Learning to forgive yourself

I didn't really deal with the emotions of the breakdown of my marriage until the divorce became final in October of 2020.

Prior to that, I was in basically in survival mode just waiting for it all to happen. Psychologically it was almost impossible for me to imagine anything other than the life I had been living. I wanted out of the marriage no question, under no circumstance did I want to revive that. But the same time my whole world was changing. I was going to have to learn new ways and make some huge changes in my life if I was going to have a healthy happy relationship in the future.

At the time, I was like a horse with blinders on, I was really unaware of how large and diverse the world was. Internally, I was just experiencing a huge mass of emotions, both positive and negative. It was impossible to decipher exactly what I was feeling, I went from sad, to elated and sad again within minutes. I would get upset or triggered and not really know why. I honestly felt like I was insane. Certain people triggered me, and I would feel the compulsion to be near them, from what I have learned its because they are familiar and in all likelihood also abusive. I was to discover in my case this was definitely true. Even if you think you are aware and can avoid those situations, the pull is magnetic, and you WILL find yourself attracted to the very types of people you are trying to leave behind. And trust me, they will find you! Its important not to underestimate the power of trauma bonding and the abuse cycle. I think in my case I just swapped out the people and traded one for the other. Familiar patterns began to play out, and I fell right into my part of allowing myself to be dominated and controlled. One thing that became very clear that after years of emotional abuse, you have a very high tolerance for bullshit. Things happened to me, and I would not react, but when I told my friends they would say " Carolynne, get away from that guy" I would ignore the obvious signs of a controlling man or a man with anger issues.

I remember once in particular, being told I was passive aggressive and I should read up on that and correct it. This was because I was hesitant in allowing myself to be vulnerable. In fact at the time, I felt like my boundaries were being violated and I was afraid of him. I had only know the person for a couple of weeks. I found it hard to say what I was thinking. He was moving too fast and it was scary for me. I remember I threw down my phone and thought to myself, I am never talking to that guy again. Looking back I wish I had stuck to that initial instinct, it turned out to be exactly right. I found myself to be at the mercy of an emotional rollercoaster. I could not control or manage it. I would reach out to people I knew I shouldn't reach out to. I couldn't figure out what I was looking for. WHY?? My brain was constantly cycling, replaying events, wondering what I did wrong, looking for answers that were never going to come. I was looking for evidence that my gut was telling me the truth (spoiler alert! OMG did I ever find it) Intellectually I knew I hadn't done anything to deserve what was happening.

I was vulnerable, and I was being manipulated. I was being told what I was thinking and what I was feeling, and he was a very honest person and when he told me I was being adversarial, then I was being adversarial. Now I am aware that this is control. I am being told what to think. Someone that is truly those things will show you through actions.

Now I realize my emotions were the result of having normal reactions to abnormal bullshit. Like most survivors of emotional abuse, I tended to accept the blame, somehow in all this I was definitely at fault. That made me really want to fix it. Apologize, anything just please don't be mad at me. And abusers love when you will accept blame, not only that they will paint you as unstable for having emotional reactions to the gaslighting and craziness they create. I have started learning about some of the ways they do this and that was very helpful. I will write about that in another post because its very important, and learning how manipulators control you through very subtle methods was really useful in helping me disengage. But what this post is about, is realizing how important it is to cut yourself some slack. I kept thinking to myself, why am I not over this yet? What is wrong with me? Why am I reacting this way? I was looking at other people who had gone through similar experiences and they seem to have it all together. Other people just move on. I was being told to just let go like this is such an easy thing. Why can't I cope? Why do I act like a crazy person. Can I just snap my fingers and end this? Blaming myself only made it worse.

It was spending time with a loving caring friend who has known me for years and knows my whole life story that made me realize, I am not crazy at all. The shit that was happening to me was very real and I was not imagining it. ANYONE in my shoes would likely have a very similar reaction. This realization provided almost instant relief. That's when I realized one of the reasons my mind was stuck in a continuous loop of rumination was because I was thinking I was crazy and imagining things, looking for the key that would make it all make sense. I was blaming myself for being emotionally volatile. and I was desperately searching for the answer to why I was so emotional. Adding to the difficulty I was trying to control it and manage it basically by white knuckling my way though. Instead the answer was just accept this is what you feel. This is where you are at. Its ok, forgive yourself for being human. But the fact was, I had literally spent a life time hearing how I had no idea what I was talking about. That I was wrong about whatever and I was crazy. I was a prime target for those self proclaimed "alpha males" who are going to tell you how the world works. (they are so much smarter than you don't you know) I am learning my instincts are actually pretty bang on. But while my gut would be warning me frantically, my head kept saying "Carolynne you are clueless, stop being a drama queen, you know the problem is you." A huge breakthrough for me came when I realized, its ok to be upset. Its ok to be emotional. You have been through the wringer. Its going to take time and give yourself the time it takes. Dont beat yourself up because your not recovering as fast as you think you should. Or you dont handle specific situation in the way a person who is on firm ground would. At any given time, you are doing the best you can with what you have. You are human and you have gone through a lot. It takes time for it all to untangle and start to make some sense. Forgive yourself for being emotional. Its something you have to do in order to recover. You need to feel the pain, and feel those feelings. You will feel crazy and its ok. The situation is crazy. And do not judge weather or not your feelings make sense. Just feel them. You will have good days and bad days. Its all ok. Just keep moving forward and one day you suddenly realize, you feel lighter, clearer and you can see your new life on the horizon.

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