Six weeks into my marriage, I already knew something was terribly wrong – but I couldn’t work out what. Not for the life of me. couldn’t make sense of it. But the humiliation I felt at his rejections (yes, it had happened more than once, by then) was killing. So, what did I do?
I did what most emotionally abused women do: I did my best to numb the pain.
Most emotionally abused women constantly try to numb the pain they feel. TWEET This
I believed I couldn’t leave because I loved him – and the dream of lasting love he represented. I couldn’t leave because I had nowhere to go. Besides, saving face felt incredibly important. So, I told myself it wasn’t that important.
Of course, Mr Nasty supported that view. That was exactly what he was telling me. When he was, actually, speaking to me, that is.
You know how it goes, right? Love’s-Young-Dream finds a ‘reason’ to morph into The Humiliator. That ‘reason’ is something you did – or didn’t do, which may, or may not, have any direct bearing on his life. (An ill plucked eyebrow could be enough to trigger him!) He has a field day telling you exactly what makes you such a poor excuse for a human being. He offloads all that negativity onto you, and enjoys the brief high. Then he takes stock: he realizes you might be feeling he’s gone too far, this time.
So, what does he do?
If it’s reasonably early on in your emotionally abusive relationship, you might get to hear the ‘S’ word, and the ‘L’ word (that’s Sorry, and Love if any memory of those words from his lips has been lost in the mists of time).
For an emotional abuser, the words “Sorry” and “Love” are optional TWEET This
Minimizing the importance of what he did, on the other hand, is absolutely necessary. It serves a few purposes: it makes him feel better about himself, it re-establishes the – correct – power-base in the relationship, and it serves to confuse and diminish you.
What does an emotionally abusive man do to confuse and diminish you? TWEET This
He tells you that you are over-reacting; he insists you are making a big deal out of something harmless. What you went though, as a result of his behavior, was not that important. He tells the story in such a way that he is no longer the agent of whatever hurt befell you, as in: “I was just being affectionate when I called you a ‘porker’. You took it the wrong way. You can’t even take a joke.”
Part of you wants to believe it wasn’t that important, because you’re still invested in the relationship. Even though the emotional and/or physical bruises you bear tell another story.
But you make the trade: in the interests of holding the relationship together, you buy into the story that it wasn’t that important.
You pawn your soul to stay in an emotionally abusive relationship that tears you apart. TWEET This
Pawning your soul means that leaving can only be incredibly hard.
Pawning your soul means that having a life after your emotionally abusive relationship can be incredibly hard, too.
Because you feel like you have lost your soul.
In reality, your soul is pawned, not lost. You can get it back. You really can redeem it, and yourself.
But you will have to ditch a few beliefs about yourself, and your life, that really aren’t helpful. Beliefs like:
- It’s all over for me
- I can never be happy again
- I must be a total waste of space
- I’m not good enough
- If Mr Nasty couldn’t love me, nobody else ever will
Those beliefs are sheer and utter B-A-L-D-E-R-D-A-S-H. (Of course, if you don’t like the word ‘balderdash’ feel free to substitute any other word – with a similar meaning – that works better for you).
What keeps you stuck in the hurt and unhappiness of the past?
The beliefs you have about yourself. The story you tell yourself about why he happened to you.
Bad experiences happen. Bad people happen. They happen to you, and they happen to me.
You don’t shield yourself from them by being as nice as you possibly can be. You shield yourself from them by believing in yourself, valuing yourself, and taking charge of your life.
You can do that at any time. Remember your soul is only ‘pawned’. It isn’t sold, it isn’t lost forever, and it can be redeemed. But you do need to know how.