Why You Should Never Rush Into a Post-Abuse Relationship

My life after fleeing abuse was filled with unknowns and, for me, the unknowns were daunting. It was the first time I’d ever been truly on my own.

I wondered if I had the strength to do what needed doing after many years of feeling deflated, inadequate, “useless” {as he so hatefully referred to me}. My spirit was shattered and my soul, exhausted from the endurance of the daily stressful tension. The divorce proceedings wouldn’t end for another 2 years when I left and he’d already vowed to fight dirty {he kept his promise}.

I wanted to move on with my life but I couldn’t. “Moving on” involved our return to America and I couldn’t do that until I had my divorce papers. For 2 years, I lived in a state of limbo while the proceedings dragged on. At the time, it was frustrating, but I now understand it was necessary. As an abuse victim, I instinctively wanted a healthy new relationship straight away…to make me “forget” the pain. I wanted comfort and the reassurance that there are good men out there. I wanted my emotional and psychological scars nurtured by someone who loved me and made me feel safe. I wanted closure. I also learned that what we want is not always what’s best for us.

I felt daunted by the idea of dating again because of the baggage that comes with “older dating” and the cautiousness that comes with having trust issues. Most of the “dates” were coffee meetings that never led to second dates. One of my friends analogized my experiences to fishing ~ “catch and release” and, after a while, I grew tired of saying, “Next!” Although I felt extremely disheartened as time passed, I reminded myself that it was all about God’s timing and His plan was to make sure I knew what I needed to know for the right man so that we could have a healthy relationship. I needed to be alone to figure out who I was, what I wanted/needed, and reflect on the mistakes in my past relationships. I eventually realized the importance of self-healing, self-nurturing, self-comfort, and self-reliance.

My dating site profiles went through long periods of deactivation; when I would occasionally reactivate to browse through the “new” profiles, I quickly remembered why I deactivated. Still, I felt proud that I was able to approach dating with a healthier mindset. I recognized the difference between “wanting” and “needing” a relationship. Further, I decided that my self-worth is far more important than settling for another abusive, dysfunctional relationship.

On my 51st birthday in December 2015, God decided I’d been alone long enough and He reunited me with the kindest, most understanding man I’ve ever met. We dated briefly at age 16 and, even in that short time back then, we really connected…but we weren’t ready. And we weren’t ready 5 or even 2 years ago. Lasting relationships happen at precisely the time that both people are ready. We must deal with the baggage and drama associated with previous relationships so that we significantly lessen the risk of self-sabotage {very easy to do}. We must heal from the pain of previous relationships because it’s grossly unfair to appoint a new partner with a pre-existing job as our healer. We must make absolutely certain that we have learned from past mistakes or we risk yet another failed relationship.

To the brave survivors of abuse, I want to say this: Your determination to change your circumstances paid off and, for that, you should feel very proud. Now that you have taken back your power, you are now free to move on…but, please, please, please pace yourself. Don’t succumb to the belief or pressure that you must continue life at full speed because you don’t. Take the time to celebrate who YOU are {not someone else’s definition of who you “should” be}, heal from the pain, and decide the path your journey will take. You are now in control of your life and you must never lose sight of that again. Learn to enjoy your own company, develop your own traditions, cultivate your own habits, rediscover your identity and, perhaps, what you once loved {but sacrificed} about your life. Become authentically you first and you will attract someone who perfectly fits into your world without expecting you to change. Do not rush into anything new. Be discerning when it comes to a life partner because you are worthy of someone who treats you with the utmost respect.

But…

Make sure the person you choose is also worthy of you.

As always, we’re here to help.

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