My emotionally abusive ex managed to convince me that I would never find someone who loved me as much as he did. Was he gaslighting me or had I really gone crazy? It took some serious effort, a lot of time and many failed attempts, but ultimately I overcame it by doing these things.
I stopped playing into his games. My ex was a master manipulator and wanted me to engage with him. Emotional abuse is all about making a partner feel isolated, insignificant, wrong and belittled. I realized that the only way he could do that, though, was if I made the choice to participate. There were times when it was safe and relatively easy to get away from a situation that was taking a dark turn, and you can bet I took those opportunities.
I got out of the house and away (from him). One of the easiest ways I was able to figuratively distance myself was to actually distance myself. I went out with my friends or colleagues I felt close with and even just got out of the house on my own. Being physically and mentally away from a hostile environment allowed me a more objective perspective and a clear(er) head.
I started talking to others (anyone!) about my experience. When I was going through this with my ex, the longer I went without talking to anyone about it, the crazier I felt. It was automatic for me to think that he was right because he was the only one preaching it to me! The more I talked to outside parties about what I was going through, the more I realized that maybe he was the crazy one and this relationship was turning toxic. Getting outside opinions was the beginning of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
I tried seeking professional couple’s counseling. There was a point before everything got way out of hand when continuing the relationship was important to me, so I tried seeking the help of a professional. This went hand in hand with talking to an outside party, except this time, my ex was there with me (well, except for the first time when he didn’t show up). Our counselor was able to look at the situation objectively and give good, solid advice. My partner was totally unaware of his emotional abuse, but unfortunately, he refused to see it or believe it and was unwilling to work on fixing things. That’s when I realized I needed to get out.
I found that I was often trying to convince myself that I was wrong. I am an intelligent human being. It took some time but eventually I remembered that. This situation felt wrong to me but I was constantly telling myself otherwise. It was time to rethink my whole world. I went with my gut. Oftentimes in relationships, our guts are very clear indicators of our feelings, whereas our rational brain can be a little too rational. Mine certainly was.
I came to a point where enough was enough. Emotional abuse is a frightening thing to go through. It was crucial to know my own personal limits and where I drew the line. One of my moments of clarity came with my partner’s refusal to give me space. We would get in an argument and he refused to let me out of it until he was satisfied. It didn’t matter that it was 4 a.m. and I physically couldn’t keep my eyes open. Once I knew, I didn’t hesitate in taking the steps to get out.
It was scary, but I eventually had to take extreme measures. Unfortunately. it came to pass that I had to do something I normally wouldn’t consider. The last time I saw my ex was through the window of my colleague’s car as he was restrained by police. It was terrifying and painful to have to do that to someone I had loved for years (and yes, had at one point taken good care of me), but when his emotional abuse turned physical and he barred me from leaving the house, I knew it was my only option.
I put myself first. It was absolutely necessary that I was my first priority. The only way we can have healthy, supportive and happy relationships is if we are right with ourselves. Without a doubt, my successes have come at times in my life when I was balanced, positive and thriving on my own. Like attracts like. It’s so important to love yourself wholly and completely. I had to love myself enough to know that I was NOT crazy and it wasn’t too late to overcome it.
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