Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges many of us will face is finding a strong relationship with someone with whom we can share the rest of our lives. A bond where two people know each other so well they finish the other’s sentences. A person who will stand with them and love them through conditions both good and bad.
Unfortunately, many of us have had more than our share of difficult, tough, or downright detrimental relationships. When these nightmares end, we are told to learn from our mistakes and grow as individuals so that our future relationships will have better chances at success. We may have not learned everything there is to know, but our main objective is to make the next relationship better.
No one in their right mind aspires to leave one toxic relationship and hastily have their next one be abusive as well. It’s nonsensical to expect that a person would choose to love anyone who would love them any less in return. Yet we all have known someone who seems to be a magnet for an abusive partner. Perhaps you have wondered if you yourself have ever fallen victim to this seemingly unending cycle of one toxic relationship after the next.
These signs are much easier to see in others. They come in the form of endless excuses, physical and emotional abuse which always deplete self-esteem. For those who’ve been trapped by these circumstances, the act of promising to themselves, even swearing on their lives that they will never find themselves in a similar predicament, may be one more sign there is no clear way out of their spiral.
Many relationships start off feeling right with no apparent signs predicting any future neglect, abuse, or violence. However, the relationship eventually begins to degrade, and you may find yourself asking, “How did I not see all the clues that pointed to their violent behavior?” The same abuse you swore you’d never find yourself in again.
At this point, reactions and feelings vary greatly. While the abuse is never always physical, the verbal, sexual, and psychological abuse – or a cruel mix of all three – is paralyzing and robs us from desiring or wanting to better our situation.
We tend to feel ashamed and loathe ourselves for being so blind and ignorant, frequently believing the abuse is a just punishment we deserve. Unfortunately, the shame becomes so great that some people resort to cutting, hitting, or burning themselves in a desperate attempt to change their future behavior. It is not an anomaly to be in this kind of predicament. What is worse is to be in this horrible dilemma and not realize how trapped you really are.
The difficulty lies in the false belief that we should be able to fix our own messes, and not fall prey to people we think should love us but eventually become our abusers. We are smarter than that and somehow punishing or having disgust for ourselves will help us overcome this downward spiral.
When we experience an unusual physical symptom of pain, we reach out to a medical professional to help us understand and repair our physical ailment. The physician is educated with plenty of experience about your particular condition, and we rarely question their recommendations for recovery. For some inexplicable reason, when we experience a mental or emotional ailment, we don’t give mental health professionals the same regard.
There is a logical explanation for this inconsistent reasoning. Physical injuries are undeniable. We see the wound and feel the pain. If nothing is done to change it, things will only get worse. Emotional wounds are harder to detect, and shame wants us to keep quiet about them. Telling others will only shine a light on those failures we erroneously believe we should have the instinct and fortitude to change.
We must realize it’s okay to accept the idea that we don’t know how to fix our emotional issues. It’s perfectly reasonable to seek help especially if we’ve been struggling for decades with reoccurring, abusive situations. It is wise, to ask for help from those who are trained or experienced in helping others overcome these afflictions especially when it comes to falling victim to relationship traps.
In fact, if we don’t admit to realizing we have been wrong about our ability to “fix” ourselves, it only encourages us to occasionally rehash what we’ve done in the past because we continue to mistakenly believe they still have some value.
By no means are we failures if we can’t resolve emotional issues. Do your best not to compare yourself with how successful and accomplished someone else appears.
Measuring ourselves to others is not how we overcome our challenges. One of the most effective steps we can take is becoming aware that we need help to guide us along this journey.
Keep in mind that good counsel is not the solution itself. The answers are always found within us. What a counselor provides are effective techniques and insights on how we can become victorious over past emotional injuries. Proper advice empowers us to look within and face our fears and traumas, confronting them and taking appropriate action to diminish their powers over us.
If we don’t reach out for help, we risk having our own shame continue to feed us false ideas on how to conquer these issues and continue to fall victim and blame others for our failures.
The journey is not meant to be easy. But when we are aware of our own deficiencies, we are open to learning new ways to defeat the problems and traumas from our past and get on a course of healing, personal growth, and better self-awareness.
Next week, we will discuss reasons why some are caught in abusive relationships and some ideas on how to never again find yourself in abusive situations.
If you are ready to admit that you do need help, please feel free to reach out to me or contact me at: [email protected].