Firstly, I want to apologise for not posting anything last month. Generally, I aim to write at least one post each month, but lately, I’ve had some significant life changes.
After many years of being single, I’m now in a new relationship. This summer I’m getting married and moving to another region of the UK.
For a season, my priorities have shifted, as I take a step of faith into a different future.
So, this is a very personal post about my own journey of healing from a previous abusive relationship, and gaining the courage to risk love again.
Manipulation and Control
Living with someone who uses manipulation and control to exert power can cause long term damage. This was the situation I found myself in, and it was a lengthy process for the cycles of guilt, shame and self blame to be completely broken.
Perhaps you can picture the scenario:
He loves me; he loves me not.
He is charming and attentive towards me; he is having affairs.
“I don’t want to be seen with you, if you are going out dressed like that.”
Nothing I do or say seems to be “right.”
He witholds affection, and tells me the problem lies with me; it’s due to my “fear of intimacy.”
When I try to change my behaviour, in an attempt to make the relationship work, he moves the goal posts.
He points the finger of blame at me when he finds situations difficult to handle.
He asks me to cover up for him, even to lie for him.
In moments of intimacy, when I share some of my hurts and insecurities, he initially appears to understand; this is stored up and used as ammunition against me, to confirm that I’m “mentally unbalanced,” and my opinion therefore can’t be trusted.
My emotions become erratic, with extreme highs and lows. I feel close to the edge; my behaviour seems a little crazy at times. I start to fear that I’m losing my mind.
Who am I?
Eventually, I start to forget who I am. My confidence is in shreds. Confusion, depression, feelings of desperation and powerlessness are an everyday feature of my life. The days pass in a blur, as I battle to survive the onslaught of verbal attacks on my character.
Caring for and protecting my children becomes my main focus, which causes more problems, as I’m accused of always putting the children first. My judgement is impaired; I can’t tell the difference between truth, exaggeration, and lies.
After the relationship finishes, it takes me a long time to emotionally let go. Even longer before I’m brave enough to talk with friends and bring the truth out into the light. Longer still until I can read an e-mail from my ex, without feeling fearful.
Severing Unhealthy Ties
It requires two people to sustain an unhealthy, codependent relationship. The person I am now would spot the warning signs and walk away. Back then, I was far less secure, and I engaged in a neurotic process of trying to rescue my ex from his depression and mood swings, and trying to earn his love. This wasn’t a healthy choice on my part. Both of us needed to take responsibility for our personal healing.
When an unhealthy relationship breaks down, the physical connection can be broken off quite quickly, simply by living apart. The emotional and spiritual connections can take longer to sever.
One book that I found especially helpful in my recovery from codependency is “Women Who Love Too Much,” by Robin Norwood.
Forgiveness and Healing of Memories
Choosing to forgive my ex for the hurts he inflicted was an important first step towards healing. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean allowing the person back into your life. In my case, I’ve also needed to establish strong, healthy boundaries, to prevent further manipulation and abuse.
I’ve received a lot of healing through prayer ministry, where the soul ties with my ex have been cut off. I’ve also been able to allow Jesus in to heal specific traumatic memories, so that those memories no longer have power and influence in my life.
Through my relationship with Jesus, I’ve learned so much about unconditional love. I’ve learned to love and accept myself, as well as other people, and to honour the uniqueness of each individual. I’ve enjoyed being single. During my years of singleness, walking closely with Jesus, I’ve discovered my calling and life’s purpose.
There are layers of healing; I knew that for me, to trust another person in a close relationship again would be the final stage of my healing.
Now I have a relationship with someone who loves and accepts me as I am, who honours my gifting and calling, and is committed to me in a way that sets me free to be me. Occasionally I have flashbacks, as old memories, that were buried, get stirred up. When this happens, we talk about it, pray and hand it over to Jesus.
My new relationship is bringing me into greater freedom than I’ve ever known.
For any readers, who have experienced dysfunctional, abusive relationships, I would like to say:
You are important to God and to me. Healing is possible.
If you would like us to pray for you, you can receive free, confidential prayer, via the prayer requests page.