I’m The Victim Here

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More often than not, we experience verbal abuse and don’t even realize that it’s happening to us. I’m sure we’ve all had that one friend that would walk all over you, but when you tried to let them know that their treatment of you was offensive it became the end of the world. And how dare you point out their behavior as less than friendly! You owe them an apology now for sticking up for yourself!

We tend to brush off their actions with, “Oh, they’re just very outspoken” or “I was overreacting to what she said”. But it’s not healthy. We teach those around us how to treat us. They know who will put up with their crap and who won’t, and unfortunately it’s the ones we’re closest to.

It probably started out small with them making a rude remark about your home, appearance, family, or job. And they brushed off their behavior with a flaky excuse. . .  “Well you know I had a bad day at work, my boss was on my ass about being late, and my boyfriend and I got into it that morning.” Thus turning the focus from your pain to them, making you feel guilty for your pain. And now they’re the victim, not you.

Then the verbal battering becomes more frequent, and it’s almost as if they are just picking fights. They don’t allow you to voice your feelings openly, and when you do they interrupt or make you feel as though you’re overreacting and have no right to be upset with them. They minimize your emotional pain and hurt feelings with a “how dare you” attitude.

This is text book gaslighting. Manipulation at it’s finest and they are good at it. They are pros at making themselves the victim in every situation. They are pros at never taking responsibility for their actions or words. They are pros at getting their way. This is toxic behavior and just like we urge you to get out of a toxic intimate relationship, we urge you to distance yourself from toxic friendships. They will suck the life from you, eat away at your ability to find joy, and drain your emotional sanity until there is nothing left but a shell. A shell of a person that no longer knows who they are, where they belong, or what to do with themselves.

So, don’t forget that abuse isn’t always violent. Abuse doesn’t always happen between a husband and wife. Abuse can take place in any relationship, great or small. Keep yourself aware of the red flags of abusive people. It isn’t healthy to stay in any type of toxic relationship, your mental state will thank you later. Surround yourself with those that support and lift you up.

~Christa G.

Moving On

 

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It’s so easy to say, “Let the past be the past. Forgive and forget and move on with your life.” Or “If you dwell on the past you’ll never be able to move forward.”

Wow are these statements true! If we continue to remind ourselves of all the times someone has lied to or wronged us, we will never be able to reach our full potential or full happiness.

Why is it so hard to remove the hurt from those past experiences?! Sometimes I wish I could scrub my brain of all the painful memories that resurface from time to time. The circumstances to which someone took advantage of my kindness and gullible nature. The times that I was too quick to forgive and move on, but didn’t resolve it fully so it still plagues me. The moments that left a scar in my soul and kept me from being able to live joyfully.

I am a shell of “everything is perfect” on the outside, while my mind is secretly working 100 miles an hour to pick apart everything that I’ve ever experienced.

General anxiety at its finest.

These are the emotions of someone that has been abused. And they are dealt with daily.

You’ve been lied to about what they were doing, who they were with, and where they were. You’ve been cheated on, cursed at, spit on, beat on, and blamed.

The survivors that are lucky enough to make it out alive are left with pieces of themselves that no longer fit. We must gently work to put ourselves back together. Healing and learning how to live again. Finding a place that we belong. Finding others that understand us. Finding joy.

We need to find the strength to let go of the past so that we can see clearly ahead. This doesn’t mean that you condone the way that person treated you, it just means that you are going to rise above it and no longer allow them to control your train of thought. I am going to purge myself of the negative impact from situations that are far gone and out of my control. It’s time for us to focus on what lies ahead.

~Christa G.

Helpless

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We’ve all been there. Woke up and it was a perfectly normal, happy day. Traveled to work with no incident. Maybe an hour or two goes by, also without incident. And then, suddenly, without any warning, a customer or a client forces an unhappy confrontation that throws the rest of our day into utter turmoil. Nothing seems to go right. We spend the rest of our day on edge, just trying to claw our way back to that feeling of normalcy.

I have been having these days all too often lately. The slightest offense will drive me into an uncontrollable irritability. I’ll come home with so much anger boiling inside of me, until I finally erupt in a fit of bitter tears for seemingly no reason at all, hiding myself in my bathroom, ashamed to display such childishness in front of my husband. I know, deep down, I’m still not over the manipulation I experienced in my childhood from my church. I’m still not over the years of psychological and emotional abuse I experienced from my subsequent boyfriends. I’m still not over the resulting self-deprecation and fears I carry around with me every day like a heavy weight on my shoulders.

I’m physically free from all of that abuse, but my mental liberation is still a work in progress. I still minimize everything I went through. I am continually holding myself back by recycling in my head every negative thing ever said to me. I can’t even take my own advice when I suggest to others to work on loving ourselves better or to stop abusing ourselves or to practice power poses. It’s so easy to give advice out, but to follow that same advice when you’ve made a habit of tearing yourself down, is something else entirely.

