Love spelled out with letter blocks on wood floor with heart

Ten Things I Learned in the First Whole Year After Leaving Our Abuser

After getting out of an abusive relationship. I decided to make a huge move to a different state and start a whole new life. Just because I moved, and started a whole new life, I still had many memories of my old life. They don’t just go away, the trauma, the feelings, the triggers everything was still with me.

Just because I was still carrying all of that with me, it didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try and move on mentally. Moving on is HARD, and it is exhausting. It is worth it, though. Here are 10 things I learned in the first whole year after leaving our abuser.

Rocks in front of lake at sunset with rolling hills

Know That It’s Not Your Fault

In my post My Experience With Child Protective Services, I talked about how an attack on my son and I got social services involved. Well during my interview with my caseworker, I felt like EVERYTHING was my fault. I knew deep down that it wasn’t, but I couldn’t help feeling that way.

I think it’s normal that we put ourselves in that boat. Where we blame ourselves for everything. With the “I should’ve seen it sooner” or “If only I never would’ve started seeing him in the first place”

LISTEN TO ME, it is not our fault that our abuser behaved the way they did. He or she made those decisions on their own. It’s probably grained into their DNA. That type of behavior is NOT a reflection of you, but of their own insecurities and demons.

Everything Will Be Okay

As hard as all this is right now, everything will be okay. TRUST YOURSELF, and have faith in your abilities to handle all of this. I know it is not easy. You can do it, and you will. I’m not going to say that it will ever be easy to look back on this, because in my experience it is not.

You will, however, get passed this – the moments right after is when everything is the hardest. I know it is cliche to say that “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In this case, it is so very true. Once you start trusting in yourself again, you will be so amazed at what you are capable of.

You Are More Resilient Than You Think

There will be moments where you will feel like you can’t move forward. There will be good days, and bad days. If you believe in yourself enough, you will probably even come back stronger than ever! You will also learn a whole lot about yourself in the process. Whatever you do, don’t degrade yourself for “allowing” it to happen in the first place! Use your experiences as a lesson in which you came out much wiser.

Young woman in field at night with butterflies dark blue and pink sky
If you believe in yourself enough, you will probably even come back stronger than ever!

Every Ending Has A New Beginning

Use this time to rebuild yourself. Learn to love yourself again, learn to trust. When you start having more confidence in yourself, you will realize that you are attracting the right kind of people into your life.

Build yourself up. Build new relationships. Enjoy happy new experiences! I built myself a whole new home, in a new location. I’m definitely not saying that is the answer for everybody, but regardless of if you do or you don’t, you’ll realize that your life has a whole lot of “new” in it. Enjoy it!

Those Closest To You Are VERY Important

I wrote a couple posts, Why A Strong Support Group is Important, & Parental Support During My Time of Crisis that both talk about having a support group. I’m going to say this very loudly: If there is anybody in your “group of friends” that doesn’t support you during this very hard time in your life, are they really your friend? I’m being very blunt right now, but it is the honest truth. Surround yourself with positive and loving people. Sometimes having somebody physically there with you is enough, even if you don’t talk. You might even have some friends who don’t know what’s going on in the fullest extent, hang out with them if they offer, it will be refreshing to hang out with smiling faces.

Embrace Change

Once you are free from your abuser, just about EVERYTHING will change. Some of your friends might even change, because inevitably some people will look at you differently (Or say things behind your back, like “She’s supposed to be so strong…etc…”) That is another shitty part of the deal, but at least at the end of the day you will know who your true friends are.

If you lived with your abuser, you might move and get a new place, you might get a new job. You might even stay where you are, but want to do a serious purge. In my case, social services “strongly suggested” that I move. So I chose to move to a different state and start all over again. (I’m not saying that is the answer for everyone, it is just what I chose to do.) All of these changes can be scary, terrifying even, BUT NOT AS SCARY AS STAYING WITH YOUR ABUSER!! YOU are worth it, your kids are worth it, you are more than enough. All of those rocks that were thrown at you can be used to build a fortress, sweetie.

fortress in the woods cloudy skies

Learning To Love Yourself Is No Easy Feat, But It’s Very Important

For me, this one pretty much ties into all of the things I’ve learned, and is one of the hardest. Along with learning to love yourself again, you have to (pretty please) learn to be nice to yourself as well. Some may have had trouble loving themselves in the first place. Whatever stage you are at in this crazy thing we call life, please learn to love yourself.

