I was going to write this blog from the perspective that I was in an abusive relationship with my partner, and he was the perpetrator, and I the victim. I genuinely believed this, at least, until… I started getting really deeply honest and truth-full with myself.
What I have discovered (or uncovered), through simply being willing to feel deeply, is that I have, in fact, chosen to be in abusive relationships all my life… and that the abuse was not first and foremost coming from anyone ‘out there’ but rather, it has been first and foremost coming from… ME!
I personally have had a pattern of focusing intensely on my partners and my relationships. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe ‘being’ and bringing our ALL in our relationships IS a healthy and absolutely necessary thing to do – but I have lived many relationships in a way that focused on ‘their’ issues, ‘their’ faults, and ‘their’ shortcomings. This has been a BIG DISTRACTION from facing, feeling and healing the deep hurts in me and acknowledging how those hurts translate into non-loving expressions, blaming others and behaviours within my relationships.
That brings me to now, eight months into the relationship I am currently having with a beautiful man, whom I adore… and the cycle of abuse is still felt equally as acutely as I felt it way back in my early twenties when I was in a physically abusive relationship. Although my partner doesn’t hit me, or yell or scream at me, I have discovered a cyclical pattern within our relationship that feels very old and very familiar!
What I had previously focused on was what my partner ‘did wrong’ or ‘didn’t do right’ and hence, from where I was looking, it was easy to notice when he was grumpy or venting his frustration and stay stuck in the ‘he did me wrong’ victim story! But what I hadn’t read, or rather taken FULL responsibility for, was how I was being and expressing in every moment.
I am blessed to have a partner who took the time to express to me the other day that he felt that I had glared at him with daggers when he was sitting on the bed and I was putting our youngest daughter to bed and when I said “I would like to be sitting down and relaxing too!” he felt that this statement had come loaded…. It did!
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about berating myself either – as I may and often do have very valid points to express, but on honest reflection of this occasion I was able to feel and acknowledge that how I had expressed had come loaded with victim or martyr energy; already resigned to the belief I would neither be met nor supported!
So in this scenario, I expressed in a less than lovely way, my partner reacted in a less than lovely way and voila – cycle of abuse played out.
The understanding that I am coming to is that to truly heal and put this cycle of abuse to rest, Once and For All, we must deeply and honestly look into how we are and have been, firstly with ourselves.
I have found that how I have been with myself is always at the root cause of what is reflected back to me and I now know the very step I need to take to break the cycle of abuse. That step is to take full responsibility for the loving, caring of and nurturing of myself and that requires me to be willing to feel and honor myself in full.
So, if I am really honest, how have I been treating myself?
Have I listened deeply to what my body truly wants? Have I rested when tired? Have I eaten nourishing foods when hungry? Have I moved gently in a way that honors my body deeply? Not always. Not even most of the time.
And, if I have not listened to and respected how my own body has asked me to be with it and treat it, how can I possibly expect another to?
I have stonewalled and neglected myself in millions of subtle little ways throughout my days. I have felt needy and empty and I have gone to my partner, my kids, my friends, co-workers and alike with this emptiness and said ‘fill me up’. Fill me up, because I haven’t been willing to do it for myself!
The unspoken deal in these relationships has been “I’ll give you what you need, if you give me what I need.” An arrangement.
When I have made my partner’s issues the focus of my ‘love’ attention and ‘care’ – rather than responsibly choosing to love, honour and care for me – it has been super-imposing! The not-so subtle message sent is, “You need me to care for you, because you aren’t capable of doing it for yourself!” Ouch!! Is it any wonder my partner feels like pulling away?! When we give from a place of neediness with the underlying intention to get something back, it is not actually a true expression of love but rather it is manipulation.
Each one of us can have very different ideas of what constitutes abuse within a relationship…
Most of us agree that physical violence is abuse… and yes, I have and would absolutely advocate saying “no” to and walking away from any relationship that condones such behaviour. But what about neglect? What about stonewalling someone? What about the occasional swear word said in the heat of the moment? The silent treatment? Venting our frustration? Do we acknowledge these as abuse? Where exactly IS the line in the sand?
What about refusing to care for yourself deeply and expecting (or manipulating) someone else to do this for you? Does that constitute abuse? Absolutely.
The fact is that anything less than LOVE is actually abuse…
We have been sold a very skewed message of what love actually IS!! We have been told that love is something reserved for a particular person or group of people whom we hold above all else. But the truth is…
Love is actually who we are!
And it is our responsibility to hold, honour, cherish and nurture that quality in ourselves, moment-to-moment and day-to-day! When we accept this responsibility we can begin to heal, and when we begin to heal and let go of what isn’t truly who we are, we are able to truly meet another from our fullness.
Without needs, without expectations, a true relationship can blossom: based on the true relationship that we’ve taken the time to nurture with ourselves, first!
I am not perfect in this practice, but I am committed.
Thank you to Serge Benhayon who was the first man who met me from this absolute unwavering place of total self-responsibility, and as such is one of my greatest inspirations.
by Anon, Melbourne, Australia