By now, most of you know my story: I grew up in an abusive household and I re-created it by marrying someone whose behaviors felt very familiar to me (my dad’s); I accepted a lot of abusive activity because of this.
What most of you don’t know is that my ex is what I call a 1%’er … this means that 99% of people move on after a divorce but there’s always one person out of a hundred that doesn’t. The first couple of years after a separation are the most volatile and unpredictable. Emotions run high as we adjust to life as a single person, juggling new roles as a more active parent, sole provider, head of the household, etc. not to mention all the responsibilities on us to make sure everything gets done.
This part is NORMAL and it’s during this time period that we see the anger, jealousy and attempts to control our ex partner’s life as we re-structure our new lives.
What’s NOT normal however is when your ex doesn’t move on after the divorce is finalized, when they are still sending you horrifically nasty emails where they tell you what a piece of garbage you are, that you will never be successful, that no one will ever love you and maybe they’ll tell you how shitty a parent you are (hitting you deep in your core).
They use whatever information they can to aim at you and nothing is sacred. Expect every soft point you have to be poked and prodded relentlessly. If you have children with this ex, expect them to use them as weapons and oftentimes, they’ll use the court system to continue the abuse as well. These ex’s continue to do deep-seated damage to your soul, you find that your self-esteem takes a hit and you’ll wonder how you’ll recover from it all.
If you have an ex that fits this description, you must begin taking concrete steps to put up barriers and begin developing coping skills to manage this deadly, abusive behavior.
First, seek out a therapist! Now more than ever, you need an unbiased person who can be there for you to listen, offer comfort and help you insulate yourself from this madness. There are therapists who specialize in trauma from abusive relationships – find one now! Most people won’t understand this Lifetime movie that you’re living and it’s super important for you to have support when you’re moving on after abuse, and most of our friends can’t do that for us.
Second, you must start to set up barriers to minimize the level of access this person has to your life. Create a special email address just for them and don’t check it every day if they are sending you daily emails of nastiness (ask me how I know this).
Next, do NOT text them ever! Texting is too tempting and easy for abusive people to use when they’re attempting to control you. Let them know that you will only be communicating through email unless it’s an emergency and define clearly what constitutes an emergency. This means that you too will not text them or call them either: rely on the email as the only method of contact.
This allows you some separation and also helps you keep track of their abuse in case things escalate to threats of physical violence.
Third, start changing the way you think of the words they’re saying to you. Familiarize yourself with abusive tactics that they frequently utilize by googling verbal & emotional abuse. This website is a good resource. When you’re moving on from abuse, words can be very damaging and healing from these attacks on your very being, will be one of the hardest tasks you’ll ever take on. Each time your ex says something shitty to you, ask yourself is this true? Or is this based on their attempts to destroy me? Then remind yourself that you are NOTHING this person says you are, that they are merely projecting their insecurities on to you in an attempt to make you feel small so they can feel big.
Lastly, remember that people who abuse you in any capacity, are NOT good people! They are broken and damaged and their words and tactics aren’t based on fact, they’re based on the hope that they will make you feel as small and worthless as they feel inside! Once you can look at them as the pathetic excuse of a human being they are, you can begin rebuilding your foundation of who YOU really are.
If you have a 1%’er as I do, learning to ignore everything they say and stop responding (this was the hardest for me to do honestly), takes the wind out of their sails a bit. I’ve learned that ignoring doesn’t stop them from being abusive necessarily, but it stops me from giving two shits about what they think of me and what they do to stop me.
The more he comes at me, the more powerful I become and the less I care about what he may or may not do.
Remember that abusers are only as successful as we allow them to be!
Learning to take that power away from them will be a game changer on your road to recovery and healing after abuse – I promise you!
Please comment below if you’re in this same situation and have some tips for those of us who are still living this nightmare: