Believe

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First, I would like to express my regret for neglecting to post to the blog for so long. I would say life has been too busy, but there really are no excuses that will make it okay.

I’ve been thinking, heavily, over the last few months about what I could possibly write that would be beneficial. I’ve been battling with thoughts of negativity about my purpose here and whether or not what I have to say really matters.

“Does anyone really care to read?”

“Is anyone even gaining anything from the little stories I share?”

“Do they think I’m just sharing to gain attention?”

Then, a dear friend reached out with encouragement. She expressed to me that every time I’ve shared my story and experience it’s given her tiny rays of hope. And I realized, that in not sharing my experiences, I was being selfish and negatively impacting my growth and the possible growth of others. I don’t share with the hopes of humiliating abusers, I share with the hope that I will give victims a shred of hope, a step to freedom, the courage to get out, and the notion that they are not alone.

I fell victim to the lies that my mind was creating within myself. I’m a work in progress. Moving toward being kinder to myself, believing in myself, and spreading that confidence to others that need hope and healing.

So moving forward, here we go again…

Christa Gayle

^ what she said

I too, have been feeling incredibly guilty for abandoning this blog and anyone who might have been looking forward to our future posts. It’s a difficult subject to continually write about, but we were amateurs with good intentions. I also cave under pressure and the more compliments we received from friends saying how our posts were helping them or their friends through similar experiences, I felt excited but also nervous at the same time. Silly, I know. Makes no sense, I know.

I will be honest, these months away from the blog have been tough. I was battling a bout of depression and anxiety. I saw no purpose in life or in my existence. My days were spent feigning happiness at work and in public, but when I had a chance to myself I was a loaf on my couch wallowing in self-deprecation and fatalism. I have sought help and can now happily say I feel like myself, (more to be said on that later).

Long story short, we are here to help others. We are here to give validation and voice to those who may not feel their feelings are validated. We are here to bring awareness to an issue that has been out of public commentary for far too long.

I lost sight of this purpose for a moment. And we are humbly back, in hopes to continue helping others.

Thank you to those who supported us and thank you to those who may be reading this now.

Lindsey V.

 

 

Abuse Under a Bushel

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This week’s post is by a very special guest . . . our mother.

 

Any form of abuse is not okay and you should avoid such relationships if you can. This article comes from a situation that a friend of mine is currently facing. I’ve been disciplining myself to not make Facebook a platform for discussion on religion and politics. I still need to work on that discipline. I try to be positive, most of the time, but this incident has really shaken me to the point of needing to write or do something to make us aware, not only as a person, but as Christians too. I confess, if I lived in the Victorian era I would be the mama chained to the wheel for Women’s Rights Movement. So, here I go.

A friend recently explained to me about certain issues her family is facing with their church. There is one thing about my friend that I know, they have put their life into serving the people and pastoral team. Several families are the backbone of that particular congregation. Are they perfect? No, but neither are we.

I realize every church faces different circumstances and every pastor has their way of handling these situations. I would not want to be a pastor, as I know this job is very stressful. Let’s face it, when you pastor a congregation, you are dealing with people. And dealing with other people’s problems has got to be the hardest and most frustrating job in the world. That is why it is important, that it is really your calling from God.

1 Peter 5:1-14

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Not much else needs to be said, this verse wraps up the calling of a Pastor, but the fruit of the Spirit is also key for any Christian.

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against, such there is no law.

Abusive situations can and will arise and there are abusers even among church leaders and church members. Here are some things to look for in an abusive situation:

1) Public or private humiliation
2) Angry yelling
3) Afraid to invite others to church because of what may be said from the pulpit or by other church leaders or members
4) Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments
5) Blame you for their own abusive behavior
6) See you as someone that can be ordered around
7) Intimidation or threats
8) Accusing and blaming
9) Judging and criticizing
10) Shunning

If you are a church member, leader, pastor, teacher or if you feel that you are in an abusive atmosphere, respect yourself by walking away. If you are enlightened and find yourself being an abuser in either one or more of these areas, you can change. We all have moments where some of these characteristics need to be squashed. However, when it is reoccurring, then we need the grace of God to change us. Self-help books, counseling, prayer…whatever it takes to help us to not abuse those around us.

