I was in an abusive relationship for many years. And once I left my abusive ex, I never ever ever wanted to look back. Like ever. I wanted to look away from the muck that was the past and forwards towards the buckets of sunlight that I envisioned for the future. First, I took some time to take back my power. To heal some of the most noticeable wounds. To work through my day to day anxiety that he would come and find me until he wasn’t at the forefront of my mind all the time. And slowly the visceral pain that was that life of abuse began to fade into the background of my memory, like all the color drained from it and it hung like dusty black and grey photos in the attic of my mind.
Then, after years of loving being single, I started dating again and it was as if someone switched the light on in the attic, wiped the dust off the photos and began hurling them at my face with deafening force. All the trauma from the past began exploding out all over my life and wreaking havoc on my new relationship. My brain didn’t know what to do about being in love again. My abuser had literally trained me to fear every part of being cared for.
This is not a unique experience, in fact, quite the opposite. Most people have trauma from their past relationships that effect the way that they love from then on. So, I set out to fix this. To throw the photos into the shredder for good and no longer fear their presence. Here is the top five lessons that I learned after reading countless books, hiring many coaches and healers, and eventually becoming a coach myself.
- There are NOT enough resources online for people that are going through this revival of their past relationship abuse. Like definitely not enough. This helps exactly no one. There are TONS of resources when people have just left a relationship, are wanting to leave an abuser, or even to help you not date a loser again but so few that deal with the PTSD that comes up when you begin dating again after abuse. I aim to change this, personally.
- It is so easy to convince yourself that you must solve all your trauma by yourself. In fact, the thought that you can’t solve it yourself actually makes you feel weak because you told yourself you had left your ex behind you. But here they are again, ruining things. You may be telling yourself that you thought you healed when you were single but that didn’t work so why would you want to try again. Or worse, that maybe you just are bad at relationships. Stop it. What you are dealing with is real trauma, stop pretending its not.
- Everyone blames other people for not being able to fix their pain. I blame Disney for this one. In our rational minds we know its not our partners’ faults that we are experiencing all this fear and guilt but in our subconscious fantasy loving minds we thought our Prince Charming was supposed to save us. Then when our partners can’t magically navigate the maze of our pain that we ourselves can’t figure out we get mad at them. Like ugh what is wrong with them. See what I did there?
- Knowing your fears is invaluable to your healing journey. Seriously, make a list of your fears, everything from your great grandma’s basement to the fear of being unlovable. Write them down. This way you will know them and be able to see when you are acting from a place of fear when you are getting overwhelmed with all the feelings. This gives you the power to stop fear before it overtakes your day and think more rationally.
- Find support. I cannot stress how make or break support is in life. We are humans and therefore herd animals. Find a herd that builds you up and helps you to conquer your demons. Stop thinking that you are a burden. PEOPLE LIKE TO HELP PEOPLE. Be a people that accepts that. I am not saying you have to have a massive herd but hiring a coach isn’t a bad idea. And always, always, tell your partner what you are going through. It should come as no surprise, yet often does, that they are part of your herd. Like a big part.
Often, and I was no exception to this by the way, people seem to drink this invisible Kool-Aide that tells them that healing must be hard. Do not drink that. Spit it out! Now! Your past was hard. If you are living with all the trauma of that past messing with your life and love, that is hard. Believing you must do everything alone is hard. But healing? Healing is about acceptance and should be fun. You get to learn about love! Love is awesome! Not the crappy type of love that your ex sold you but the good stuff.
And remember, you are not alone. Never. There are so many people that are healing from the same wounds as you. Find those people. Let’s heal together.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books–written by men–barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.