“Toxic relationships are dangerous to your health… You were not meant to live in a fever of anxiety; screaming yourself hoarse in a frenzy of dreadful, panicked fight-or-flight that leaves you exhausted and numb with grief. You were not meant to live like animals tearing one another to shreds. Don’t turn your hair gray. Don’t carve a roadmap of pain into the sweet wrinkles on your face. Don’t lay in the quiet with your heart pounding like a trapped, frightened creature. For your own precious and beautiful life, and for those around you — seek help or get out before it is too late. This is your wake-up call!” ~ Bryant McGill
Healing Emotionally after an Abusive Marriage
An abusive marriage leaves more mental scars than physical ones. And while the bruises fade with time, the blueprints of an abusive relationship settle deeper into the mental cracks and crevices.
Because struggle in the aftermath of a divorce is not punctuated with a full stop.
Rather, it pursues you despite your efforts to move on and seeps into the new journey of self-love and acceptance.
Of course, in the immediate moments following a divorce, all sources of hope appear sealed and self-loathing is at its peak. You might hate yourself, dub yourself a failure, and even blame yourself for the abuse.
Regardless of the frequency that your thoughts tune into, the mighty waves of grief can be overwhelming. But know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Here are a few pages from my book to help you to walk through to self-love and compassionate healing.
Loving Yourself Again after an Abusive Marriage
When the dust from the divorce had settled and the abuse came to an end, the first thing I craved was an immediate shutdown of the negative feelings.
I held myself accountable for not having done enough to save my marriage. And negative thoughts like this plunged me into self-doubt.
The truth was there for everyone to see. It ended because it was abusive. But my mind played tricks on me. As I would find later, these are common after the loss of financial security and social status provided by an intact marriage.
And it was during these times that I realized something important.
I had to stop forcing myself to move on. A large part of my life was inked with trauma, and it needed time to heal.
Although it feels like a herculean task, in the beginning, loving yourself again starts with forgiveness.
One moment you might blame yourself for having tolerated the abuse for so long. And in another, you might scold yourself for not giving it another chance.
But you are asking yourself the wrong questions. Instead, show compassion to yourself, like you would to a loved one under duress. Because at the end of the day, you have won a war.
And you must give yourself time to get back on your feet.
In this regard, Marcia Sirota, a Toronto-based psychiatrist explains,
“Instead of beating yourself up for having stayed with your abusive partner, you’ll need to forgive yourself and look at the choices you made with honesty and compassion, letting go of any self-blame, guilt or shame.”
3. I de-stressed myself
Everybody has a different reaction to stress. Some prefer to sleep their days away, whereas, others remain wide awake with the intrusive brooding of self-hatred.
Regardless of the way you deal with stress, I realized that an essential way to get back to loving yourself is to accept what happened, and relax. Read, meditate, pray, eat.
For me though, when the train of thoughts derailed and headed for the crash, herbal fruit tea was an ultimate relaxant. I spent a few days next to the sea in a resort, lying under the open sky and feeling grateful for the beauty and abundance surrounding me. Mindful breathing also did wonders when I felt suddenly stressed and even depressed.
This is easier said than done. And that’s because the mind loves to create a parallel universe in which everything is bad. When a person goes through trauma, the mind goes into survival mode. It focuses on all the things that can go wrong.
To let go, you can ask for support. You can also join a group where people share similar experiences and it’ll help you realize that you’re not alone. Reconnect with old friends and increase social activities. This way it’ll be easier for you to let go.
You only need to ask yourself if such thoughts would do you any good, the answer will help you to switch tracks to acceptance.
5. I found a creative outlet
Negative emotions are pollutants of the mind, body, and soul as they linger around and leave lasting imprints. A layer of mixed feelings had hugged me directly after the end of my marriage.
A sigh of relief was always accompanied by pangs of anger, resentment, confusion, guilt and much more.
Over time, however, I realized that the best way to get rid of the emotions was to provide them an outlet. You might find this outlet for writing, painting, sewing or some other art form. This study confirms that indulging in art helps deflate the stress balloon in 75% of people.
Additionally, studies have also recognized the significance of penning down your feelings in easing the stress. For me, writing my diary cleared my head of confusion and negative thoughts.
6. I connected with people
An abusive relation also leaves you feeling that you don’t deserve love. I often felt that I was abused because I wasn’t lovable enough. Sometimes, I even believed such a fundamentally flawed logic.
But the fact is that just because a person did not see your value does not mean that you are unworthy of love.
The best way to sail through such waves of self-deprecation is to connect with people, maybe even a therapist. People will help you see the positive side of you.
As the wise Maya Angelou said it,
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Have you gone through something painful in life? What did you do to overcome negative emotions and move on.