Healing emotional abuse takes a lot of self-awareness and time. So don’t beat yourself up for behaviors and feelings that linger. Emotional abuse is damaging and takes a lot of forms, but what is it exactly? Emotional abuse is fundamentally someone exerting control over you for their own purposes or reasons that have nothing to do with your best interests. You may not be aware that destructive conditioning takes place over a long period of time.
Destructive Conditioning Takes Time
No one suddenly turns into a people-pleasing wimp, willing to take anything. You are slowly molded into a person who puts up with way more than you should. Often you become a people pleaser to avoid the consequences of not doing whatever your controlling person wants you to do. And worst of all, your controlling person (abuser) is someone you love with all your heart. Sometimes there’s more than one in your life, and these people steal your spirit and your will.
How Does Emotional Abuse Work
Say your dad wants you to be thin and tells you you’re too big. Say he watches the amount of food you eat, but pigs out himself. The things he says hurt your feelings and make you feel crazy since, guess what, he’s way heavier than you are. You may never wonder “Who is he to judge me?” You haven’t had a chance to think he may be wrong. And he may do many worse things than calling you names.
Here’s Another Example Of Emotional Abuse
Say, your mom wants you to be her constant companion and has
spent a lifetime preparing you for the role. She’s always made it difficult for you: to take trips, go to college, make friends, have a boyfriend (girlfriend), get a job far away. She tells you that you’re a dreamer and won’t succeed. She complains about her problems, and she always has a crisis she needs your help to fix. She calls you at work and interferes with your plans. You have a lot of trouble saying no. She gets sick or mean when you don’t do what she wants. You feel helpless to assert yourself. Insert, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, cousin, buddy, boss, sister. Anyone can be an abuser of your feelings, your boundaries, your very safety.
You Can’t Make Abuse Stop
There are many kinds of abuse, and abuse manifests itself in a wide variety of ways. The sad thing is you can’t stop someone from trying to control you and end up abusing you. You can try to set boundaries, but people don’t like to change especially when their interests are not served. Safety first. If you are being physically abused or a child is being abused, the only way to stop it is to call for help and leave. With emotional abuse, awareness is the first step, and action is necessary. A divorce finally happens. You break up. The decision to spend less and less time with family members is now okay. You may even move away. It happens a lot, especially in families when some members are in recovery and others are not. But how to heal your soul and spirit?
Healing Emotional Abuse Starts With The Question What Do You Want
For me, the path to healing was paved with a therapist asking me what did I want? Literally every week. Every stepping stone to my recovery began with the same question. Frankly, I didn’t know. I was so used to acting as a doormat for others, trying to please and fix things that I couldn’t imagine helping, pleasing, doing things for myself. I didn’t know how. Often in my old life, I would try to say what I wanted but never got what I wanted. So, I gave up my power to ask and to choose for myself. As I said before, the first step to emotional healing is to detach, leave, get away from the person(s) who hurt you. They will try to hurt you more as you leave, but you have to detach for your own sanity. If you need help, get a therapist, counselor, lawyer, hotline.
Who Do You Want To Be
The next step is slowly, slowly identifying what you want for yourself. It’s a big question that ripples out. Where do you want to live? What do you want to do? How do you want to spend your money and your time? How do you should you interact with other people? How do you begin setting boundaries in new relationships? For some people, just having a supportive group, or friend is a big step to healing from control.
Self Esteem Grows With Making Healthy Choices
Healing emotional abuse means establishing your self-esteem and feeling okay about yourself, maybe for the very first time. The healing begins when you can identify who you are and what you want. Then you can start making your own choices about the smallest to the biggest things in your life. You can have a puppy, go swimming, enjoy the sunset without a fight, make a friend, go to a meeting. You are you, and that’s awesome. Healing is a miracle we can all achieve with help and support.