I wish I could tell you that the moment you walk away from your abuser, everything will fall into place again and you will revert back to the person that you were before the abuse. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Ending things with the abuser that I loved wasn’t even the hardest part.
The hardest part came after.
Working through the trauma following the abuse was the most exhausting and tremulous time I have ever experienced. However, what came on the other side was better than I could have ever imagined and I write this in hope that I can show you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
These are the four stages that I went through on my healing journey.
Stage I: The Aftermath
When I walked away from my abusive relationship I thought that I would immediately revert back to the person I had been.
I couldn’t have been any more delusional.
For all of my life, I had prided myself on being optimistic, joyful, happy, and carefree. The girl who left her abuser wasn’t that person anymore. She was exhausted. drained, heartbroken, and numb.
Looking back, I know now that there is absolutely no way that I could have left the relationship as the same person that I was. The reality is that I had survived emotional and physical abuse that had been manipulative and caused me to lose my sense of self-esteem and worth.
Those qualities are not things that magically return on their own and they aren’t going to return during the aftermath. Instead, this is a time when it’s important to recognize that what you just went through was hell on earth.
Stage II: The Self-Reflection
After the dust from the aftermath had cleared and the anger had subsided I was able to actually reflect on the relationship with a clearer head.
I realized that my ex was far from the first person I had let manipulate, hurt, and take advantage of me. No, he may have been the first to abuse me in the way he did but in reality, he came from a long-line of toxic people I had let waltz into my life.
Now, I recognized that I was not to blame for falling for a classic charming narcissist, but I was to blame for continually allowing toxic people into my life and not working on my codependent tendencies.
I began to reflect on my life and how most of my decisions were based on making my partner happy, and trying to make a relationship work… instead of tapping into what I wanted and what would make ME happy.
I realized that it was time for me to start working on myself so I found an amazing therapist and began tackling the issues that I had pushed down for so much of my life.
Stage III: The Transformation
The first few months of therapy and inward reflection were extremely difficult.
Old wounds and childhood trauma came to the surface and I had to work through the things I had been running from for so long. There were moments of flashbacks and memories that were so painful to revisit that I would break down and often not be able to end the session because I was crying so hard.
However… slowly but surely, things began to turn around.
I decided to move to a city I had wanted to live in since I was young with my best friend. I found a full-time job but also began writing and tapping into old hobbies I hadn’t explored since I was young.
I practiced the tools that were given to me from my therapist to work through what had happened to me and I began to cultivate healthy boundaries.
A quiet joy began creeping back into my life. I spent time with friends but also ensured that I was blocking off time for myself which was usually spent hiking through nature.
Stage IV: The Freedom
In order for me to be truly free of my abusive partner, I had to let go. I had to cut off all contact. I had to block them on social. I had to ensure that he had no opportunity to be part of my life ever again.
I wrote everything that had happened. I worked through what had happened with my therapist who validated my experiences… and I realized that I had a choice.
I could let my experience with my abuser cause me to never trust or love again. Or I could learn from it and come out on the other side even stronger.
I chose to let it transform my life instead of letting it define my life.
At times when I am telling my story, I have noticed that at times I focus on the pain that I went through in my abusive relationship. It is actually much more important that I focus on life on the other side.
On the other side, I have been able to share my story. I have been able to help other people who have been through this painful experience.
I was able to identify what I wanted in my life and go after my dreams. I eventually started to date again and eventually I was able to trust and love again with the most amazing partner.
If you are feeling trapped I want you to know that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, and you deserve to be loved.
Don’t accept anyone into your life that tells you the opposite or makes you feel like you don’t deserve the best version of your life.
Because you do.