I may not get far this summer with a renewed intention to write regularly – as is common for me, so many good intentions and not enough follow-through – but Camp NaNoWriMo is a chance to start fresh, and I’m going to take it. I’ll see how the family’s summer schedule might permit me to indulge in a hobby that’s therapeutic. Meanwhile, I’m still reading a lot – can’t keep this bookworm too busy for books, no matter how you try!
It’s not hard to become bitter when you think back over years that seem wasted. Why wasn’t it obvious what a colossal mess life was, and why didn’t you just end all the stress rather than hanging on for so long expecting things to change for the better? It only got worse, until you felt you hated your abuser and would never be confident in your decisions again.
It’s useful to pay attention when you realise now and then that something good came out of that horrible relationship. It could be something small, like a household skill you now have that you didn’t before – either because your abuser actually taught you something useful (probably so they wouldn’t have to do the task again and could shift it to your overfilled agenda while criticising how you accomplished the task) or because you had to learn it after your abuser refused or procrastinated or complained until you felt terribly guilty and said of course you would do it…
Don’t underestimate the value of what you learned. You will likely still find it hard to think well of that person, but you are better in some small way because of that skill or situation you faced.
Once you acknowledge a single bit of good came out of a very bad part of your life, you will hopefully spot something else good on another day. File it away and realise that you are stronger because of these things. Hopefully you will come to find there is a string of good things that you can hold on to, while tossing out your bad memories. You didn’t come out completely crushed and drained from your experience, though it felt like it at first when the relationship ended.
Eventually you are on your feet again, not the same person as before that relationship, but someone stronger, wiser and probably more confident in your abilities. You know you won’t be fooled again by an abuser, because you can spot the signs and you hate being used. You’ll learn to pinpoint those who aren’t worth investing a lot of your time, and you won’t be desperate for their attention. You’ll be too busy surrounding yourself with positive people who are good for you, even if that means you have a small circle of friends. You’ll be full and content enjoying your time with them and also the hours you spend relaxing alone, indulging in all the activities your abuser didn’t want you to do (because they were healthy for you, and abusers can’t have healthy victims).
A parting thought: Isn’t it sad, possibly pathetic and ultimately tragic that your abuser has not come away stronger and wiser from your doomed relationship? That person cannot grow because it’s almost impossible to give up the desire for control in a relationship, for power over another. That desire results in an endless quest for something that cannot be grasped for long, and is unsatisfying in the end. You can be thankful that is not your destination, and maybe you will pity your abuser rather than become consumed by hate.