Emotions After Leaving An Abusive Relationship
Editor’s Note: One of the most pivotal moments in life is the day your heart realizes that you are not alone. Even in the depths of despair, in loneliness, in pain – there are others who have felt this way. Others who have thought these things. Others who have suffered, pressed through, and somehow, they have made it. Today’s story is this kind of story. Simple, and necessary. If you have left an abusive relationship, are in the process of leaving, or feel as if you need to, the following words are a gift. Others have gone before you, and you are not alone. You are not crazy, you are not unheard, and it takes EVERYONE a long time for their heart to recover. Today’s author is Anonymous. – Lauren
It was a cool, drizzly day two weeks before Memorial Day as my dad and I drove back to my apartment just south of Pittsburgh. The radio was playing a Yiddish version of Peter and the Wolf called Pinkus and the Pig, and I should have been splitting my gut with laughter. I barely heard the stereotypical Yiddish phrases spoken in a thick New York accent, and my gut was splitting with sheer agony and terror. It took me two hours to get the words out and I fought them every step of the way. Even when I spoke, my dad made me repeat them and asked what I meant.
“I know what I have to do, but I don’t want to do it.”
The moment I opened my mouth to speak I started sobbing. Right before we reached the tunnel I got a text from the woman I had come to know and love as “mama”.
“Are you all right?”
Dad said not to reply, that I shouldn’t talk to her ever again. Or talk to my second dad. Or talk to the man I loved and was planning to marry. I couldn’t bear to think that the last time I’d ever communicate with any of them was that morning when I sent a frantic text to mama saying that I was crumbling. She reminded me of Esther and told me what my almost fiancé had told me two days ago as we stood on the train platform, “stay strong.”
Stay strong? I had to decide who to give up, who I would call “family” for the rest of my life, and whatever path I chose I was going to lose.
I chose my biological family, and I prayed that they were right.
Over the months of healing from being sexually abused by someone I loved, those words, “stay strong”, stayed with me.
Stay strong in doing right, in doing the most difficult thing I’ve ever done; even when the pain makes me want to throw myself out the window, and when the dreams come at night that remind me how much I miss my best friend. Most importantly, however, is to stay strong in believing God is who He says He is even when I am mentally assaulted every minute of every day, hearing the voice that says God has taken away every good thing in my life and abandoned me.
It’s brutally hard to remember that God is still good and still loves me.
For almost ten months I was caught in a terrible tug-of-war between my family and my boyfriend, and I believed with all my heart that God was telling me I could have both as long as I kept fighting. Then, one bleak day in the car I realized that God was asking me to give up everything; to do what I had told Him I would if He asked me.
God held me to that promise, and I started hating Him for it. Hating that I abandoned people I loved, lost my little home I had come to love so much, walked away from the most perfect job I could have ever dreamed of, even leaving behind everything I owned.
I came home, but I felt homeless. Cast out into a world where I became a statistic in the abuse records.
My family was ecstatic that I was back, but they didn’t understand what I had left. Every time I meet someone new they ask why I moved to the city I now live in. The energy I spend trying to decide what I explain and what I don’t is mind-boggling, as is the stress caused by wondering what will happen if word gets out that I was sexually abused. How can I possibly explain that I desperately miss the person who abused me? That I still care very much for him and wonder if he will be ok?
My ex-boyfriend pulled me out of myself and wouldn’t let me get away with hiding behind my mask of pretending my life was perfect. But if I let that mask drop now, to everyone? I risk the unbelievable pain of my fellow Christians rejecting me. Perhaps I can say that I’m struggling with depression, but certainly not struggling with feelings that should never have been aroused until marriage. And I absolutely can’t let slip that I feel rejected by God. After all, He’s the one who gave me strength to leave everything and move to a city where I knew no one and didn’t have a job. I thought God honored those who strove to live righteously, not rip all their dreams away and shatter their hearts.
I have to completely start over. Maybe I can only start believing that I have the chance to completely start over.
I can finally get rid of the lie that a really godly, wonderful man will be attracted to me only if I am modest, pure, and never flirt. The lie that guys are intimidated by me because I’m so different.
The rule-book I’ve created in my head that forces me to suppress what I’m really thinking and feeling in an effort to appear godly? It must be destroyed and replaced with the God-given truth that I am beautiful and can proudly be a woman in all her emotional, flirty, sexy, and confident glory.
The rule that says I can’t wear a halter-top and still be righteous must go, as must the rule that touching a guy’s shoulder when he tears up is a sexual advance. Modesty doesn’t mean covering up from head to toe, it means being confident that Jesus would smile at seeing the woman He created not ashamed of the figure He gave her.
All of it is extremely scary, but that’s okay because at the same time I’m starting over with who I am, I will also be starting over with who God truly is.
I have the chance to rebuild my faith as it should have been from the beginning, and because of that I am thankful for the pain, the tears, and the horribly lonely nights.
Maybe someday I will even thank God for the abuse.
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