I too, have taken on the mindset to be more positive, more caring, more respectful to others. It’s not always easy, as there are some times great aggravations when dealing with people. However, God is the only one that can change a heart. The only thing we can really do is encourage and support.

~Cindy C.

Impressions

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When I was a little girl, I was described as a giggle box, deliriously happy, always smiling, and a bundle of joy. I was the little blonde thing bouncing around, skipping along, singing, playing, imagining, and creating. I couldn’t sit still, but I’m pretty sure I was a bucket of fun! Always mischievous and getting into something.

And then. . . I grew up. Growing up changes us. Through our teens and early twenties, we are the most impressionable. Soaking up the actions, words, and advice of others like sponges. It only takes one insult to bring in doubts. A few jabs at your looks, intellect, actions, or opinions and your self-esteem will drop fast. And sadly, in most cases, it’s only one person wreaking havoc on your self-worth.

My unhealthy relationship took its toll on me and left me stripped of the ability to find joy. I soaked up the degradation, name-calling, and misery. And it left me feeling worthless, depressed, and confused. I began believing all of the insults and twisted stories.

I lost myself in his version of me . . .

There was a time when I heard my mother say that I was like a zombie. I showed no emotion, and seemed to be walking through life aimlessly.

My father, at one point, told me he missed my care-free spirit and the girl that laughed at everything, even the things that weren’t that funny.

I had been molded into a woman with no confidence in myself or my abilities to overcome obstacles. I was quiet, compliant, never spoke my mind, looked at myself as plain, unattractive, and unable to achieve success.

This is what happens to people that are continuously put down, and made to believe their opinions don’t matter.

This is what happens when you’re told you would look like a guy with a short haircut.

This is what happens when you’re blamed for everything that goes wrong.

This is what happens when your life is dictated by your partner.

Today, three years free of that relationship, I have found that bubbly little girl that can laugh freely. My grandfather, rest his soul, recently told me that he was glad to see me so happy and successful. People that have only recently met me can’t believe I ever struggled with low self-esteem or confidence, and can’t even begin to imagine that I was ever depressed and suicidal.

Once I was free from the manipulation, I was able to find myself. I was able to see that I am smart, confident, and successful. I was able to be the mother that my children needed. I no longer allow the degrading criticism of others to dictate how I should feel about myself.

Don’t get lost in the opinions that other people have about you. Don’t let your abuser define you.

Find yourself. Find your inner-child. Find your happy ending. . . and free yourself from those that hold you back.

I decide who I am.

~Christa G.

 

 

Brave

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“I’m not courageous, brave, or strong.  It’s not like I was being beaten every day.”

I still have to fight back the urges to constantly justify the terrible way that I was treated for so many years.  Always repeating to myself that yes, I am a survivor, I have overcome obstacles that would have kept me a prisoner in my own home.  There is no form of abuse that is justifiable.  Regardless of the severity, we need to understand that it is an incredible accomplishment to free ourselves from it.

“How could you cry while singing the song at the funeral?! It was your job to maintain composure for the sake of the family and you completely ruined it. I never should have let you take my place, I should have just sung through my hoarse voice.”

“It’s all your fault we’re overdrawn again, I should be in control of  the finances.  You will give me your paychecks from now on.”

“I’m calling in to work again today, I’m going to say that one of the kids is sick and you aren’t able to stay home from work with them.”

“If you don’t like it then just stop reading my text messages because I’m not quitting pain killers.”

“F@%* you then! You do nothing but nag!”

Over and over again, I would repeat to myself, while alone in my misery. . . “It could be worse, at least he doesn’t hit me.”

