Tag Archive | Abuse

Bullied as a Child: How Can I Trust in Intimate Relationships?

Dear JoyDiva,

As a child, from ages 6-12, I was bullied first physically and then mentally.  My parents never openly advocated for me, and teachers turned a blind eye.  As a result, I advocated for myself, and have learned to be strong in that sense.

However, as I grow older, my childhood haunts me.  I feel like I will be left holding all the bags at any moment.  I have issues with trust and intimacy, and this wrecks havoc for relationships that I am in.  I question all the good things that come to me because I was told by everyone that I did not deserve it.  I feel hardwired to think this way, and it feels terrible.  I feel that it would be irresponsible to find someone who could handle all of this baggage, so I desperately try to solve my own problems.  However, this drives a wedge between my partners and myself as I will seem moody and distant simply because I cannot express my feelings in a constructive way.

What can I do to get rid of this ‘baggage’ that prevents me from becoming intimate with another person?

Thank you for your time.

The Bullied & The Beautiful

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Dear, “The Bullied & The Beautiful,”

Thank you for your heartfelt note. I’m going to do my best to give you something concrete to work with through what I offer here, and at the same time, it is clear to me that these thought patterns that feel “hardwired” to you at this point are going to take time and TLC to re-wire, and the most effective way to get clear on and release the blocks and blind-spots keeping you from deeper intimacy is for you to partner with a coach or therapist to help. I can absolutely help you unpack that emotional baggage and support you in taking the scary and ultimately, rewarding steps on the path to trust. I can help you gain the confidence to ask for what you want, believe you are worthy of having what you want, and to open up your emotional world to someone and allow yourself to be supported.

Some resources: I highly recommend the Work of Byron Katie as a simple set of tools to help you question the thoughts and stories that are creating your suffering and open you up to your life NOW, rather than being led by your past. Another experience that could be quite powerful for you might be to participate in the Landmark Forum—the experiential learning there would also support you in the breakthroughs your are wanting. Psychodrama group therapy could be a powerful experience to help you process, re-frame and let go. Brené Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly would also be a helpful resource in helping you strengthen your shame resilience so that you can open yourself to being vulnerable in all of your relationships.

The work that I encourage you to start moving through is to start differentiating between what happened in your past and the stories that you created around those experiences that are now shaping your future. The past is truly in the past. As painful as it was, it is now over, gone, never to be as it was. Even the terrible, nasty things that people said to you are in the past, over and done with. What is living NOW is the story you created, the meaning  that you added to those experiences in your life. Stories like, “I don’t deserve to be loved.” “I can’t trust anyone but myself.” “Love isn’t safe.” “If I’m vulnerable you will hurt me.” “I’m a victim and you are the perpetrator,” “I will be left holding all of the bags at any moment.” As a small child, you couldn’t help but buy into these stories. You were doing the best that you could to protect yourself and survive. As scary as it is as an adult, you don’t ACTUALLY need these stories to protect you, anymore, and the most powerful place to be is in the heart of your vulnerability, rather than gripped by the fear that these thoughts of mistrust create for you.

And if you were to go back and get really clear on what actually happened in your past, (ie. My classmate called me fat, ugly and stupid) and then the story you may have created around what happened (ie. My classmate hates me, she said that because there’s something wrong with me, everyone hates me, I really AM fat, ugly and stupid, people think I’m undeserving of love, etc.)…the more you separate out the story from what happened, the more you will be able to take responsibility for the meaning you added to those experiences, and set yourself free. The wonderful thing about life is that all kinds of stuff happens, and WE get to be the ones who make meaning of it. At any time you can choose to shift your reality based on how you are choosing to perceive it. At anytime, you could choose to open up your heart and know that no matter what the other person does or does not do, you will never leave you, you will always be there to love and support you. (another one of my posts that has great wisdom in it for you: http://askthejoydiva.com/2012/01/18/why-is-it-so-hard-to-accept-that-my-boyfriend-loves-me/)

So, my love, like I said above, this kind of letting go and thought-shifting may not happen over night and will best be addressed via the support of a professional to hold up the mirror and help you with this process of differentiation. You most certainly do not have to do this growth work on your own, and truth-be-told, as someone who has also built quite a wall of self-reliance through the years due to former abuse and bullying—it doesn’t really work to do that kind of growth work on your own.

I’m always here if you should want to take your healing to the next level and you don’t want to go it alone.

Much love to you. dear heart.

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

My Husband Has Become Abusive…What Should I Do?

Dear JoyDiva,

I have been married almost two years now, I’m approaching 30, he just turned 24.  When we first met it was like I could not get enough of his soul…it was a positive energy that I had never experienced before and I fell in love with his beautiful  approach to life.  ( HE is from a different country)  But almost immediately after we got married things started to drastically change, he was immigrating and could not work in the US and got depressed due to lack of social connections and took everything out on me.  I always just chalked it up that he didn’t have a lot of life experience so I just forgave and moved on… Then things started to get more verbally abusive.  Suddenly I was the reason for his lack of motivation, no friends, not enough money, etc.  And yes there was even a point of extreme physical anger towards me.  Now I am a forgiving individual and I try to look at the good of the situation. And I def pray about these things…but it is not getting any better.  Now I am getting sicker and more stressed out about these things.  (we have already tried seeing a counselor also)  What are your thoughts?  I feel so beat down even though I am trying my best.  Help I am lost in translation here.

