Who Are You Now?

Lost Identityby Annette Young

Often people believe that those who have endured abusive or manipulative relationships will just bounce back emotionally after a period of time and certainly once they have escaped the clutches of an abusive partner. It’s as if life MUST suddenly go back to normal and you surely MUST feel whole again?

It’s reasonable to consider that those who have never endured an abusive relationship is not likely to understand, it’s far more important for you, the former victim of abuse, to realise that even if you have escaped, you will be far from whole.

Sadly, the damage from a toxic relationship is far-reaching. Its icy tendrils invades every aspect of life, extending outwards and contaminating even potential future relationships.  No doubt, you feel lost. Freedom was supposed to be the end of hardship and pain, but now, you may have lost sight of who you are and how to cope. If this sounds familiar,  know this, it’s ok to be lost for a while and, it may not always be possible to fully heal yourself.

Admitting that life has changed you is a positive starting point. Admitting that you are different and that you may be unable to identify with the woman you once were is smart too because often there’s a seemingly impossible divide between that woman and the woman you have become. Life shapes us all, in both good and bad ways, but abuse, well, understand that it is not always possible to completely lose the fear of a new relationship, although, sometimes, with the right person, it is possible to do so.

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Either way, being kind to yourself is the best starting point you can have on the road to recovery. You are bound to be uncertain. You are bound to have self-doubts. Don’t judge your fears or your new identity, embrace it. After all, you are a survivor.

Ready For a Good Relationship?

Ready for Love

If you are single, ask yourself this,  ‘are you ready for a good relationship?’

If you have come out of a bad relationship, most probably you will say that you would like to experience a kind and loving relationship the next time around, even if you feel you are not ready to start dating again. This is  as it should be. But there are always exceptions to the rule. I know some women who are still attracted to the proverbial bad boy, needing a man with a little edge, but, that edge can border on the selfish, thoughtless or even cruel. We may be drawn towards those who are confident and good-looking but, most women would love to have a kind and nurturing relationship and to feel truly cared for.

The problem when you have endured a toxic relationship is that you can lose sense of your own identity and lose the ability to make positive decisions or to even stick up for yourself. Even those who break free may struggle to form a strong relationship as they have poor romantic foundations on which to judge new liaisons.

But how do you know if you are ready to move on and to develop that good relationship?

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I asked myself this a lot over the years and came to the conclusion that I had to trust my instinct and would know when the time came. Of course, I had no idea that it would take as long as it did.  During my years of singledom,  I faced a lot of comments from close friends who were perhaps, mildly exasperated by my inability to have any sort of decent relationship but, although I did walk away from many potential love interests, do you know what? I really think I did so for the right reasons.

It took me a long time to realise that I deserved to have a good relationship and just because previous partners obviously hadn’t valued me, that didn’t make their opinions count. It’s never easy to discount the continuous verbal put-downs, but somehow, you have to find the strength to do so. It’s only when you get to the stage where irrespective of the words or actions used by others, you really do know your own worth, that you will be ready to move on.

I actually had to give myself permission in the end. That may sound a bit strange but years of pulling the shutters down and saying I’m not available for love, meant that I had formed new protective behaviours and opening myself up for romance meant I had to purposely push the barriers to one side.

I decided I would give people a chance to prove their worth and not look for obvious flaws in the first instance. If any man was not suitable or, just unkind, this would become obvious quite quickly.  Those who couldn’t be bothered or were just unreliable, I accepted that they were not right for me. I didn’t feel malice or anger, I simply discarded any thoughts of any romantic feelings. I was in control and that’s the best way to be. I allowed my heart to warm towards potential love interests but I also engaged my brain. I knew I had to break the cycle of abusive relationships. It was down to me and I certainly deserved more.  Anyone who gave me their time and who made more of an effort was welcomed in and that’s the way it has been.

I can tell you that it’s a nice feeling when someone relishes your company for who you are and not for what you can give them.