**Side Note: Loving yourself and being nice to yourself doesn’t only mean not putting yourself down. This can also mean taking better care of yourself, drink more water, quit some bad habits, eat healthier… Really working on yourself physically and mentally.

I try to work on this every single day. Even if you find just one thing about yourself that you love each day. Write them down, all in the same place. It can be a physical trait, personality trait, really anything. At the end of the week, two weeks, or month read them all to yourself.

Once you start to love yourself fully and wholeheartedly, you might notice that it is easier to love others back. Your kids, your parents, your friends, whoever it might be. It really is a journey. Even almost two years later, and in a new relationship (with a wonderful man), and step kids, I am still learning to love myself every day.

Love spelled out with letter blocks on wood floor with heart

You Will Have Bad Days, And That’s Okay

I mentioned earlier that just about everything will change. It is very scary, everything will be new. There will be days that you’re doing great. There will be days that you’re just going through the motions. There will also be days that you absolutely lose it. Even after two months, six months, a year, two years. It happens. As time passes, bad days relating to your tragedy will become further and fewer between. But it still happens.

One night I was doing laundry before bed. I had a great day. When I went to switch my laundry from the washer to the dryer I noticed that one of my sweaters bled onto some of my clothes. (This hardly ever  happens because I’m so careful.) Well the sweater that bled was one of the very pieces of clothing that I had to buy because my ex decided to burn 90% of my clothes in a rage the night that everything changed. It also bled onto one of my favorite new shirts. I LOST IT! It had been almost a year at that point, but that was a trigger! I had to buy that stupid sweater because of him. It bled onto one of the few pieces of clothing I actually liked now because I had to buy all new clothes on a tight budget.I went upstairs, climbed into bed, and cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t control it, and I let it out.

I haven’t had many breakdowns since, but they still happen. I think it’s important that we allow ourselves to feel and process those emotions!

young woman sitting on tree stump overlooking lake at sunset
As time passes, bad days relating to your tragedy will become further and fewer between. But it still happens.

You’ll Look At Everything In A Whole New Perspective

When something so traumatic happens in life, it’s easy to look at “what might have been”. I have scared myself plenty of times, with the other ways that night could have gone so much worse had I not called the police (Or if they got there any later than what they did). Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely terrifying, but I came out alive. It could have easily been the latter. (Not an easy pill to swallow!!) I know not all situations are the same, and I know for some it might not have been physical and others it was worse physically. This is in no way a competition. It’s devastating regardless.

I think there is something to be said for the fact that when we go through a form of trauma, our mindset changes. This can be anything from wanting to be a better person, to accomplishing what you want out of life. What you will or won’t put up with any longer (even from yourself), or a variety of things.

With all these new points of view come lots and lots of changes! Earlier we talked about embracing change. I can’t stress this enough! It’s so very important, but once you start seeing things through a new light you will begin to find yourself again. You will be more aware of when you slip up, and catch yourself doing something that doesn’t align with your goals.

Coming To Terms With All Of These Things Is An Ongoing Process, And Forgiveness Is A Must

Coming to terms with all of this can be so hard and trying sometimes! Even accepting that this tragedy happened in the first place can be a lot to process. You will want to question why this happened, or even try to understand how somebody that “cared about you” so much could even do this. Please know that you will likely never understand why. As I am about to type out this next sentence, please also know that I mean it in the kindest most empathetic way. Even though this happened to YOU, it’s not about you. It is about their own insecurities and demons.

As you keep all of this in mind, forgiveness is a must. For your own sake, for your healing. Just because you are allowing yourself to forgive them, it definitely doesn’t mean you’ll ever forget. It surely doesn’t mean that you will ever give them even the slightest chance to hurt you again. When you allow your heart to forgive them, you are allowing yourself to move forward, and find some inner peace.

Everyone’s healing process is different. It is a journey. There is no magical handbook that is given out. Please don’t ever let anyone tell you to “just get over it” because it doesn’t work that way. I am just sharing my journey in what I went through, what I learned, and how I’m doing now.

Once leaving your abuser, what was the biggest lesson you learned, or what was your healing process like?

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