Is it me?

September 5, 2019

Janice Stone

"I feel like I am going crazy!"
"Is this me? Am I the one with issues?"
"If I can just stop this from exploding right now, things will settle down."
"It is just because they are stressed."
"But they can be so nice! They love me!"

Emotional abuse is such a tricky journey to navigate because it is not as clear or black and white as physical abuse. You may know someone involved in an abusive relationship and have tried to help them, with no luck ... yet. It is often called "crazy making", because you feel like you are going crazy, and the emotional cycle, make the real issues hard to keep track of. The relationship feels dysfunctional but you can't seem to put your finger on and are usually caught up in trying to be who you think you need to be to work everything out.

I lived the crazy life of trying to keep the lid on all the emotions and explosive reactions for over 25 years but was not aware of how dysfunctional it was and that I could say "no, this is not acceptable". I don't know exactly why I didn't realize that. It could be that I grew up in such a loving and peaceful home I thought if I was loving and kept the peace it would work. Maybe it was my desire to be supportive and loyal, or maybe the lack of need to set boundaries growing up just didn't build that awareness into me. I am not sure why I allowed dysfunction to carry on for so long, but that is the thing ... most people in it don't see it. There were other great signs in the relationship and I chose to overlook the red flags believing that the relationship was something I should work at. Why I didn't see them as red flags instead of just bad days I am not sure.

Most of the time it takes a third party to help them see that they have value and the emotional abuse they are hearing is not an acceptable way of communication, treatment of others, or healthy. I can remember for so long feeling like I just didn't have the mental capacity to process trying to set a boundary. I have often had people say to me that they just don't understand why someone allows such destructive behaviour to continue, when others can so clearly see it. It is a combination of poor self-confidence (which only becomes worse as the abuse continues), wanting to feel loved and believing the person truly loves you, and poor boundaries from the beginning.

If you are in an emotional abusive relationship what are some things you can do?

*Have a small group of people you trust that can help you see things accurately. You will need their support and wisdom as you try and enable some healthy boundaries. Especially at the beginning you will not see things accurately as you will still believe the lies said to you in the down swing of emotions. Rarely is someone able to do this on their own, they will need a third party or parties to help them.
*Learn to set some healthy boundaries, one baby step at a time. Think about what you are ready to do. It may be a very small change at the beginning.This will be very hard to do at the beginning but is so important to do. The change will be resisted and not welcome. It will create some push back but without it respect and healthy boundaries will not be achieved. Your "trust and support tribe" will be instrumental with this. It will be very important to make sure you are safe and have protection during this stage.
*Start taking steps to filter out lies and focus on truth. Your tribe will help with this as they will see things from an outside, clearer viewpoint. They will help you realize over time that what you have become used to as normal, is not healthy. Affirmations are another way to help you change your mindset to an accurate perspective. You will need to re-frame what you have been told and now believe about yourself and your worth.
*Get the professional help you need. If you have a strong tribe, but just cannot get to the healthy boundaries and re-framing your value stage, it might be time to get some more help. This is very important and a natural step when you have been in an emotionally abusive relationship, even for a short time.

What are some of the things you can do if someone you love is in an emotionally abusive relationship?

*Understand that this is not a fast fix. They will have a hard time re-framing what they have been told and will feel that their mind is on overload.
*Love them. That simple. Your love for them will give them a healthy perspective that may be the catalyst to showing them the difference between healthy love and abusive "love".
*Encourage them to seek professional help if needed.
*Realize that they may not be ready to take a stand and start to implement change. It will be overwhelming and there will be a fear of change as they know, and they are right, that change will not welcome in the relationship, increasing the abusiveness and attempt to control. They will need to understand that it is not an easy change, but has to happen for any kind of healthy relationship now or in the future.
*Gently point out where the relationship is abusive and unhealthy. They probably won't see it on their own. Their desire to keep a lid on things and the constant fear of reactions and explosive emotions, along with what they have been told by their abuser, have them believing that this is their fault.

This is a very complicated and emotional topic. One that deserves much more than just a blog, but I hope that it is a beginning for hope and help. Without my tribe I would not be where I am today. Give the healing the time and energy it deserves. You are made for more.

You were made on purpose, with purpose, and for a purpose. Take the baby steps to living out your purpose with strength and confidence, one courageous step at a time. We are stronger together.