I have spent most of my adult life where you are. I understand the confusion, the heartbreak and the daily chaos you live with. I have told myself the same things that you tell yourself. I have rationalized and justified the insanity of an relationship that wasn’t emotionally safe for me.
I have also overcome those obstacles. It wasn’t easy. It took extreme circumstances to get myself out of that dysfunctional mindset. I still look to renew my own strength everyday and am ever determined to break the cycle that has plagued me my entire adult life.
The first step is to stop lying to ourselves.
1) This is normal
You tell yourself that your relationship is typical of most relationships. All relationships have their ups and downs right? You ignore the fact that you are constantly hurting. You ignore that you are constantly strategizing ways to get your partner to understand your point of view. You prove over and over that you are worthy of their love. You excuse misunderstandings saying that your partner is going through a rough patch, and it will improve.
It is illogical for you partner to verbally abuse you, their greatest ally and advocate. Blame, shame, confusion, diminishment, sarcasm and manipulations are not normal and regular responses for having a bad day and have no place in a healthy, loving relationship.
Trying harder does not stop this behavior. In fact, rather than the person appreciating you more, they will appreciate you less.
2) He or she will change
Past history indicates future performance. Why would you believe your partner will suddenly change in the future? Do you believe love and patience will be the catalyst for change? Do you believe an apology is enough?
If you have stayed with an abusive partner, you have given your partner the message that you really don’t have a problem with their behavior and you are simply reinforcing the idea that what he or she is doing is acceptable. You have given your partner no incentive to change.
If he or she really wants to change, they will. If they don’t, you must. Anyone can apologize for their wrong deeds. Words are easy. Proof comes with lasting change. It’s easy to have hope and latch on to the slightest effort on his/her part. It is easy to believe it is the beginning of real change. But, there is a monumental difference between compliance and change.
Compliance is a deliberate and cunning strategy meant to deceive and distract. Your partner may give you the smallest measure of what you need. In turn you see that as a sign that real and significant change is beginning. Compliance is often temporary. Your partner will eventually move the line back, and then accuse you of being too unreasonable if you protest.
Change is reversing course as a result of acknowledging the truth and doing everything possible, to save the relationship and make it a safe, healthy place to be.
Compliance isn’t change at all. Without heartfelt change stemming from one’s authentic self, it’s only a matter of time until you return to where you started.
3) It’s my fault. I can save my partner.
Enabling is taking responsibility for the actions of another person. We often overlook our partner’s flaws and we forgive them. Not only do we forgive them, but we find a way to blame ourselves. We live in an unbelievable state of denial about the abuse that is taking place.
Once you are aware that you are living in an abusive situation, and you allow it to continue, you are both a victim and an accomplice. You unwittingly support and encourage your partner’s behavior by failing to call it what it is and not setting boundaries to put a stop to it. Even if you believe you partner is not aware of it, you are.
You can only choose how you respond, accept being treated poorly or reject it and demand better. By taking control on how you respond to it you also teach your partner how you expect to be treated. You cannot save your partner from themselves. But you can, and should, save yourself.
4) Love will conquer all
Real love starts with loving ourselves and then moves outward. It is shown by both the big things and the little things we do, 24 hours a day, not just when it is convenient. Abuse is never a function of a normal, healthy relationship. Abuse and love cannot occur in the same relationship.
Just because someone wants to be in a relationship with you, does not mean they truly love you. And even if they do, that doesn’t mean the relationship nurtures you and is good for you. This can be a very difficult concept to accept, especially when you have an lengthy investment in your relationship. The sooner you do it, the happier you will be.
5) We need each other
Evaluate the situation. What are you getting out of the relationship? Does your partner need you to cook and clean their house? Listen to them complain to you and criticize you. What about your needs? Are they getting met? Are you still waiting for your partner to treat you like you wish to be treated? To be the person you wish they were? What about your dreams? Have they been replaced by heartache, sadness, loneliness. Do you feel inadequate and underappreciated. Is that a the kind of relationship you want to be in?
6) I deserve It.
“I deserve it” is a lie we tell ourselves in order to convince ourselves that our partner is justified for the way we are treated. Ask yourself this: What if you treated your partner the way they treat you? Would your partner accept even a small fraction of what they dish out to you? People like this always have good reasons to justify their behavior.
Once you come to terms that you have been living in an abusive relationship, you can begin to work on getting out.