mistake. You literally took the puzzle of your life and removed some pieces of it giving you the space to feel as though you are not whole. To counter this remember, you were whole and always will be. (Let’s visit this idea later, too, it can get pretty deep.) J
- Expect to have free time on your hands and no idea how to spend it. When living in an unhealthy relationship you were likely always worried about what things would be like if the abuser was gone or worrying about how to walk on egg shells for the day. Maybe you spent your time presenting yourself, your home, your children, or anything in just the most perfect manner to avoid triggering your abuser. Now that the abuser you don’t have all those expectations to live up to. This is time to learn about you and what you like…time to date you for a while! J
- Realize that you are not a bad person for leaving. This is such a tough feeling to deal with particularly if there are children that miss the abuser or others who don’t understand. First, it’s hard to remember your abuser doesn’t abuse everyone or doesn’t abuse them in the same way. This puts you is such a crazy position when others feel they should have justification for your decision. This leaves you with opportunity to take blame based on reactions of others. DON’T! Just as you need to feel through your emotions others need to do the same and all at your own pace!
- Realize you are easy to deceive in your own home!!! Your abuser is no fool. They know how to work you over and spent a good amount of time doing so in the home you two shared. Being in the space that you now solely manage doesn’t make you the power in the home; just makes you the only provider. You can expect your abuser to try to weasel their way in your territory using all their best tricks – some tricks you will recognize and some you won’t. The abuser doesn’t want to be alone any more than you do. They don’t know what to do with themselves, either. Their object of control left and therefore will play that “vulnerable” card better than Luke Skywalker begging his father for help against Darth Sidious. Know it could take a few times of falling for those tricks (old and new) to realize the abuser is working towards an Oscar nomination. Don’t get down on yourself when it happens. Forgive yourself and try a new strategy. Easier said than done but you will do it though it does take time and a lot of: “Oh shit, not again.”
These are just a few of the things you should expect. Avoiding them only makes things harder on you. If you learn to expect them or continue to expect them, they will be easier to work through when they happen. Half the battle of leaving the abuser is knowing that there is a rough road ahead and a lot of uncomfortable feelings that you are unfamiliar with. These are all good things that are indicative of better choices. They don’t feel like it at the time but if you review on some of your others “firsts” you may find there are several of them that didn’t feel that great at first but wound up to be not that bad. 😉
You can do it.
Pro Tip: Go back through the list and when you see the word “abuser” or specific pronouns use the name of the person and their pronoun. Make this about you and hear what you are going through