What do you know with your heart?

15 Aug 2007

This week I was working with a client who knew the answers
to her difficulties as well as I did. At least, she kept agreeing with me and saying that she already knew the
things I was telling her. I had no
doubt that she did. She has been in the
personal development world for some years. But for all that she was desperately

You see, what she knew did not affect what she felt.


Because she knew it with her head, not with her heart.

An abusive relationship does awful things to your
heart. Maybe you feel that your heart
has been shattered into a thousand pieces. Maybe you feel it has been ground to dust. Maybe you feel, like I once did, that your heart has been pickled
in bile for so long that it has become a ghastly, wizened little thing, like a
pickled walnut.

In an abusive relationship your heart is systematically
trashed and vilified. You walk, or limp
away feeling that your heart is worthless because that is the way it has been

And so you put your trust in your head. Because your head must be clear and
rational, must it not? That is what
heads are meant to be, after all.

Yet your head will not lead you out of the impasse. Such wisdom as you hold in your head stops
at the jaw bone or the neck. It doesn’t
percolate through to the important parts.

You know that because the doubts and the anxiety and the
self-loathing remain. So you ask for
more clarity, more understanding about what he was really thinking, what he
really wanted, whether he ever really loved you. Because when you have that, then you will have

Except it doesn’t work like that. Closure is an emotional thing. Or more correctly, closure is the outcome of
your emotional healing.

Your reason will not give you emotional closure. It’s like trying to learn how to drive a car
by riding a bicycle. You will acquire a
small amount of awareness about being on the road with other vehicles etc. But you won’t internalize the key skills
specific to driving a car.

While you focus on understanding him you will not
heal. Nor will you heal while you focus
on all of your own ‘shoulds’. In an
abusive relationship, you have been – if you’ll pardon the absurdly sexist
phrase – someone’s emotional, and possibly also physical, whipping boy. When you trot out the ‘shoulds’, you
become the one doing the whipping.

As a child I grew up in a world where you were punished to
keep you ‘on the straight and narrow’. It worked. I continued toddling
down the straight and narrow, straight into the arms of an abusive
husband. It took me until very recently
to learn that ‘the straight and narrow’ is an idiotic idea. Life is neither straight nor narrow. Learning how to put one foot in front of the
other with blinkers on is a hopeless preparation for life.

One of the joys of leaving an abusive relationship behind
is that you are free to take off the blinkers. You no longer have to see the world through anyone else’s eyes. Admittedly, you may not be too clear about
what you actually think about things. You have, after all, been
brainwashed to swallow your abusive partner’s view.

Your poor head, the head that you vainly rely on for
clarity, is confused. Your heart is
either hurting or silent. 

do you turn?

You turn inwards and backwards. Not to your abusive relationship, perish the thought. That is like the Bermuda triangle; fix your
gaze on that and you will disappear from the known world. Instead you focus on the person you once
were. Not like a friend of mine who
looked back in misery, only to lament her present lot: “Once I was slim and
beautiful, lovable and successful and now I am fat and ugly, a failure and

look back to reconnect with all that you felt was best in you, because that best
never dies, it simply lies dormant. And, no, it won’t be some overdressed Prince Charming who will awaken
that dormant you with a kiss. 


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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