Surviving abuse isn’t easy. With both A1 and A2 I fell into a depression. There were times I was suicidal. For me it was an option to end the abuse. I started to give myself what I called Self Reminders. I’d remind myself of something good in my life, something worth living for. 95% of the time that reminder was my kids. Well, kid singular with A1 and kids plural with A2.
With A1 it was a little harder. The 5% of the reminders that were not kid related were during A1. The main problem is, he’s not a horrible father. His parents are also awesome people. So, in my mind, I knew if something happened to me, my daughter would be well taken care of. When those thoughts crossed my mind I had to remind myself of other things. Yes, she would be taken care of, but she would miss me. She’d have a hard life without a mom. I wouldn’t be able to see her smile anymore or hear her laugh. Then I’d add in other things that I enjoyed to help seal the deal and keep me alive that day. My mom would be a wreck if I gave up. It’s the reminder I gave myself through high school when I was super depressed. Back then I knew I couldn’t possibly put my mom through losing me when she was already in the middle of a horrible divorce. I couldn’t pile shit upon more shit. During A1 it wasn’t quite the same reasoning, but I know me and my brother are the most important thing in my mom’s life. If one of us was gone I honestly don’t know how she’d cope.
With A2 my kids were 100% of my self reminders. Especially my little guy. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my daughter the same. It just means, that I worry more about what would happen to my little guy if I wasn’t around. His dad is a deadbeat and a shitty father. He’s lazy and he hangs onto the idea that he’ll one day be on disability (he’s not disabled) rather than get the fuck off his ass and get a job. No, instead, if something had happened to me while we were together he would have packed his things and went home to be with his mom. Which is exactly what he did when I kicked him out and he ran out of couches to sleep on. Rather than get a job so he could find a place to live locally and work out a visitation schedule with our son, he left the state to mooch off of mommy. And kids let me tell you, mommy is batshit. I fully believe she is a lot of the reason he is the way he is.
It’s beneficial to write your self reminders down while you’re feeling ok. This way, when you’re feeling your worst, you don’t have to think of things. You can just go from your list. You can update it as often as you want. It’s also important that you understand self reminders are for YOU. It doesn’t matter what your reminder is. It doesn’t matter how trivial or stupid someone else might think that thing is, it’s YOURS and yours alone. If your reason for living or reminder of happiness is a slice of pepperoni pizza at your favorite local pizzeria and a nice cold beer to wash it down, then so be it. It also doesn’t have to be just one thing. It can be as many reminders as you need to remember that life is good sometimes.
Self reminders are good for post abuse situations as well. It’s not uncommon for people to have (often undiagnosed) PTSD after leaving an abusive situation. You may also need a second set of self reminders at this point. Things reminding you why you shouldn’t go back. I know it may sound ridiculous to someone who has never been through an abusive relationship. Why on Earth would you go back to that? There are various reasons. Fear is a strong emotion. The abuser may manipulate the victim to take him/her back. It happened to me with A2 a lot. I broke up with him about 4 or 5 times before it actually stuck. Other reasons include, but are not limited to, loneliness, money, and kids.
Real quick, for those of you who read kids and said “oh, that’s me” I have a question I want you to ask yourself. I want you to truly think about the answer. Take a few days to mull it over if needed. First, keep in mind that you and your partner are teaching your child(ren) what a relationship is. If your son or daughter treated their significant other the same way yours treats you, how would that make you feel? Or, if your son or daughter ended up with someone just like your significant other, someone who treated them like they treat you, how would you feel? If your answer is anything other than, “Oh, I would be so happy for my child(ren)” then you really need to rethink your relationship. Children learn by seeing. If they see their parent being abused they are going to think that’s ok. They are going to think that’s a normal relationship. They very well may end up having the same kind of relationship as either the abuser or the victim. And thus, the cycle will continue. This is the question I asked myself before I pulled the trigger with A2. I don’t want my son growing up thinking it’s ok to treat his significant other the way his dad treated me. I wasn’t ok with that.
Ok, back to self reminders and not going back. Remind yourself WHY you left. Remind yourself how horrible it was. Often times when we are faced with a situation where we can go back to an ex, even one that’s not abusive, we remind ourselves of the good times we had. If the relationship wasn’t toxic and things just didn’t work out the first time, then there really isn’t any harm in trying again. Aside from the possibility of hurt feelings. But, when abuse was a factor, it’s SOOO important not to fall back into the trap of “oh, well he’s not always THIS bad. We had good times too.” That’s a dangerous trap to get caught in. Keep reminders of the bad things.
The last thing to remind yourself is that you ARE worth it. You DO deserve a better life. No one deserves abuse.
It’s ok to love yourself.