“It’s Tough, But Is It…?”

16 Oct 2012

This week, Misti emailed with the kind of query so many women have when they’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.  Here are her words:

I’ve been in a relationship for the past three years. It’s been rough. I don’t know if I’ve been emotionally abused though. How do you know when it’s emotional abuse?”  

As I understand it, her subtext reads: “do I need to take my unhappiness in the relationship seriously and react – because it is emotionally  abusive – or is it okay just to soldier on and wait for the Good Times to sashay into my life? 

Misti’s email, which I’ve quoted in full, is quite long enough to let me know she is someone who has a very overactive hopium gland.  Yes, you may not have heard of the Hopium Gland, before; it’s an organ largely unrecognised by the medical fraternity.  (So, FYI, let me enlighten you: a malfunctioning hopium gland manufactures massive amounts of denial, and produces chronic depression in the suffererAnnie’s definition.

Reading Misti’s email left me hopping up and down with frustration, and shrieking a favorite word  repeatedly: 


In fact, “Distinction, distinction, DISTINCTION!”. 

Especially as I had much the same conversation with a dear friend, just a day or two later. 

Let me share the distinction with you, too, as calmly and clearly as I possibly can. 

Plenty of tough things occur in life.  Actually, plenty of seriously tough things have occurred in my life – and my lovely partner’s life – over the past 15 months.  But here’s the thing: 

A good relationship is one in which you love and support each other – the key words here are “each other” – through the tough times, also. 

And there’s more: you don’t just support each other, you find a way to share a multitude of good, rich, sustaining moments, even in the dark times.  

That happens because, in a good, nurturing relationship there is a space to live – a space of peace and tranquillity, even in the eye of the storm.  

I know this to be a fact. 

Contrast this with an abusive relationship, for a moment. 

An abusive relationship is one in which you can – and do – feel terminally unhappy, no matter how good things should be.  You, and your loved ones, can enjoy good health, physical safety, (more than) enough money, the promise of a long life, and yet an abusive partner can leave you feeling so deeply unhappy that you long to disappear from the face of the Earth.  

In fact, an abusive relationship is one in which your partner – like the legendary eagle forever pecking out Prometheus’s liver – feels free to eat your heart out, for the simple pleasure of punishing you because doing so makes him feel better.  

Once again, I know;  I’ve spent a long time there. 

And now, let’s forget about the “emotionally abusive” label for a moment.  

The bottom line is this: if you’re in a relationship that feels “tough”, or “bad”, then it is bad.  


I don’t imagine when you go out to buy a pair of shoes for everyday use, that you deliberately pick out the pair that pinch, rub, and cause massive pain even while you’re in the shop.  

Most probably, at some point, you have bought a pair of true “killer” shoes that caused you so much pain you even thought about walking on your hands.  The point soon came when you gave up on them, and either left them at the back of the closet, or took them down to the nearest charity shop, maybe even feeling a little sorry for the next poor soul who took them on.  

Why persist with a man who causes you massive pain?  Shoes are pretty necessary.  Men are not.  At least, men who create – and thrive in – tough relationships are not.  You don’t need one to get round the planet, any more than you need a ball and chain around your neck.  

Pain is not good for you.  Life will provide enough challenges and anguish, without you hooking up with an emotional barbarian who thinks every day is a good day to destroy your quality of life.  

A “tough” relationship is a relationship not worth having.  

You might as well queue up to have your feet bound as well-born Chinese women once did.  (And if you have any illusions about how hideous that practice was you might like to read Kathryn Harrison’s novel “The Binding Chair”, or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_binding

Life can be tough, no doubt about it. 

The fact that you’re reading this means you’ve already been through enough unhappiness for one lifetime, and then some.  

There’s a lesson for us in even the worst people and experiences we encounter.  And here’s one powerful learning from Mr Tough-to-be-in-a-Relationship with: he never makes excuses – or allowances – for you, does he?  

Quit making excuses, or allowances for him.  He doesn’t deserve them.  

Did you know there are 4 Key Mistakes that guarantee relationship unhappiness.  If you want to know what they are, and how you can avoid making them, you’ll want listen to this free training.  Click here:



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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