Let’s Take The Overwhelm Out Of Your Journey!
They say we repeat what we do not heal, and they are right. If we keep following the same patterns, having the same thoughts, we will end up in different versions of the same situation. Doing the work required to move beyond toxic, traumatic and abusive relationships is hard. But doing this work will prevent you from repeating the same patterns over and over again.
In The Healing Academy, we talk about all the aspects of your healing and give you practical tools and handholds to deal with everything that’s coming at you just now. From no contact to personal boundaries and from co-parenting to handling grief. We’ve been through it, and we want to help you navigate things more easily.
* Did you join The Healing Academy before 2020? You will have received an email explaining how to access the modules here. Did you miss the email? Just drop me an email and I will let you know how you can set up your new account *
Escaping an abusive situation is difficult—if not full-on dangerous. Preparing your escape will make you more likely to get out and stay out. In this module, I’ll share some advice for you to consider as you equip yourself to make the first move; a series of starting points to help you remove yourself from an abusive situation.
Please always realise that abusers often escalate when their targets are trying to get out. For this part of your journey over-preparing is better than under-preparing!
Christmas can bring out stress in even the most peaceful people. There are gifts to buy and overcrowded shops. An elaborate meal must be cooked for family and friends. The house is to be made to look festive. The list goes on and on. Add a toxic family dynamic to the mix and the stress can be overwhelming. So let’s talk about some ideas for how to survive the holidays without losing your mind.
Healing from abuse really is a journey. At times, it can be hard work, and often brings up a variety of painful emotions: frustration, fear, catharsis, ecstasy, rage, and panic. But it also brings with it the beautiful feelings of release, joy, lightness, connection, and empowerment. As Liz Smith of The Connected Life says, “You can’t let the good in without the bad.” Essentially, to be full-rounded people, we’ve got to be open to feeling everything. Not just pleasant things. But no matter what you’re feeling just remember that making a commitment to healing from abuse is absolutely worth your while.
It may sound too good to be true, just journal for emotional healing. Can simply putting pen to paper really help you make sense of your story? Help you recover from abuse? Create a healthy emotional balance that allows you not just to survive, but to thrive?
Short answer? Yes!
As survivors of abuse, we think that embracing anything that could make us feel better is selfish and wrong. Mostly because our abusers communicated to us—in some way, shape, or form—that we are undeserving of self-care, compassion, kindness, or even having our basic needs met. Whether through words or actions, the toxic and abusive people in our lives have convinced us that we aren’t worth any of these things. So when we do engage in self-care, it feels as if we’re over-indulging. But of course, we’re not!
In this module, I talk about the strategies abusers use, the relational dynamic they create, and how these things affect you. This unit of learning is full of examples and personal stories from each of the SwanWaters team members. I’ve put them here in one place to demonstrate that abuse works the same way across the board—even if the situation or relational context is different.
When you start responding to trauma triggers—for example, overreacting to an everyday situation—do you begin to think you’re crazy? I know I do sometimes. But you and I have to remember that our sanity isn’t compromised when we get triggered. It’s quite literally a matter of biology and psychology—our brains on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Cutting contact is often a complex decision, in part because it is so greatly misunderstood by outsiders. They often see the decision as a form of revenge, which makes it even more difficult and complicated to implement this ultimate act of self-care.
Once we have escaped the minefield of abuse, we are often left with no sense of healthy boundaries. We don’t know how to set and maintain them, and still feel overwhelming guilt for even wanting to. In addition to this, we often have no idea how they work—let alone how we can even begin to make them a part of our lives. But as you will come to see, having boundaries is vital if we want to have healthy relationships and a happy existence. They create the outline of our experience of life and define who we are; creating a distinction between where the world ends and we begin.
I have often heard survivors stress out at the prospect of having to meet with—and talk to—their abuser. Or maybe some Flying Monkeys. This often happens when a target first tries to put up some personal boundaries. But it can also even happen once we’ve left an abusive relationship. In fact, every single survivor I’ve ever met has had to deal with further abuse and confrontations after the fact. Whether through the courts, ambushes, or letters the abuser always tries to find ways to continue their reign of terror.
By the time that a toxic relationship escalates to abuse, the target is already so enmeshed, so far stripped of their power and individuality that they can’t. This is what abuse is and does. It strips a person of their identity, and it takes away their power. It leaves a shell of a person without a real sense of self, without self-confidence, without self-esteem.
It is a question I get quite often: how can I make my x/y/z see that they are being abused? If I had the answer to this question, none of my sisters would still be living in the toxic family dynamic we grew up in. I tried everything from “forgetting” my book on children of narcissistic parents at my sister’s house after baby-sitting, to trying to explain as openly and honestly as I could my reasons for cutting contact with our parents.