By Jessenia Nozzolillo
I woke up this morning a little disoriented, late, and confused. I jumped into the shower and got ready at my leisure.
I came downstairs and realized my husband had managed to get six kids ready for school all by himself. Fed them, cleaned up. Managed the house.
I’m sitting here realizing how selfish that was of me to take a leisurely shower first thing in the morning at the most chaotic time of the day, knowing we have six kids to get dressed, ready, and out.
He didn’t complain once!
I remember what it was like to be in a relationship where I was constantly walking on eggshells, scared to do anything for myself—panicked even that the kids might be hurt or abused while I was cleaning my body. It’s a terrible feeling! But I am also able to recognize that I don’t want to take advantage of my husband's kindness as we are PARTNERS.
So many times, I have clients that claim to have gone into healing who have actually become the abuser in the dynamic. Really? YES. Let me explain… my husband was a huge reason for my healing. He showed me how to be loved. But, he didn’t understand healing, like many of us. He was used to being taken advantage of and abused. He was a family friend before I knew of him, so he knew what I had been through in great detail. He felt bad for me, loved me, and wanted me to have a place to thrive but knew it would not be easy. And many times, he tried to give me an excuse for my behavior, not seeing the toxicity in it. It was me who realized his shift in behavior and personality and recognized that my unhealthy learned traits were now affecting him, and I didn’t want that. I needed this to stop FULLY. So I had to learn to change my reactions and patterns and then show him why/how I could have managed things differently, reguardless of my past. If not, I would have destroyed him, and I really feel like I almost did many times.
In healing, we have five main roads I see people take. We can overcompensate for our pain. These behaviors may look like, “I'll never let anyone treat me like that again.” To the point where they become aggressive, bitter, abusive, distrusting, or repeat the abuse themselves. For example, if you were incredibly controlled, you may become controlling and think, “I’ll never let anyone control me again; I am in charge now.”
Repetition is the second road. Here we continue the pattern. Meaning we “attract” someone very similar to our last abuser. This is not because you deserve these people. It is not because you deserve abuse. But it’s usually because your self-esteem is so battered that you think this is all you are worth, so in a room of 100, you noticed the one person you believed you were worthy of, usually a person who mimics patters of the past. This is one of the significant elements in abusive relationships. They rip apart your self-esteem so aggressively that you begin to believe this is all you deserve, and you learn NEVER to seek more. You never leave. You are scared. You think you will never amount to anything or be worthy of more. You believe you are undeserving of love. I remember one thing my mother told me when I was struggling with this pattern, and it was, “You only let people treat you as badly as you treat yourself.” Profound and necessary awarness as it helps us a knowledge that we are reflections of our pain. I was choosing this pattern because I believed it was all I was worth and accepted this abusive reality as life.
Avoidance is the third road. Some people assume that their pattern is so deeply embedded, and they don’t know how to manage that pain, so they instead avoid the subject altogether. So if you had a pattern of negative relationships, you might be done with relationships entirely, losing hope feeling like you will never have a healthy connection with someone.
The victim is the fourth road. As long as you are a victim of your reality and life, you will not feel like you have the power to change your story. You will first see all the things that feel impossible over the vast amounts of possibilities. This is very deeply tied to road two in the sense that we can repeat patterns because we don’t see our ability to change the road we drive on. We don’t see our ability to find peace with the past and move on because so many people stripped us of our power and confidence. You are not a victim. No one is. We had experiences, and yes, I am so sorry that those experiences were difficult. But, you are so powerful, and you have all the tools you need in this world to make change for the betterment of your future and health. No one comes here to suffer endlessly. No one comes here to live in a continuous pattern of “victim.” We come here for experiences we are supposed to evolve out of and expand into self-control, self-empowerment, and healing. Step one to stepping out of victim is to release the pattern of blame. “I am this way because….” Although it is absolutely true that we may carry certain behaviors because of our past relationships and abuse patterns, it is fully our responsibility to work through those patterns and release it. Who we are, is fully our responsibility! No one else’s. The only way to fully free yourself from your abuser is to stop letting their abuse affect the way you live and the depths in which you allow yourself to love or be loved.
The last road, is healing! Healing is not overcompensation. It’s not repetition; it’s not found in avoidance; it isn’t found in the victim narrative. It is a DEEP and profound understanding this life is yours to create, so we start viewing the scope of our past experiences differently. Instead of seeing “This is what they did to me.” we might see it as “I have this pattern I need to clear. Let me review where it began and look for tools on properly releasing the pattern.” Every pattern and event will look very different. Every healing journey will be unique to that person and trauma. Some traumas take more work to clear. And no, none of us are ever really done. Healing is not a destination but should instead be viewed as a constant state of existence. As long as we live, we will create situations that need repair. The more we work on those things, the more we clear the traumas BEFORE they hurt others. The stronger we feel.
Copyright protected Jessenia Nozzolillo 2022