When a woman is struck physically by a man, there’s no denying that there is abuse present in that relationship. When she has bruised ribs, a swollen eye or as is the case with my beautiful and strong mother-in-law, burning skin all over her arm, the signs of abuse are too real to ignore.
But what about when the abuse isn’t as apparent?
Is it abuse when you’re so sick physically that you can hardly get out of bed and your husband tells you it’s all in your head and you need to just start taking better care of yourself?
Is it abuse when your husband of 26 years tells you time and again, that you need him because you’ll never amount to anything on your own because you’re just too stupid? Or makes jokes about you in front of your friends?
Is it abuse when someone tells you they love your time and again, but never keeps his or her promises? Is it abuse when he lies or cheats, but you’re left thinking that it’s somehow your fault and you’re the one that feels guilty?
I think sometimes abuse of our hearts can be as traumatic as physical abuse.
Of course, it’s not nearly as overt, but it can be just as damaging to our souls and our spirits.
Any form of abuse, if accommodated for long enough, carries with it a tremendous blow on our self-worth and can lead to anxiety and depression. If endured long enough, not only do we start to believe the lies we’re being told about ourselves, but we begin to blame ourselves for our partner’s abusive behavior. …which only makes us endure the pain longer.
“Maybe he’s right, maybe I am stupid.”
“No one else is ever going to want me.”
“If I were the only prettier…thinner…less needy…”
“I shouldn’t expect so much of him. I mean, after all, he’s going through some things too.”
I have clients that have told me that when they started to think to themselves, “maybe there really is something seriously wrong in this relationship,” they would confide in a friend or family member to get another opinion. Their well-intentioned friends and family members made light of it, made excuses for this behavior and one even told my client, “Well, it’s not like he’s beating you or anything.”
Your family and friends do this because they don’t want to see you endure the pain of divorce.
They do this because they may want to avoid drama and taking sides.
They do this because you may be bringing up fears in them about their own relationship that they’re not prepared to address.
People talk to me all the time about self-love, but they don’t really know how to get it, as if it’s something you can pick-up off the grocer’s shelves or order online. Self-love isn’t a thing you have or don’t have. Self-love is a practice that you choose to do daily.
It’s telling the truth to yourself when things aren’t okay.
It’s making yourself the priority in your own life.
It’s teaching people how to treat us by the way we treat, show respect for, speak to and nurture ourselves.
When I was in the middle of mourning a repeated broken heart within an emotionally abusive relationship, I was fortunate enough to have my best friend by my side speaking truth to me. My very wise and loving friend gave me a precious gift when she told me, “Sweetie, don’t you see…he’s stealing your light.” The gift changed everything for me that day and I carried it with me into subsequent relationships.
Self-Love is never allowing someone to dim our light.
Get my free ebook, Relationships Break: That Doesn’t Make You Broken. (http://eepurl.com/05yRv)
Sharon Pope is a certified life coach, author, speaker and radio host of the weekly online show: Tell the Truth with Sharon Pope.
She helps strong women find the love and healthy relationships they desire for their lives.
Tell the Truth. Show up in Love. Live in Freedom
Sharon is the author of her memoir and self-help book: Life, Love, Lies & Lessons: A Journey through Truth to find an Authentic Life.