Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Surviving A Terrible Relationship

By: Nevine A. Abaza
Published in Identity Magazine. February 2014

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes. No matter what the relationship is like there will be moments of bliss, pure happiness, and strong love, as well as moments of disenchantment, lack of passion, and disagreement; that doesn’t make the relationship bad, it makes it normal. A bad relationship is more intense, it takes the worst of all relationships, the struggle, frustration, disagreement, and makes all the very depressing and hurtful parts of relationships extended and more extreme, keeping the pain ongoing, continuously pulling you in and down, sucking the life out of you. In a bad relationship you can find yourself running out of work during working hours because you just had a fight so intense with your partner that you start breaking down at the office, and suddenly find yourself driving on the highway with a panic attack that almost kills you because you almost got sandwiched between two huge trucks during your unexpected first time panic attack. But this doesn’t stop here, its only a dot that leads you to a pool of dots, every dot an extreme incident just as disturbing, or even more so. A bad relationship will convince you that this is normal, that this is just because your love is stronger and so the pain is stronger, but thats not true. Strong love would never abuse you, hurt you, cheat on you, manipulate you, or physically terrify you. In order to move on from this nightmare relationship you have to start realizing that it is not the circumstances that caused this situation, you have to start seeing the pattern, and start understanding that this is in no way good for you, or for anyone.

Why do People Stay in Bad Relationships?
This could have something to do with the Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages have positive feelings, and empathy for their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. But Stockholm syndrome doesn’t only occur in hostage situations, according to D. G. Dutton and S. L. Painter Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other”. Ian K. Mackenzie explains that one commonly used hypothesis that explains Stockholm syndrome is based on a Freudian theory that suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim; Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself, when a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be a threat. Chances are that abusive partners are nice and loving long before they start showing their true colors. Adding love in the equation with Stockholm syndrome could be the answer to why it is that people stay in bad relationships, beside fear of what may happen if you leave your partner, fear of being alone, and simply not knowing how to handle the situation or deal with it.

Identifying A Bad Relationship

With every normal relationship you will find yourself changing in certain ways, adapting in someway to better deal with your partner, and that happens in all relationships. And in every relationship there will be pain, sadness, and sacrifices, but there is a clear line between normal endurances that are healthy for a relationship, and abnormal destructive ones that are just plain bad for anyone. You need to stop and really evaluate the relationship. Are you being controlled? Manipulated? Does your partner make you feel bad about yourself? Does your partner guilt you and highlight your flaws to take control of the situation? Are you ridiculed, undermined, or even called names? Does your partner criticize your friends and drives people away from you? Are you afraid of your partner’s temper? Are you being ignored when you speak? Is your partner overly jealous and possessive about normal things? Does your partner control your financials? Does your partner

continuously cheat on you? Are you being withheld from going to places that are normal? Are you or your family, children, pets, or anything you care about being harmed or threatened? Does your partner push, hit, punch, throw objects when angry? Does your partner hit you? Does your partner use physical force with you? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions then you probably are in a bad relationship. Should you try to make things better? Only if you have been together for a couple of years or decades, there is new extreme stress in your lives, and your partner has never acted that way before, then you should contact a professional and try to work things out. But even if that is the case, if things don’t change soon, you should break off the relationship because things can only get worse, much worse.

How To Survive
When coming out of such an abusive intense relationship chances are you have been damaged, psychologically, emotionally, or even physically. You will need time to heal, understand what you went through, accept it, deal with its nightmares, time get back on your feet, and re-find your self.

Block them from your life. If this is an option you can do go ahead and do it right away. Stop sympathizing or empathizing with them, quit the fear, they are bad for you and you need to keep as much distance as possible no matter what.

Come to peace with your flawed decisions. Its alright that you were in a bad relationship, no matter how long, the important thing is that you are out of it; you can now learn from that relationship and move on to a better healthier life.

Become selfish. You will need to recover, and you will have to make that recovery your priority. Focus on what is best for you and meeting your own needs, rather than focusing on what anyone else needs. You need to understand that this coming period is a rehabilitation period, give yourself the chance and the time, you need it, and more importantly you deserve it.

Don’t overwhelm yourself. During that bad relationship you might've lost a job, unhealthily lost or gained weight, lost friendships, lost confidence, lost your identity, and more. You need to take things one step at a time, you can’t fix everything at the same time. Seek support from family, friends, and professional help. Work on getting yourself back together one step at a time.

Identify your weaknesses and work on them. stand up for yourself, say no when you need to, and refuse situations you are uncomfortable with.

Find peace and serenity. Cut down stressors from your life no matter how small they are. Give yourself some time off, maybe go on a retreat, or simply go on a relaxing trip. Even when you are stuck at home find what brings you peace and do it, pray, practice yoga, meditation, painting, dancing, hiking, playing music, driving, whatever it is do it. Try to do it every day if possible.

Find friends that will support you. If your current friends don’t support you, or you’ve lost them along the way, find new friends that will be there for you, supporting you throughout your recovery, helping you get back on your feet and stay strong.

Talk about it. Open up and share your experiences with others. Sometimes saying things out loud helps put things in perspective and helps you in dealing with them.

Hold back on dating. You need time to heal or else you will stumble in your next relationship. Take some time off dating, work on yourself, and really get back on your feet before you start seeing anyone new. If you don’t you might harm yourself again, or even worse, harm your new partner. “One should be capable of being alone, utterly alone, and yet tremendously blissful. Then you can love.” Osho.

Don’t Judge, Just Help
It is so easy to think that this will never be you, that you will never let yourself stay in such a bad relationship, and that you won’t be fooled, but it could happen to anyone. Can you see someone you know passing through this? Advise them to seek professional help. Don’t judge or ridicule them. Don’t congratulate them for getting out of the relationship. Support and help them, full stop.

Published in Identity Magazine. February 2014

1 comment: