When working with survivors of domestic abuse there are always 4 key questions that come up. One of them is: How will I ever feel confident enough to have a relationship again?
I totally understand that. It’s very easy to sit on the side-lines and say “just leave at the first sign of trouble or if it doesn’t feel right” but from experience, leaving isn’t always the easy option. And if you’ve just come out of an abusive relationship, it’s very easy to fall straight into another one.
The trouble with abusive relationships is that they chip away at your self esteem and self confidence. It takes a lot of courage to leave because up until that point you’re led to believe that you’re incapable of surviving on your own, no-one else will have you or you don’t have the money to leave. Unless you’ve been in an abusive relationship (and I sincerely hope that you haven’t) you will never understand what that feeling of helplessness and hopelessness is like.
But, if you’ve had the courage to leave and start again you still spend a lot of time in fear. Fear that no-one else will want you, find you attractive or love you. Fear that it’s all going to come tumbling down and you’ll go back to the ex because he or she was right, you can’t survive without them. You feel scared, lonely, unloved and unlovable. And you’re quite possibly struggling financially. All of a sudden all of the responsibility is on you. Even if you were the one with all of the responsibility in your previous relationship, just knowing there was someone else there somehow made it better.
But feeling confident to start a new relationship? Where on earth do you begin? Difficult though it is, we have to start with ourselves. It’s only when we start to treat ourselves with love and respect that we allow others to treat us that way too. This sounds simple enough but in reality it’s very difficult. When you’ve been conditioned to think that you’re not worthy of love and respect, you believe that you’re being selfish by treating yourself that way. It can take a very long time to break that cycle but you have to start.
I write about how I got through it in my book ‘Create YOUR Blockbuster Life: How to Step Out of the Wings into YOUR Spotlight’. I had to take tiny steps each day which on day one started with me actually loving myself enough to have a shower and wash my hair. Eventually, after a number of weeks, I was confident enough to leave my home wearing my favourite dress, high heels and a full face of make up. The very act of putting a ‘face’ on felt too selfish up until that point. That was just the start of it.
Then I needed to work on my mindset and that was much more difficult and took a number of years. Yes, I made mistakes but the more mistakes I made the more lessons I learned and eventually I am in a relationship where I can ask for what I want and need and know that I am loved and respected because of it. I have some healthy boundaries in place and I’m strong enough and confident enough to stick to them.
It’s taken years of practice but it is possible to build the confidence to enter a new, healthy relationship.
If you’d like to learn more about how to build a healthy relationship I’m running a one-day workshop on 9th April which will explore just that. I have some fantastic guest speakers joining me and it promises to be an informative, inspiring and fun day. Every participant will also walk away with an action plan to create, develop and improve upon healthy relationships. Set in the stunning Regency Suite of the Grand Pier in Weston super Mare all refreshments and lunch are also included. The best way to encourage others to love and respect you is by showing yourself some love and respect.