How to Heal After an Abusive Relationship
I left my abusive husband after 20 years and have tried to establish a civil relationship post-divorce, but he remains hostile and seems determined to keep the situation that way. His life has gone ahead and he does not seem upset that the marriage failed. I have recently met a nice fellow but I can’t stop thinking about my ex and am angry at myself for not moving on. Should I not date, as I can’t seem to give my full attention to anyone right now.
Congratulations for leaving your abusive husband. It’s truly one of the most difficult things to do. Statistics show that it takes about 7 times before an abused woman leaves her abuser for good. So, you did the right thing. It took courage and you left.
Now it’s time to leave him again. Because while you physically removed yourself from him, you are still emotionally bonded in some way. You care about the fact that he moved on. And that’s understandable because of the challenges inherent in leaving an abuser.
Solid advice on how to heal after an abusive relationship
But don’t beat yourself up over not moving on. The first thing I invite you to do is to have some self-compassion. Pretend that you are your own loving mother. What would you tell yourself about being able to move on after abuse?
Your inner dialogue might be, “Kim, you went through twenty years of emotional abuse. You had the courage to leave, and I admire you for that. Cut yourself a break, honey. This time is for you to build up your self-worth. You are a woman of great value. You must believe in yourself before getting out there in the dating world again. Take time for self-care.”
Your self-worth will determine the quality of the men you attract into your life. Now is the time to increase your sense of dignity, and to learn to recognize the signs of abuse from the start of any new relationship.
I’d like you to do a journalling exercise to reveal the toxic dating/relationship patterns from your past.
For each man you’ve dated, please answer the following questions:
How old were you when you dated him?
How many men had you dated before him?
How long did you date him?
How did you two meet?
Describe your relationship story. Include any description about what made him ‘dangerous’.
Once you’ve identified any toxic patterns, you’ll know what to look for in the future.
And don’t forget to take exquisite care of yourself right now. Get a makeover – new hair, new makeup, new clothes that make you feel amazing. Develop hobbies, hand out with close supportive friends.
Kim, this is YOUR time to heal after an abusive relationship. No more neglecting the most important person in your life. Cherish yourself, and don’t let anyone into your life who doesn’t feel the same about you.