Wifeys & Gentlemen,
2020 has not been a great year for me, which is really weird to say when I am coming down to the last 2.5 months (give or take) of my first pregnancy. However, if I am being 100% honest, while being pregnant with a healthy baby girl has been one of my life’s biggest and most exciting blessings, it has been really hard. I have not enjoyed much of it and I am not one of those expectant moms who is going to lie to you and tell you that carrying a child is never-ending bliss. I know that it really can be for some, but for me it’s been a rollercoaster and I am finally ready to get off and find my steady footing again; ready to find my new normal.
Still, that’s not what today’s blog is about.
Last week, I lost a dear cousin to a senseless act of domestic violence. I’ve been struggling with a range of different emotions since I heard the news:
- Guilt – because we used to be so close as kids/teenagers and we eventually drifted apart. I feel like a lot of that is my fault.
- Anger – because I need someone to blame but “reasons” or “excuses” never seem good enough.
- Fear – I am scared of my own mortality. I am afraid to die.
- Anxiety – because I worry that other people in my life might be vulnerable in similar ways. I am afraid to lose.
- Sadness – because she’s gone. Really just gone. & although I’ve had my spiritual conversations with her and made some kind of peace, I hate that I didn’t get a chance to reach out and tell her how much her friendship meant to me. I hate that we didn’t get to speak or connect much as adults (outside of a handful of funerals/gatherings).
It’s been one week since she was taken from our family and I take comfort in knowing she is survived by both of her children and has a lot of love and support to keep them safe. Instead of the post I had planned for this week, I wanted to hop back into this space and find a way to turn all of my emotional turmoil into something more positive. I want to make sure that other women (and men) know that they don’t have to settle for any relationship that isn’t serving their highest good (in whatever way that might mean for them and their situation).
I don’t know why my cousin chose to stay with a man who treated her poorly, but I do know why I was once someone who made similar choices (you can read a past blog about my story here). I know that it isn’t always easy to simply “leave” someone whose hurting you, especially if it’s hurt that others can’t see.
I have always been of the mindset that we are conditioned to see ‘abuse’ or ‘abusive’ behavior as very black and white. Either I’m being hit, or I’m not. Either I’m being berated, or I’m not. Sometimes, abuse is more nuanced and subtle than that. Sometimes, it’s an acceptance of behaviors and patterns that we’ve come to believe we deserve because we do not know just how valuable and worthy we truly are.
Although it might be difficult to accept or acknowledge, abuse dynamics can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Below is a (short) list of lesser known types of abuse and some examples of each type.
Humiliation and criticism
- Yelling – I don’t mean regular arguing here. I mean the kind of yelling that is meant to scare, intimidate, or make you feel small.
- Patronizing – that condescending tone, the kind designed to make you feel dumb
- Name-calling or derogatory “pet names” – “fatty patty” is not a term of endearment unless you’re talking to an overweight animal.
- Dismissiveness – ignoring your feelings, thoughts, or achievements and writing them off as “nothing” or “no big deal”
- Button-pushing – intentionally doing or saying things that they know irritate you, upset/hurt you, or get you worked up
- Tracking or monitoring your movements/location – wanting to know where you are at all times, texting or calling constantly, showing up uninvited or unannounced.
- Lecturing or Punishment – feeling the need to ‘discuss’ your mistakes with long monologues or make you “pay” for them with their own form of justice.
- Giving orders – their orders are expected to be followed without question, even when you disagree with them or don’t want to perform them
- Financial dominance – expecting you to account for every penny you spend, having bank accounts in their name only, checking your bank and credit card statements
- One-sided decision making – speaking to your boss without asking, cancelling your appointments, closing a joint bank account, etc.
Blaming and Accusing
- Blaming you for their problems or actions – whatever is going wrong in their life is somehow your fault
- Always jealous – accusing you of cheating, thinking every man/woman is trying to sleep with you, forbidding you from having friends of the opposite sex, feeling inferior about your accomplishments and expressing it frequently.
- Guilt tripping – making you believe you owe them for everything they’ve done for you. Using their past acts of kindness or generosity against you.
- Destroying & denying – punching walls, breaking phones, crashing your car and then denying they did it soon after.
- Gaslighting – manipulating you into questioning your sanity; a more emotional form of ‘destroy and denial’.
Neglect or Isolation
- Preventing or interfering with your social life – finding reasons to prevent you from going out or working to intentionally ruin your social plans when he/she is not included.
- Withholding affection – refusing to touch you, hold you, make love, etc as a form or punishment or revenge
- Indifference – they are unmoved when they see that you are hurt or upset
- Painting you as “too needy” or “too emotional” – refusing to comfort you when you reach out to them for support, making you feel like your problems or struggles are small, trivial, or meaningless
- Turning others against you – telling people in your life that you are unstable, using drugs, or drinking excessively to make you seem like the “bad guy”.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive and there are many many resources out there that can help if you aren’t sure if the relationship you’re in could be considered abusive. Start here.
Regardless of whether you feel like you are being abused, the biggest question you can ask yourself when deciding to remain in a relationship is: Am I happy?
If the person you’re with is not bringing you joy or making you feel good about yourself, spend some time reflecting on why you stay and why you think you deserve to remain in this situation. Many times, relationships run into problems that just need to be worked through and talked over. I am a HUGE supporter of couples therapy, especially if you both feel the love that you have and the life that you’ve built is worth fighting for.
However, it’s important to understand the difference between relationship problems and abuse. Sure, yelling might not be a big deal today, but have you thought about how it can escalate in the future? What about a partner who just can’t seem to trust you when you go out with friends? Is it okay to receive endless calls and texts while you’re having a harmless dinner or drinks with coworkers?
Let’s try to normalize listening to our intuition and spend time reflecting on red flags that you notice or feel. Let’s try to normalize seeking outside help and support if and when we are unsure about our relationships and whether they are headed in a positive or happy direction.
I do not want any of you to ever end up in a situation that you can’t get out of. I do not want anyone to have to pick up the pieces after a romantic partner destroys your self esteem. It’s never too late to grow and change. It’s never too late to be the person you really are and surround yourself with the people who deserve you.
You are love and you are loved. The work to value and accept yourself starts now and continues for a life time. Remember that your value doesn’t decrease just because someone else couldn’t see it.
Know your worth, wifeys & gents. It just might save your life one day. ❤
Until next time,
You guys have been AMAZING with the subscribing and sharing lately!!! Keep it up and we will crush this goal and get into this giveaway before you know it!
…and as always, please stay safe, stay healthy, and try your best to stay sane. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but we still deserve to smile sometimes.