We ALL have stories.  Varying in degrees on the platform of abusive behaviors, but nonetheless, abuse.  Whether it be that one night when you were in high school and that boy made you think the only way you were attractive or worth anything was if you performed sexual favors for him. Or the girl that constantly put you down and made you feel like you weren’t good enough. Or the guy that beat you senseless because you used a “condescending” tone with him. Or the spouse that made you feel like you were worthless, incapable of success, and crazy. These are all abusive situations that have undoubtedly left an impact on your self-esteem, self-worth, and on your life.  None are to be excused with a “well it could have been worse” attitude.  Never let yourself think that you were in any way deserving of those situations. Never let yourself justify their actions because you don’t think it was severe enough to be considered abusive.  Never tell yourself that it was no big deal.

~Christa G.

Climbing to the Top

 

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In a world filled with hateful and wicked people, let your light shine. Make a difference in the lives of those around you, lifting others up, praising and encouraging our loved ones and peers, and proactively changing our world for the better.

Pier M. Forni, author of The Civility Solution: What To Do When People Are Rude and director of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University says, “In today’s America, incivility is on prominent display: in the schools, where bullying is pervasive; in the workplace, where an increasing number are more stressed out by coworkers than their jobs; on the roads, where road rage maims and kills; in politics, where strident intolerance takes the place of earnest dialogue; and on the web, where many check their inhibitions at the digital door.”

In a world filled with amazing technological advances, increased knowledge, answers at our fingertips, responses within seconds, and the ability to easily travel anywhere in the world, we still battle a centuries old plague. . . bullying.

Contrary to conventional belief, the targets of office bullies are not the new, inexperienced and less confident employees. The targets, according to research, are the highly competent, accomplished, experienced and popular employees because they pose the greatest threat to the bullies. And when bullies find targets that refuse to be controlled and intimidated, they escalate their behavior.

Not all forms of workplace bullying happen within the same office or company.  There are companies that bully their competitors, making it nearly impossible for the competing company to thrive in the same area. And I am about to tell you one such story. This has occurred between companies that I know of personally, however, I have changed the names to protect the individuals affected.

Mr. Fred is a Salesman with LiteBrite and he covers a large region of a few states. He works closely with toy companies in those states to ensure that they are getting the best products and best prices so that when they sell them to their customers they will still make a decent profit. Mr. Fred is not like your usual salesman, he is honest and goes out of his way to help everyone in his region. And he treats everyone equally, because in helping them achieve success, he’s also going to be successful. So, everyone wins, right?

Not in the eyes of Mr. Gold, the top salesman for Luna Toys. He didn’t think that any of the other toy companies in his region should be allowed to sell LiteBrite. And because Mr. Fred won’t give in to his complaints and wishes to be an exclusive LiteBrite sales location, Mr. Gold began complaining to the top executives of LiteBrite. Mr. Gold was ruthless in his endeavor to ruin Mr. Fred’s good name, get him fired from LiteBrite, and also ruin possibilities for the toy stores in his area to sell LiteBrite.  Luckily, LiteBrite is very aware of Mr. Fred’s good character and so they did not give in to Mr. Gold’s wishes to have Mr. Fred fired. But it hasn’t stopped.  Mr. Gold has a vendetta to ruin business for all of his competitors, and he bullies them with lies, threats, spying, and accusing them of bad business.  In the end, he is the problem and someone has to put an end to the type of mentality that you can run over everyone along the way to get to the top.

I realize this may sound like a silly little story, but it is a real life scenario.  These situations occur in every walk of life, in every type of business situation, and many people are miserable in their jobs because of a workplace bully that will not put an end to their constant taunting.  Even if you defend yourself, show proof that you are not at fault, show proof that you are performing at your best, and prove yourself until you are blue in the face. . . the bully’s tactics will only become stronger. They will not cease until either you are out of the picture or they are gone.  One thing is for sure; the problem of workplace bullying will not go away anytime soon and may never be fully remedied until enough people call for a return to a culture of civility, and demand that governments and organizations take action. Truly successful people help one another along the road to success. When you walk all over everyone on your way to the top, there will be no one left to help you in your time of need or crisis. And believe me, those times will come.