If, romantically, you have suffered, you are more likely to be vulnerable and likely to attract the same time of character. So, my advice is, instead of rushing into a relationship, spend time developing and nurturing your sense of self-worth, it is so important you do this because if you don’t believe in yourself, why would others? Believe me when I say that if you have self-doubts, low self-esteem and an inability to love yourself, you may as well hang a giant sign around your neck saying ‘treat me badly.’ It’s not because you want this of course, it’s just that the wrong type of men will be drawn to the signals that you put out.

At strategic points in your life, ask yourself, are you ready for a good relationship? There will come a time when you say yes and really mean it and that’s when you’ll attract someone who is kind and decent and he will enhance your life and not destroy it.

Annette Young

 

If you have suffered from emotional abuse, take a look at my book: Emotional Abuse – Get Out of My Head and Out of My Bed! It’s available on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Want to improve your self-esteem and confidence? Sign up for our FREE 10 Minutes A Day Transformation Program here.

Domestic Abuse – Shame On You!

Annette Young

by Annette Young

I was talking to some friends the other day and unlike myself, they had managed to fall in love and sustain marriages that were nurturing and kind, they hadn’t fallen foul to the potential risk of domestic abuse.  Of course, there were times when their marriages became a little frayed at the edges and the stresses of life tested their relationships somewhat, but my friends admitted, they could not even begin to fathom how anyone could fall foul of an abusive relationship, let alone stay in one. 

If you read the posts on this website frequently, you will know that I am a staunch supporter of all who have suffered from unhealthy and damaging relationships but I am only too aware that not everyone can really understand what it is like to love someone and yet be in the midst of a relationship which seeks to destroy from the inside out.  It’s madness right? I mean, who would choose that?

The problem is, abuse of any kind is rarely talked about and so, there’s a layer of secrecy surrounding the act and people on the outside speculate. What outsiders do not usually consider is that an abuser does not wear the word tattooed on his or her forehead, there is no noted marker that makes them stand out in the crowd, the opposite is true. Sadly, abusers are often absolutely charming , they smile, they say all the right things, they are helpful and kind and demonstrate their love and affection willingly…for all to see. But behind closed doors, this pretence is very quickly laid to one side and the reality soon becomes very ugly indeed. 

I was very quick to point out to my friends that if you fall in love with the wrong person, you are often so deeply involved that you don’t notice the little changes. In fact,  change can be very subtle until you are trapped within and suddenly wake up and realise that you have lost your sense of self, that you’ve  become someone you no longer recognise and it seems impossible to get up and leave.  Outsiders may also fail to fully understand that abusive relationships can even be addictive.  I could see my friends gradually understanding that it’s not a matter of saying ‘yes, that abusive relationship is for me please!’ They realised I think that even the strongest individuals can fall foul to toxic relationships because they don’t suspect that the ones they love could betray them in this manner. 

It’s not surprising at all that my friends were so innocent of the types of abusive relationships that exist, as it’s not something that you see, but it really does go on all around you. Domestic abuse in any form is not uncommon, in fact, far more people suffer from some aspect of it than you might imagine. It’s not all the about the woman with the black eye (although this is horrendous) it’s about the man or woman who is talked down to constantly, or even subjected to sarcasm and barbed comments in front of others so that their shame and humiliation becomes entertainment. Words become weapons in the same way as do fists. 

If you have suffered from abuse yourself, or know others who have, don’t bury your head in the sand, talk about it, discuss it with anyone who will listen, because the more people know, the more they will be able to recognise it and to protect against it.   

When victims stay quiet about their experiences, they do so from a sense of vulnerability and through deep feelings of shame but, make no mistake, the only people who should feel shame are the abusers. These are people who take pleasure in hurting others. They pick on those who are vulnerable – those with a less than nurtured background, those who feel isolated from friends and family, or, who already lack a little self-belief. They can spot weakness at fifty paces in the same way that a wild animal will sniff out a raw wound on its next victim. Abusers do not deserve to act in secrecy. Let’s send that message out into the world!

