What Happens To Your Dreams In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

11 Dec 2013

If you’re an emotionally abused woman, what’s happened to your dreams?

dreamscancelledsmallWere you someone who used to dream – before your emotionally abusive partner came along and shattered your dreams?  Or were you – like me – someone who learned early on that dreams, and aspirations, weren’t ‘for the likes of you’? 

My path as a wife, a mother, and she-who-stands-several-paces-behind-a-successful-man, was all mapped out for me.   Probably before I ever emerged from the womb.   Getting off-piste required a LOT of energy, even before I met my emotionally abusive partner.  It meant rebelling against my parents’ vision of how my life should be.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at rebellion.  That rebellion took me in very short order into an emotionally abusive man’s arms.    Getting off-piste the second time around  didn’t feel any easier, when I left Mr Nasty.

There’s a reason for that: it’s really hard walking away from the Known – however uncomfortable and prescriptive it may be – into The Great Unknown.  Fearful people, and emotional abusers, will tell you that The Unknown is a very unsafe place for you to be.  That’s really interesting because – when you stop to think about it – it is The Unknown they’re talking about.  Which means that, once again, they don’t know what they are talking about. 

But let’s bring this back to you.

If you really believe that your only option – when you drag yourself away from the Rock you know – is to stagger toward the Hard Place you don’t know, it’s no wonder you feel so disheartened.  Nobody is going to disagree with you that trading in a Rock for a Hard Place doesn’t look too much like a great move forward.

You see, how you feel hinges on how you perceive your world.

It’s easy to get discouraged, when you see the world through an emotionally abusive partner’s eyes. His Unknown is filled with dangers, pitfalls, punishment, bad karma, and even nastier people than him.  In other words, his  Unknown mirrors his conscious, and subconscious, mind.



Here’s the thing: there is no earthly point in leaving the wretched man, if you’re going stay wedded to his – toxic – view of a toxic world. 

That’s his stuff.

It doesn’t need to be yours.

That’s where your dreams come in.  As I write this, I’m listening to a British artist called Passenger.  For all I know, he may well be an acquired British taste.  But, for my money, he writes a pretty perceptive lyric.  This one has been knocking around in my head for the past few weeks:

“Well if you can’t get what you love 
You learn to love the things you’ve got.
If you can’t be what you want
You learn to be the things you’re not.
If you can’t get what you need 
You learn to need the things that stop you dreaming.
All the things that stop you dreaming.”

(You can listen to Passenger here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ItrO33Hg48)

How right he is that,  “If you can’t get what you need/You learn to need the things that stop you dreaming “. 

That’s what happened to you, and to me in our emotionally abusive relationship: so much of what we needed was unobtainable that we learned to need the things that stopped us dreaming.

Above all, you learned to need him, your very own Jeremiah of The Unknown, the man who could bang on so relentlessly about how hideous your life would be without him that you underestimated just how hideous your life has been , so far.  With him.

The antidote to your self-appointed Jeremiah is to start dreaming.  Not dreaming about how he could get to the front of the Personality Transplant queue, and things can still be different.  Not dreaming about what might have been, had you not met him.  But dreaming about who you are, and who you can be.  Dreaming about who, and what, delights  you can still attract – and welcome – into your life.

Nobody stays with an emotionally abusive husband because they love him – much as they may think they love him.  They stay because they see no viable future without him.

That’s where your dreams come in. 

You need to open your heart to YOUR dreams. 

That doesn’t mean lavishing yourself on the first person of the male persuasion who shows any interest in you.  It means starting to think about what you want in your life, what makes your heart SING, and where you want to be a year from now.

When you start to flesh out your dreams, you know what?  You stop walking, apprehensively, towards the dreaded Unknown, populated exclusively by Mr Nasty clones.  Instead, you can start gliding towards a welcoming haven where people look forward to knowing, liking, and supporting you.

nopersonasbeautifulYou don’t know what you can’t get/do/be, or have in the future.  You only know what you can’t get/do/be or have, with Mr Nasty. 

You can have his negativity, or your dreams.

Put in those terms, it’s a bit of a no-brainer, isn’t it?


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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