Workplace bullying occurs in many different forms, on different levels, and from various ranks within a company. It may be a supervisor, a boss, a co-worker, someone in a different department, someone competing for recognition, someone competing for sales, or even an employee you first thought was a friend.  Bullying can show up in the form of harassment, degradation, sexual harassment, threats to take your job if you don’t do as they say, threats to get you fired if you speak a word of their bad conduct, and just plain bullying behavior that leaves you miserable and dreading to be near them. Many victims of workplace bullying, much like other types of abuse, are afraid to speak up for fear of not being taken seriously. The world is always ready to shame the victim for the way they are treated. But we have to step up and speak up to win the war against abuse. It’s time to come together in your office and speak out against the harassment that is taking place, encourage others to go to supervisors or HR departments to file a formal complaint. Nothing will change if we stay silent. It’s never too late to make a difference. Stand up for your rights. Stand up for the rights of others. Stand up for respect.

~Christa G.

When Trusting You is Killing Me

 

 

Trust . . . it’s a big one. It’s HUGE.

You cannot have a successfully healthy relationship without trust.

Without trust, doubt runs rampant.

Without trust, your mind can play games.

Without trust, you will not be able to respect the other person.

I married at the age of 19. I was young, naïve, and didn’t know the meaning of doubt. I didn’t know it was possible for someone who loved me, to lie and disrespect me.

“You need to tell your husband to stop emailing my fiancé,” came the demand from a man I had never met, nor spoken to.

“What? What are you talking about?” was my surprised response.

He then proceeded to read emails that he found in his fiancé’s archived messages, from my husband, in which he claimed I was a terrible wife, a lazy mother, and I never took care of anything.

I was flabbergasted. I was the exact opposite of all of the accusations he brought against me. And while there was no romantic evidence in those emails, there was only one intent behind him gaining her pity.

Even while writing about it, the memory of the adrenaline rush and utter disbelief came rushing back to me.

Covered in a cold sweat and fighting off nausea, I hid in the bathroom, curled up on the floor, and tried to keep myself from shaking to death.

He stood outside the door and begged for forgiveness, claiming he only said those things because he knew that he was guilty of them himself and it made him feel like a loser.

And so, I felt sorry for him, and that began a long line of excuses, tall tales, and undeserved forgiveness.

This was the first panic attack of many to come in later years. We had been married for 3 years, he had just returned from Iraq, and it was the beginning to a long, drawn out history of lies, cheating, manipulation, and verbal abuse.

This was the beginning of many years of misery, degradation, pain, tears, and depression.

This was the beginning of a million empty apologies and pleas for my forgiveness.

This was the beginning of me giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing “one more” chance to make things right.

NO MORE . . . After 12 long years, I was finally able to put an end to the madness and left.

You can only offer your forgiveness so many times, before the emotional roller coaster of being let down over and over eventually takes its toll on your mental health.

Yes, most often, you have to take a leap of faith and allow yourself to trust. Just don’t allow your trust to be stomped on time and time again.

There is a time to heal and work on your relationship, and there is a time to put your foot down.

If you find yourself being asked for forgiveness for the same mistakes every time, then you must realize . . . they are no longer mistakes, but choices being made consciously. Knowing they will hurt you and knowing that you will forgive them.

Stand up. Stand Out. Stand Tall. Take back your life, find what makes YOU happy and do it!

~Christa G.

 

Addicted

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I don’t matter. My needs, my wants, my feelings, have all taken a back row seat to my partner’s need to feed his insatiable appetite for drugs.

Alone. Alone in my bed at night, alone with my thoughts, alone in my struggle to make a living.

The Man Cave. HA! More like Drug Cave. Lines of white powder, lines of crushed pain killers, broken ink pens, and powdery dollar bills. Everywhere.

What is happening? What has become of my life? When did I allow this evil to creep in and take control?

No more. It has to end or I have to leave. I’m drowning. Drowning in fear, in constant misery, in depression. Make it stop. Make him stop.

I don’t matter. Only the high matters to him. So I’m gone. I’m nothing.

. . . I would have been worn down to nothing . . . Eventually, his addiction would have destroyed us both.