If you have suffered from emotional abuse, take a look at my book: Emotional Abuse – Get Out of My Head and Out of My Bed! It’s available on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Want to improve your self-esteem and confidence? Sign up for our FREE 10 Minutes A Day Transformation Program here.

Keep Your Heart Open

Loveby Annette Young

I was talking to an ex-partner today about affairs of the heart and our conversation was quite in-depth and perhaps more intimate in many ways than when we were together. Although our relationship had been a positive one  – the timing had just been all wrong, it had at least given me hope at the time that I was capable of choosing someone genuine after all my other failed attempts.

I am pretty sure I had never actually confided in him about my past experiences or if I had, it was discussed in a casual way. Our time together had been very comfortable and heart-warming, he made me laugh and I knew he was genuine but it was not really the type of relationship for the mutual sharing of past experiences.

Today however, a good 3 years on, it was nice to talk to him and our conversation was open and we discussed the difficulties of moving on emotionally.  He had been incredibly hurt by his wife and it had taken years to get past feelings of betrayal while for me, I had struggled to regain my sense of self and move past my experiences of toxic relationships. As regards the timing of our connection, we were mismatched. 

During our conversation today, he stated that he felt that ‘life was just too short to live in the past’ and he was absolutely right, of course. There’s no doubt that if we remain trapped emotionally, then we’ll never move on and find the kind of relationship we truly deserve. No-one deserves to suffer at the hands of a controlling, abusive or cheating partner but it’s one thing that we know this, it’s another thing altogether when it comes to believing it.

When you’ve been hurt, that bitterness can so easily get locked deep inside. Forgetting betrayals, violence or manipulative behaviour all carried out in the name of love, is, well, it seems an impossible task. But when we hold onto those feelings, we become scared to move on. At the back of our minds, the niggling thought that we could make the same mistake again gnaws away.

The solution is this.

We have to face up to the fact that we were once in a less than healthy relationship and that somehow, we have risen from the remnants of those relationships, like the phoenix from the flame and we’ve repaired the old tatters of life and created an existence which is much preferable.  I don’t know about you but I never again want to live with an individual who utilises cruel behaviour as a sport.

We may have experienced loneliness, fear and anxieties about being alone, but, guess what, we’ve survived.  

My conversation this morning reminded me to let go of past hurts. My progression over the years had been pretty good but sometimes, we all need to hear the truth about a situation. We need to know that others believe in us and that we’ve already gained so much. My conversation this morning simply reinforced my belief that in time, we can and  must gradually lower those barriers if we are going to let good people into our lives.

If you are in this position and teetering on the edge of what appears to be an emotional void, do so with a brave heart, a layer of caution and, with more than a pinch of awareness. This way, as you step forward, you’ll choose new friends or partners wisely. You’ll never forget the past emotional pain or, the physical bruises but you can create and enrich healthier new experiences going forward if you give yourself permission.

There’s no guarantees that you’ll find the person of your dreams or that a new lover might not be at the right stage of their own development to truly appreciate you but, there is no hope of a happy ever after if you don’t try.

After all, if we shut everyone out, we limit our own potential for happiness.

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Abuse – Write From the Heart

Annette Young

by Annette Young

I was asked the other day why I focus my intent on helping women to recover from abusive relationships rather than reaching out to men who may have suffered similar, and the answer is simple, I write for the majority. Research indicates that more women are victims of abuse – both physically and emotionally than are men. I do not favour either sex in respect of recovery, abuse is abuse in my eyes and it’s a vile act. My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered from or is suffering a controlling or manipulative relationship.

I do know men who have endured manipulative relationships and have lost their confidence, identity and self-worth as a result. In addition, they have plummeted into the gloomy depths of depression and some no doubt, will have contemplated how to even carry on. So while men do suffer, notably, more women come forward than men.

I write as a direct result of my own personal experiences. Initially for me, it was therapeutic. Following on from this, I realised that I was on a mission to stand up for and to help others. I write about this subject with conviction and empathy and, I write from the heart.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I hear from so many women who have suffered similar experiences to me and I’m not just talking about a few locally, but on a worldwide basis. Around the globe, there are women almost driven to the depths of suicide, they are so unhappy and lost and damaged.