That’s why I absolutely love that quote in its beautiful simplicity. My sister posted this on her Facebook wall today and when I read it, it just clicked with me. A surprising revelation swept over me. Why do I let these outside forces influence my happiness? For a person who needs stability and structure, I take so much stability away from my life by letting unpredictable circumstances govern my overall contentment. Just like when I realized my ex needed to get out of my life for me to take back control, I need to let go of the pull that these outside influences have over me.

Yes, we all have good and bad days. I expect I will never be able to stop the sensation of having a “bad day,” but I want to be able to respond better to those bad moments. I don’t want to feel myself lose control to the emotions raging inside of me because I find myself helpless again. I’m going to take back control. Whatever it takes. If I need to meditate, I will seriously start practicing meditation. If I need to go back to counseling, I will go back. Healing is never just an overnight thing.

If you are also working on healing after leaving an abusive relationship, please share your thoughts. What do you find helps you the most?

~Lindsey V.

Shades of Insanity

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“You’re being completely crazy! Have you been taking your medication?!”

This was a regular occurrence for me in a past relationship. If I came across the hint that drug use was becoming an issue for my partner again, or that he was hiding something, I would raise questions about it only to be met with accusations of over-analyzing the situation. I just needed to calm down and make sure I was taking my anti-anxiety medication as prescribed. All those years I really thought I was overreacting, that I was the one with the problem. I was the one prescribed anti-anxiety medication to keep from having panic attacks when I would get upset. I was the one being treated for anxiety, not him, so then I really was crazy!

This was life with a psychopath.

They use their charm and manipulation to get what they want from everyone around them. They mold themselves into the person that they need to portray, in whatever situation they are in, in order to gain control. I had been manipulated to the point that I still question my intuition and sanity today, years after being out of that relationship.
The pain is still so vivid. I question myself daily. I question everyone daily. I question my gut feelings daily. Am I being overly analytical and crazy? Or are these fears normal? Do I have the right to question their activities? Do I have the right to question whether or not they’re telling me the truth? The struggle is real guys, and it’s extremely difficult to overcome. The constant strain on my mind, trying to overcome my own internal struggles, weighs me down and steals my joy. How do we overcome it? How do we take back our lives and the happiness that is so rightfully ours? We can’t depend on other people to make us happy, we have to look to ourselves. Dig deep and discover what makes us happy. Know that if in your gut you sense something is wrong, then your instinct is almost always right.

So, while it’s completely understandable that we suffer from a plethora of mental health issues after years of abuse, we also need to realize that we can’t use them as a crutch. Eventually we need to be able to move on with our lives. Build healthy relationships. Learn to trust again. Learn to live again. Learn to love again. And just in general, learn to be happy. It takes time to heal from emotional scars, sometimes years, and sometimes people never fully heal. Along the way to healing, we need to stay aware and keep in mind all of the red flags that let us know things aren’t healthy and we need to step back and analyze the situation. When looking at your relationship through a different lens, keep in mind these key signs that you could be dating a psychopath:

When you first meet them they shower you with flattery, displays of affection, and declarations of traits that make you both perfect for each other.

They prey on your emotions with stories to make you feel sorry for their past experiences. Whether with an ex, a co-worker, family member, or friend. They are always the victim in every situation of their life. You’ll quickly have a soft spot for them, they’ve used their charm so effectively that they have you hooked.

Now that you’re hooked they begin to create situations purposefully to make you jealous. They begin to surround themselves with people who provide them with added attention. They want you to know that they are wanted by everyone. So you better not slip up because they have plenty of admirers to fall back on.

Eventually you’ll come to the point that you begin to see through their behaviors. You’ll begin to question their activities, you’ll confront them about it and you’ll be met with accusations that you’re crazy. They are master manipulators and will rewrite reality in front of you, turning the situation around, making it appear to be your fault. They condition you to believe that the problem isn’t the abuse itself, but instead your reactions to their abuse.

They will accuse you of feeling emotions that they are intentionally instilling in you. They will call you jealous after blatantly flirting with an ex on social media, for the world to see. They’ll call you needy after ignoring you for days on end. They use your reactions to garner sympathy from other targets, trying to prove how irrational and crazy you are.
You notice that there is always an excuse for everything. They constantly blame others, it’s never their fault. They will spend more time justifying their behavior than improving it.

Eventually you won’t recognize your own feelings. Your natural tendencies for love and compassion have been replaced by uncontrollable panic and anxiety. You may even resort to taking anti-anxiety medication, as I did. You apologize on a regular basis for things you didn’t do and cry more than any other time in your life. After being broken down by an abuser, you will feel crazy, emotionally exhausted, empty, depressed, and worthless. Don’t let it come to that. Pay attention to the signs and get out before they drag you down the gutter.

 

We can’t depend on other people to make us happy, we have to look to ourselves.

 

The signs are there—in every situation, relationship, and circumstance in our lives. Pay attention, take notes, learn to trust your instincts, and know that no one has the right to belittle you, call you names, or beat you (men and women alike). Regardless of what you think your actions were that prompted their bad behavior, they are not a justification for them to hurt you. Abuse is real. Abuse is painful. Abuse is life-wrecking. There are options, there is help for you, and you can be saved. Please reach out to someone today if you can relate to anything in this post. Everyone deserves happiness!

~Christa G.