It’s the end of the day, children are in bed, and there is a pile of ironing to do before tomorrow. You are drained from a day at work, activities with the children, and you know you have a meeting with your lawyer tomorrow. You split from your abusive husband three months ago, and he has moved in with his latest girlfriend. He returns to the family home regularly to see the children, sometimes these visits end up in an argument, but you know he won’t stay. You know he hasn’t been responding to lawyers letters about the divorce, but you are determined to move things along as quickly as possible, because you want your own space, and your husband has right of access to the family home until you are divorced. Do you do the ironing and plan questions for tomorrow’s meeting, or do you take some time out for yourself? Please take time out for yourself!
Call a Friend
It’s time to sit down and call someone you are close with; your best friend, your sister, a neighbour, or a friend far away. You can phone, email, Skype or FaceTime, depending on how you feel.
I well recall the difficulty I had picking up the phone to chat when I was feeling overwhelmed. Abusive relationships can leave us feeling isolated, and worthless – I didn’t have anything interesting to say, so why would anyone want to listen to me? This question is one of many falsehoods absorbed from our abusers. They didn’t want to listen to us, and didn’t want us having friends who did. They would belittle our friends and question their motives, but we need to listen to ourselves and pay attention to the connection that brought us together with our friends.
We all have intuition, it’s not magic; it’s a way for us to know what is right for us. Being in a relationship with an abuser strips back intuition, because the ground below us keeps shifting, and we are constantly responding to crises – we don’t have the space to listen to our own inner voice. Now, in a space free of abuse, we can reclaim that intuition, and decide who it feels good to call, and pick up the phone. Friends, sisters, aunts, will be thrilled to hear from you, and happy to share their news too. We want to make this a time to relax, and feed our inner selves, so think about what you want to say before keying in the number; this gives the opportunity to lead the conversation in a positive direction. There can be much to share with trusted people about the aftermath of an abusive relationship, including the legal and financial elements – you probably don’t want every conversation to be about this, though. I had an aunt who became a parent figure when, as a young adult, my parents died ; she was amazing, always letting me decide what I wanted to share at any given time.
FaceTime and Skype are ways to have video calls with friends and family, and a good way to stay in more personal touch with those you don’t see often. Obviously it depends on who you are contacting; my aunt wouldn’t have known what to do on a video call! I don’t do it enough, partly because I dislike how I look on the screen! I’m always happy to see the person I am calling, but, because of the position of the camera on my laptop, I look like I have 3 chins, and don’t recognise myself, which I find distracting – I keep trying to alter my position! I’m middle-aged, and late to the ball; I know younger folk are much more at home with this form of contact.
When contacting friends and family overseas, I prefer email for letters, and Facebook for quick messages. We want to spend some quality time, so I find email is the way to go – I like the anticipation of a response, too.
(This picture is clearly not me; I never have time to do my nails!)
During the most difficult times in my divorce, my closest friend was living overseas. I remember the mixed feelings I had about her family moving away for two years. I was excited about the opportunities for them, but had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because I wouldn’t see her for so long. As it happened, we were in constant touch by email, and the occasional phone call. We instinctively knew when the other was having a difficult time, and we would be in contact. Her letters were full of detail about her experiences in her new country; I loved hearing about her adventures with her children. I kept her in touch with what was happening in my life and with home; my letters helped her feel connected. Even in our most turbulent times, we have stories to tell, and something to give to others.
Remember, don’t let fear keep you from staying in contact with those you care about, and care about you.
I hope this post has been helpful; if so please share with your friends. I look forward to hearing your responses, and suggestions.
Sending out peace to you.