Drug addiction is a need to satisfy a habit that is stronger than the urge to eat when you’re hungry. A need so greedy that everything else becomes non-existent. Some drugs are more intense than others, each yielding their own unique consequence, and each possessing the ability to change the addict’s personality drastically. Irritability, paranoia, depression, and irrational anger are just a few of the behavioral changes that accompany drug abuse. Chemical changes take place in the user’s brain which interfere with their judgement, ability to think clearly, control their behavior, or feel normal without drugs. People that abuse drugs are more likely to abuse their loved ones due to the adverse effects from using and the need to satisfy their high. According to the NCADV, 61% of domestic violence offenders also use/abuse substances. Often they try to blame their battering on being under the influence; however, substance abuse treatment does not “cure” abusive behavior. Their thought processes are highly irrational and even the tiniest irritation may throw them into a rampage. When you mix this issue with someone who already exhibits abusive tendencies, the behavior is exacerbated.

I had no rights to voice my opinion on his drug abuse, and when I did, I was met with ultimatums. If I wanted my partner to give it up, then I had to give up my occasional glass of wine. And by occasional, I mean once every few weeks I had a glass or two. In my opinion, it was entirely unfair. Some might have said that if I wanted my partner to quit badly enough, I would have given up my freedom to enjoy a glass of wine. Why? Why should I give up any legal freedoms in order to get my partner to stop doing illegal things which were destroying our lives? His ultimatum was a manipulation technique, another way for him to regain control over the situation. A way for him to justify his actions.

He said he was sorry. But the addiction to pain killers never stopped. I tried overcoming it. His family tried an intervention. I felt pressured to stay, to be another June Carter, a woman whose love was so powerful it cured her man’s addiction. But you can only try for so long, after that you are just enabling it. Some things never change. Some people don’t want to change. Some habits are too hard to break. And sometimes we need to open our eyes and see them for who they really are.

If I had stayed and tried again and again and again to be his June Carter, to be his whipping boy, to be his crutch, eventually I would have been worn down to nothing. Eventually, my depression would have been too much to bear. Eventually, his addiction would have destroyed us both. If there is anything that I want our readers to glean, it’s that sacrifice in the name of love is different than sacrifice in the name of selfish desire. At some point you have to learn to let go, for your own sake.

~Christa G.

Where It Begins

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Life. It holds so many uncertainties. So many inequalities. So many injustices. As a human race we are a profound, complicated, and diverse people. Some are driven by power and riches. While others are driven by love and the need to help others. What makes us so different? What drives one person to be hateful and yet another to be understanding? There are so many factors that affect our behaviors and frame of mind. The majority of those influences take place during our childhood, when every decision, situation, reward, and consequence molds us into the adults we eventually become. With that being said, will childhood bullies develop into abusive adults? It would seem the most understandable outcome, since bullying is a child’s way of exuding power and control over their peers. So then, are we wrong to assume that a child displaying bullying behavior will only continue to intimidate and abuse others later in life?

Most children who display bully-like behaviors are experiencing abuse themselves . . .


According to a study performed and published to the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, it has been confirmed that bullying as a child can be an early precursor to adult domestic partner violence perpetration, at least in men. The study was done in Boston and focused on men at three different community centers. The study suggests that men who exhibited frequent bullying in school were at a much higher risk for aggressive and abusive behavior toward intimate partners. Of course, this is only one study that took place among a group of men, confined to one area. However, this has been a question for years before any studies were recorded. Another study published in the September 2010 Psychiatric Quarterly states that adults with a history of bullying are 10 times more likely to lie than those with no history. The study also suggests that they have a higher likelihood of stealing and cheating. Concerns are, of course, not limited to men that were bullies. There are plenty of girls known to have bullied their classmates, as well.

So where do we begin?  Is it possible to rectify the behavior of a bully in order to prevent abusive tendencies as an adult? We must first look at the environment of the child in question. Most children who display bully-like behaviors are experiencing abuse themselves, or they are witnessing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) between their parents. Unfortunately, without just cause or evidence that those children are in danger, they cannot be removed from those situations. It’s up to us to help inform children, at their young and impressionable ages, of what abuse looks like and how it affects others. Parents that have children in school can look into what programs are implemented to prevent bullying. And if you don’t have a child in school, but you want to help raise awareness you can look into programs being used in your local school districts. Are the programs effective? What can the community do to help promote them? What programs are being applied that are also available to parents and community members? How can we better a child’s home environment? These are just a few small steps to get where we need to be. It takes action to get a reaction, and we want that reaction to be a decrease in the amount of bullying taking place among our children. In turn, we will see less IPV in the future.

