5 comments on “Allowing Yourself to Plan for the Future After Domestic Violence

  1. “What I did was this: I forced myself to choose one thing every day until I learned that I would not be punished. Then, one by one, I added another choice, followed by another. I struggled with this for a while, because every time I made a choice, I immediately felt a twinge of guilt. I felt like I was doing something inherently wrong, like a child sneaking cookies out of the jar after her mother emphatically told her not to. I felt selfish when I went shopping”

    This. Exactly this. These monsters take so much away from us that we can’t even remember what it’s like to make a decision, no matter how small. BUT, it does make the little things even more enjoyable. Spend a day reading and painting toenails while sipping sweet tea? Fantastic! Every breath is sweeter when you’re free and the possibilities are endless!

  2. I really like your idea to force yourself to make a choice each day. That’s probably the hardest, but best, approach toward rebecoming… you — you with all your thoughts and opinions and feelings that come from nowhere but within. I might actually try that one.

    I can relate to your experience with Kerwyn, too. There was one night in September that I ended up spending a night with a guy in NYC. We had always liked each other and debated over politics together. I used to really enjoy debating, but Peter had a way of belittling my opinions until I no longer wanted to fight to stand up for them. I had breakfast with the guy the next morning, and he asked me my opinion on an issue, expecting a fired-up response like I always used to give. I had nothing. He pushed and pushed, but I just couldn’t respond.

    It’s scary how someone can steal your voice, your sense of self, right away from you.

    But I have to ask: What do you want to do now? What’s your plan? 🙂

    • It’s really the only effective thing you can do, but it has to start small, or you won’t be able to do it. The point is to re-train yourself little by little to lose that auto-pilot and inability to act that developed as a result of the control. Overcoming these things are so difficult but are extremely important to become productive and whole again.

      For me, since, Kevin controlled every last little thing I did, the first few weeks were rough. I had to not only fight the urge to remain on auto-pilot and my attention span that probably made me look ADHD but also the voice in my head that told me if I went against his will I would be punished for it. People who have not been abused just don’t understand how far reaching the effects of control are or that it contributes on varying levels to our seeming unwillingness to leave. It just gets to the point where we don’t think we have an option.

      The impact can be devastating to your life. It will taint everything from choosing a place to eat to the people you feel you can and cannot talk to. So it is obviously imperative that it gets corrected as soon as possible. Depending on the extent of control you were subjected to, this could take several months to over a year. And you know I’m not that patient. Like you, I feel my healing should be on MY schedule! So by next Wednesday at 7 p.m., I should have this on lock. 🙂 Logically, I know that four years of this isn’t going to be gone that fast. Not all the wishing and devising in the world can change that.

      In the beginning, I felt like a devious child pulling one over on the parents as I systemically decided to do things I was not “allowed to.” What neckline? V-neck, because I wasn’t allowed. What color pants? Deep red, because I was told never to do this. In fact, my closet right now looks like a giant box of crayons, filled with colors he would never approve of. Not only would he find some reason I wasn’t supposed to wear them, I actually like them. Being able to figure out what foods I actually like to eat and the places I want to go was surprisingly difficult. But I remember the first day I wore makeup and jewelry to work. I was so scared for absolutely no reason. If you remember, his excuse for the first time he put his hands on me and subsequently threw me against the bathroom wall and choked me was because I was wearing makeup to work. And everyone was looking at me because they were in shock. I know it was because they had never seen me wear and then one day, BAM, here I come with this stuff all over my face… But as they looked at me I left like I was being scrutinized. It was horrible.

      Or then there was the day I walked into work wearing a really girly skirt. If you thought people looked at me because of the makeup, you would have thought I went to work naked! I always, always wore pants and long sleeve shirts or layers… Had to cover the marks, you know. Wearing that skirt the first day was even more uncomfortable than the makeup. I was forbidden to wear skirts unless I was with Kevin. Since we never went anywhere, the only place I wore them was to my Sunday meetings at the Hall. (It was too much to allow me to go to the Thursday evening meetings, too.) And even then they had to be impossibly long and obnoxiously loose. And wearing a skirt to work not only with MEN in the building, but black men in the building…. He would have literally killed me. No exaggeration. I cried the first night I went home, because I was so scared of what was going to happen, and I wasn’t even with Kevin anymore! And I wore the skirt that day because I got tired of lugging around my giant meeting bag with a change of clothes. I figured why not just…. try to wear one and see what happens! I suffered. But now every Thursday I wear skirts, sometimes dresses.. And I have even worn them on other days, too! Scandalous 🙂

      Then a few weeks back, I got and get my hair done… Every time I do this, people at work freak out. They must think I have multiple personality disorder. But I’m pretty open about it. Some of them have asked why the change, and I come right out and tell them. They are always mortified, like they did something wrong because of what my answer to that question turned out to be. But no one makes me say anything I don’t want to. And I want everyone to know. Absolutely, they want to talk about it, have at it. Just tell the story the way it happened is all I ask. In the process, I have found that with the number of women in my building, the headcount of those who have been through some form of abuse is higher than the national statistics by a lot. Of all the jobs Kevin could have “let me take,” he really screwed up. I mean, the building is a few minutes from the police station, has a security guard, cameras for days, the majority of the property is fenced in, the guard can lock the doors by pushing a button, you have to have a badge to get into the office area where I work, AND there are way too many DV survivors. Just that one mistake he made once.

      So at any rate, I push myself a little to find ways to get over these “things” I have stuck in my head from Kevin. I suffered with them silently for over four years. I carried them around like a weight around my neck, and now that I am free of him, I can no longer allow myself to live as though I am still with him, suffering and languishing away. Because we can’t truly bring a total end to our silence unless we are able to also break the mold and routines we were forced into. And as we come here and share this struggle with everyone who follows after us, maybe they won’t have to fight so hard. Maybe they will be able to get their emotional strength back faster than I did. Maybe they will find a good mix of things that can help them heal.

      It’s hard when you realize the complete person you were before being abused is gone forever, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t bring her (or him for the men out there) back again, better and stronger than before. Can you imagine, the world now has two of us? *lol* I feel like maybe we should have sent out a warning memo or something! 😉

      I can’t tell you the answers to your questions until I have discussed that with Kerwyn. Sorry! But some of it involves him *lol*

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