“So, When Is It O-V-E-R?”

20 Nov 2012

Getting out of an emotionally abusive relationship is not easy.  Getting over it can be hard, slow, and deliver endless hurts, humiliations, and set-backs along the way.  

That’s how your emotionally abusive partner has designed it.  

Once you become his plaything, he feels he has the right to pick you up, put you down, and ‘play you’, at will.  It makes him feel powerful.  That may be the only ‘useful’ purpose it serves.  But for him that’s good enough.  

Bless him, he’s not going to make the distinction between genuine power, and playground bullying – which is actually his forte. 

He’s not going to give up on a plaything any time soon.  Not when he can keep you there, stuck in the toy cupboard, for the occasions when he feels like throwing a hissy fit on you. 

It’s what he does.  Believe it or not, it’s part of his job description.  Just as active volcanoes spew lava from time to time, depending on what’s going on deep within them, so he spews venom, in his own time for his own reasons. 

So, when is it over? 

Too many emotionally abused women live in hope.  They’re waiting for their abusive partner to, one day, stop playing power games, and behave like a reasonable human being..  Nice and convenient as it would be if an emotional abuser were to stop doing what he does best, it’s hardly likely to happen.  

Which means the relationship ends only when you end your emotional and psychological attachment to him.  When you end that attachment, he can perform all his best attention-seeking, emotion-jerking stunts, and you won’t get sucked in.  

Until you end that attachment, it doesn’t matter how well you ‘talk the talk’: you’re hooked in, you’re still living in his toy cupboard.  Most likely, you’re complaining bitterly about it. 

Today I’d like to tell you about someone I met recently who isn’t and never will be a client of mine.  M. ricocheted straight from a bad enough marriage into a Wonderful Relationship with the live-in Love of Her Life (LoHL).  M., it transpires, is world class when it comes to denial.  

Several years on, she was forced to admit the Mr LoHL was a waste of space: a work-shy, lying, philandering, money-squandering abuser.  Of course, she was appalled and heart-broken. M. talked the good talk… and she kicked him out. 

Then she took him back.  

And she kicked him out.. 

And she broke up with him again, and again… 

And she carried on seeing him… 

She carried on having a physical ‘relationship’ with him. 

The net result is a sexually transmitted disease that has seriously damaged her physical health. 

The burning question is, of course: now will she finally slam, lock, and seal off that door?  

I’m not holding my breath.  Nor is she.  Despite being hurt, humiliated, and enduring huge emotional and physical damage, she’s still harboring her toxic attachment to a man she now despises.  She still doesn’t know if she’s ready to close that door. 

Now, your story may well have panned out differently.  I hope, for your sake, that it was less sordid in all its details than M’s story.   

But here’s the bottom line: for as long as concern yourself with: 

  • what he thinks
  • how he could act like that
  • what life could have been/could still be like with him
  • who he is seeing now
  • what his life is like without you, and
  • still caring about him/wanting to be his friend 

you’re still nurturing a toxic attachment.  

He’s holding the door of the toy cupboard open for you… 

and you’re diving straight back into your ‘spot’ right at the bottom of his heap of broken toys. 

Even before we finally split up, ‘my’ wasband warned me, in so many words: “I’ll fight you until I die”.  Now, I’m not saying I’m his only project – he’s the kind of abusive man who always has at least one vicious power struggle raging at any time.  But he has stayed true to his intention.  

Will he always? 

To quote that well known romantic hero, Rhett Butler: 

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” 

When the wasband uttered his darkest threat to me, from some place inside myself that I didn’t even know, came this reply: 

“You can do that if you like.  But I’ll be long gone.” 

And so I am. 

What I have to report is that life is so much better outside the toy cupboard.  Yes, there are skills you have to learn before you can make the most of all the space, the freedom, the light, the opportunity, and all the joys and rewards of life outside the toy cupboard.  

There’s no point trying to live outside the toy cupboard if you don’t expand yourself to fill the space available.  You have to learn the new skills you need to function successfully, and happily, in your new environment or else you’ll see, and treat, the world as if it were that toy cupboard.  But those skills can be easily learned. 

You just have to bite the bullet, and keep telling yourself firmly that you’re worth it.   That’s the only way you’ll ever get to believe it. 

Start now.


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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