“When you turn a corner / And you come across yourself / And you know you turned / Every corner left.” ~ Langston Hughes
Nearly two years ago, I left a long-term controlling and abusive relationship.
I didn’t know I was in it. I knew I was hopeless.
Abusers take everything away from you. I don’t mean just your money or your house or your children. I mean everything including your sense of self.
Towards the end of the relationship, I wrote in my journal: none. there is no future I have no family. I don’t have a house. none. I don’t know what to do anymore. There seems to be no hope. ”
When I first left, I had nowhere to go. After staying in a hotel for a while, I moved into a weekly-paid residence. At that time, I really couldn’t see my future.
When you read about leaving an abusive relationship, there is a lot of information about how difficult it is to leave.
It’s dangerous to leave. Abusers escalate their behavior when they fear that they will lose control over you. These are important things to know.
What no one seems to be talking about, perhaps for good reason, is how difficult it is to recover once all the dust has settled.
I’ve spoken to the police, been in court, and received great support from domestic violence charities. I feel like I was able to process much of the abuse and come out of the trauma.
I had a really great therapist who was aware of the situation I was in even when I was trying to hide it from myself. . I believe he saved my life.
I now have my own apartment where I feel safe. i live in a nice neighborhood. I have made new friends and am beginning to feel a part of the community.
But two years into this relationship, I still don’t know who I am.
I was recently asked what I like to watch on TV. I have no idea. Because I would throw tantrums when I wore things my ex-partner didn’t like, I let my ex-partner make all my TV viewing decisions.
I don’t know what I want to do at work. Until recently, I worked in my ex-partner’s field, which was a field I knew very little about and didn’t really care about.
why am i telling you this I’m sure I’m not alone, but I can feel very lonely at times. And if any of you reading this are feeling this damn confused and alone about who you are and what you want to do, I have something to say to you…
you are not alone.
This is normal. this is ok. It’s fine in the sense that it’s fun or good, but it’s fine in the sense that it’s understandable as a result of the journey.
You don’t have to feel like there’s anything particularly wrong with you because you’re not jumping over the field happily enjoying your freedom. Banzai! You can do whatever you want!
I think this is what people expect domestic violence survivors to do after being separated from their partner. The idea of being free to do whatever you want was very exciting.
It quickly dropped when I realized I didn’t know what I wanted.
Except pancakes. I love making and eating pancakes. Hot pancakes made with fresh lemon juice and sugar.
There you have anchors for rebuilding yourself and your life.
When you’re rebuilding yourself, you feel like this should be profound. You have to know your own values. What are your aspirations and dreams?
This is like running a marathon without any training. You can’t start big. Start small.
What do you like to eat for breakfast?
It’s a big problem for me because my ex-partner controlled my diet. He didn’t do his mornings, and when I woke him up to make breakfast, he started screaming and threatening suicide.
One day, I happened to discover that I like pancakes. And I am sure of this. It’s a small one, but it’s a solid reality.
I can use this for other things in my life to see if I like them. Does this feel like pancakes? Sounds silly but I works well for
It’s okay if you change your mind.
this is a big one. If your life is precarious because you are constantly gaslit and subject to rules that change and change as your rulers indulge, you want stability.
You want things to stay the same. And you think who you are and what you want should remain the same.
Pro Tip: It’s not. It doesn’t matter if you are a “normal” person. And your mind is infected with other people’s thoughts and ideas.
When you ask yourself what you want, sometimes the answer is not in your voice. You may not notice this at first. Later you think, wait, it doesn’t feel right anymore.
You can change your mind. that’s okay. It’s normal.
I wanted a cat for months. I bored everyone to tears telling them how much I wanted a cat. I went through pictures of cats, researched cats, and came up with names for cats.
I don’t want a cat anymore. It’s not that I don’t like cats, I’m just not ready to have a pet. And that’s okay.
Do you really like chocolate, or did your ex-partner like chocolate? How do you know?
do you like to sing Give it a try.
Maybe you love to sing and hate chocolate. wonderful. You learned something about yourself.
I like pancakes, chocolate and singing. I don’t like marmalade.
Take your time.
I am forever grateful that a woman in my support group told me, “It took me about six years to feel like myself again.” had been in the relationship for about nine months and was still feeling completely insecure, so she was convinced it had failed.
At this point in the last two years, I find myself frustrated that I haven’t made any more progress. Come on, Lily. Why am I still not sure what I want to do with my life?
I don’t know because someone emptied my mind and filled it with their ideas. And the consequences of thinking differently from them have been absolutely devastating. No one throws heavy weights these days, but I’m still afraid to have the “wrong” opinion.
My brain has been rewired for so long that it will take time to fix it. Uninteresting. It’s hard work. But it’s okay.
During that time, we sing, make pancakes, and eat chocolate.