I recently became aware that my 13-year-old son is dealing with bullies at his school. It is incredibly alarming to know that these boys are subjecting him to belittlement, humiliation, and rejection. The mental deterioration that takes place during abuse can be devastating. I have taken action and scheduled counseling sessions for my son. This allows him the ability to express his feelings to someone in order to gain an understanding that he is not worthless, dumb, or ugly as these kids make him feel. But what of the bullies? They also need guidance. They need an understanding that their behavior is not okay and could possibly lead to harsher behavior as an adult. Domestic violence awareness and our fight to end it starts with our children. It starts in our schools. It starts in our communities. It starts with our future generation. We will never see an end or decrease in abuse until we stop the behavior before it begins.

I urge you to stand up in your community. Make your voice heard. For the sake of our children, put an end to bullying. We need to make a difference, we need to fight to end abuse, and we need to start where it begins.

 

~ Christa Gayle

 

 

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.

Washed Away

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Looking back on the previous year and the great strides my sister and I took in healing from our past abuse, I know that we still have a long way to go. I still harbor so much hatred toward my ex and even more hatred toward hers. There have been times when I admitted I wouldn’t mind if either of them were dead. But these are toxic thoughts that only prove the type of hold these men still have over my happiness and well-being. Instead of fantasizing about all the times I should have left my ex, I should focus on my now loving husband and on living a happy and fulfilling life with those who truly care for me. I should look ahead to the future, instead of dwelling on the past.

There is a beautiful festival in Thailand called Loy Krathong. “Loy” meaning to float and “Krathong” meaning a leaf cup or bowl. Hundreds gather with their small decorated “boats,” they light a candle and incense and send them to drift down a body of water to symbolize letting go of the past to welcome the future. Some will place a personal object onto the krathong, in the act of getting rid of the negative side of oneself, to wash away one’s sins.

This is such an inspiring tradition. Too often has the past dictated my future. I knew there was a reason to my continual destructive relationships. I knew there was something about my past that molded my future. Counseling helped me to let go of those past influences and to see the driving force behind my subconscious desire to be manipulated and controlled. I let go of some of that influence and moved on with my life. And in doing so, I was able to meet my wonderful husband, I quit my miserable job and moved on to a better company with better pay and better support. My life has only moved up since those counseling sessions, since I began letting go of the negative parts of my past.

Since I am human, however, there are times I remember my abuser’s disparaging words. I remember his criticisms. I remember the times I felt my lowest and believed he was right about my worthlessness. I still question if he was right. I still question why anyone would love or respect me. Everyday is a struggle. Memories creep back up and I am constantly battling these moments of self-deprecation. In my head, I know he was wrong. But I hate myself for ever letting him control me and for letting him continue to control my thoughts.

I am going to adopt this tradition for the new year. Instead of not only promising myself to uphold several New Year’s resolutions, I will symbolically celebrate a cleansing of my past.

Too often has the past dictated my future.

There is so much negativity inside me, spreading like a cancer. If I hold onto it, then I am continuing the abuse that I thought I escaped. It will break down every part of me that makes me who I am. It will attack every cell in my body until my body turns against itself.

I’m not going to forgive my ex. I’m not going to forgive my sister’s ex. I’m not going to forgive all of the abusers in the world. They do not deserve forgiveness. But I will forgive myself. And I will stop the echo of abuse in my life. His words have no more hold over me. I will let the memory of all of his wrongdoing float down the river to be washed away. I will see myself for the beautiful and inspiring human being I can be. He has no more power. He has no more control. His influence will dissipate with the flame and the incense. I will see my krathong drift into the horizon, taking with it all the hate and malevolence of his memory.

 

~Lindsey V.