Life has a way of teaching us what we need to learn. With this weeks SoulMate Coach Crystal show being about emotionally abusive relationships, I can’t help but to think of all the things that I have experienced in this life and all the lesson that I have learned.
The lesson of what emotional abuse looks like is one that I learned, at he hands of an ex-boyfriend, over 20 years ago that stays fresh in my mind. It is something you never forget. It can range from that subtle feeling of not being good enough all the way to feeling outright disrespected and everywhere in-between.
I will never forget the very first time I experienced it. It was a small statement but one that rubbed me the wrong way instantly. I don’t remember the exact conversation but I do remember making a statement about something. I don’t even remember what the statement was BUT boy do I remember his response. First came a face that he made. It was an expression that mixed confusion with bewilderment. Then can the question followed by a comment, in an almost innocent tone, “ How could you ever think that? I’m not saying that you are stupid but that comment sure sounded stupid.” Just like that I had entered the land of being verbal abused.
Did he just say I was stupid? My mind reeled. No, he said, I SOUNDED stupid and I was overreacting. He laughed it off and I tried to do the same but something big had shifted and I knew it (even though I wasn't ready to see it yet). A small voice inside said, ‘Someone who says they love you shouldn't make you feel like this’. But I stayed anyway and the comments grew more aggressive and the arguments became venomous. I’d say I was leaving, he’d woo me back in and the cycle would start all over again, each time a little worse than the last. It slowly moved from emotional to really vicious verbal abuse and finally I knew, without question, that it was time to go, for good.
When I look back on that time in my life and ask why did I stay, although there were many factors it boils down to a pretty basic answer. I didn't trust or want to believe that he was showing me who he was. An emotionally, verbally and eventually (after we broke up) physically abusive man who needed to control everything around him, including me. I told myself he didn’t mean the harsh and scathing things he would say to me. I ignored my gut and convinced myself that he was just going through a really tough time and things would get better. When the truth was, what he was going through was only exposing that he had controlling and abusive tendencies that were not going to go away.
So, what’s the moral of the story? To trust and believe. Learning to believe what I see and trust myself when I sense something isn't right; serves me to this very day. I knew with that very first comment that something was not right but I didn’t trust myself enough to believe what I saw and go with my gut. Sure I loved him, in a teenaged love kind of way, and I was young (around 17 or 18) but I certainly can’t say that I didn’t know any better. Because with hindsight being 20/20, I can see that I did know better, I just had to learn to trust and believe what I already knew. If you are questioning whether your relationship is verbally, emotionally or physically abusive ask your self this question: Where am I not trusting and believing what I already know?