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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Through our lifetimes we pick up many coats of armour. We  wear them for protection to safeguard us from repeating our past hurts. The impact of this, although allowing us to feel safe, limits us from living full and vibrant lives.

I use a variety of modalities uniquely weaved together for whatever your soul requires to release your limiting beliefs and move through your pains and traumas to unlock a life full of possibilities.

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Lessons I learned through my 30s

As 2019 was drawing to a close I began reflecting on the past decade and some of the lessons I had learned. The years from 2010 – 2019 saw me through my 30s.
I shed my skin, so to speak, quite a few times and through those experiences I learned so many valuable lessons. Some of them were really hard while I was in it, and involved some really dark periods. However as I look back, I am so grateful for all those experiences, without them I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Here are my reflections ….

From beginning to end this decade has ripped me open and put me back together (somewhat) a few times. I’ve learned many lessons, made many mistakes, stayed in situations well past their used by date, released relationships that weren’t supportive, aimed high, got caught in the tide, followed the crowd and lost my way.

Also, I have made some really great choices, taken many leaps of faith, honoured myself by following my instinct, connected and reconnected with really wonderfully, beautiful people, did the personal work that led me to meeting the most gorgeous man, watched one baby grow his wings and is almost ready to fly while another has been born, and learned that being still, not having everything mapped is OK.

I’ve learned… you can know someone for 5 minutes and know them better than someone you’ve known your whole life. That people can be really disappointing and yet some can be unexpectedly kind.

I’ve learned… disappointment comes from your own expectations. That when you let go of expectations not a lot disappoints you anymore.

I’ve learned… you don’t know what you don’t know, and we are all just operating from within our own scope of experience and conditioning. That no one is right or wrong. That people usually mean well and don’t mean to offend. That judgement is on you, not another.

I’ve learned… open communication is better than wasting energy and creating anxiety wondering why someone has/hasn’t done something or if you’ve somehow upset them. That if you allow someone to treat you a certain way once without speaking up, you then become an active participant showing them it’s ok to do that until you say no more.

I’ve learned… no matter how ‘conscious’, ‘educated’, or ‘spiritual’ you think you are, you know far less than you believe you do, and to use that term as a label is a great example of that. That mastering your ego is tough and not one person on this planet has theirs fully in check.

I’ve learned… no matter what heartbreaks and challenges are thrown at you, you will survive.

I’ve learned… life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you – every situation is an opportunity to learn, grow, evolve – choosing to be a victim (especially long term) keeps you small and prevents you from living a full life. Every decision you make is a choice and the consequences are your responsibility. No matter what is going on with you there is always someone coping with worse.

I’ve also learned… you are entitled to a pity party every so often. Just don’t unpack and stay there.

I’ve learned… sometimes the best release you can give yourself is going for a solo drive in the car, turning the music up loud and screaming F*CK (and other things) as loud as your voice box will allow you to.

I’ve learned… kindness should always come first. That everyone has things going on, some wear it for everyone to see, but most don’t.

I’ve learned… if you want to be healthy, fit and toned you have to move every day, eat less, reduce carbs, fuel your body with nourishing, simple foods and healthy fats and unless you have the spare money to employ someone to slap that biscuit out of your hand and kick your arse to move… it’s all up to you.

I’ve learned… when you need help, ask. People WANT to help you, support you and love on you, but unless you ask they don’t know you need it.

I’ve learned… being truthful is one of the best traits you can have. That is – speaking your truth with kindness, living your truth, and honouring others for doing the same for themselves. Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business and other people’s feelings are for them to feel.

I’ve learned… no one is better than the next. That where you live, how much money, education, friends, family, material possessions, likes and Instagram followers you have; whether you’ve travelled the whole earth or stayed in the one place your entire life; whether you eat meat, some meat, fake meat or no meat; whether you use chemicals to clean and pharmaceuticals only for your health or essential oils and more natural approaches, doesn’t matter – because all of it is an illusion. When the day comes we all become dust in the earth.

I’ve learned… we know nothing. That life is full of distractions and diversions and that there is more at play than we could ever fathom. That the most important thing we can do in our life is to love openly with your full heart and to allow yourself to receive love back.

I’m grateful for this decade, for all its lessons, for all the people who have come and gone, and I am looking forward to the next one being more people-focussed rather than career-focussed, simpler and full of a whole lot more FUN!

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When Sharing Your Voice is Frightening

“Anyone that believes this type of rubbish must be a few beers short of a six pack, oh and yes “if the boot fits”.”

This is part of a comment left on a post I shared yesterday on my personal Facebook page by a person I know.

The comment didn’t upset me, nor did it bother me that the person straight after writing it blocked me – I am thankful, I appreciate them creating a space for someone who is interested in engaging in open dialogue to enter my life.

I have been feeling deeply called for some time now to step out of the cocoon I have built since Osian was born. A place that has felt safe and reliable, quiet and familiar. Recent events have turned the volume up to a point I can no longer ignore.

