“Agonising” is the word that comes to mind when I relive that moment. I was confronted with making a decision to stay or walk away. I had considered walking away several times before and was unable to commit to the process. It is a process to leave. The process often involves children and a good hard look at the finances.
On each occasion that I had considered walking away, it was the thought of the children that had me stay.
I stayed in the relationship for the children.
I was unable to comprehend how the children would cope with parents living apart, a family no longer one unit.
To leave involves taking into account finances. Finances were always an issue for me, as I was a full-time mom for decades.
How does one leave a relationship with little to no finances of their own?
Children and finances locked me into the marriage equally as much as my commitment of “till death do us part”.
When I nervously uttered the words “I do” on our wedding day, I was committed. I had made a pact with myself that I would never give up on marriage. I firmly held onto the idea that as adults we would communicate and resolve disputes or disagreements on every occasion and endeavour to maintain a healthy relationship to see us through right to the end.
A relationships foundation needs to be healthy from the start if it is to succeed all the difficult times. I was blind, unaware that I had committed myself to a very unhealthy relationship from the start.
I can’t stress enough that some marriages or relationships are extremely harmful.
Harmful to you and everything you hold true.
You are not doing yourself any favors by holding onto a person that chooses to hurt you. Holding on will lead to a life filled with contradictions, as you will be forced to neglect your needs and pretend your values aren’t important, all the while knowing deep in your core that something feels really wrong.
Abuse comes in several forms: physical, verbal, or emotional. It took me years to work out that I was living with emotional abuse.
I was in denial for years.
By nature, I am a very compassionate and caring individual, so to accept that I was married to someone who was emotionally abusing me was one of the hardest facts to face. The more I opened myself up to the truth, I started to realize I married this man out of sympathy. I cared about him as a person and felt sorry for how he had been raised. Each time he talked about his childhood, I felt sad. I noticed that people often talked about him behind his back, and what they said was rarely positive. I thought I was helping him by loving him. I believed that if I loved this man enough, he would change and others would learn to love him too.
I was so wrong.
It didn’t seem possible that someone I trusted could mistreat me. I often excused his behavior as a bad day he was having. Or perhaps I hadn’t been trying hard enough to be the wife I was destined to be. We grow up believing that significant people in our lives will protect and love us. Sadly, this is not always the case. Some people are abusive.
Abuse is damage to your spirit, heart, and mind.
As I struggled in denial, my heart and mind would exchange conversation with each other. In desperation, my heart would whisper statements of hope to my mind, attempting to convince it into believing that one day this man would change and stop all the hurt and abuse. My mind would answer back, pleading with my heart to wake up to all the mistreatment and hurt, begging me to leave. All my heart knew to do was give this man another chance to prove they had changed and did in fact love me.
I had these repeated conversations for 27 years.
How long should people keep trying?
How far do you allow damage to continue?
In the process of endless chances, damage takes place. The heart shuts down. The individual has lost their voice. The person you once were is now lost.
In order to continue in an abusive relationship, you master the ability to ignore your own cries for help. Forgotten are all the red flags that were waving at you from the very beginning, signaling caution, and yet here you are, recognizing that the same behaviors continue. Nothing has changed.
It’s as though you become a martyr.
You were not designed to be walked on, used, abused, or treated as though your needs don’t matter. You may have held a long standing belief that you deserve bad treatment. It could be the bad treatment connects with a lie you’ve held onto about yourself for years, such as, “You’re not valuable,” ” You’re unworthy,” or “You don’t deserve anything better.”
The longer you ignore the mistreatment and hold onto the relationship, the more broken and shattered you become. When feelings are ignored on a regular basis, you become empty and numb, as it’s not safe to be yourself anymore. Slowly but surely, you begin to shut down. Anxiety becomes your best friend and you start living on high alert. The moment you think it’s okay to relax, convinced that the relationship is improving, the cycle starts again. That is false hope, temporary pain relief. Good moments are short-lived and outnumbered by the hurtful treatment that continues with no end in sight.
Should you choose to stay, you will only arrive at this same place again and again.
It is heartbreaking to accept and let go of the dream that your relationship will change.
From experience, I can confidently say that if you are with a partner who has no intention of taking responsibility for their mistreatment of you, you have enlisted into a never-ending battle. You will find yourself empty, broken, and desperate.
I also know how extremely difficult it is to let go.
It was the night I felt the least strong that I let go.
I couldn’t hold on anymore—it was killing me.
Don’t keep fighting a one-sided battle!
Excuses and denial can only go so far.
Don’t wait for the right time. There will never be a right time.
You should let go as soon as you have come out of denial and can accept you are in an abusive relationship.
Your health and safety should not come last. As soon as this is compromised, it’s time to let go.