“How Do You Know When You Are Over Emotional Abuse?”
“How do you know when you are over emotional abuse?” is, in my experience, the question least asked. Abuse survivors ask, instead,
- a) “Can I heal after all that I have been through?”
- b) “How long will it take to get over this?”
- c) “How soon will I feel better?”
All three are important questions which I have written about before – and, doubtless, will write about again. Meanwhile, for those who might want quick answers, here goes:
- It is always possible to heal – no matter what you have been through. However, healing will require you to step out of your default thinking about being somehow broken.
- Feeling better hinges on your feelings of self-worth rather than the passage of time. For as long as you keep reliving the hurt, you cannot get over it.
- You only have to start rebuilding your feelings of self-worth to feel better. To keep feeling better and better, you only need to keep growing your feelings of self-worth. That is perfectly realistic. However, if you have been in an emotionally abusive relationship, your feelings of self-worth will take some nurturing. Those feelings are, at best, mere seedlings. They deserve to grow into oak trees.
“But how do you know when you are over emotional abuse?”
In order to answer the question effectively, we need to start from an understanding of how the process of abuse actually works and affects you. Two key things happen to anyone who is at the sharp end of an abusive relationship,
- You hear/experience an awful lot of negative things about yourself.
- You take them on board as your truth.
Abusive partners are not the world’s most generous creatures. There is just one thing that they “lavish” on you. That thing is, of course, vilification.
Vilification is the language of the Vile
Vilification is, as nobody else seems to have said, the language of the Vile. Abusers say vile things about their victims. They, also, treat their victims vilely. We, the abused, take that vileness on board and imagine that it is our own.
When an emotional abuser moves on, he (or she) will gather up their worldly goods and assets (plus as many as yours as they can get away with taking). The one thing that they are in no rush to take back is their vilification. That, as they see it, is their enduring contribution to your life. They leave it with you. You own it. And it continues to make your life a misery.
So, how do you know when you are over emotional abuse?
You are over the emotional abuse when you don’t buy into the vilification of yourself any longer.
Now, I don’t know how big of a deal that sounds to you. Experience tells me that most survivors of emotional abuse have no idea of the vilification process that they automatically put themselves through. They have been so well to do that by an emotional abuser that it has become second nature. Most survivors look surprised when I point it out to them. They tend to counter by saying: “No. That’s just the way I am!”
In reality, that is purely the way you have been taught to be and think. That is NOT how human beings are designed to function well. It means that you are using learned “attack thoughts”, as they are called in A Course in Miracles, to wage war on yourself. Constantly.
That needs to stop.
For that to happen, you will need to start identifying the vilification markers (aka attack thoughts) that you need to listen for – in yourself.
Vilification markers that you need to listen out for
The questions below will help you to recognise the signs of your habitual self-vilification:
- Do you think of yourself as stupid, or weak?
- Do you think you are “broken”?
- Do you worry that you can never have a good, happy future – because of what you have been through?
- Do you feel unlovable?
- Do you doubt whether a decent man would ever want to love and cherish you?
- Do you tell yourself your life is over?
- Do you ever envision a lonely, miserable future when you are all out of love, money, and hope?
- Do you worry how people will judge you?
- Do you ever compare yourself unfavorably to other people?
- Do you tell yourself that you are not good enough?
- Do you find “reasons” why other people are more deserving than you?
If you do most – or even some – of these things, please understand you do so not because you are, in any way, a deeply flawed or broken human being. It happens because you were unfortunate enough to spend too long around a deeply flawed and toxic human being.
All that it indicates is that you are not yet over the emotional abuse that you have suffered.
So, that emotional abuse still feels like your truth.
If that is the case, you may be out of the relationship. However, you are certainly not out of the mind-set and damage of the abuse sufferer.
But you certainly can transform that mind-set and heal that damage so that you can start to own your own worth.
There is no monopoly on wonderfulness
This week, I have been talking with wonderful clients who struggle to accept their own wonderfulness. Maybe you struggle like that, too.
Emotional abuse survivors generally struggle to accept that they worthy of wonderfulness. Plus, they worry that they might be making wrongful claims – and denying other –worthier – people their monopoly on wonderfulness.
There is no monopoly on wonderfulness.
Of course, those beliefs go back a long way. Your abusive partner, the – alleged – receptacle of all wonderfulness, rarely stopped telling you that you could never again find someone as wonderful as him.
The abusive myth is that there is just not enough wonderfulness to go around. – and they have cornered the market in it.
Abuse sufferers have a narrative about being excluded from the charmed circle of the Chosen. They are excluded from being the recipient of anything good – or at least, anything good that doesn’t bring dire consequences in its wake. In this, abuse sufferers are quite wrong.
Abuse sufferers are actually quite wonderful human beings who have had to develop superhuman strength just to survive. However – unlike their abusers – they never seek to deprive anyone of anything. Rather, they contribute generously to the store of good feelings in circulation.
Besides, acknowledging yourself as a wonderful human being – although not at anyone else’s expense – benefits everyone. Everyone except the abusers of the world, that is. Still, this should not trouble you. Abusers are more than adequate to the task of taking care of their own needs. Regardless of the cost to others.
You are over emotional abuse when…
You are over emotional abuse when you stop feeling bad because of what someone has said, or might say. You are over emotional abuse when making a mistake doesn’t make you feel like a less worthwhile human being. When your life story and the tough times you have been through tells you a lot more about how other people behave than it does about your value as a human being.
People make their own choices about how to behave.
You do not make an abuser behave badly. That is a choice he makes all by him or herself, because behaving badly sits well with him or her.
You are over emotional abuse when you become comfortable with the idea of wanting, and expecting, to enjoy Life’s blessings as much as the next person. You are over emotional abuse when the old narrative of loneliness, unworthiness and unlovableness falls by the wayside. When you stop worrying how others may judge you. When you know that those who judge don’t have your well-being at heart; and those who have your well-being at heart don’t judge you.
If you are still struggling to envision your post-abuse life and feelings of well-being, then you need help. You have been through too much pain already. Don’t let an emotionally abusive (ex)partner steal any more of your precious life.
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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