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Ending an Abusive Relationship

 by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.

Let me outline my largest current obstacle for you and then I will break it down in parts as to how I am dealing with it. I am sure that many of you are facing something similar.

Obstacle: Emotional Involvement with a romantic interest. It is an obstacle having this very strong emotional involvement because "he isn't good for me," - his behavior causes me a great deal of emotional pain.

You can substitute this obstacle I am experiencing with something you are currently undergoing. The method of getting rid of obstacles, whatever they are, in our lives can sometimes be quite similar.

The first page of a very popular book that I cannot even remember the name of the book (LOL) states that life is full of problems and that as soon as we realize that and accept that we will face life easier. In the book it discusses how surprised most of us seem to act and feel when a problem or obstacle appears in our lives. The book advises us again to make peace with the fact that life is difficult and accept that life is full of problems and to not be surprised when we face a new problem in our life. 

A book that I highly recommend in changing your whole attitude about life in such a way is called "Happiness is A Choice." If you would like to help support Mental Health Today you can buy this book through the amazon affiliated bookstore at:

I think the first thing that needs to happen is recognizing an obstacle when it comes our way. In my situation I did not get out of denial that this man would continue to hurt me emotionally and that nothing good could come from this relationship for some time. I kept trying to "make him" stop hurting me emotionally. I kept saying to myself "if I try something new perhaps the relationship can be a success and I won't continue to feel rotten." 

So I would continue in many different ways my behavior of trying to change an obstacle into something successful. At some point, in order to defeat the obstacle we need to fully see the situation for what it is. We need to get out of denial and accept the fact that this is truly an obstacle. 

What is an obstacle? In my mind it is something that is upsetting our lives in some way. It is something we need to resolve and get past if we are to be a happy person with peace in our lives. 

It could be that you lost your job and you have no way to support yourself until you find another job. The obstacle is that you are presently jobless and receive no income. The goal is of course to find the means to support yourself financially. This could be by getting another job, moving out of our home and staying with family or friends depending upon the severity of the problem, applying for financial assistance with either welfare or unemployment, etc. 

In my life I finally came out of denial that the relationship with this man would only continue to hurt me and not bring enough good in my life to make it worthwhile. The obstacle for me is not the man himself. He has no power over my life unless I allow it. 

It appears that the solution to the problem is to remove this man from my life. What then is the obstacle? For me it is my tremendous emotional involvement, the feelings I have for this man. It is hard to leave a person in your life when you have strong feelings for them and when we leave we suffer a process called "grief." Grief is hard work and it hurts. Not one of us wants to grieve if we don't have to. 

However when we have emotionally unhooked ourselves from the person we no longer grieve. We are no longer emotionally involved. 

There are many different ways to grieve the loss of someone. The stages of grief are basically the same: shock and denial, "bargaining," anger and depression and finally acceptance. 

You can choose to give in to tremendous emotional pain when it comes your way during grief and suffer and grieve emotionally for a long time. You can just keep feeling hurt and just count on time to resolve this. 

You can also try to avoid grief by drinking a lot of alcohol or by taking illegal drugs. Some people are able to stop grief in their minds through different methods. It could be workaholism, television addiction, eating addiction, etc. These are unhealthy ways to deal with grief and we stay stuck in our grief and don't allow ourselves to get over the loss we are experiencing. We keep ignoring our feelings. These feelings however don't dissolve inside of us while we ignore them. They stay right there inside of us until we allow ourselves to grieve. 

It's like having garbage inside of us and many people handle obstacles and grief in such a way that as time goes on, more and more garbage is accumulated inside ourselves unresolved. This makes us emotionally ill and can even make us physically ill. Many physical maladies come about due to long term stress or worsen. 

Long term stress also changes the chemistry of our brains and we may become depressed or we may become a very angry person. 

So we must grieve in life. It is essential and unavoidable. We lose people we love and we can't stop it from happening in many cases. No matter how hard we try to control our lives, stuff happens anyway. I once had a psychiatrist tell me that we have as much control over our lives as a flea on a wagging dog's tail. 

So, back to my situation - my obstacle. I got out of denial finally and realized I am facing an obstacle. What do I do to remove the obstacle of having a great deal of feelings for this man which keeps me mourning and sad?

Some of us see red flags everywhere but we keep moving toward the obstacle instead of away from it. I saw red flags, tons of them but I kept moving closer to this person. 

Number two, I need to forgive myself for getting myself into this situation. Obstacles can be created by us or just "come on their own." I saw the red flags but feeling so vulnerable, I ignored them. 

Three, learn from our mistakes. What can I learn from my situation? Look for red flags in people and if you see some from the start, don't get involved.