In this world, there are far more destructive relationships in existence than is possible to calculate, if you look around at your neighbours and friends and peek behind closed doors, you might notice the signs of a toxic relationship but in public, the abuser paints the picture of a loving connection, the abuser is often charming and gracious but, when no-one is there to see, the mask of love comes off.

Seriously, take a good look around. When you see beneath the mask, you see an ugly and evil soul.

I write with women in mind because as kindred spirits, sharing the same emotional viewpoints, my words probably resonate with them more. But abuse is abuse. Whether these acts are carried out by men or women, it is terribly wrong. I often wonder what pleasure these vile people can possibly gain through the belittling of others but bullies are bullies and control I guess is intoxicating. Unless we can stand up to them in the face of adversity, they win.

I’ve been through it, I’m living proof that there is a way out of the darkness and your first step has to be to accept it is happening and to then make a vow to yourself to get out.

Need a little help? Take a look at my book: Emotional Abuse – Get Out of My Head and Out of My Bed!

Just remember, you are not alone!

Relationships – Watch Out for the Red Flag of Change

Relationships and red flag

by Annette Young

We all want to feel fulfilled and cherished in our relationships and when we meet someone new, it should be one of the most exciting times of life. There’s nothing like the dizzy sensation of romance, sexual chemistry and a new-found connection. You should feel wonderful, beautiful and so appreciated and valued, but what if you don’t?

Here’s an example of a potential red flag.

What if your new partner doesn’t gel with your long-standing friends? It’s an awkward but not unusual scenario. It’s true to say that we don’t all see people in the same way so, disharmony or discord is possible even if unwarranted, sometimes, it is a mixture of resentment between the people who profess to love you the most. Often, this naturally settles in time.

Initially, you may be so madly in love that you are tempted to spend all your time with this new love interest. It’s not a deliberate act of dropping your friends, but the new romantic liaison is intoxicating. However, if your new partner is nudging you to spend less time with your friends, compelling you to move away from them, to start believing that they are not as good a friend as you may think or that they  hold you back in life, this is a real danger sign.

Okay, it may not be spelled out in so many words, but there may be little signs of disapproval that gnaw away at your sub-conscious mind, you may not want to listen, but you should. But there are other red flags to consider too. Your partner doesn’t like how you look, how you dress or, where you live. In fact, there’s an underlying criticism about pretty much everything. There’s a sense of urgency for change, you are almost perfect…but that ‘not quite’ hangs in the air creating self-doubt. Some slight changes here and there and you’ll be a whole new person and deserving of that all-important happy ever after.

Hmmm. Sound familiar?

Watch out for red flags such as these. No relationship is perfect and it may be necessary to adapt some aspects of self – with both participating in these changes so to create the foundations of a strong relationship but, you should never feel belittled, be made to doubt yourself or, be dictated to drop friends or change key aspects of your life. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t settle for less than the best, find someone who really appreciates you for who you are. 

Worried that you are in a manipulative relationship? Take a look here:




That Old Familiar Smile…

Annette Youngby Annette Young

You’d think  it would be easy to spot the warning signs and to nimbly side-step them.  After all, didn’t I promise myself….never again?

The problem is, irrespective of past experiences, we all want to have the ability to develop a good romantic relationship in life. Even those of us who say we prefer to be on our own would secretly love to welcome in that perfect other who compliments our lives rather than seeking to destroy it. But, where there have been toxic relationships, or emotional or physical abuse,  it’s likely that you’ve not only raised the barriers but nailed them shut.

That’s what happened to me on a recent trip back to the UK. I encountered someone who had once been an incredibly enticing and, intoxicating part of my life. When we were together all those  years ago, I was going through a very bad time in my life. I was under a great deal of stress and was grieving, so for some gloriously claimed moments, I had clutched at the chance of a distraction from my life, forgetting about everything but those moments and to feel truly alive again.

