The Myth of Loneliness and Tips to Jumping back in Post-Vortex.

In my last entry I wrote about how I was going to write about things I enjoyed writing about. I had imagined that I would be writing about nothing in relation to abusive relationships. But as the weeks have passed, I have been bombarded with messages from friends, and friends of friends saying how much my blogs have helped. How they find strength in these blogs…

If I am honest with you, I never had really intended for these to be seen by many. I had no idea that I could help people with my experiences. So as I write again, knowing I am helping someone heal – I am thrilled to be writing on this topic.

I was speaking to someone I didn’t know recently, he was referred to me through a friend. Let’s call this referral Ashton*

Ashton: Athena, my mother keeps telling me I should break up with my girlfriend and be alone to figure myself out.

When I heard this, I had a few questions come to mind.

  1. What is your relationship with your mother?

As I mentioned in the SPEAK UP AND TELL YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER POST https://athenaandhermes.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/speak-up-tell-your-friend-you-hate-their-significant-other/ If someone close to you is telling you to end things with someone you are dating – it is worth listening to. However, I still asked because there are toxic child-parent relationships where parents like to get in the way of their children’s dating life. If this isn’t the case, and this is not a habit that occurs – it is worth listening to.

2. What do you think of being alone?

Some people fear being alone – sometimes it’s what propels them into toxic relationships. They are so lonely they would rather settle with someone who hurts them, then be alone. If that resonates with you – then it may be worth considering.

However, there is a huge societal misconception that one needs to be alone to heal. I have had girlfriends tell me that I should “take a year to myself” to “find myself” before I start dating again. And though I am a huge advocate in understanding oneself, I don’t believe the narrative that people need to be alone to heal. You need to do WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO.

This is what I told Ashton – and this segues me into the real meat of this entry.

In Carl Jung’s book Memories Dreams and Reflections he discusses the power of being alone and how one can discover their own personal individuality. Often times this is boiled down to the idea that one must be secluded with their own thoughts to find who they are.

Sure, I mean it’s quite a boiled down idea… one that has made itself known to the societal expectation that if one breaks up they MUST take time for themselves.

I call bullshit, and I’ll tell you why.

The mind of an abused person is one of the scariest places to be, and put that person alone in a room to “ruminate” with their thoughts (which are more the thoughts of the abuser than their own)… good luck. Not only that, but most often, the abused person has felt alone DURING the relationship. They have had to fight tooth and nail to find the reality of what is happening to them, and ALL BY THEMSELEVES pull themselves out of this abusive situation. Since it takes 7-10 tries to escape an abusive relationship by the time they have gotten out, they’ve already likely moved on.

So – before you tell your friend that they should “take some time for themselves” after being in an abusive relationship. Take into consideration that they may very well need to be around someone healthy instead.

LET ME MAKE THIS VERY CLEAR:

there is no right answer to healing.

If you want to stay single for several years and focus on yourself – DO IT.

If you want to jump into bed with several people, to shed off the ownership of your ex – DO IT. (please be safe)

If you want to get into a serious monogamous relationship with someone who has been waiting for you, or who has helped you escape your abusive one. DO IT.

Despite what you might think, you actually DO know what is best for you. And before you scoff or roll your eyes I have proof for you:

YOU GOT YOURSELF OUT OF AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP.

If that isn’t enough proof to show yourself that your inner voice knows best… I don’t know what is.

If you do decide to jump into another relationship, or into bed with someone else, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • The healing that you are experiencing from your past relationship is mainly around TRUST and AUTONOMY. This is a really great place to start slowly testing your boundaries with someone new. See how they listen to you. Make sure to assert yourself, and speak up when you feel your boundaries are being crossed. See how patient someone is with you – if they aren’t, this is a red flag and a sign to move on.
  • Your personal thoughts likely aren’t your own. Before you start telling this new person what you think about things, take some time to really think about them. It is very likely that you have thoughts about yourself that your ex has planted, that maybe don’t nessisarily resonate to your authentic self. (Anal sex is a huge one that comes to mind here. Very often toxic partners will force anal and talk them into liking it. There is no shame in liking it, but be sure that you truly do, and this isn’t some pleasing tactic.)

  • Take some time on your own. UM WHAT?! ATHENA YOU JUST TOLD US THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO!! I know I know but read this section until the end. This is where individuality comes in. The societal idea of being alone is not wrong.. it’s just implemented incorrectly. What Carl Jung talks about is taking time out of your day, everyday, to be on your own with your own thoughts. Very often we get pulled into toxic relationships because our abusive partner wants to bombard your focus so you can’t think for yourself. It is very important to disconnect (this can be anyone in your life, friends, lovers, parents, etc.) and take time to think alone on a topic. (**TEXTING IS STILL TALKING!!) I personally take this time while walking my dogs. I tell my partner that I am going alone, so that I can ponder and think on the day. If it’s his turn to walk the dogs, I will take the alone time in my office to journal and think. This makes it possible for me to keep my individuality within my thinking.

  • Misery loves company. You have been through a lot. You are vulnerable and very susceptible to others like this. It’s not to say that you can’t surround yourself with people who have gone through the same thing. There is great connection and support within that but be aware that your goal is to heal. Many people who have gone through trauma are also trying to heal and your company (or theirs) can be triggering. If you are spending time with others who have been in toxic relationships or are healing from something traumatic be very aware of setting boundaries for them, and yourself. Communicating while one is trying to heal, and trying to assert oneself can be difficult. It is often helpful to make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who have healed already, or who are also understanding of your struggle.

