Two Conversations, One Revelation

09 Jul 2013

Two clients, that I spoke with yesterday, in the space of two hours, 5000 miles and 20 years apart – what did they have in common? They were both emotionally abused women struggling with the same problem: how to stop feeling so tortured and get their lives back. 

Both are amazing, talented women who have totally stopped believing in themselves. 

Both are in mourning for the person they once were before their emotionally abusive relationship… 

As if that person were dead, and all that’s left is an empty shell. 

I did what I always do, and listened. Care-fully. 

I listened to their story, and I listened to the emotion behind their words. The emotion behind the emotion they were consciously sharing with me. 

What did I hear? 

Fury; and shame – two key ingredients of all emotionally abusive relationship.

One of the two women was seething with a fury she could barely contain. She had every right to be seething. Her  emotionally abusive partner could have reduced a saint to fury. He probably had. That was half the problem. 

Anger didn’t sit well with her. It didn’t fit with her image of herself as Little Miss Nice. See, she’d forgotten who she truly was – before Mr Nasty came a crazy-making. So, all she had was that image to fall back on: the image of who she believed she had to be in order to be lovable. 

The other woman was so deeply mired in shame, she could hardly bear to look at herself. 

Shame’s like that. 

Never, ever, underestimate the isolating power of shame. 

Shame creates prison walls around you: walls of secrecy and isolation. Walls of irrationality. Shame snowballs; it only needs one little trigger to set it in motion, and it’s away. 

You can’t just be ‘a little bit ashamed’ any more than you can be ‘a little bit pregnant’. 

But you can be monstrously, crushingly ashamed of something that, in reality, is no more than a storm in a teeny-weeny tea-cup. 

I could have been the poster girl for shame for years – and years, and years. I probably should have been… The only thing was, I was too ashamed to step into public view. (And there, I’m not joking, at all. That permanently, agonisingly, ashamed, younger me would probably have ‘died a thousand deaths’ had she known how much of her – and my – life I’d one day make public.) 

So, there these two lovely women were, imprisoned by the feelings that felt too terrifying for them to own. 

The image that comes to mind is of a cork, in a bottle. 

Suppose someone had got hold of a valuable bottle, and filled it with a truly nasty vinegar. 

Until that cork has been removed, there’s no effective way to get that vinegar out of that bottle. 

Once the cork has been removed, the problem is easily solved. 

Yesterday, I worked with two women, 5,000 miles apart, on removing that cork. 

At first, they were surprised that their focus was not my focus. And they were deeply uncomfortable at facing feelings they feared. 

You know what? 

That fear didn’t kill them. Not at all. It put up a little bit of a fight – to save face, you understand – and then it started tiptoeing to the exit. Leaving them a little dazed, and laughing. Laughing at the feeling that had been making their life a misery. 

Is there more to do? 

Of course,there is. But with the plug out of that bottle, it’s now possible to get rid of that truly nasty vinegar, and replace it with the fine wine that a quality bottle deserves. 

If you’ve been working at your own recovery from emotional abuse, and you’re still struggling, chances are you still have a cork of negative feelings in place. Whatever that cork is for you, you can remove it. 

Once it’s gone, you’re free to be your best self – that’s a self you can respect, admire, and deeply appreciate.

Want to learn more? 

For some people, it really helps to hear to hear things.  That’s why I’ve scheduled a special FREE webinar – for you – on Saturday July 13th at 4 pm New York time.  You can read all about it, and claim your seat here:

Connect with me on Saturday live, from your computer to mine, as I share 4 powerful secrets of Emotional Abuse Recovery.


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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