Breaking Free From Toxic Love
It started so seemingly normal and beautiful, but gradually the heat turned up, leaving you alone in the struggle to maintain what you once had — and still cherished.
Although you were lured by the pretense of love, the truth, too ugly to digest all at once, is that you had been lured into a war — one you had no idea you were in. The abuser waged war against your peace of mind, dignity, and sense of self. By the time you woke up, you were either discarded or you literally had to run away from the reach of your abuser.
Breaking free from toxic love has multiple layers of grief. Each layer sends waves through your body as you move toward acceptance of every type of betrayal and violation you sustained. Because of this complexity, complete recovery takes more than a year.
You will need self-compassion and self-love to move through the healing. Withhold any self-judgment. You were blindsided and the abuse you sustained is not your fault. Some of the waves of grief and trauma a survivor must wrestle with:
- Neglect – This is a disregard of responsibility to you resulting from carelessness, indifference, or willfulness on behalf of the abuser and/or yourself. Recognizing the negligence will empower you to take better care of yourself and to draw a line in the sand on how you want to be treated.
- Sexual abuse or sexual violence – the use of coercion, manipulations or aggressive force used to gain sexual pleasure from you. Wrestling through this victimization will enable you to be set free from rage, powerlessness, fear and shame. It will help restore your sexual integrity.
- Mental and emotional abuse or psychological violence – makes you feel like you’re going crazy. For most victims it’s the most heinous crime done unto them. This violation is about the cruelty with which you were treated. Wrestling with this betrayal places the responsibility where it belongs on the abuser for manipulating, controlling and gaslighting you.
- Physical abuse or physical violence – any intentional act causing injury or trauma through bodily contact such as slapping, hitting, punching, etc. Dealing honestly with this violation helps to reset the powerlessness, humiliation, rage and fear leading to redefining your personal strengths.
- Loss of hopes, dreams and love –When we are in love, our hopes and dreams come alive. In toxic relationships, they are turned into humiliation and tauntings as the abuser uses them to further control us. Wrestling with this betrayal will help you recapture your goals and reset your dreams. You will find purpose and redefine your life’s mission.
Abuse begs you to renegotiate your relationships, first with self, then with others. You felt powerless in your body in those traumatic moments, but you can reclaim that power. Part of the healing journey is the process of finding your own voice and authentically reclaiming your experiences.
Breaking free from the fog and pain of abuse and trauma is possible, but you cannot heal alone. Counseling and healthy relationships can help to reverse the damage that comes from the trauma and improve physical and emotional health. The love and support received, when you open yourself up to others who care about you, will give you wings to fly through the storm. And love will regenerate once again.