What's Love? Picking Up The Pieces After Domestic Violence

Posted by Manda Millions on

Last year, I released my memoir about growing up and marrying into abuse. I penned and published my trauma in hopes to heal & help others heal and I am beyond grateful that I did. To be honest, prospective baes weren’t on my mind when I wrote it and it wasn’t until the day it was released and I spent mostly the whole day sharing it that I wondered what any future love interest of mine would think if they read it. I accidentally manifested the first thought that came to mind -- they’ll ghost me.

Who really wants to get into all that trauma shit, anyway? What man wants to face the music and hear exactly how him and/or his peers treat women with the same complexion of their mothers, who so easily defend them, from the mouth of said woman?

For 29 years, the Universe has consistently thrown men my way who are in desperate need of healing. As a healer, it’s my job to sift through this selection and understand if this man has been sent for me to love or to heal. The journey I’m on requires me to make this decision because of my past trauma with men. 

With my ex-husband, I thought for sure I was supposed to help heal him from his own pain, love him and let him abuse me until he figures it out, all at the same time. Going through over 5 years of that and coming out alive made me get serious about how I allow people to “treat” me. “Treat” is in quotation marks here because, if you know me, I’ve never allowed anyone to treat me with disrespect (another reason why it was unbelievable to those close to me what I was going through). I would have put “love” in quotation marks there but that behavior is the furthest thing from love.

In her book “All About Love: New Visions”, bell hooks writes:

“When we understand love as the will to nurture our own and another’s spiritual growth, it becomes clear that we cannot claim to love if we are hurtful and abusive. Love and abuse cannot coexist. Abuse and neglect are, by definition, the opposites of nurturance and care. Often we hear of a man who beats his children and wife and then goes to the corner bar and passionately proclaims how much he loves them. If you talk to the wife on a good day, she may also insist he loves her, despite his violence. An overwhelming majority of us come from dysfunctional families in which we were taught we were not okay, where we were shamed, verbally and/or physically abused, and emotionally neglected even as were also taught to believe that we were loved. For most folks it is just too threatening to embrace a definition of love that would no longer enable us to see love as present in our families. Too many of us need to see love as present in our families. Too many of us need to cling to a notion of love that either makes abuse acceptable or at least makes it seem that whatever happened was not that bad.”

That last sentence always hits hard af. The realization that for many of us our concept of love was shaped around abuse makes my stomach turn. We had already been conditioned to believe a certain level of abuse is tolerable and completely okay. When we speak on our trauma, it’s usually only after some variation of therapy which causes us to confront our core beliefs and challenge why our subconscious so easily accepts the pain.

Generational cycles of pain through our bloodline continue to transfer throughout our relationships if we don’t break them. Reach out to your ancestors for guidance first if you haven’t. They are your first line of defense, especially with matters within your bloodline. Distance yourself from those in your family who are abusive, narcissistic and/or facilitate or ignore abuse. It doesn’t matter how “nice” they seem otherwise, abuse is intolerable and in order for you to heal, you need to place strong boundaries up, between yourself and those who abuse your energy. They won’t let you go without a fight, narcissists hate to see a victim defend their energy. 

Once you remove the toxicity, you can finally start to reflect and renegotiate your boundaries and what you will and won’t tolerate. It’s hard trying to figure out what “normal” is if your normal was attached to trauma. For starters, respect, trust and communication should be at the top of your list. Define what each means to you and what their antonyms look like also.

Be sure that you take therapy seriously. Whether it be group therapy or one-on-one sessions, you need help working through your emotional pain so you can unlearn & relearn love, starting with self-love. I offer virtual counseling but if you would like a licensed professional in your area, find one here. Talking things through with a counselor can also help you understand what a healthy relationship looks like and help you see red flags that you didn’t know were red before.

Doing this helps create a better understanding of yourself as well as better judgment and intuition. Now, when something doesn’t feel right, you’ll know from jump instead of ignoring it. Through your unlearning and relearning what healthy relationships are, you’ll never question your gut again -- that’s your second line of defense. 

This alignment between you and yourself is the goal, not jumping into another relationship. So what's love? Self love, baby. You have to show yourself the love and care you needed so that way, that energy has no choice to be reflected back to you. Continue healing & remember you are loved.

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