Four, I have decided that I don't just want to "kick back" and hurt badly for a long period of time over this man. I realize that I have a LOT of control over what I think about and what I do. Instead of allowing my sadness to overcome me one day and not do anything else but be sad, I can choose to make myself do some other things. I can choose to also get emotional support from friends by calling them on the phone. I can choose to practice cognitive therapy with affirmations all on my own. If I needed outside help from a counselor perhaps, I would choose to see a counselor. Part of dealing with obstacles is realizing what you can do alone and what you need assistance with. Smart people that need help ask for it. You may need medications. You may need a therapist. You may even need ECT, etc. Whatever it is you need, you do everything in your power to get it. 

I have found some things that work for me and I will gladly share them with you and perhaps they will assist you as well. Remember there is no white and no black. There is no absolutely right way to deal with obstacles. We are all individuals and what works for one may not work for another. 

Here is what I am doing: I have found my neglected journal and begun to write in it. I talk about my obstacle, how I feel about it and how I'm going to get myself of this mess. In this particular situation I put a note on my computer saying "Emotionally Unhook Yourself, Get Free, There is a new guy coming." These words work for me. Other words may work for you. 

In my journal I do emotional work in there and I can refer back to it to help strengthen me whenever I need to. 

Here are some of the things I have written in my journal:

"I only know IT IS TIME for me to EMOTIONALLY UNHOOK myself from him. NO more crying over him, missing him and putting up with his abuse. Those times are gone BECAUSE I say it is time for those things to be gone…It is time now to EMOTIONALLY UNHOOK MYSELF from him. <notice how I use those words a lot>When I can do that I can see me being FREE and boy that would feel so good - to be in a place where I feel NO MORE PAIN…

HOW AM I GOING TO EMOTIONALLY UNHOOK MYSELF? Keep telling myself things and see things in my mind.

I don't ever have to see him again. I can choose that. I can choose to get him out of my life NOW. I can stop him from being in my life. I can choose to stop feeling emotional pain over him as HE IS NO LONGER IN MY LIFE SO IT DOESN'T MATTER, doesn't matter, doesn't matter. 

Imagine my life now as if I had never met him. Imagine my life now being free of him emotionally to where it doesn't matter anymore what he does. Who cares about what he does? I don't as I have tossed him out of my life. I have chosen to live free and happy.

Stop right now looking at him on aol messenger. It only keeps me from my goal of getting unhooked. Discipline myself. 

STOP GIVING HIM SO MUCH POWER. He is only a klutz.

It doesn't matter if he hurts and wants to see me. He is a nobody to me…His behavior and his thoughts don't touch my life because I have emotionally unhooked myself from him. He will not be in your future. Get rid of him now and be free.

Don't put your self esteem issues on what he does. He is abusive! It isn't me. It is him. He is SICK. He purposely does things to hurt you but it doesn't work anymore because he can jump up and down and do whatever - it is nothing to you. SEE YOURSELF BEING FREE! You are free NOW. Feel the calm and the good feelings that go with that…

It is a waste of time even writing about him. I should get up and do other stuff - fun and enjoyable stuff because I am FREE from him. YEA! What a wonderful feeling?..

You are already unhooked from him. Feel how good that feels. I can be free right now. Choose it.

He doesn't count. He doesn't matter. I choose to have a life where he is not in it anymore. UNHOOK YOURSELF NOW."

You may have to re-read your affirmations many times. As I've said before the subconscious mind does not know the difference if you tell yourself something is true and see yourself there as if you are already where you want to be. Soon your subconscious mind will believe it and when that happens, if that obstacle is still in your life you will be out of your comfort zone. We naturally get back to our comfort zone of what our subconscious mind believes.

I will still have to grieve this person but I can attack the problem aggressively and not sit around and feel pain over and over again. I am not running from the obstacle, I am facing it head on and I am putting out energy to remove the obstacle radically.

As I said earlier, sometimes we need outside help and recognizing that if we do need it and getting the assistance we need is extremely important. If outside help will bring you closer to your goals, do it!

Outside help can be medication, counseling, talking with friends, getting off the couch and making yourself do other things when we are able to do that. 

How is it working for me thus far? Very well so far. I need to continue to discipline myself to not putting aol messenger back in my computer to see him online. I need to continue doing those things that will emotionally unhook myself. 

Change is not instant. It is a process of taking off the old and putting on the new.

Facing obstacles is hard work. Taking care of yourself during those times is extremely important. We need to eat right, get enough rest every night, allow ourselves time for ourselves and for enjoying life, etc. 

If you have the bipolar disorder you know how important it is to stick with your schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night. Eat at least 3 meals a day around the same time. Recognize mania or depression early if you can so that you can take the steps necessary to becoming stabilized. 

If you start feeling manic, lower the lights, lower the sounds and relax as much as possible. Go to sleep at night and forget the fun of hypomania. I love being hypomanic. It is SO much fun. However I have learned that it can lead to full blown mania for those of us with Bipolar Disorder I and that is no fun at all. 

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