I first found this site after I left my abusive husband 7 years and and found it an invaluable source of both support and help. Since then, I've posted intermittently although the last time was a few years ago. Very briefly, I was with him for nearly 30 years during which time there was huge emotional abuse, plus marital rape, and he ended up throwing a knife at me.
However, here I am again, wondering if I will ever feel OK? Sometimes I can just get on with life but other times, like now, everything seems so difficult. I've had to work hard to forge a new life and but trying to escape the ghosts of the past doesn't get any easier.
I tried counselling which was an expensive mistake as she hadn't a clue about abuse victims, and I really don't have the funds to try again.
What I'd like to know is if you ever heal after abuse, or is it just a case of accepting your new life and trying to get through it as best you can?
One thing I can say is I am glad you are away from your ex. I was in a relationship for 26 years and have been out for about 4 and 1/2. Rebounded into the worst abusive relationship (ex husband was also abusive) and have been free of that one for just about 4 years. He taught me what abuse really looks like. I just broke up with a guy whom I have been with for 3 years.
So, do we ever heal after abuse or do we accept our new life and get through? Very good question. I ask myself that a lot.
What I do believe is that it is different for all of us, meaning how I heal and go forward is very different from what may work for someone else. I got very lucky with a counselor from my local DV center (where counselling is free) and I have gone in and out of counseling I think 3 times.
I just started back about a month ago. I was being "triggered" constantly with my recent boyfriend and I just couldn't deal with the whole relationship thing any longer. He was not abusive...but he had a lot of similar personality traits and behaviors that just reminded me too much of being abused by my ex-husband and the ex rebound guy. He and I worked really hard at making this relationship healthy and good, but he had just gotten separated from his second wife when we met, he was abused and still is by his mother, abandoned by his father, and even though he worked to overcome a lot of those issues, we both had too much baggage that was just too much for us to overcome. We both still have wounds that don't have scars yet. It hurts, as I loved him, but we are better for it.
I believe that recovering from abusive relationships is kind of like how a wound starts to heal. A scab forms, it heals and then comes off and at times a scar is formed. There will always be some sort of feeling that goes with that scar. There may even been a stab of pain or hurt at that scar site when something irritates it, kind of like it will always be tender to the touch. Maybe we just learn how to not to touch it, or we learn how to guard that scar so it doesn't get touched or triggered and that stabbing pain comes back?
I can say I have "wounds" that now have scars, I still have some wounds that have scabs. I still get triggered. I think for me though, I try very hard to learn from each trigger and figure out why I am feeling the way I am feeling, then try and find a new way to respond to the trigger so if I get triggered again (there is always a huge chance it will be triggered again), that "stabbing" pain I spoke of isn't as harsh as it was the first or second time it happened. There are also things that will tear open those "scabs" that are not completely turned into scars. I had a lot of that when I first starting dating my most recent guy. He triggered me a few months into the relationship and some of those scabs came open. I got through it and tried to work it through..but he just kept triggering me.
He and I broke up about 3 weeks ago. I am very relieved that he is gone and I am not being triggered anymore by him. I have this feeling of being free and life is much easier. I smile more, I laugh more, I enjoy my friends and family more. I have ups and downs..but more ups than downs.
One thing I also believe is that we never really forget. I remember so many awful moments with the exes. Some stuff feels like it happened yesterday, but there are also memories that don't sting as much. There are days where I can go all day and not think of my ex-husband or ex-rebound guy. I find myself feeling pretty good on those days. I think now I don't dwell on those thoughts and that seems to help.
I am happy right now, I am loving my life. I celebrate everyday something positive and good because I survived the worst moments of my life. I love me, I listen to my inner voice, I try not to get stuck on the negative stuff because I know if I do I will get depressed and then everything else will go down hill too. I find things that make me happy..I read lots of books, I write, I hike and go kayaking, and I take cooking classes and I spend time with those people I love and who love me. And I come to this forum as often as I can because it continues to help me. For me, I need to give back, I needed to find a way to make this horrible nightmare into something good. I was determined to find that "light at the end of a very dark tunnel" and vowed to myself that if I could help someone else find that light..then maybe this all wasn't for nothing. I was helped by so many courageous people on this forum. Helping others helps me too.
