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They say that the first healthy relationship after a toxic one is the most difficult relationship.
I have no idea who “they” are, but they are right.
After you heal, work through the toxic parts of your past relationship, and begin to feel better again, you start considering dating and adding someone to your life.
So you swipe, or make eyes at someone from across the dance floor. You feel happy. Open. Willing. And you are all of those things.
At first, it feels nice, but then, almost in the same sense as your previous partner with the toxic behavior began to reveal toxic signs, you begin to overthink and read into everything he says.
You are no longer sitting next to the man you like, but rather someone who may be hiding toxic traits better than your ex did. So you sit, listen, and drown yourself in the rabbit hole that leads you to losing someone who most likely is a great fit and absolutely nothing like your ex.
At home, now alone, you can see what you did. You can see where you went wrong. You can see how you got yourself into this black hole.
He is on the other side of the black hole, moving on without you, and you are wondering if you should try to heal again. But this time, instead of healing from what someone else did to you, you heal from what you did to yourself.
And it’s not entirely your fault. You had no idea it would be like this.
At first, dating sounds fun.
Something you have never really had, until he says one thing that your ex has said, and it triggers you.
From there, it’s a snowball effect. One thing turns into another, and you are a wreck in your head, while he’s going on like nothing happened. And guess what? Nothing happened.
How do we, as recovering survivors of abuse, ever feel good enough to accept love, let someone in, let go, and embrace the good we all deserve?
At this moment, after years of being single, learning to love myself, and years of healing through recovery, I can honestly say, “I have no idea.”
I guess, for me, it may mean learning how to control my thoughts. Walking into something new with someone who has no idea what it is like to be immersed in something toxic and abusive, I can’t expect him to treat me as if I’m fragile because he is walking into something with is own traumas as well. His own heart hurts.
We each have to be responsible for how we feel and take care of ourselves first. Understanding and patience with yourself is key. But at times that may come too late.
Looking back on it, we can see where we went wrong. We take things they say personally. We wait for them to morph into our exes. Standing in front of them, we can see and even feel that they are nothing like the person we were used to, but in the back of our minds, we hear a voice saying, “Don’t get excited yet. Let’s wait and see.”
As time passes and they don’t call us names, yell at us, or put us down, we begin to build trust, but then, an off-the-cuff comment destroys what we are building, and we are once again left confused about absolutely nothing.
It’s scary to explain to someone how we are feeling when we don’t truly understand it ourselves. At times, we self-sabotage. We get passive-aggressive and want to end things before they do, so we feel as if we have some control in our lives.
What we don’t realize is that we do have control in our lives. We’ve had it all along.
It’s not easy to be with someone healthy after such abuse even if you’ve already gotten help.
You can go to school for four years and learn what you need to prepare for the job you want, but the job turns out to be entirely different than what you thought, and it becomes scary.
Reel it in. Breathe. Step back and consider who is saying things to you. It is not your ex, it is someone new who is choosing to be with you and spend time with you.
Overthinking may be part of it, but work each day at controlling it. It will not happen overnight. Get comfortable with telling others what you need or how you feel.
But remember that there is a time and space for discussions. Be calm and cool. Be straightforward with what you need to say, but expect nothing in return.
Your partner has the right to feel how they feel. Work together, and things will work out smoothly.
Each one of us deserves to love and to be loved in return.
If it turns out that it’s not right with your new partner, it will be right with someone else. However, be sure that it won’t work out for actual reasons not just because you are overthinking.
If that’s the case, it will not work with anyone.
If you have to, pick up your pieces, learn your lessons, know it’s going to be okay, then try again. Keep trying until you find your match. It can only get better from here.
But most importantly, realize that loving again is crazy brave!