After any relationship breakdown there is always a roller coaster of emotions: sadness, grief, happiness, even a sense of relief but when a toxic relationship breaks down the emotions are extreme. The victim of emotional abuse will feel the extremes of each emotion because their inner self has already been so badly damaged. Walking away from a toxic relationship takes real strength, you have had many battles and have the internal scars to prove it. One of the major difficulties I faced was the loss is self identity, being free from such an intense relationship left me feeling like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Not sure which way to turn, confused and full of self-doubt. A constant feeling of dread and anxiety as I was made to feel so awful about ending my relationship. I was told many times that I was ruining the lives of our children, that because of my actions their lives will never be the same again. I was told my anxiety was all in my head, that it was all my fault the relationship ended. I felt so overwhelmed with guilt and sadness that I truly believed that life would be better for my children if I wasn’t around. I became very ill, I finally gave in and went to see my doctor when one morning I could barely get out of my bed, I was rushed in and wired up immediately to an ECG monitor as they suspected a possible heart attack. I had severe chest pains with the pains shooting down my arms, I was physically shaking all over and it simply hurt to breathe. I had reached that last straw moment and I couldn’t go back, I couldn’t fix the switch in my head to continue as before, I had an enlightened moment during a verbally abusive attack, where my ex had simply exploded into one of his rages. It just hit me, I’m nearly 40 years old why am I letting this man treat me like this? It was like a scene from the matrix where everything slows down and Neo is fighting all the agents. I couldn’t even hear the words he was yelling, I could see the veins popping out on his forehead, his fists clenched, spit flying out of his mouth. In my head I was thinking “you don’t have to put up with this anymore” and the part of my brain that had always forgiven his actions and rages, switched off. A new chapter was about to begin. This journey was not going to be an easy one by any means, it is still ongoing, it’s been traumatic, and I feel I’ve lived through every possible emotion.
I only wanted to live my life, free from walking on eggshells, free from being made to feel less than worthy, free from the violent and aggressive rages, free from the silent treatment, ignored for days even weeks for no logical reason or explanation. I wanted my children to live free from this toxic environment so they could breathe and live freely also.
If you are experiencing emotional abuse and want to walk free then find the courage. No one in today’s modern society should be made to feel unworthy or inadequate, ignored, controlled, manipulated or verbally abused. Walking away isn’t easy but it could become necessary for the sake of your health and your well being.
Here is a list of 10 emotions that you should expect to feel after experiencing emotional abuse. This is by no means in any order or indeed the only emotions you would experience but they are often reported by victims of emotional abuse.
10 Emotions that you should expect to feel after experiencing Emotional Abuse
1. Anxiety: anxiety is an emotion that can arise during stressful or worrisome events and experiences. Anxiety can range in severity and symptoms, they can appear physically as well as mentally. anxietyuk has a wealth of information about anxiety. I suffered with panic attacks, sometimes there would be a trigger and sometimes it would just hit me, BAM! The sensation of the ground falling away from under me, the walls pushing in from the sides, people staring st me, accelerated heart rate accompanied by almost convulsive trembling. I avoided going out not seeing friends or family. This person I had become was worlds apart from the person I once used to be. I had always been a confident person, outgoing, fun and loving but I found myself preferring to stay in my room, my safe place. I am overcoming my anxiety, yes it stills lives in my mind, yes it still raises its ugly head but I am trying my best to fight it, I am a survivor.
2. Guilt: Attributed to being made to feel the main cause of the break up, you may have ended the relationship because of emotional abuse, because you have said no more to living in a toxic relationship you will be held responsible. Expect to be named and shamed, to have friends and family told mistruths about the relationship. If the perpetrator has traits of narcissistic or sociopathic personality disorder then they will tell the world that you are to blame, how they have been the perfect partner, turn all their abusive behaviours around and accuse you of the abuse instead. You may have spent months even years living with the ill feeling that you are to blame for the abuse. Known as Gaslighting, where the abuser does something wrong, denies it and then tells everyone that you are the crazy one.
4. Loneliness: Because of the nature of emotional abuse being intrinsically personal, it can be well hidden from the eyes of those around you. You may feel like the only person who has been through this ordeal. Emotional abuse cuts away at your inner core, your identity and you may well find that you are at a loss once the toxic relationship is over. Unsure of who you are, who to trust and feeling removed from society. I remember feeling like this, I felt like I was on my own, even though I had wonderful friends and family, nobody knew just how broken I had become. Being able to talk to people does help, friends, doctors, counselors, for me writing helps to draw out the feelings. There are no sad faces, no pitiful looks, no awkward questioning just relief. Keep talking, keep writing, do not let yourself become lonely. Unfortunately there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are suffering too, just like you and me. By talking about it we are fighting back, making people aware of this hideous abuse. Share your story, you are not alone.
5. Helplessness: After an emotionally abusive relationship has ended your confidence and self-esteem would have been greatly affected, the idea that you are on your own may feel inconceivable, That you may not be up to the task of seemingly easy day to day tasks, you have been manipulated and coerced by an emotional abuser, your behaviour controlled at some level. Your experiences of being made to feel inadequate, not good enough and made to feel dependent on your abuser will have some degree of impact on yourself. Narcissistic personality types are prone to gaslighting and projection, making the victim feel like they have no control anymore, because of the potential violent implications of any resistance leading to feelings of helplessness.
6. Anger: Anger can be felt because of the after effects of the abuse, when you are consumed by the emotional abuse you feel knocked down, confidence at a low, self-esteem almost non-existent you don’t have an objective view of what is right and wrong anymore. When you remove yourself from an emotionally abusive relationship and later reflect on what you have been through you will get angry feelings. I felt angry at my ex for how he treated me but I felt anger at myself for not stopping it sooner.
7. Sadness: Leaving a relationship is never easy, it hurts so of course sadness as an emotion here on this list is a predictable one. Due to the manipulative and coercive nature of emotional abusers you will made to feel extreme sadness, you will most likely find that the person you are dealing with is in complete denial about the abuse and will reject any notion that they have willingly caused any upset and trauma to the victim. The feeling of sadness may engulf you but the winds will change, you will find the strength you need to move forward. You are here reading this post which is a sign that you may be looking for help or advice you will get through this and live free.
8. Self-doubt: Are you making the right decision? Was you actually experiencing emotional abuse? Have you made up the whole scenario to justify walking away from your relationship? These are questions that I asked myself over and over agin, relentlessly. Going round in circles, questionning my actions, my reactions, my sanity and the choices I made. I reread my diary that I had kept and every time I had a moment of self-doubt I read it again. My friend would tell me that I was doing the right thing and in my heart I knew I was, but the self-doubter in me would bubble up to the surface, My friend would remind me of the times I cried on her shoulder, told her how unhappy I was, she would remind me of the violent rages, the silent treatments and mistreatment I received. Keep a diary, write down how you are feeling, what has happened, talk to your friends and let them remind you of these times when you are doubting your actions.
9. Relief: You will get a sense of relief once you have come out of a toxic relationship, even though it was incredibly hard and still is, I get a huge sense of relief when I remind myself that I never have to walk on egg shells again. There is still a huge battle and struggle at the moment but at least I am free and can breathe. Have the idea that you will be free from your situation and begin to look forward to it.
10. Strength: You have identified that your relationship has been emotionally abusive and toxic, that takes strength and courage. Once you see it you can never unsee it, use this realisation to help move your life forward. Have strength in yourself and begin to live free. You will overcome this.
If you are struggling with the enormity of your situation speak to your doctor, friends and family, remember you are not alone. Share your story here at Living Free.
Thank you for reading xxx