“Until you heal the wounds of your past you are going to bleed. You can bandage the wound with food; with work; with alcohol; with drugs; with cigarettes; with sex; But eventually it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds. Stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories and make peace with them.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant
If you’re lucky you will never need this article. However, most at some point or another, will come to the end of some sort of traumatic, dysfunctional, or abusive relationship. Dysfunctional relationships come in all forms, it may be a romantic relationship, a work relationship or even a familial relationship.
Anytime we have dealt with months or years upon years of emotional hurts, verbal abuse, pent up resentment, or mental manipulation we can be sure that some sort of healing will be required in order to become ourselves again.
Every person deals with pain in their own unique way. Some people withdraw and try to hide inside of themselves, others become angry and begin to be defensive at any perceived threat, and others try to find someone else to take out their pain on, which only perpetuates the abuse.
Below are five things anyone coming out of a traumatic relationship should take into consideration for their healing process to be effective. Ultimately until wounds are healed they will always be there and will ruin every relationship therein until we take the time to tend to our wounded hearts.
5 Ways to Heal from a Traumatic or Abusive Relationship
1) Don’t try and fill the void
“When you are willing to feel it you can heal it.” ~ Unknown
It’s completely understandable that in the face of healing our pain we would run from it at all costs. Often we turn to a new relationship, drugs or alcohol, or even casual sex in order to run from the pain. And while this may work short term, we must know that it will never work in the long run.
We must at some point, feel the pain. Running from it, sends abandonment or judgment messages to our inner child (innocence), which will only make it act out worse in the future. Facing all feelings head on and allowing ourselves to breathe through and feel the pain is how healing ultimately occurs.
2) Don’t put a time limit on your healing process
“Dont listen to those people who suggest you should be ‘over it’ by now. The people who squawk the loudest about such things have almost never had to get over anything. Or at least not anything that was genuinely, soul-crushingly life altering.
Some of these people believe they are being helpful by minimizing your pain. Others are scared of the intensity of your hurt so they use their words to push your grief away. Many of those people love you and are worthy of your love but they are not the people that will be helpful when it comes to healing the pain.” ~ Cheryl Strayed
There is no time limit on when you should just be ‘over’ something. In fact, the irony is, the more our heart feels rushed into just getting over something, the more it won’t be able to get over it, because we are sending it messages that it is not ok to feel however it does.
And this is never the energy of healing. Acceptance, unconditional love, compassion and patience are the emotional responses we must give our hurting heart that will allow it to feel confident and safe again.
3) Take some time to get to know yourself
Most people who have been a part of a long and dysfunctional relationship know the feeling of losing themselves into someone else. Often our identities become so intertwined with the other person that we forget who we were before we met said person.
And even worse, in a family relationship, we may have never felt safe enough to cultivate an identity or sense of self that doesn’t involve the pain we have been caused by the manipulative person. Either way, the most important thing we can do is celebrate ourselves again, get to know who we really are, and feel good about this person.
A sense of self-worth and confidence in our being, will translate into a higher self-esteem and ability to make decisions based on self-love rather than fear in the future.
4) Self-Reflect, ask yourself “Where did I play a part in this?”
We must always assess our lives and ask ourselves if there was any part in the dysfunction that we played a part of. A child who was abused by a family member must make peace with the fact that nothing was their fault. Whereas those who have chosen a romantic relationship in which they were mistreated must be brutally honest and ask themselves, where they may have played a part.
Often we are scared of our own power, or we have self-esteem issues that make staying in a dysfunctional partnership easier than not, but we must always try and ask ourselves, “why?” “Why did I stay so long?” “Why didn’t I feel worthy enough to demand respect & love?” “Why was I attracted to someone who treated me so terribly?” These are all questions that will assist in our healing process.
Knowing the reason why behind our actions is just another way that we get to know ourselves better and our inner child feels heard and supported by us.
5) Be supportive and kind to yourself
You’re going to hurt. You’re going to feel emotional, mental or even physical pain at points in the healing process, and it is at these times that our hearts deserve MORE love and attention, not less. This is the absolute most important and effective step.
Becoming our own best friend, advocate, and cheerleader is how we ultimately come into our own worthiness and how in future relationships we feel confident enough to walk away from someone who isn’t treating us kindly.
When we are kind to our own hearts firstly, anyone who comes along and treats us in a manner that is less than the way we treat ourselves are walked away from easily and effortlessly. Self-love and worthiness attracts the same to it. Healing will absolutely never be lasting and effective if we don’t take the time to support our innocent hearts through all heartbreak and healing.
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