From what you said, it sounds like life is a struggle right now for you. And there are moments I am sure where it feels like we will never get rid of our past. It just never goes away. What does work for you? What isn't working right now? Because what did work may not work for now.
Please keep posting if that helps you, I am here and will do my best to help. Hope today was a better day!
I did just the same - having eventually found the courage to leave my ex I immediately went into a very similar, abusive relationship which did me even more damage.
It sounds, from what you say, that your relationship with your boyfriend was too difficult for both of you. I've come to realise that in order for you to make the right choices and decisions about who you want in your life, you have to be in a good place yourself. Looking back, I was so desperate to have someone in my life to share things with that I thought that even an abusive partner was better than none. Of course, it isn't, but you're mind isn't in a good place so you tend to make the wrong decisions and choices.
I like your analogy of abuse being a permanent scar which the scab sometimes come off from - that is very true. I think it's the amount of pain when the wound is affected that still surprises me. After several years I really thought the pain wouldn't be as great as it still sometimes can be, but guessing the damage that years and years of abuse has caused is not going to go away that easily.
And yes, we do try to shield the wound from damage and like you, I try to work out what the triggers are and avoid them, although sometimes, something will happen totally out of the blue which can cause me such pain.
I'm certainly in a better place than I was a couple of days ago, and that's something else I'm learning - that the bad times will always pass, however hard they are to get through.
I hope you, too, Karen are having a good day and thank you for your wise words.
Hi Treacle, I remember when I had decided to leave my now ex-husband, I was CRAVING some kindness and affection. I found a guy online..dating website (mistake number 1) and he said all the right things and was so charming and I thought I had found the guy I had been looking for my whole life. HE WAS HORRIBLE! He made my husband at the time, look like a saint..and he was far from that! I didn't really understand abuse until I met him and as I learned what happened in that abusive relationship, I started to see that my marriage was not what I had made it out to be..it was abusive. I can even look back to a guy I dated in college and I remember thinking that what was going on in that relationship was also abuse. He had gotten physical with me a few times..I really didn't get it. I do now.
My most recent boyfriend..neither of us were in a "good" place like you said. And neither of us were really over our exes. He is still legally married and finally ready to file for divorce, which was a very SORE spot for us as I just couldn't get past that he was still married. And when I realized why he was still married? He told me it was because he was afraid if he was divorced, I would persuade him to get married and he would be influenced like he had been in his past 2 marriages to be married again. I straight out told him I was not going to marry him then or now. I did not want to get married again. But, boy was I hurt that I was the reason he wasn't getting divorced. Now that I think about that, I am glad we are not together. My gut says that just wasn't right.
So for me, I am working really hard on finding that "good" place. I want to be in a mindset where the exes are "afterthoughts" and not in the forefront of a conversation. I don't want to be in a relationship where "they are there too". It used to really bother me that anytime the most recent guy and I were intimate..our exes would end up creeping into the conversation. It was like they were in our relationship too and it was just way too crowded. So, I am really trying to put them in my past, definitely learn from those experiences and not repeat them in the future.
You sound better Treacle. I know those feelings come and go. I have been working with my counselor on really learn how to pay attention when I am having a certain feeling and why I am being triggered. Once I can figure that out..I feel more in control about how I react to it. I am trying to not get into that "downward spiral" of emotions that take me to that dark place of sadness, anxiety, and confusion. So far, I am doing ok.
I have begun to find and do things that I truly love and every time I go to a class or a program, I come away feeling refreshed and just full of good feelings. Mostly because I did something I WANTED to and NO one had a say in whether I did it or not, I met many interesting people as we are all just looking to do just that..meet new people and enjoy an activity together, and I am usually learning something new.
So far, so good.
Thank you for your insights as well. You are so right that sometimes those triggers just creep up and we didn't see them coming. I still just try and take a deep breath, and know that it will pass like you said, and tell myself I am going to be OK. I am not powerless..I am in control of me and anyone who tries to control me..well, it is time for me to take a walk in the opposite direction. Not always easy to do, but it is my goal! LOL
Trusting my Journey..that is my motto! So far, I am doing ok. Karen