Far from being calm after the storm - life after an emotionally abusive relationship can be confusing and extremely difficult. It feels like your entire world has turned upside down. You stayed so long because you loved that person so much, and you truly believed they were going to change. Your good days were probably amazing, or close to it, but the bad days were beyond bad - they were scarring and detrimental to your own mental health.
Unbeknownst to you, those bad days, filled with those horrendous, unforgiving words said over and over and over, for a long period of time...all those things were changing you, to your very core. Sadly, once it's over, you may not be able to recognize yourself for a while. At the end of the day, you loved that person, but they let you down in more ways than one. They hurt you for far too long, and as a result, the relationship ended, and you are left forever changed from it all.
1. Your idea of a relationship is now pretty f***** up
Once an emotionally abusive relationship ends, any previous ideas of what the terms relationship and love actually meant to you are completely thrown out the window. You may have entirely new definitions for these words now, which are probably not accurate. You loved this person, and you know in your heart that they loved you too. But the love wasn't enough to stop the emotional abuse, and that can cause you to begin to redefine love.
Let me clarify, emotional abuse can come in many different forms. This includes manipulation and control, name-calling, negatively putting someone down, as well as empty threats. "You're fat," "you're ugly," "you're going nowhere in life," or phrases like, "I don't want you going out with your friends tonight," "If you walk out that door, you just wait and see what'll happen when you come back..." these things will severely start to take a toll on your mind. Especially if you're hearing these things consistently for an extended period of time.
After all is said and done, you will have to re-train your brain as to what is healthy versus what is not. The more distance you get from the emotional abuse, the more you will start to realize just how much all of it changed your perceptions of love and romance.
This becomes more apparent once you move onto a new, healthy relationship. You soon understand that it was never okay for you to be spoken to in that way, regardless of how that person may have tried to justify it at the time. You will begin to learn what life is like without the negativity, control, and mind games.
2. You have difficulty trusting others, and yourself
After someone you love lets you down for so long, attempting to have trust becomes challenging and painful. All those times you believed they were going to change, that they wouldn't speak to you that way again...it always came crashing down at one point or another.
So often the phrase, "We've been doing good for a few weeks now," comes into play in abusive relationships. This phrase is essentially implying that the few weeks have been "normal," meaning absent of fights or disrespectful outbursts from your significant other. That never lasts long, though. When the charade ends, the mental abuse starts all over again.
This cycle is vicious, and it is why most of us stick around in a mentally abusive relationship - and it'sbecause we hang on to those good moments for dear life. We want SO badly to believe that the good moments are here to stay. But after almost believing that that person may have truly changed this time around, you're suddenly let down all over again.
What we don't realize is how many trust issues we are beginning to develop in our minds. This behavior causes us to second-guess ourselves throughout the abuse, and we start to question what is right and what is wrong. Lines become blurred, and in a way, we sadly almost adjust to the abuse because we get used to it.
As a result of all of this, it'll take a while to regain trust in yourself and to establish it in a future relationship. But if you are patient with yourself, and in time, find the right person, they will earn your trust and you will rebuild your strength to have faith internally, and in others.
3. Your self-esteem takes a huge hit
If you're hearing negative things about yourself time and time again from someone you love, your self-esteem becomes depleted. It may be hard to regain self-confidence, but you 100% have it in you to do so.
You have to come to terms with all of the awful things that were said, and when those thoughts pop into your head, you have to block them out with positive ones. You have to remember why you're good inside and out. The years of emotional abuse can make you feel like less than what you are. "Worthless, fat, ugly, loser"....whatever was said, you need to block that s*** out. Now.
All of those harsh comments and words, regardless of if they were subtle or discreet - they still happened. They were put out into the universe, stinging your heart, making you unsure of yourself. You were manipulated. But you need to remember who you are, your self-worth and your inner strength in order to overcome all of this.
4. You feel all kinds of emotions for still missing that person
Victims of emotional abuse face a very rough roller coaster of emotions long after the relationship has ended. The hard truth is that in spite of everything that person put you through, there will be days when you still miss them. You will remember all of the good, and you will ask yourself why things couldn't have just remained good. Moreover, you will be frustrated and upset with yourself for missing someone who hurt you so much.
But it is okay.
It is completely normal to miss someone who used to be your entire world. It would almost be weird if a part of you didn't miss them. Be patient with yourself. Let time do it's thing and help heal your wounds and quiet the inner demons. Let yourself grieve, be sad and angry. Go through the motions. You will know when you're ready to move on.
5. You may think finding happiness again will be difficult
It won't be, I promise. After any breakup, we all go through darker times where it may be difficult to imagine seeing a brighter road ahead. With this type of relationship, you may even tell yourself you won't be able to find happiness without this person. This is not true whatsoever.
All of the unthinkable things they said - a part of you is still tempted to ignore it and stay with them, because that'd be easier than leaving and starting over. But easy is hardly ever the right choice, and instant gratification does not usually work out in the long run.
NEVER stay in an emotional abusive relationship because you think there are no other alternatives, or you think it'll be easier to stay. The truth is, it will sure as hell be difficult, but in situations like this, we must take the difficult path in order to set ourselves up for a happier future.
I know it hurts now, but that will pass, I guarantee you that. So - use this time after the breakup to do YOU. Surround yourself with friends and family, start traveling more, go somewhere you've never been before, start a new hobby. Just enjoy life.
6. You'll never settle for anything less than what you deserve
It is certainly true when they say there are plenty of fish in the sea, because there are. There is an entire world of humans out there! Once you're ready, you'll start dating again and this time around - you'll know exactly what you want in your next relationship.
You can let the emotional abuse consume you, OR you can simply learn a hell of a lot from it. You can realize your self-worth, and come to understand that you are better than any word vomit (as I often liked to call it) that was ever said to you.
You will learn what you do deserve in this life, and know to never settle for anything less. You become strong and one day down the road, you will find that person who respects you and loves you and could never, ever, even imagine saying those things to you.
Never settle, you deserve only the best. You have been through more than enough. And remember to take this time to breathe, look ahead to the future, leave the past behind, and start living a healthy life.
It will all get better in time, and eventually - you will ask yourself why you stayed so long, and you will be forever grateful that you had the strength to walk away.