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Once you get out of an abusive relationship, be it emotional or physical abuse, you will feel unsafe. Your emotions are raw and anything can trigger a wash of negative emotions. You will have difficulty trusting people. Anything anybody says will seem to have an ulterior motive, usually to hurt you.
But this doesn’t have to be how you live the rest of your life. It’s possible to heal from a toxic relationship and rebuild your life. It just takes time and a lot of effort on your part.
Here are 10 ways to heal from an abusive relationship.
Acknowledge the abuse
Before you start your journey to recovery, you must recognise that you were abused and accept it. Work out what your ex did that was abusive and how it made you react. Did you stop voicing your opinions? Which of your values did you have to let go of for the sake of peace? This will be where you start in your efforts to take your power back.
Look for help
Many times, by the time you are coming out of an abusive relationship, you have forgotten who you are as you tried to become the person your former partner wanted you to be. You might be unable to process the myriad of emotions you are feeling. A counsellor or therapist can help you work these out from an unbiased point of view, pointing you in the right direction.
Self-love is so important on the road to recovery. Take the time to fall back in love with yourself, flaws and all. Look in the mirror and say ‘I love you’, every day.
Remind yourself of all your positive qualities and what makes you unique. Repeat these to yourself.
Avoid blaming yourself for the abuse you suffered. It wasn’t your fault. Instead, praise yourself for getting out and for the effort you are making to heal.
Limit contact with your abuser on social media and in real life. Cut out ties to his friends or people that you knew as a couple.
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Make a plan for your future
Remind yourself of your life goals and create a plan to achieve them. Create the life you missed out on while you were in the abusive relationship. A daily routine will help to give your life more structure.
Work on your health, eating and exercising well. This is a good time to meet your health and fitness goals.
Recognise your achievements
There will be days when just getting out of bed and taking a shower will be a big achievement. Give yourself a pat on the back for that.
Keep a running list of all your achievements, big or small. Remember that just leaving that relationship and making an effort to heal is a big achievement in itself.
Surround yourself with loved ones
Your family can be a good support system during this time.
If you prefer, speak to a close friend who will support you and remind you of how great you are.
Many abusive relationships are characterised by isolation either by your abuser or yourself. Instead, make an effort meet your friends and spend time doing fun things. This won’t come easy but the close friend mentioned above will be a good place to start.
You can also make new friends but avoid serious dating until you feel emotionally ready.
Create a safe space
Have your little sanctuary where you can retire to when you feel overwhelmed by emotions.
Change your thinking
Think of yourself as a survivor of abuse and not a victim. The abuse may have made you feel helpless, but now you can control how the abuse affects you. You get to choose to heal from it and live your best life.
Changing your thinking will help you get over the ordeal and make peace with yourself and your abuser.