Exposing more of myself, the clunky parts that don’t follow the crowd, is challenging. I feel vulnerable. I feel nervous. I feel exposed. I physically feel nauseous, and sometimes I feel a tightening in my chest that forces me to breathe deeply for it to clear.

It’s not coming easily to share these parts of myself. These aren’t just parts of myself, rather they are my essence.

Not everyone is going to align with it, which is absolutely a great thing! It is my belief that exposure to varied points of view are what open the space for us to learn, try on new thoughts, and expand our thinking.

My humanly desire to be liked and loved by all is a challenge that often holds me back from sharing myself uninhibited. My beliefs and view of the world isn’t what mainstream pushes us to think, feel, be, believe, and to share is exposing myself to ridicule and low level attacks like I did receive, rather than intelligent conversation or debate, which I’m totally up for. My opinions and views are flexible and open discussion offers a way to see things in a light I may not have considered before.

We can’t control how people receive us or our message, and sometimes that’s hard to wear. It can feel safer to hold back and say nothing.

How can I desire to reignite and build my coaching career, asking people to be confident in shining their own light, when I am holding back from shining my own?

The muscles of resilience and confidence require flexing to strengthen.

The feeling I receive when my clients have broken through a limiting belief or tried something they had been lacking in confidence to do, is indescribable.

I am thankful for the beautiful friends I can lean on to remind me of the promises I’ve made to myself, to remind me my voice is worthy to share and that it is more than ok to add my piece to the greater conversation.

All our voices are important and I believe there has never been a more significant time in our lifetime that has called for more people asking questions and sharing their truth.

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It takes courage to honour yourself first

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. Brene Brown

There is something incredibly expansive that follows making a decision to end something.

You feel a flutter in your chest over your heartspace and in your gut.
A knowing in your heart it was the right thing simultaneous with a fear in your abdomen of, what now?

Over the years I’ve let go of serious relationships, businesses, friendships, jobs and with them identities.

Each time it has come with a struggle, a knowing deep down it was meant to be but just not being ready, too afraid of letting go, saying goodbye and walking into the unknown.

Every time I’ve made that final choice to end and move on magic is created in the space that remains.
A new opportunity I would never have noticed or considered before has come my way. Richer friendships or relationships have begun that would have been missed.

I watched the Brené Brown talk on Netflix yesterday, and found myself with tears throughout. Because I’ve dared greatly at times when it would have been easier to stay where I was.

I believe it takes courage to honour yourself first, to wear the consequence of your choice – both good and not so good.

What I have always known to be true is you have one life, and if you are drowning and miserable, and you’ve given it all of you’ve got with no improvement, it could be time to walk away.

Life is too precious and fleeting to feel that way, even at the expense sometimes of hurting someone else.

In the midst of the turmoil before the end I ask myself, when I’m 80 how will I view this situation? And with my answer I’m guided.

Dare greatly friends, jump if you must. Trust that your leap of faith will be supported. Initially it may hurt. But the beauty that will unfold for you in time will be more than worth it.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

When you have a goal in mind, when you want more for yourself, you make the decision to create change. There will always be a voice that tries to stop you.

It might say,

What will people say?

What will people think?

No one will support me.

My friends/family will think I’m an idiot.

I haven’t got time.

I don’t know where to start.

I feel uncomfortable.

A lot of things will come up that will try to stop you changing.

You might decide to go along and start anyway.

You gain momentum, make a decision and go for it.

And something doesn’t go to plan.

You get sick.

Your kids get sick.

Your day job gets busy.

You didn’t sleep well last night.

You have a wedding/party/event to go to.

Your routine, momentum slows down or halts.

Then you’re stuck.

The voice starts again.

You’re a failure.

You said you would do that and you didn’t.

Everyone else is now further ahead of me.

If I start now they’ll know I didn’t show up and think I’m a failure.

I can’t do this.

I’m scared.

I’m embarrassed. I don’t deserve a new life. I don’t deserve success.

My mother always told me…,

Blah blah blah

And then it’s a year later.

Two years later. Five.

And you are still in the same place.

But you’re feeling worse because you started something, it didn’t work out so now you’re really stuck and afraid.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

The way to start again is just decide you want it.

Recognise the fear, the voice telling you not to for what it is – a bully.

A bully who is scared to let you shine. Who is jealous of your light.

Make small changes.

Get out of bed a little earlier.

Have one less coffee.

Make one phone call.

Spend 30 minutes planning the assignment, and do one thing of action.

Be more present today.

Recognise the negative thought and flip it to a positive one.

What would your best friend say?

Be your best friend.

Be your own cheering squad.

Light your path and each day take a step further.

There will be days you take a few steps back. That’s ok.

As long as the next day you pick yourself up and continue to move forward.

You can do this.

If you feel like you would like assistance to move past the place you are currently stuck at, please consider life coaching.

