This is the final day of the quote challenge I was nominated to do. Today’s quote I wear on my chest.
“Not Afraid to Love”
I am constantly amazed how things work. How they come together. Just last night I was having dinner with my friends I was debating with them whether or not I should go to work (day before Thanksgiving and it is dead in here!) and also what they think I should do with my blog. It was suggested that I should go to work and spend the downtime reading blogs, commenting, sharing and writing with a continued focus to post about my life.
So morning comes and I drag my rear out of bed. I chose to be comfy today so I threw on one of my favorite tees, a pair of skirted leggings, and sneakers. Done in 15 minutes (I wake up cute!) I look in the mirror and I am struck with the idea for today’s post. I will talk about how I am no longer afraid to love! After all I left today wearing it proudly on my chest! I snapped a quick pic as proof of my inspiration and head out to catch the bus.
At my desk I turn on my computer and open all necessary webpages (My email, the College’s website, CUNY website, Facebook, Gmail, WordPress, and Torrid… in that order…) I uploaded the picture I took this morning and start typing. I decided I will talk about the process I went through to get to my now euphoric state of happiness. To grab some ideas on how I was going to approach the subject I put a quick search in google for domestic abuse and trust. It is the hardest part… to feel comfortable enough to trust a person again. I stumbled upon a fellow WordPress blogger who wrote exactly what I was thinking.
This is the abstract of what the post is about.
Has an abusive relationship left you feeling unable to look for love again? Do you feel stuck, and doubtful of your judgement? Are you afraid to open up your heart? Here are FOUR steps to help you trust yourself to love again.
After reading these four steps I realized this is exactly what happened to me. I am not alone in this! None of us really are.
Step 1: Be Single for as long as it takes.
There is no way to overstate how important this is. In the early post-abuse days we are more vulnerable than we realise. Our emotions are all over the place – ranging from euphoria to fear and sadness and everything in between. Often, we long for the comfort that a relationship offers. However, this is not the time for making relationship decisions.
When I found myself single for the first time in 12 years I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was lonely and vulnerable. A fact that men take advantage of and probably why it is recommended that you stay single for a while. I fell immediately for a man who called me beautiful because he was the first to do so (the most I used to get from my first ex was “I guess you have a pretty face). This man was twice my age and had zero intentions of having a serious relationship with me. It took me a year and a half to realize this… a year and a half of being used as his entertainment.
Two weeks after that man came my second boyfriend. It was a short 4 month relationship that ended in my having to take him to court. Being from an abusive relationship and not giving myself time and space to digest what happened; I found myself in yet another one. This one was not physical but it was heavy on the emotional. In less than a month he was saying how he loved me, was looking at engagement rings, and talking about kids. Meanwhile he never took the time to actually date me. We hung out the majority of the time at my parents’ house because I refused to drive around (he didn’t have a license) playing the “what do you wanna do” game. I wanted to be with someone who treated me like I had never been treated before. He wanted to be with me but didn’t want to put in the effort. He wanted to be with me for the sake of saying he was with someone, but he was not there for me. Every time I wanted to talk about anything that was bothering me he would turn it around into a “him pity party.”
My grandfather passed away 2 days after I had asked him if I can have some space so I can evaluate my emotions. He decided to show up at the wake. While we were at the church getting ready to memorialize my grandfather I had asked him if he was going to sit with me and he stuck up his nose and said “No I am giving you your space.” Then why show up? I had enough. I realized this was not healthy for me. I couldn’t be with someone who was an emotional leech. I asked for a break and he wouldn’t give it to me. He spun stories about how doctors were giving him only 6 months to live. He sent me a picture of a train saying he was going to jump in front of it but it was going too slow (that’s because he stopped to take the picture first). He sent me a picture of a gun saying he was going to end his life.
He also opened up an Instagram account using my pictures to spread lies. I had to take him to court to get an order of protection for it all to stop.
Step 2: Invest time and energy in your recovery
I recommend you take positive steps to learn more about yourself and the dynamics of abuse and to come to terms with your experiences.
I was done after my second relationship. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to be in a relationship. I didn’t seem to be good at it. So I spent time by myself from September 2014 until January of this year. In that time I read books on moving on from domestic abuse. In December I checked myself in to therapy. Therapy helped me a lot in regards to changing the ways I process thoughts and checking me when I go off of it. Then in January one of my best friends introduced me to a friend of hers and he is the perfect man for me. He was solid through the whole court fiasco. He is amazing! Learning how to be by myself, and get life somewhat together, has helped me to relax in this relationship. I trust him with me.
Step 3: Be kind to yourself
You’ve been through a traumatic experience. You may be feeling guilt that you ‘allowed it to happen’ or maybe because you stuck around as long as you did. Know then, that the guilt is not yours, and stop beating yourself up. Be kind to yourself by:
- Allowing yourself to grieve. Wallow with a tub of ice cream and box of Kleenex if you want – but set a time-limit so you don’t get stuck in the mourning period
- Doing something that makes you happy, preferably something which you could not do whilst you were in that toxic relationship. Go out with the girls without worrying about what will happen when you get home. Take a day-trip. Enjoy time with the kids. Curl up on the couch with a good book. Whatever helps you feel recharged and at peace, take the time to do it.
- Being productive with your free time. Volunteer for charity. Redecorate, and take pride in the result of your hard work. Write. I started this blog, and I get so much joy from knowing that it has offered some support to others.
- Carving out some time to be alone. Experts say a little purposeful solitude, on a regular basis, can produce many benefits, including enabling you to re-energise, take stock, boost your creativity and improve your mood.
I’ve done all of these suggestions. I wallowed. I wallowed myself into a 60 pound weight gain! I suppose my time management on that one was a little off….
I did things that I couldn’t do while I was with my first boyfriend. I went on a weekend bus trip down to North Carolina to visit one of my best friends. I spent time with friends in general. This was an odd time for me. Going out and not having to ask permission or being timed. One time I asked my current boyfriend if I could go out with my friends and he responded with “why you asking my permission?” Old habits die hard…
I was slightly productive with my time. I got into art. I did a lot of crafting when I was with my previous job. I was a part of the party planning committee and I helped with the decorating. I also read. Recently I started this blog and I am hoping it takes off and becomes something I work on daily.
I also spend time alone either reading or binge on Netflix. I often go for walks as I am part of several Fitbit challenges to reach 10,000 steps a day. Some days are more motivating than others…
Step 4: Put your new understanding to work when you date
Initially, I was terrified at the prospect of meeting someone new. Falling in love again – or even simply dating – felt like making myself horribly vulnerable. It seemed a huge risk to trust my own judgement once more. But I wanted to believe it was possible to live a full life once more, so eventually I decided to dip my toe back into the dating pool.
Dating was terrible. Hardly anyone I went to dinner with was looking for anything serious. The greatest day in my life was when my friend said to me “Hey you should talk to my friend ……”
All in all I’m glad I came into work today. So much good has come out of it that I wouldn’t have gotten sleeping in. I came across some awesome blogs by women who are out there sharing their stories. I got to flesh out how I went through the healing process. I got to experience yet again how things tend to work themselves out to be a beneficial learning experience.