Dealing With The Aftermath Of An Abusive Relationship

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

This is something I never thought i'd be comfortable with talking about so openly, and to be honest, i'm not sure 'comfortable' is the right word, but i've got to the point where I feel like it's really important to further my own personal development, and to maybe educate others.

Three years ago I was in an abusive relationship. The majority of the abuse was mental and tactful; I was hugely manipulated, my mental health was often used against me, and to top it all off I was also cheated on. I'm not using this post to go into details of what exactly I went through in those six months, but I am going to talk about how all of these things really affect you as a person at the time, and unfortunately in the future.

My self-worth has always been pretty low, but after being cheated on it was completely shattered. It has caused me to have trust issues and it has made me believe that there will always be someone out there who is better than me; who is prettier, nicer, slimmer, funnier, and most harshly, someone less mentally ill. It took me a year after the break up to be able to trust anyone again - and that year was one of the toughest of my life. Possibly even more so than being in the relationship itself.

I think all my friends would agree that I just wasn't myself. I was heavily drinking, sleeping with men, and completely detaching myself from any emotions. I got into a relationship with someone I barely knew because I needed validation, and then broke up with her and isolated myself completely. My personality traits were so up and down, and it took so much patience, mind training and life lessons to get myself out of that depressive episode. It was like being back at school as a 25 year old woman; learning methods and tips on how to handle my brain. 

Being mentally abused means the scars don't go away - that's not me saying that mental abuse is worse than physical abuse, but it's sure as hell just as important and somewhat harder to heal; you can't put a plaster on your suicidal thoughts. Being shoved around never affected me as much as being manipulated. The problem with mental abuse is that it sticks with you - even when you're over the person and the situation, there will always be an unexpected comment that will trigger your past. There will always be something that reminds you of that dark period of your life, even on the brightest of your days.

It's difficult because you don't want your friends and loved ones around you to spend their lives walking on eggshells, but you do want their consideration and understanding for the way you feel. Meeting in the middle can be extremely difficult, especially when the victim has to revisit old wounds and go into detail about something so horribly poignant in their life story. This is why I want to talk about this. I don't want our stories to be taboo, I don't want us to feel silenced. The more we raise awareness for our mental health, the more normalised it becomes. We shouldn't be embarrassed of our past, we should embrace it and use it as our learning curve. It's our experience, it's our story, and it's what makes us a fighter. It's what makes us who we are today. 

My experience in an abusive relationship tarnished my progression with mental health and as a whole put me in a worse place. Although I feel like I control my anxiety in a much better way through my own personal education, I then suffered - and somewhat do still suffer - with crippling depression. One flashback, one memory, or one comment, can completely put my mind back into that dark pit of extreme self-loathing. I carry that manipulation around with me, I carry the paranoia, I carry all the negativity and sometimes it's just all too much. It affects everything around me. 

The people that have patience, have understanding and want to help you through your journey are the people you need to keep around. Knowing supportive people is so important; make sure they're the people that fight for your well-being even when you're unintentionally isolating yourself. Isolation is something I will now probably suffer with for the rest of my life, through fear of manipulation, rejection and embarrassment. Keep the people that are using their self-initiative and care around you; I am almost certain I wouldn't still be here if it wasn't for my support network of friends, family and girlfriend. 

This is a battle I have to keep fighting, not knowing if i'll ever be 100% "better". It's heartbreaking. I want people to know the severity of abuse, and how you never know the battles that someone is facing. Head on my life is great, but unfortunately, that doesn't erase my mental illness. Please be kind to one another. 

© Image Source: Unsplash 

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