I have 1:1 coaching packages with two options. A 1 session mentor session, and a 3 month coaching package (currently on sale for 30% off). Contact me for more details.

Do you journal?

When I was young I had a diary. Each entry always started with “Dear Diary…”

You know it wasn’t until recently this memory from my childhood resurfaced and as I thought more about it I realised the power that diary had.

As an adult I journal, not every day, sometimes not for weeks. But when I’m out of sorts, lost, losing touch with myself and my path the first thing I do is grab out my journal.

By the time I’m finished writing I’m clearer and lighter.

It’s the first tool I recommend to all my coaching clients.

The power of a diary or journal is to allow us space.
Space from our thoughts.
A safe space that no other person needs to be privy to.
Space in our minds and hearts created by getting the words that are circling around causing anxiety to be released.

Truly so powerful. And so when I think back to when I was 8 when I was gifted my first diary (with a key and all!) and the ritual I had of writing in it and those that followed over my teen years and beyond, I am grateful.

Grateful I had that space, that tool to fall on, without even knowing I was being guided back to me.

Trusting myself to sort out my own thoughts and feelings. The power of that, right?

We are our own best support system.
We must trust that, and allow the space for our own intuition and guidance to be heard.

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Showing up despite social anxiety

I’ve felt awkward in almost all situations I’ve been in my whole life. Like I don’t fit in, like I’m just not quite the same as the people I’m with, and that because of that I feel like people don’t quite like me.

It’s a feeling possibly best described as misfiring, as in I’m present but that no one quite SEES ME. 

This has held me back in so many ways.

I’ve used drugs and alcohol at different stages of my life to mask the uncomfortableness and give me some sort of courage, alter ego even.

I’ve stayed in terrible relationships for far too long for fear of being alone, until staying is just too unbearable. 

I’ve hidden behind my son at many, many functions, to not be exposed.

I’ve used my job as a barrier between me and my client to avoid exposing my insecurities. 

I’ve cancelled going to many events last minute because the anxiety of going was too much to bare. 

Going to an event alone means summoning courage from deep down, going means knowing deep within my soul that I have to be there, and then I feel awkward as hell.

Most people probably don’t know any of this about me. Just like many people who live with social anxiety, I’ve become pretty good at being aloof, faking it so you can’t see the anxiousness under my facade. 

Stepping out into the social media world and building an online business is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I have nothing to hide behind (ok well there’s my computer & product) but what this platform requires of me is to show you ME.

Authenticity, integrity, truth, honesty, being real are traits I hold of most importance and so I felt to share this with you so you may see a bit of what’s under my posts, and I hope it can give some of you who feel this too the chance to exhale and know you are not alone.

The above is a post I shared to my social media channels yesterday. The responses I have received have been beautiful. So many women, some I have known personally, some I do not know have shared they also feel the same way.

IMG_6849I read a quote a friend shared on Instagram recently by Glennon Doyle which I felt was a beautiful reminder of how cliquey women can be, but it made me think it’s not usually about exclusion which our default may have us believe, but more I feel it is about the fear of ourselves stepping out of our comfort zone to reach to someone we don’t know.

Perhaps there is an awe, an intimidation even, of seeing a woman attending an event alone that we feel she is strong and confident and not a match for us while we are attempting to hold our mask firmly so it may not slip and show how fragile we really are underneath.

I’ve been that woman at an event alone, trying to blend and not be too obviously on my own. What I’ve noticed in those situations is often the lack of eye contact, or the looks up and down, or the small gesture of a smile as they turn away. As an introvert, it has taken all my strength at times to not just walk out, but instead to take a deep breath in and out, readjust my mask of confidence and stand strong.

Approaching a group or another person who is alone can summon up a lot of courage, there’s a whole lot of inner conversation going on – a battle between my mind of reason and my mind of fear. It is sheer determination and will that sees reason win… mostly.

As I’ve gotten older and the personal development study I have soaked in has grown, I have learned that other people’s reactions to you are a direct indication of where they are at with themselves, and that often – if we allow ourselves to go there – can be a mirror of how WE feel about ourselves. As we begin to love ourselves as our best friend and really do the work to dispel the negative thoughts and chatter going on in our minds these situations lessen, our confidence grows, or at least our thoughts no longer have the power to control us and hold us back.

So, and this is advice I am giving myself… do that thing you want to do, even if it means going alone; say hello to the woman on her own and include her in your circle – at any given moment you could be her; consciously and actively switch the language you are using with yourself to be what you would say to your best friend; and most importantly love yourself – for you are unique, you are beautiful, and you are not alone.

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10 books I recommend for a self confidence boost:

  • Mastering Your Mean Girl, Melissa Ambrosini
  • You Do You, Sarah Knight
  • The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
  • Daring Greatly, Brené Brown
  • Rise Sister Rise, Rebecca Campbell
  • A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson
  • You are Enough, Cassie Mendoza-Jones
  • Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Judgment Detox, Gabrielle Bernstein
  • Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsh