In a million years I never thought I’d be leaving with what I could carry when he was out of town, but verbal and emotional abuse are sneaky things. By the time you fully understand what’s happening, there’s not much left of you and this is why it’s so difficult to leave. The part of you that would be saying, “Hell no, you’re not treating me this way!” is slowly chipped down to a stubby quiet lifeless voice, so by the time you need it to kick in and yell for you? It’s just not there.
His abuse started unexpectedly and out of the blue. He would lash out at me and then change back to a loving partner in an instant. I wouldn’t understand what happened, why it happened, or what I did wrong. And as quickly as he would attack me? He would be back to normal, hold a grudge, or act incredibly hurt by whatever I had supposedly done.
But there was also love. Or his version of it, anyway, and he always told me how much he loved me. I talked myself out of the signs of abuse. For some reason I didn’t fully listen to the clues that something most definitely wasn’t right, allowing my heart to rule instead of my head.
“I don’t know what the hell just happened, but he seems fine, now, so I’ll let it go.”
“He had such a stressful day and he’s not normally like this, so I won’t push the issue.”
“I know that was his painful childhood rearing its ugly head so what he needs is more love, not judgement.”
Before I knew it, I was used to the chaos and even worse, we had become codependent. I’ll never forget the day I fully understood what was happening. I was reading Cosmo magazine and there was an article about verbal and emotional abuse, and suddenly I couldn’t breath because it all made sense.
It took me days to have the courage to confront him and to my surprise? He didn’t deny it. Which probably made it all that much worse because a narcissist will admit to a problem, address it, and then in delusions of grandeur claim to have solved the issue. We even went to couples counselling until he declared himself cured and stopped going. I was at a loss.
A diagnosed narcissist is a tricky thing because what the world sees is someone charming, intelligent, funny, interesting, generous, the kind of energy you want to be enveloped in because it makes you feel invincible…but this is only half-truth.
While it’s who I met and fell in love with, it’s not who I came to know when it seemed I did something wrong, said something wrong, didn’t agree in a conversation, or saw my own way of doing things.
He created a new normal for me. One which meant walking on eggshells 100% of the time, always alert, always aware, anticipating the next argument, blow-up, verbal assault, waiting for him to slam the door and never know where he was or when he’d be back.
How do I give justice to what this did to me?
What words could help you understand how alone I felt, how insignificant I became in my own being?
I was never more unhealthy than I was during this time. Anxiety I couldn’t manage except with the use of medication, IBS always flaring up, and colds and flus on a regular basis thanks to living in a constant state of high stress.
However, when there’s nothing left of your self-esteem, it can be difficult to see you have choices. And when life is either amazing or awful, as mine was, it never felt simple to leave.
Building up the courage to walk away took time and while I sometimes wish it could have ended differently, the months of his silent-treatment preceding my departure didn’t leave me many options.
Uprooting oneself from a relationship of 9 years with almost zero self-worth doesn’t mean you suddenly feel rainbows and joy. I had PTSD, was afraid much of the time, didn’t know who I was anymore, how to be or what to do with myself. There was almost no confidence to be found, and the reality is lack of confidence is a lack of trust, so no, I didn’t even trust myself.
It took me a long time and lots of help to be who I am today. There was a process of mourning the parts of me I lost, working through the anger I felt towards my ex, grieving a relationship I once loved so dearly the first few years before it all changed, understanding it wasn’t my fault, and feeling everything that came up instead of suppressing it.
This had to happen so I could begin the healing process and rebuild myself, love who I am, believe in me, and live a fulfilling life where I can accomplish anything! My journey back to me hasn’t been a straight line and honestly it’s been a lot of hard work. I’ve learned practical strategies, which I continue to use every day, because the only way we become who we know we’re meant to be is through action.
Today, I have an amazing partner who respects me and my voice. I help other women build businesses because I believe it’s every woman’s divine right to know how to build something that will provide her with choices in life so she’s not dependent on anyone else for her dreams. I’ve learned my essence, who I am, is enough and always has been.