Years on, that flash from the past came back into my  life promising good ol’ familiarity and in a way, a safe haven from loneliness and the fear of having to meet someone new and, starting the whole ‘get to know you ‘ process again.

Even though I am an advocate for women recovering from any type of abuse because of my own experiences, I’m quite tough, mentally and emotionally these days, but I know all too well the temptation of succumbing to that old familiarity. The smile that still melts, the accent, the scent and remembering the simple pleasures of holding hands, it’s potent stuff. It’s a spark that ignites, it’s a hint of a promise and a reminder that life is for living and yet, it’s also less fearful because you remember so much about each other.

We both said it would be different. The years had taught us that life moves on, we’d grown and matured. He liked my positive spirit, my mental toughness and he recognised that I was whole again. But that didn’t stop those old ways emerging and infiltrating the simple pleasures and I began to remember why I had left him all those years ago.

There was no physical violence or scathing words, but, a failure to truly appreciate or to, I think,  value our connection. He wasn’t and still is not, a bad person, but shallow, and unfeeling …maybe.  He lacked depth, or the ability to really give of himself. Although I will never regret time spent with him, he did after all, provide a lifeline during some very gloomy days, it’s just not a good connection for someone who has endured the emotional pain of manipulative relationships. Frankly, the realisation that you still come way down the list of priorities is a stark reminder of how easy it is to make the same mistakes.

After the initial excitement of feeling flattered and alive in his presence, the vibrancy of our re-connection began to fade and my brain started calculating, noting age-old patterns and yes, I started to feel de-valued. With a sinking heart, I finished it again, emotional but determined that we all have times of weakness, we all have moments when we want to be loved but most of all, we want to be valued. There was no big drama as the sunset faded away on years of what might have been….just general acceptance that I am worth  so much more.

Have you suffered from emotional abuse? You are not alone. You can read my story here. 

Protect and Nourish Your Self-Worth

Break free from abuse

by Annette Young

We all know the importance of self-worth but when your confidence has been shaken to the core after experiencing a manipulative or damaging relationship, it’s a fair assumption to say that your sense of self-worth is likely to be impacted too. Each relationship has its own positives and negatives and it is only fair that we enter each relationship with an open mind, hoping that we have made the right choices and that the positives of this connection far outweigh any difficulties that may exist. But when a relationship starts to chip away at your very essence until you begin to question and doubt your own abilities in life, those alarm bells should be ringing very loudly indeed.

Your self-worth is often all that will stand between your staying in a destructive relationship and having the courage to strike out alone. It’s not easy, but the belief that you deserve better will carry you through. When a partner is deliberately manipulative, you can guarantee that the aim will be to strip away your confidence and to make you start second guessing yourself. It’s an easy hop to then destroying how you feel about yourself. Bit by bit, your self-worth will be shredded until it is less easy to remember the person you once were or to rebuild that sense of self.

You may have given away your power but note, you can take it back too. Don’t think about mending a relationship that is a selfish one-way street, instead, concentrate on building your appreciation of who you are, one building block at a time. When your heart is filled with love and pain at your partner’s treatment of you, it can be overwhelming and difficult to see with true clarity. But, if you are in the midst of a heartbreaking but damaging connection ask yourself this, what do you really gain by staying in this relationship? Does it make you happy or do you self-destruct yet further each day that passes?

Your self-worth is an integral part of you, protect and nourish it and it will serve you well.

 

 

Photo credits: Pixabay and CanStockPhotos

The Fear of Leaving and Coping Alone

Leaving

 

by Annette Young

When you are deep within the clutches of an abusive relationship, you’ll experience a multitude of emotions – mostly negative ones. There may be feelings of depression, a desire to withdraw physically or emotionally and you’ll often feel trapped and alone within the relationship. Although these feelings are negative, they are also very powerful and will keep you hanging in there as the days, weeks and even years go by and your self-esteem erodes. But if life is so unbearable, why not just walk away?

