Leaving An Abusive Relationship Is The First Step, But This Is What Truly Sets You Free

Brooke Cagle
Brooke Cagle

Everyone talks about leaving, but no one really mentions what happens after an abusive relationship. What happens when you start dating again? No matter how much time stretches between the two relationships: the transition between an abusive one and a functional one is insanely difficult.

Going from a person who relies solely on your submission and your fear, to someone who celebrates your independence is bewildering. Getting out of an abusive relationship is supposed to free you, isn’t it? It’s not that simple.

Leaving is the first step, but what you do after is what sets you free.

Going from a person who constantly tells you you’re not smart enough, who punishes you for going out with friends, who takes sex from you; Going from this to someone who encourages you, who tells you how intelligent they think you are, who wants you you to be successful for your own sake, and supports you fully— It’s endlessly confusing. It’s the difference between hearing, “Your body is mine.” and, “It’s okay that we don’t have sex tonight.”

“I am not enough.”

“I am worthless and stupid.”

“I make everything worse.”

“His bad day is all my fault.”

These thoughts plague your head, and there’s no making sense of it. You know they aren’t true, but they don’t go away. If you can’t make sense of it, how can you explain it to your new partner? The thing is that you can never explain it. You just hope that they understand, and help you overcome it.

Sometimes you relapse. Sometimes those thoughts come back far into your new relationship, and you look for any signs that he might be cheating; that he’s looking for any excuse to leave– that your baggage is too much to deal with. Sometimes you need to hurt so badly that you sabotage yourself. You create those signs you’re so used to seeing and let them eat away at you.

Being in a place where things are ‘okay’ is a foreign concept.

Always having a problem to solve, a person to fix, a mystery to figure out became such an integrated part of life, and whenever it wasn’t at the forefront of everything– whenever things were ‘okay’, something always came crashing down to make everything worse. Happiness was never a reality, and you come to accept that as fact.

But after awhile, by surrounding yourself with people who constantly show you your own worth— you start believing in yourself again. You start to love yourself. You forgive yourself, and you move forward.

You can do anything. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I once traveled across the country to meet a stranger.

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