How to Live Your Best Life While Healing From a Controlling Relationship

Finding your dream partner feels like it’s almost an impossible dream when you’re still healing from the aftermath of a controlling relationship. This is how I rose through it and met the love of my life.

This journal entry is inspired from a girlfriend asking me recently what were the processes I used or how did I get to the point of moving on from and letting go of the pain, hurt and most of all the control I experienced from my relationship with my eldest son’s father, to be where I am now. This information is my personal story and how I moved through it as consciously as I could. My approach might not suit everyone, my hope though is that someone will find what I share supportive.

The Back Story

My son’s father and I began our relationship in high school, I was in year 10 and he was in year 12. We had a tumultuous relationship, to put it mildly. From the get go we were two very different people, particularly in how we viewed the world. Really early on I began pushing away the things I believed in that didn’t align with his beliefs to make life easier and so that he would still like me. As a teenage girl I was so desperate to be liked and loved that I put my true self in a box to fit the mould of what I thought I had to be to be accepted. Over time he took hold of a lot of aspects of my life. I spent all my time with him and when I wasn’t with him, I was at home waiting for him. When we were together I hardly ever saw my friends. We were on/off for 9 years. I’m not going to go too deeply into the ins and outs of what occurred in our relationship, there was a lot. A LOT.

I will share though that after leaving him for good when our son was 10 months old, the control I experienced from him was intense, and this lasted another 10 years. It resulted in two DVOs (Domestic Violence Protection Orders) to create boundaries and a safety net for myself. I was terrified of him, not that I thought he would physically harm me or my son, but the emotional and psychological control he had over me for such a long time was severe. My friends, my work colleagues, my family saw it all, and that was so shameful for me to be exposed that way. I did my best to shield my son from most of it but he saw a lot too.

Throughout all of this, and despite it, I built a really successful professional career. I went on dates, and had a couple of relationships, but almost all of the men I had relationships with messed with my mind and emotions in really crappy ways.

For 6 months I was in a relationship with a guy I had met at uni. When we broke up I found out he had also been in a relationship with someone else the entire time. I had no idea! That messed with me really badly, how could he even manage that? We spent so much time together?! After that I reconnected with someone I had dated years earlier, while we were together he went on a trip overseas and met someone else! Then I dated a really nice guy, a friend of friends of mine. I really liked him, and he told me he really liked me too. Then, when we had been together for around four months his ex-girlfriend moved back to town and he went back to her! After years of being mostly single I met a man I call ‘the relationship monkey’. He swung from relationship to relationship with very little break between. We even ended up engaged before we parted ways. He hadn’t done any personal work on his heartbreaks, he instead blamed all those before me for those relationships failing. What a trip that one was! I had a mental breakdown in the midst of that. There was a lot of mind fucking that went on there too.

The list goes on. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up! It was 12 years of heartbreak after heartbreak.

Eventually one random night, last minute plans with a girlfriend to go to her local sports club, somewhere I would never usually go, I met my now partner. He was almost none of the things I was consciously looking for, and yet everything I was subconsciously looking for and needing. I had created a list of what I was looking for in a guy – a list of MUST haves and MUST HAVE NOTs. As explained I’d dated some doozies so I was being very clear on what I did and didn’t want in my life.

Once we got together none of that mattered, and I realised that all those clichés people say to you when you’re single, you know like “when you know, you know”, “he’ll come along when you least expect it, or when you’re not looking”, “when the time is right, he’ll be there”, etc. were spot on!

I always believed in my heart that there was the perfect man out there for me. And there was, he is.

This belief is what kept me going, kept me getting back up brushing myself off and trying again. I believed in love. Most of all I always knew that the failed attempts at love were to prepare me for when I did meet the one.

I’ve said to my partner, had I not had those experiences I don’t feel like I would appreciate him like I do.

What I was most proud of was that I kept my heart open. Or so I thought.

Not long before I met my partner, I asked myself “Why do I keep attracting emotionally unavailable men?” My answer, “Because you, yourself are emotionally unavailable”.

I thought I was open, but in truth all those experiences along with belief systems I’d been carrying from childhood and beyond was holding me back from a healthy,  mutually supportive, relationship free from control.

