Aftermath of abuse: The end is only the beginning of healing time



By Dwight Hobbes

If you’ve left an abusive relationship, congratulations, first and foremost. It could not have been easy. Unless it was a situation where, soon as he or she put her hands on you, you said “Adios,” grabbed your coat and hit the bricks, you were mired quite some time in fear, humiliation and, repeatedly wishing for the physical strength to just once, knock your victimizer square on his or her behind, powerfully pent-up anger. It took a considerable while for you to become so desperately miserable.
Yes, it is — there’s no saying it strongly enough — wonderful that you got out. Many women and men don’t. They remain held hostage, stuck in a sick situation, or worse still, wind up being beaten, strangled, stabbed or shot to death. You survived! Truly a great thing.
However, it is, in a manner of speaking, just the end of the beginning. It’d be fantastic could you simply shed the experience like shrugging off a jacket you’ve outworn and promptly get on with life. That’s an unrealistic expectation.
You’re going to be wobbly on your mental and emotional feet (your body might give you a hard time, too, since physical manifestations do happen). After all, you came through one hell of a tough time. Don’t be the least bit surprised, now that you’re free, if you aren’t immediately kicking up your heels, preparing for a celebration party.
You’re probably in something of a state of shock. Having a hard time believing you got out of the relationship in one piece. For that matter, you wouldn’t be the first one to go through guilt, shame and self-blame for getting mixed up with a monster in the first place.
Feeling anxious? You have every right to be a nervous wreck. And, incredible as it may seem, you might wonder whether you don’t want to give stupid one more last chance. Keep that a question: It definitely is not the answer. You need to be sucked back into that relationship like a pardoned prisoner wants to go back to jail.
Not that having a sense of loss isn’t understandable. No matter how wretched the relationship was, it’s gone and something now is missing in your life. It can take a minute before you get into your gut to be fully glad that it’s gone. For right now, a sense of loss is a sense of loss. An emptiness. It’ll go away. Without — I repeat — without you hurrying up and jumping into another relationship to fill that void.
Get around some friends. Odds are the idiot had you trapped off, isolated from any and everyone who’d tell you to leave. Look ’em up. They’ll be happy to hear from you. You may have to put up with some “I told you so.”  But, well, they did, didn’t they? Long as they’re not rubbing it in and genuinely are being supportive, put a smile, no matter how shaky, on your face and roll with it. Importantly, you don’t need to be alone with all the stuff that’s crashing into itself in your mind, heart and soul.
Counseling — duh — wouldn’t hurt.
You took the right step, walking out the door. Don’t expect to be able to run right away. Take the next step. Slowly. Then, take the next step after that. You’ll be fine again, eventually. It’s just not going to be today.
Bottom line: congratulations. For saving your own life.

Dwight Hobbes contributes the commentary ”Hobbes in the House” to the MSR and the TV show Spectator on the Minneapolis Telecommunications Network (Comcast Cable Ch. 17). He welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.

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