Losses of Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Excerpted from an article on the losses in leaving an abusive relationship by Dr. Irene Matiatos. When you lose an abusive relationship, you must deal with all the ordinary losses, as well as some specifically related to abuse. This article has application to the loss of the abusive group, as well as a personal relationship.


Low self-esteem  Your self-esteem will be at a low point. You are coming out of a relationship where you have been riding an emotional roller coaster powered by your partner's deft ability to give with one hand and take away with the other. This is not the time to look to any love interests to bolster you. Spend some time alone, some time with good friends and family. This is the time to be good to yourself and to love yourself in a constructive way. For example, start an exercise program. Get that jacket you've been admiring. Constructive self-caring is about moderation. Moderation is the difference between pampering yourself with a purchase and a destructive spending spree.

So very, very good; so very, very bad  Your partner knew how to cut you to the quick with a look, and how build you up higher than high. You are likely to miss how extraordinarily good your partner made you feel. Don't forget, they had to - to make up for all of the bad! The good we remember, the bad we forget. Don't make this mistake. Every time you sadly recall a wonderful memory, think of one that hurt. Better yet, think of two.

Actions speak louder than words  Your partner knew exactly what you wanted to hear, and said or implied it. Think: This person claimed to love you. Did he or she behave lovingly over time? Do you behave like your partner towards people you love?

Promises, promises  Your partner may be back and may promise you the world. He or she really, really means it! He or she means it for as long as long as it takes to regain your trust. As soon as you become comfortable in the relationship, your partner will do something to mess things up. They can't help it. As much as they crave closeness, they fear it more. There is absolutely nothing you can do about this, but save yourself from it.

Loss of Reality or Fantasy?  Did you lose something you really had? Or did you lose a promise that never quite materialized? Did you lose a happy life, or the prospect of a happy life? How much of the time were you really happy? It is likely you are mourning the dream of what could be as opposed to the reality of what was. Check it out.

Advice  Do what you can to get through the first few days or weeks, or however long it takes you. Listen to your instincts - especially when you don't like what you have to say! Heed your advice. Don't give in! Taking your own advice will help you rebuild your self-esteem. An antidepressant often helps you stay on track and do what you have to do during this tough time.

If you know that a relationship is not good for you, stick to your guns. No matter what promises are made, they will be broken. Don't let your wishful thinking, your guilt, your sorrow or your empathy lead you down another dead end path. People don't change overnight. Unless you've learned some new skills, or your partner has been really working the program in therapy, if you go back with your abusive partner, it is only a matter of time before the relationship goes right back to where it was, or becomes worse. Know that you will wake up one day and find yourself in the same hole you are in today, but deeper. If you run your life with your head instead of your heart, you will emerge stronger, wiser, and more self-confidant. Now is the time to learn from your mistakes. Above all, learn to listen to yourself and take your own good advice.

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos, Copyrightę 1999.


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