Putting on my ‘Big Girl’ pants
Hand on my heart, leaving my abusive, four-decades-long marriage turned my life around – for the better!
I shared how I got here in my story ‘The Best Thing I’ve Done For Myself Is Leave My 37-Year Toxic Unhappy Marriage‘.
Now in my mid-60s, I’ve very deliberately fashioned myself into an imagined version of the woman I might have been had I made different life choices. No, I can’t change my past, but I can take from it the good bits and reframe my reality in ways that are positively uplifting.
Gone is the pathetic woman who allowed her husband to make her a scapegoat for her family’s disintegration. That woman who felt herself a victim of her circumstances – she is dead.
Life is flowing through me powerfully these days. Every six months or so I morph into someone I hardly recognize! Stripped of my fears, comfort zones, a roof over my head, and long-term financial security, I found the authentic ME!
Healing from hidden abuse was NOT easy
It is a process that requires time, self-compassion, professional help, and most importantly, a willingness to do the hard work of facing my demons and learning to love and accept myself.
With enough time and physical distance away from those who would hold me emotionally hostage, the intensity of my grief and loss eased.
While married, my husband was always playing the long game. He made sure he was financially secure and protected once I discovered his years of infidelity. He didn’t lose his career or his reputation or a roof over his head. Once I packed up my stuff and moved out, my husband moved in with the lover he’d kept on the side for over a decade. His lawyers insisted he wasn’t going to give me one dollar without it costing me what little I had in savings to take him to court.
So, I escaped my shitty, unhealthy marriage with what I had. And I let that be enough to start over.
The years of hidden emotional abuse have taken their toll. That is to say, healing takes time. I lost the ability to do the high-level contract work I was doing before my marriage broke down. To live, I started dipping into my small superannuation package to hold me over.
To nudge myself forward, I started building my new life one baby step at a time. These are some of the steps I took to heal and come out on top!
How I moved forward
- Read or listened to self-help books and podcasts
- Saw a therapist regularly for two years
- Surrounded myself with people who loved and supported me
- Took up yoga and daily walking meditation
- Joined local MeetUp groups and made new friends
- Set myself sports challenges to go after
- Took on house and petsitting gigs interstate to ‘getaway’
- Made time for fun, relaxation, and journaling every day
- Started a new business venture that included higher learning
- Started an online blog to capture my personal growth and insights
Having a fearless heart
I made myself a promise. I’d build myself back up. Didn’t have much of a clue three years ago how. But I wasn’t going to let a weak, dishonest, vindictive man erase me.
The day I left my husband, I hit the road in my old much-loved Toyota RAV4 packed to the roof with what I needed to live. Every mile I traveled in the direction of my new life that scared the Bejesus out of me, I very deliberately left behind the destructive mindset, habits, and beliefs of that version of me I use to be. It took some doing. And I’m not there yet. But I’m darn close!
One of the most important things has been to make a commitment to myself to never settle for anything less than I deserve. That means having the courage to walk away from situations or relationships that aren’t good for me, even if it’s scary or feels like a huge risk.
I won’t sugar-coat it! I sit in a highly disadvantaged demographic. And there’ve been unimaginable tough times to navigate through – dark days of the soul. But every day, I wake up feeling grateful for the life I now have and excited about the possibilities for my future.
So, if you’re stuck in a toxic, abusive relationship that keeps you heartbroken and your health declining, I encourage you to reach out for help and start making changes. It’s never too late to create a new life!
Do you have a story about making a major life change? I’d love to hear from you.
Love, light & laughter