  • This new person could be a rebound: It is important to acknowledge that this new person may not be around forever. They could be there to help you heal, they could be there to be a support while you try and find yourself again. They could just be the person who makes you feel clean again. Personally, the first person I jumped back into bed with was someone I needed to cleanse me of my exes body. I wanted to make sure he was no longer the last person I slept with. It’s okay if they aren’t around forever. People come into your life sometimes just to help you with your next journey, knowing this is a huge part of your healing. It’s also important to know so you don’t hold onto them like some sort of medicinal fix. Sometimes, they do stick around and that is also just as wonderful.

  • Toxic behavior can create more toxic behavior: If you have been put through the ringer, it is very likely that you can regurgitate that behavior onto someone else without wanting to. Acknowledging this possibility allows you keep an eye on it, particularly when you feel scared or angry. Just like an abused dog, when we are put into a corner we can lash out, especially when we haven’t been able to express ourselves in our abusive relationship. Lashing out on a new person is our egos way of showing ourselves that we are in control – unfortunately it can be very damaging not only to relationships but to our self esteem. Just make sure to keep an eye on this.

Remember. You know best.

~Athena and Hermes~

Speak Up. Tell Your Friend You Hate Their Significant Other.

That’s right. I said it: TELL YOUR FRIENDS IF YOU HATE THEIR PARTNER.

Alright, I may be jumping the gun a little bit – but let me explain.

We live in a world where: we tend to sugar coat things, we tend to appeal to everyone’s feelings before we speak the truth, we struggle to tell people things that may hurt. Now in many ways this can be useful, because speaking in the name of honesty as a way of being cruel is not right either – HOWEVER….

We are avoiding conversations that need to be had among our friends because we fear them.  

One of those conversations is the “I don’t like your partner” conversation. Many feel that it is not their place to judge someone’s significant other. That may very well be true when it comes to your boss, your colleagues, your teachers, etc. etc. etc. However it is important to be honest and candid when it comes to your close friends and your family (dependent on your relationship with them).

I don’t mean when it’s something superficial like the way they dress, their class, their education, or their looks. I mean when its serious things such as: the way they speak to your friend, they way they talk about their friends, they way they treat others, their outlook on life, their values.

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If you disagree with me hear me out.

I dated a man who I thought made me happy – but all of my close friends despised him.  They hated how he spoke to me, how he interrupted me, how he expected me to act a certain way around him, how he never showed his affections to me, how he would scold me, how he would often propose I leave my field of work… the list goes on and on and on.

I couldn’t see any of these things because I was “in love”. By the time it was all over, I realized I had been manipulated, brainwashed and emotionally abused. They all saw it within the first few months but they never told me how much they hated him until AFTER WE BROKE UP! 

I had all of my close friends admit to me they desperately wanted to tell me just how terrible he was to me, but were worried it would ruin our friendship.

Three of HIS friends approached me after we broke up to tell me they wanted to broach the topic, but were worried it would make it’s way back to him.

My aunt, who only met him twice, told me after it was over that she despised him upon first meeting, but didn’t want to tell me as she didn’t feel it was her business.

My exes mother even told me her son was not good enough for me and  she wished me the best in finding someone better, after it all ended.

I WISH THEY HAD TOLD ME THOUGH.

I realized I am an adult and I can make my own decisions, but had nine people told me that there was something off about my relationship, I may have slowly had the rose colored glasses fade sooner. Perhaps I could have seen what was occurring and escaped a bad situation a year sooner than I had. Naturally the choice would be in my hands, but being offered another perspective is always useful in any situation.

If you are a friend of someone who is dating or married to someone awful, you are in a very difficult position. You have to risk the friendship in speaking the truth, which is why many people avoid it.

My advice is to 1) either send them this blog and let them figure it out or 2) breach the topic from a place of love and not of blaming. Ask them questions, allow them to realize they deserve better, they are worthy of true respect and love. You can even bring up the fear of losing the friendship over this conversation and make it clear you care about them and just want to make sure they are truly happy. If your friend is truly happy your comments will not affect them. If they aren’t however, the seed you planted will grow and they will eventually see the truth.

When I was in this toxic relationship one of my closest friends asked me: “Are you happy with this arrangement?” and I said to her “… yeah I’m okay with it.” and she said: “Okay Athena, if you are then I’m happy for you. Just keep checking in and making sure it’s constantly true. If it’s not, that’s okay – just ask yourself why.”

I went home that night and cried… it wasn’t true.

The truth was that I was miserable and trapped and believed that he was the only one who would ever love me. That belief is what kept me there. It wasn’t until she asked me that question that I woke up from my trance and started to realize there was so much more past the relationship. I was capable of so much more and deserved so much more.

Three months after that conversation the seed she planted grew and I was able to dump my toxic boyfriend.

Some of you reading this may be thinking:

“MY FRIEND WON’T LISTEN THOUGH. “

They may not respond positively right away, they may not take your advice right away, they may not accept what you are saying right away… but the key words here are: RIGHT AWAY. Your words will seep into their mind, they will digest it and they will dwell on it. When it is all said and done, they will thank you for it.

If you care about your friends, SPEAK UP. 

Just remember to do it with kindness and not judgement.

(Let me be clear, if you don’t like your friends significant others for reasons that are superficial, or judgmental that have nothing to do with treatment or abusive behaviors this article is not promoting a conversation. Tune in with yourself and your thoughts on this person before you have the talk to be sure you are doing it for your friends safety and well being and not your own issues) 

~Athena and Hermes~