Lost in Translation

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Dearest Lost in Translation,

Hi, Love. It sounds like you’ve been through a doozy of a Saturn Return over these past couple of years, and you are being forced to pay attention to how you are nurturing the most important relationship you will ever have in your life: the one that you have with yourself. You have been overriding a lot of her messages, the messages from your inner voice, these past couple of years, haven’t you? (God speaks to you through that inner voice and has been answering your prayers all along.) This whole Saturn Return time has been here to bring you down to earth through this experience so that you can start operating in full integrity with that inner voice and begin to understand how to TRULY have a healthy relationship that does not involve all of this sacrifice.

I can hear your pain and desperation, sister, and you’ve reached out to me, your mind wanting me to tell you to stick it out just a little longer, to do x, y and a little of z and watch the relationship transform back into the magic that it initially was; and your heart wants me to tell you the truth: It’s time for some radical self-love. It’s time to stop buying into the blame. It’s time to stop putting him and the relationship WAY before yourself and your own well-being. It’s TIME to walk away. (Take a deep breath….and let it out.)

Your job is not to be nice or even to be forgiving—I hear that you have a sweet, compassionate soul and you’ve been buying into some of these ideas that his current state of being is somehow your fault. Please own this: His happiness is not and never will be your job. Ever. Your job is to love yourself fiercely, to make choices that make you come alive, not ones that diminish you. (Who are you really serving by being a diminished version of yourself? Certainly not him, let alone anyone else who crosses your path…) Your husband’s job is to love himself, and no matter how much you try to love his pain away through support and understanding, he’s never going to be able receive that loving until he stops his own cycle of self-loathing. By staying in this toxic relationship, you are not only harming yourself, but you are not giving yourself OR your husband the precious opportunity to grow.

I get it. You think that if you can just get through this time with him, if he can get his life on track again and rediscover his spark, that all will go back to the positive energy of yesterday. But living your life today because of what was two years ago is not accepting reality. What you are having the opportunity to see  is how your husband copes with stress and change. He’s not practicing self-care. He’s not loving himself, and he’s projected that lack of self-love into detrimental abuse toward you; and Dear Heart, let me repeat: None of this is your job to fix. It’s his job and only his.

I know, just as you know, that your husband has a beautiful core. He is completely lovable and I know it breaks your heart that he doesn’t see it. It’s now time for you to be a beautiful example of self-love, to create the opportunity for him to transform, by choosing to love yourself and walk away. Walking away from him does not make him bad or unworthy of love—it’s the opposite. You are giving him the chance to finally stand on his own two feet, pick up the pieces of the shambles he’s created and learn just how worthy he is. He may or may not take that opportunity. He may continue to spiral downward, and that remains his choice. It is not your job to go to that dark place with him.

I want you to honor your feelings of grief. It is so painful to have found something so magical to watch it disintegrate into darkness right before your eyes. I know that you don’t want to let go of all that you saw was possible for your future with this man, but the truth is, he has A LOT of growing to do before he is in position to be in healthy relationship with you. A LOT. And that will require A LOT of humility on his part and a willingness to completely transform these negative patterns. No abuse, whether that’s verbal or physical is ever, ever, EVER an acceptable coping strategy in any relationship—I don’t care what the excuse. You deserve nothing less than someone who knows fully how to love himself and can pour that love right back toward you, consistently. That relationship will exist for you when you start loving yourself enough to demand nothing less. This is your lesson right now, and I know that it is oh so painful, but God is loving you up with this challenge.  God wants so very much for you to have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to any form of abuse against you. Honor your inner “yes’s” and “no’s,” and you will discover great joy through this painful time.

I want you to surround yourself with love and support at this time—with family and friends who love you unconditionally. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need support in creating an action plan for yourself—I know that this is an overwhelming time. Rather than “going it alone” this is a powerful time to invest in yourself by partnering with a coach who will help you reconnect with your inner knowing and what it means for you to love yourself fully. I would, of course, be honored to support you as you create the life that you truly deserve to be living.

Above all, please be really, really gentle with yourself right now. Give yourself the time and space that you need to grieve. Know how extraordinarily lovable that you are. (I know this because we ALL are.) Know that you deserve to be deeply cherished, and take loving steps to cherish yourself.  Another post that I think would be great help for you at this time, as well: http://askthejoydiva.com/2012/02/14/why-is-it-so-hard-for-me-to-walk-away-from-my-marriage/

Loving you every step of the way.

Melissa A.K.A the JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

I Cannot Seem to Achieve Lasting Relationships: What’s Wrong With Me?

