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Escaping the inescapable - or that's what it used to seem
22 February 2017

Ok so I’ve got a thing at the moment about creating joy. ‘Follow the joy’ was a short story I wrote and published a couple of blogs ago. And now it’s become a bit of a theme. So when I had a chat this week with a lady who reminded me of a time when my own life was so lacking in joy that I started to lose sight of my sense of self, I thought I'd write about it here. She said our chat had helped her understand things a bit better, so maybe this will help others too. You know what they say about sharing.

This week we had another writing retreat at Retreats for You in Devon, (where I now go half the week when not at QVC) and the topic got onto her friend - a lady who had stayed in a marriage she should not have stayed in for so long, considering how controlling the man was. He even would not let the young son do a paper round and refused to give a reason why, just saying ‘no.’ Her friend who was telling the me the tale mentioned how everyone who knew them didn’t realise how bad things were till afterwards, at which point they happily told her in no uncertain terms how she had made a mistake not getting out sooner. And all she could say was, I know, I just wasn’t myself at the time.

It’s weird ‘cos there have been a few stories like this in my time at Rfy, from all sorts of women. And it seems that being people-pleasers comes naturally to many of us, even at the expense of our own sense of self. Even some of us who normally would not be seen dead doing and thinking certain things, and look back afterwards and see how wrong it was to stay so long in that bad relationship or situation. But at the time we just can’t help ourselves and it’s easier to try to get back to some sort of status quo, after a big row, than to work a little harder and think of the long term goal to be free of the prison for good.

I write in first person here, because, once in a galaxy far far away, that person was me. It was an awful relationship that should have ended within weeks, let alone months, and we ended up breaking up 12 times in 20 months, including when the guy actually moved wholesale into my house then back in again, then out, eurgh. If I was stronger, I now think, then I could have seen it for what it was – a car crash and an uneasy truce, which was destined to end – it was doomed. But it took me a while to understand all that. It took till I had bruises on my face, to be honest. And it’s not something I readily admit to openly, and whilst I have written much more about this experience in my latest version of Till the Fat Lady Slims (here on amazon inc in paperback or from all platforms or order from bookshops, Choc Lit is publisher - semi-autobiographical weight loss book and in this one I share extra chapters about stuff like this) it’s been a kind of a dark secret for so long. But that’s what these relationships are all about – secrets. And mainly keeping quiet about how bad things are.

Then I remembered that my first husband was a bit of an emotional blackmailer too, with his ways of making you think you had to put his own needs first and try to cover up for his shortcomings outside of the house and put on a front to other people. Ridiculous! And it all came flooding back this week. The lady I was talking to was glad to find a kindred spirit, sort of, and her understanding of her friend’s situation became a bit clearer after our chats. I put some links from youtube on an email to her, but they are easy to find – just follow ‘emotional abuse’ or ‘abuser’ or manipulator in the search bar and you’ll find them – have a look if you think you are in the same situation and if it helps, I’ve done my job.

Finally I think it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this – others have been through the same process and emerged ok at the end of it. And more importantly, they look back and say ‘what was I thinking’. And that's ok - you'll do it when you're able. They also know that if it was advice they were giving to a mate of theirs, they’d have no problem identifying the need to leave and make it end, finally. It’s just hard when it’s habit and you’ve lost something of your own confidence or lost sight of who you really are in the process of dealing with someone else's needs day in and day out. In the case of this lady’s friend, it was for over 20 years. It was weird how this came up again this week. So I figured, Ok universe, I get the message, time to share this post.

It’s a shame some people feel stuck and have done for years - but it’s never too late to get out. Never.

There are some brilliant counsellors around too – don’t be too proud to go to one. Sometimes the NHS will even fund the appointments – mine did years ago and it helped me somewhat. Sometimes speaking to someone completely outside of your own circle of family and friends means you get a sense of perspective about your own situation that suddenly hammers the point home that it’s time to do something about it. And believe, me, the sunshine you feel on the other side of the misery is so worth it. And the sooner you do something, the sooner you will begin your whole new life, won't you. Yeh, I know, it's logic. Logic however, just doesn't cut it sometimes. But maybe just hearing someone else talking about these things means it's more out in the open and can't remain secret any more. Just a thought. 

Below is a check list of questions it might be worth asking yourself or the person you’re concerned about, and if they can answer yes to more than half, chances are they need help and are in an awful situation and are just hiding it from the world. When I read it out to this lady she said her friend would have said yes to most of them.

Don’t suffer in silence. And what’s more, if you ARE that friend, and you can see your mate in a similar situation, please make sure you give them as much support as you can – it’s vital for them to know they shouldn’t feel guilty all the time, because they can’t seem to do right by their partner, no matter what; they always seem to be picking an argument even about the most stupid tiny things; they are insanely jealous and unjustifiably angry about small stuff and they shouldn’t feel alone. Don't lecture them, they know what to do, they just can't do it straight away - just let them know you are there for them.

Bit by bit that formerly strong person may return to their previous self, with your help. Be a support system and be there for them, even if they don’t do as you say straight away. Believe me, sometimes it takes a while or a massive event or turning point, like I had, to say enough is enough. It’s a tough one to observe, but as we were discussing this week at RFY, if you can help them through it, a much better life awaits on the other side. 

Do forward this page to someone else, or copy the info, I don’t mind. It’s worth it if it helps just one extra person. Like I got help in the end all those years ago. There's more about my story in theTTFLS  book, too much detail is not for here, but suffice it to say I know what it feels like to hit rock bottom and think I only deserve second best and have no choice but to put others' needs first.  But not any more thank god. Hope if you’re reading this and it relates to you, you can also do the same……

The overriding feedback I get from people who read Till the Fat Lady Slims is 'it was like I was reading about myself.' Well this is one step beyond for many who thought they were alone. You're not. And a better life awaits if you can break away - believe me.

Best wishes

Debs

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Questions to ask - if you can answer yes to many of these, chances are, the person is suffering emotional abuse :

1. Does your partner - act excessively jealous and possessive?

2. want to control where you go and what you do?

3. constantly check up on you? Go through your phone?

4. want to limit the time you spend with family or friends?

5. threaten to commit suicide if you leave?

6. destroy your belongings or threaten to/

7. act abusive in your sex life?

8. ignore or put down your accomplishments or achievements, or just direct them back towards themselves all the time?

9. blame you for their behaviour, particularly their abusive or nasty behaviour?

10. see you as their possession rather than as a person, make you feel insignificant?

11. yell at you? put you down? Treat you badly in a way you'd hate your friends and relations to see? Do things you sometimes would be embarrassed to own up to to anyone else/

12. DO YOU - believe that you're the one to blame? That you're going crazy?

13 - do you feel emotionally numb or worthless?

14. avoid certain topics for fear of starting another row/

15. feel that you can't do anything right for your partner? They always manage to make you feel like you've failed or guilt trip you?#

more on monicahoyt.com and loads more on the internet and youtube. 

dont suffer in silence and remember you're not alone - you'd be surprised how much support you'd get if you confide in someone you trust .....

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