Fear is an intrinsic part of an abusive relationship. If you live with a bully – whether violent or manipulative verbally, you feel the weight of this threat hanging over you constantly. You don’t know when it’s going to happen, you are just pretty damn sure that it will. This perceived and barely concealed threat also causes a chain reaction in emotional terms because the core feeling of frustration, fear and anger manifests outwards into everything you do. It doesn’t matter if it’s the little things in life – cooking, ironing, cleaning…you are always looking over your shoulder in case you are picked up for doing something wrong. Sadly, you always will in the eyes of an abusive partner.

Fear has another effect; it puts a strangle-hold on your leaving. Even if your financial state is healthy, actually packing up to go is another thing altogether. You might say it, shout it and stamp your feet while dramatically throwing things into your suitcase, but your partner knows that his control over you is pretty much secure. What you want inwardly is contrition from him, you want him to say he’s sorry – and mean it. You want him to throw his arms around you and say he’s realised his mistakes and he’ll change. An abusive partner may do that or, he’ll just let you pack and revel in the glee that you won’t ever get to the door and if you do, you’ll never cope without him.

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But there’s your real fear, will you cope without him? This terrifying fear residing right in the heart of you has the power to overcome the fear of staying with him. Make no mistake – this fear is crippling your chances of escaping and finding someone decent, one who truly cares for you.

So let’s figure out if you can survive without the bully in your life:

  • No more insidious or cutting remarks
  • No more physical threats
  • The chance to live your life as you see fit
  • The potential for inner peace and well-being

From my perspective, one who’s faced the same dilemmas as you, life on the outside of a relationship is pretty good. I’d choose peace and quiet and contentment over a torturous and volatile relationship any time. The hardest part of starting over is actually walking out the door. It takes courage and sometimes it takes time before that ‘last straw’ snaps and you are finally ready to take action. Believe me, once you have done so, life starts getting dramatically easier.

Does this article resonate with you? Need to find out more about emotional abuse?

Emotional Abuse

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When You Know It’s Toxic – It’s Time to Go

by Annette Young

We all long to have a perfect relationship and spend a great deal of time and effort trying to find a soul mate, that perfect other who will complete our lives. Sometimes though, we fail to recognise dangerous elements within an individual, we fall for the gloss, the wonderful exterior, the facade that could be perilous.  We fall in love with a person who doesn’t really exist. It may be a highly polished act or just appealing to us individually, but if it’s fake, an act, part of a polished performance, we will soon start to see the nasty side of the relationship. When there is an edge, a sinister underbelly to the loving partnership, its toxicity threatens to spill out and poison.

If it sounds dangerous, then know this, it is.  A toxic relationship will drain the life out of your partnership and gradually impact how you think, feel and act. It will drain your energy and eradicate your confidence.  Think you are too strong to let this happen? Think again, a toxic relationship doesn’t announce its intentions ….the poison trickles into your life, it erodes good old common sense, it squeezes your heart, it sends confusing signals around your body – fear, trust issues, doubt, regret and emotional hurt. It also causes deep apprehension in your belly where your gut feeling will be tied up in knots.  The hardest thing will be to feel your sense of self gradually slipping away.

At some point you may become worried about saying anything – it’s always wrong after all, you’ll get fed up of being called stupid, or, your partner accusing you of trying to cause an argument. If you could just stand back  and look at the situation from the outside, you’ll realise that the blame will always be laid at your feet. You’ll stop being you and you’ll worry about every little thing,  you will become a shadow of your former self.

There will be a battle. Your intuition will say get the hell out and your heart will beg you to stay. Coming to the realization that its your happiness vs. your peace of mind will enable you to see things a little more clearly.  The gradual demise as you  lose control and your partner gains it all could be the final nail in the coffin if you allow it to be, after all, who wants to live in a relationship where treading on eggshells and being controlled is the norm?

Opening your eyes to potential options is recommended -taking the chance to escape when you can but it’s so, so hard when you are in the midst of it all. Unfortunately, the longer the situation remains, the harder it will be to break free.

photo credit: Looking away via photopin (license)