“There’s More Room In A Broken Heart”

05 Mar 2012

“Don’t mind if I fall apart, there’s more room in a broken heart” as Carly Simon famously sang (Coming Around Again)  As you know to your cost, an abusive man doesn’t need those words of reassurance.  He really won’t mind if you fall apart – provided you do it quietly enough.  Of course, if you fall apart, either physically or emotionally, in such a way as to be genuinely in need of his help, he will mind very much.

Carly Simon’s lyrics have resonated with me since… forever.  My falling apart – quietly – suited my abusive husband very, very well.  It meant he could label me “The Bad One” and “The Mad One”.  It meant he had a fair chance of making it stick with most people, who were too blind to understand the true dynamic of an abusive relationship.

At some level, I was dimly aware that my falling apart left him a large space, or stage, where he could act out to his heart’s content…

This week, a number of delightful clients have been saying how hard it is to let go of an abusive partner who throws them odd crumbs of affection.  What if those crumbs were the start of an avalanche of affection, and respect, and happiness, after all?

The problem is, of course, that it’s a wrong-headed argument.  You cannot truly love someone and withhold the square meal of affection.  If you did that to an animal, it would be called cruelty.

But, in the end – as ever – we need to focus on you, not your abusive partner.

So why do we have this obsessive focus on a person who treats us badly?

This week, I’ve been reading Mary LoVerde’s “Stop Screaming at the Microwave… How To Connect Your Disconnected Life”.  She makes the key point that human happiness is best served by emotional connection.  Now, emotional connection is not something that was part of my childhood.  Nor was it part of the blueprint of the world my parents passed on to me.  They paid lip-service to the words, but they failed to teach the concept to my brothers and me.  We were, effectively, three only children brought up by the same two biological parents.

Your upbringing may have been different to mine in a lot of ways.  However, I’m guessing the concept of emotional connection was one that was sorely missing from your life, too.

But let me explain.

My guess is that you were brought up to “be” nice – or more correctly, to “do” nice.  Doing nice meant running scared of being labelled selfish.  You were, doubtless, taught to be selfless in order to be lovable.  You were taught you had to make other people happy before you could possibly think about your own happiness. 

How’s that for the primary emotional disconnection?

You were taught not to listen to the voice of your own feelings.

You were taught, also, that the people whose role it was to love, nurture, and protect you, didn’t listen to your feelings.  They were too caught up in making sure you turned out “nice”.

I’m not saying this to blame them.  The chances are they sincerely did the best they could at the time with the programming they’d had, and the stresses and strains in their own life.

But that best fell way short of what you needed.  Which means that you, as an adult, have to learn how to rectify the situation and love, protect, and nurture yourself.  (That may not be your preferred option.  It may not feel ‘right’ or ‘fair’.  Still, the most constructive thing has to be to learn to love yourself, so you can then teach other people how you expect them to do so for you.)

“Doing” nice left a large hole at the centre of your emotional world – a hole where

YOU should have been.!

That hole will remain, until you start to take possession your own life.  You don’t have to “do” nice to be a lovely woman.

You’ve fallen apart.  You have provided a jerk with all that glorious room in a broken heart, and he’s trashed it.  Repeatedly.

The good new is, a broken heart can always heal.  There are practical things like trust issues that you’ll need to overcome.  But your heart can heal and become whole starting today.  Not to mention how delightful it will be when, instead of squeezing yourself into the smallest space possible, you can enjoy being at the centre of your own world.


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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