Hi JoyDiva,

I feel like I am broken beyond repair. I ended a 3 1/2 year relationship well over three years ago due to his infidelity. I was married and that ended in divorce over his drug use. I have tried dating sites etc and always end up disillusioned by men or people in general. Help me. I am coming to the conclusion that it has to be me. I am going through a program through my job to talk to a therapist but truly feel that something is wrong within me and I do not know how to fix me. I am figuring out that I am alone for a reason/s but cannot figure out why.
I think men can take a look at me and see the huge BROKEN sign flashing over my head and run away as fast as they can. I feel I am a great catch. I work, can cook great meals, am sharp and intelligent. Not a barbie doll but unique in my own way. Help me. I need to figure it out so that I can breath and finally be at peace. Once I get there I might be able to see things and allow love or whatever to come back into my life. How can it be that I want something so badly and know I have so much to give but cannot seem to achieve lasting relationships.

I appreciate your help or guidance,

Love,
The Hermit

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Dearest Hermit,

First of all, I want to thank you for your heartfelt honesty–there will be many who thank you for reaching out and sharing in this way. I can feel the pain in your words, and I am so sorry to hear that you have been in such a place of suffering.

You have said, “I am coming to the conclusion that it has to be me.” In a certain respect, you are right about this, but NOT in the way that you think. There is nothing wrong with you. You do not need to be “fixed.” It is this belief that you are carrying, that you are somehow damaged goods beyond repair, that is causing you so much suffering within yourself and then in your relationships.

All relationships in our lives are mirrors for the relationship that we are having with ourselves–when all other people fall away, you are still left with the company of your thoughts and how you choose to respond to those thoughts. Do you like the way you are treating yourself? Do you like the company that you keep in the quiet moments? Every person who comes into your life and makes you feel unwanted, invalidated, ignored, unworthy of love, etc. is a mirror for how you have been treating yourself. If you are beating yourself up, telling yourself that you are broken, believing that you have to be something else in order to be worthy and that it is only love from another that will make you whole, you will continue to attract people who mirror this abuse you are handing to yourself. They do see a broken sign, but that’s because you are entering relationships believing that it is the other person’s job to fix you with his love. As long as you believe that you need a partner, that you need his love, that someone else will make you whole, you will end up disillusioned.

Life is giving you an opportunity to fall in love with YOURSELF. You are so much more than just a woman who can hold down a job and cook a good dinner. You are so much more than even sharp and intelligent. So. Much. More. AND, you are the source of your own love. No one else can give it to you. You have been believing so long that you need love and approval to come from other people–I can feel your deep longing to have someone say to you: “You are beautiful and I love you exactly the way that you are.” Give this gift to yourself. You are the only one who has been keeping yourself from that wonderful gift. In what ways is it true that you do NOT need love from another person? It what ways is it true that YOU need to love yourself?

If you want to date someone who makes you feel cherished and wanted and desired, you have to start cherishing yourself. The first step is to stop beating yourself up every time a relationship doesn’t work out–they fail because they aren’t right, not because there is something wrong with you. Thank goodness those relationships didn’t work because you deserve so much more! Every time you think that you could have or should have done things differently, you just hurt yourself. I will say it again and again. There is nothing wrong with you, and believing that there is f-in hurts, doesn’t it? Let’s start filling you up with some loving thoughts and activities. Your assignment:

1) Make a list of the ways that a partner could make you feel cherished. (for example, He would listen to me intently, tell me that he loves me, call me often, be honest with me and value my honesty, make me feel like I’m the most important person to him, snuggle and watch t.v., etc…whatever feels good to you, have fun with it.)

2) Take that list of activities that make you feel cherished and turn them around. (For example, if listening to you is on your list, in what ways can you listen to yourself more? In what ways can you be more honest with yourself? In what ways can you treat yourself as though YOU are the most important person to you?) It’s time to start “courting” yourself and treating yourself like the goddess you know that you are deep down.

3) Make a list…a looooooonnnnng list, about all that makes you Miss Fabulous. (for example, quirky, funny, genuine, sensual, loyal, compassionate, etc.) Time yourself to do this for at least five minutes and have fun with how yummy it feels to give yourself this well-deserved acknowledgment.

4) Last and far from least, I want to recommend a very important teacher for you who has a series of books and audio that will change your life if you let it. I want you to watch this video of her working with a woman who also believes there is “something wrong with her” and see what comes up for you as you do. (It made me tear up at times watching her remember her love for herself.)

I highly recommend this book or audiobook for you: I Need Your Love – Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead

Book format
Audiobook format

Working with your thoughts and falling in love with yourself is going to take time, Dear One. I am glad that you are exploring therapy, and I want you to know that I would be honored to work with you as well–I can walk you through some powerful exercises like what you witnessed in the video to get you seeing what is REALLY true and how lovable that you really are, and then lovingly hold you accountable as you take this positive action in your life. You are not a lost cause–you’ve just been believing some painful, untrue things about yourself for a long time.

Much Love,

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson