Any relationship with someone who is a closet abuser is an emotional roller-coaster that leaves you feeling not only emotionally drained but as if you have been punched in the stomach.
You suddenly realize you are literally fighting for your life and need to escape as soon as is possible.
When you fall hard for someone it leaves you blind to how they really are, so when you suddenly notice just how toxic that person is the shock runs deep. You may even think you can work things out, get back to how they used to be, truth is that person never really existed, it was all an act and the person you see now is the real person.
Recovery from hidden abuse is never easy, it requires you to become fully self-aware and that is a hard lesson in life at the best of times, let alone after a break up with someone who you thought your whole future was mapped out with.
1. Reflect on how you feel
The abusive relationship meant that the partner you were with was taking advantage of you. That person has a personality disorder. That person is a Narcissist.
They are the most toxic of the personality disorders and along with the toxicity they are the most dangerous, and that is why you fear them so much.
Step back for a moment and think about the last time you were truly happy, the last time you were allowed to do something for yourself, something that made you a priority and not them. If it was a long time ago then you know that the relationship isn’t a healthy one and the choice to be you has been removed from you albeit over a period of time.
If you feel insecure about yourself, you have been manipulated into those feelings. If your relationship was or is all about your partner, then you are living a toxic environment and that is no way to live.
Reflecting on your life is something we all do from time to time, it is healthy to do so, but when you find the reflections cause you pain, I hate to say it, but you have been part of an abusive relationship.
2. Educate yourself
I remember doing so much research my head felt like it was spinning but educate yourself you must. You need to know for yourself what you have been living.
You took the first steps by reflecting on your life, having information to hand so you don’t begin to doubt yourself is key.
There are so many different forms of abuse that you may find you have been subjected to one type or a combination.
3. Waking up is hard to do
Many things in life are a wake-up call, but the one concerning abuse is the hardest one of all to take in and believe.
You don’t want to believe that another human being could subject you to so much pain.
Burying your head in the sand thinking it will go away and they will change will not happen, in fact, life will just get worse for you.
You need to take ownership of your life back, and you can do that by accepting life as you thought it was just simply did not exist.
4. Create boundaries
I’m not talking walls although most of us have done that at some point in our lives, I’m talking boundaries and that is healthy to have.
If you don’t have boundaries toxic people will drain your soul dry and enjoy doing so.
Distance yourself from your abuser as much as you can, it will still hurt and still be a challenge, if you are still in the relationship then you will need to make plans to end it and get away from them, that is not always easy. If children are involved boundaries are crucial as dealing with a narcissistic ex has challenges of a whole new level.
Get out of the habit of explaining yourself too, this is a hangover from the abuse, when you say no, that’s it. Remember ‘NO’ is a full sentence period.
5. Restore what has been lost
When in an abusive relationship we lose literally everything, friends, family, our identity, so now is the time to take it back.
Lost contact with your friends? reach out to them, if they are true friends, they will have no problems reconnecting and it will help you in your recovery.
Family relationships strained? Reach out, tell them the truth of what has gone on, yes, it’s not easy to tell them your fairy tale turned into a nightmare, but it will go a long way to explaining the loss of contact or reduced contact, it will help them to understand and support you.
Start doing the things you loved doing but were prevented from doing so. Take joy in reading a book, taking a walk, going out for drinks and a meal with friends, family etc.
Stopped from working? Look for a job, look for one that will make you happy not just take any old job unless your financial situations dictate any kind of job is a must until you can find one that makes you happy.
Work on making yourself happy, it is not being selfish at all, you’ve lived in misery too long now, time for some good memories to be made.
6. Keep fighting for yourself
Invest in yourself, your own happiness and your healing journey, make yourself your top priority.
Recovery from abuse can take years and, in that time, you will evolve as a person, you will find strength even you didn’t know you had.
Don’t try and rush your recovery thinking you should be over it, and if you hear comments such as ‘let it go’ or ‘get over it’ they are not your people so remove them from your life.
You have been through the gates of hell and crawled your way back out, honor your achievement, be kind to yourself and learn to love life again each and every day.