The Work I did to Heal

Over the years I did a lot of things to help me move through and release traumas and belief systems that were holding me back. I’ve always said self-development once you start is a train you can never get off. That once you peel back one layer, just like an onion, there is another one underneath. And just like cutting an onion, shedding the layers mostly comes with tears!

I did A LOT of journaling. I used oracle cards to support myself. I love the way the message you receive with oracle cards is often so on point and timely. I find them to be such a great support, particularly when I’m emotionally fragile. I saw counsellors and psychologists. I leaned on my girlfriends. I saw energy healers of modalities from Kinesiology, Holographic Kinetics, Reiki, Access Bars, Bowen Therapy, meditation, and more. I used affirmations and prayer daily, because while my self-esteem was being knocked about so violently on the outside I learned that ultimately my inner peace is up to me.

One of the most powerful self practises I did was to forgive. Forgiveness of the person and their actions and behaviours, and most importantly forgiveness of myself. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened wasn’t hurtful, or even ok. Forgiveness allows you to release the hold that person and their actions and behaviours have on you, and also releases you from any of the emotions you may have toward yourself for your part in what happened. Because ultimately relationships are a two way street, and I know for myself once I engaged in this practise I realised there was a lot I was blaming myself for, a lot of shame I was carrying for allowing things to go on for so long and for getting as bad as they did before leaving, etc. etc.

The way I found the most supportive for the practise of forgiveness was to write a letter. It began, “Dear …., I forgive you for…..” Once I wrote the letter I burnt it, which is symbolic for letting go.

Now for the most part this wasn’t a do-it-once-and-it’s-all-over type of thing. I have written many letters over time, and still do. Because remember the onion story from earlier? There are many layers to forgiveness too, and as you go through your life and have other experiences, which don’t just have to be of the romantic kind, you will be triggered and the feelings you are still (possibly unknowingly) holding onto will rise again in other ways and other situations until you are completely healed from that hurt or belief.

If this were to happen for you, if you are triggered by a person or event and you just can’t put your finger on why or what it is, I like to journal. The term is called automatic writing. You put pen to paper and begin by writing, “What is it that is bothering me” (or whichever question you would like answered) and you keep writing every thought that comes to mind. It might even be “I don’t know what to write, or why am I doing this”, stay with it and as you keep writing (without judging what is written, allow it to flow from you onto the paper) eventually you will reach the root of what is upsetting you. This may be enough or it could be the catalyst for another letter(s) of forgiveness.

If you find these practices aren’t helping you to let go and move on, I just can’t recommend holistic therapies highly enough. Kinesiology, Holographic Kinetics and Time Line Therapy are powerful for releasing our trauma and negative belief patterns. Please make sure you seek out a therapist you have a connection with or is recommended to you.

Most of all, I kept living my life. I kept showing up. I kept saying, “Yes”. I followed my curiosity and I did the things that brought ME joy. I lived for myself (and my son), by my rules.

Takeaways

I know there are people going through this right now that may be reading this piece. I want you to know that this isn’t how it’s always going to be for you. How you get through this though is up to you. If you choose to see this as happening to you, rather than for you – it’s going to be a much longer and harder recovery.

If instead you choose to learn the lessons from your experience, allow yourself to go inward and enquire, “What do I need to learn here”, you will grow, your life will expand and you will prepare yourself to be in the space and energy you are required to be to meet the person you may wish to settle with. As I shared earlier, I believe had I met my partner years earlier I would not have been able to match his frequency, and he says the same to me for where he was at previous to us meeting.

Live your life for you without the end goal being to meet someone. When you are living your best life wholly and solely for you, one day you will look up and there they will be. But if your focus is on living your life to meet the one, you are missing a whole lot of life in the meantime. This is time that doesn’t come back.

In hindsight, my single years were such a gift. I had the opportunity to really get to know myself, to do things I may not have tried had I been in a partnership needing to consider how my choices would affect my partner.

Trust and have faith that what you’re seeking is coming, then let it go. Know that you are worthy, that you are enough, that you are fucking incredible, and that you don’t need a partner to get through your life – a partner is just the icing on the cake of life.

I love this quote by Oprah, “Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create”.

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