It takes daily commitment and below are the most important 7 habits I’ve used to get me where I am today and I promise you they work!
True self-love means loving all parts of you and recognizing nothing is wrong with the things you currently dislike or want to wish away. Make a list of all the things you don’t like about yourself or even hate about yourself. For each one you write down, think back to where this thought began. What was the incident that created this dislike? What is the reality for who you are NOW? How can you nurture and love what’s true? What do you need to say to the part of you that actually needs love and healing? Continuously remind yourself of how special and unique you are!
Often we don’t see how amazing we are or see ourselves how others see us. Grab your journal and begin to imagine yourself as one of your best friends. Write down all the great qualities of YOU! Any time you’re feeling down or feeling less-than, remind yourself of what a great listener you are, how you have a great sense of humor, that you’re thoughtful, kind, helpful, and smart. You’re badass, right? Allow yourself to FEEL how awesome you truly are!
At the end of the day, we all want to feel safe, secure, loved and accepted. But most of our angst comes from fear which means trying to control people and situations. It’s especially common for trauma survivors to feel the need to control (aka control freak) in order to make our inner world feel okay. It’s important for you to remind yourself of what’s in your control and what isn’t. This is because at every given moment, you have a say in how you feel, but the trick is it’s NOT because you get to decide what other people do, say or think…it’s because you get to decide what YOU do!
This is key for rebuilding trust and creating confidence. When you think nothing you do is good enough, right, or worthy of being recognized, you need to start believing in yourself again. When you see that you ARE capable of making decisions that work out just fine, if not great, you reprogram the thoughts you have about yourself. And whenever you feel doubt or negativity, you can recall the feelings you had when something went well! You can use the smallest choices to work on this! Did you decide to try a new recipe and it turned out yummy? This is great! Did you go to the gym because you thought a workout would be good for you? What a wonderful choice! It might feel silly at first but baby steps are a big deal.
Every day I make a list of what I’m grateful for. You know how what you focus on grows? Gratitude creates feel-good emotions as well as awareness! It helps you see the positive things in your life. Plus, the more you see the great stuff, the more great stuff will come your way!
Feeling embarrassed and ashamed of my life meant I never reached out to anyone during the hard times or when I was feeling really down. But it’s okay to call a friend or message someone you trust and say, “Hey, I’m having a bad day or I feel down today.” The more you trust yourself, the easier it becomes to allow others into your world so they can support you!
This is the habit that’s made the biggest difference in my life. The biggest factor in you building the life you want and being who you know you are is your ability to have awareness of the present moment. Creating new thoughts begins when you can catch yourself in a feeling. I never judge the feeling or put myself down for how I’m feeling in a situation. But being able to pick new thoughts for the feeling is what matters most. By having a new thought you then get to decide a better action. And guess what? A better action creates NEW feelings. Listen to yourself, be aware of how you’re reacting and responding, and in the moment try to shift what’s happening. This takes work but has the biggest impact!
It can be hard to know how to find your voice after abuse. You can start on your journey using these seven tips, get started and take consistent action. Talk to people when you need to and seek the support you need.
Jamie works as a Business Coach helping women build a successful online business! Not only does she identify what’s keeping them from attracting more clients, but she works with them to build a kickass sense of self, as well as rebuild their brand foundation so they become unfiltered & aligned in their content and marketing. This allows them to say what they want, how they want, changing lives and making money in the process!
In addition to coaching, she does Corporate Qualitative Auditing working with small business management teams to identify weaknesses in their customer acquisition, engagement & retention, brand story awareness and connection, and product and service growth in order to help them increase sales.
When she’s not coaching, Jamie’s hanging out with her pup Archer, a badass Yorkie, and her entrepreneurial boyfriend. Together they spend their time in Las Vegas and Miami!
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