In my last entry – I discussed “The Vortex”, which is what I like to call the emotional abuse experience that people go through.
If you haven’t read that entry – feel free to find it here.
Over the past couple of months, I have found myself running into many people who have gone through similar experiences as me. Either they were currently in a emotionally abusive/physically abusive relationship or they had just been lucky enough to get out of one. I found myself listening to similar story lines, similar feelings and saying the same thing to every single one. Out of all the questions, the one that came up most was – “When am I going to be okay?”
It occurred to me that if many of those close to me are wondering this, than there are probably hundreds of other people wondering this as well. Perhaps you are one of them. This blog is going to tackle my personal experience of what happens after The Vortex, with some insight of what some of those close to me have also experienced.
First of all, if you are out of the Vortex, you have dumped your ex, deleted and blocked their number and social media, congratulations. Really. You should be proud for having the strength, courage and determination to escape their manipulation, validation, gas lighting, and abuse.
If you haven’t, that’s okay too. Don’t be hard on yourself, you will muster up that courage, you will be able to get out and you will eventually stop talking to them, stop needing them and you will delete all their social media and affiliations. You will get out – and perhaps this article can you help you look forward to what’s to come when you do get out.
When I got out of my Vortex, I went through the typical stages of grief.
- Denial – A lot of agonizing crying. Deeper than any tears I’ve ever shed. I wouldn’t admit that I had been damaged by my partner, that I had their thoughts in my head, that I was afraid of being alone, that I could ever heal.
- Anger – I realized what I was put through. I rampaged around telling my abuser what they did. (if you can avoid this step, do so. It was dangerous). I wanted to get revenge, (I wouldn’t suggest it, at least not in the way you think about in this stage).
- Bargaining – This stage didn’t exactly occur for me, because I felt like most of the relationship was me trying to bargain for safety and sanity… so this wasn’t so prevalent.
- Depression: This is where I realized just how long it was going to take me to heal. How much I was hurting, how scared I was, how broken and how damaged my psyche was. I think I still sit here occasionally.
- Acceptance: … I have accepted that I survived it – but I have not accepted why it had to happen, or why I allowed myself to put up with it for so long. I am still trying to accept how I could have been so susceptible to brain washing and grooming.
WHEN WILL I START FEELING OKAY?
To answer this simply – it will take a long time.
But the sooner you start, the sooner you will heal, the sooner you can move forward.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO GET ME TO HEAL?
This is obviously different for everyone, but my experience went something like this.
- VALIDATION: I pin pointed that the biggest thing stripped from me during my time with my abusive partner is that I was never validated completely. I was pushed aside to be the “invisible girlfriend” while he promiscuously rolled around with others. My response: To sleep with as many lovely people I could get my hands on. I treated them with respect, letting them know early on that I wasn’t looking for anything serious, and that I likely wouldn’t stick around. I needed validation that I was beautiful and wanted, that my body was my own to do as I pleased and it belonged to no one. ESPECIALLY NOT MY EX.
- INDEPENDENCE: After I got that out of my system, and realized that I was wanted – I realized that I actually didn’t want to parade around sexually… I got my fill and decided I wanted to be in a place where I was my own person, free of anyone. I did what I wanted when I wanted. Movies alone, restaurants alone. Stayed up until 4 watching TV, sometimes would show up to work late, sometimes early. I was my own boss and no one owned me. ESPECIALLY NOT MY EX.
- TALKING TALKING TALKING: I started to talk about it, first to my therapist, then to those I loved. I had to get the courage to admit what I had been through. I started commenting on Twitter threads, and eventually when it could come up in person, I would make a small mention to having survived it.Therapy is a huge one – not all therapy places are expensive, be keen to look up cheaper therapists in your area – YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS WORTH IT.
- FINDING SUPPORT: After talking to friends and loved ones, I never truly felt like I was understood. There was a lot of support all around me, but those I spoke to weren’t there to experience what I went through, in many ways it didn’t matter who I spoke to, I felt somewhat crazy. I needed someone who had experienced a similar situation, who knew what I meant when I said: “He groomed me.He brainwashed me. He manipulated me. ” It took a lot of courage but I reached out to some of the people he had dated in the past. (I don’t entirely recommend this, but it worked well for me, and if you know the person is compassionate, it may work for you too.) The people I reached out to understood – not only did they validate that what I experienced, they told me their experience which was almost TO THE WORD, the same experience I went through. This person we all dated used the same tricks on all of us. It made me feel less stupid, and able to see that I was not alone.
- ADMITTANCE: I hate the idea of victim-hood. It rubs me the wrong way, however when I finally started to admit that I had PTSD from my partner a lot started to change. Admitting that I had his thoughts in my head daily, admitting that whenever I would hear his name I would tense up, admitting that I had dreams of him attempting to kill me… that’s when I started to come to a huge healing place. It was okay to be a victim, and it was okay to not be okay from all the emotional abuse. <A LOT OF TEARS HERE. >
- HELPING OTHERS: I started to see the pain of emotionally abused people everywhere when I got out of my vortex. I started to hear the jargon that I used to say come out of others mouths and realized what position they were in. I am now so much more aware of how to identify a manipulator and their victims. In seeing this, I started to listen, ask questions and offer advice and support to these people. In helping them, I was also helping myself. Since in many situations we can’t reach out to our abuser’s next victim and save them, helping in a overall sense for others is a very good way to pass on this invaluable information. You went through it – you should be able to take something good from it and teach others, perhaps save someone else.
WHEN WILL THIS ALL BE IN MY PAST?
I think it’s important to understand that if, like me, you suffer from PTSD from your emotionally/physically abusive partner. You are likely to carry that with you for a very long time. I remember asking my exes ex how long it took her to heal from him, and she said “It’s been a decade and I still get anxiety when I am in the area where he works.”
She had moved on, found a real love, gotten married and yet still a part of him still lingers.
That may seem grim, but it made me feel better – it meant that I was in no rush to heal, it meant I could still fall in love while healing, and I had all the time in the world to come to terms with what I had been put through.
So to answer this question – It is already in your past – but it may at times creep into your present, and there is no shame in that.
The image at the beginning of this article is the destruction of a tornado. I think a pretty accurate image to coming out of the Vortex. You will be a mess, and that’s okay. But you will get better, and you will heal and out of that charred and unsteady soil will sprout a better you – a stronger you – and a you that can go around and help others too.
I am proud of you for being strong enough to battle these wounds.
I know how hard it is, and you are one step closer.
~Athena & Hermes~