I've always considered myself as strong, resilient, smart and capable, but it took me a long time to face the fact that I had ended up in an abusive relationship. "How the hell did that happen?" was the constant question rolling around in my mind.
For a long time, I wasn't prepared to address the how and in fact, more often than not, I would underplay the enormity of what I had experienced. Heck, I even made a pact with myself that if my relationship ever turned physical, I would end the relationship for good.
Thinking about that now seems so ridiculous. I was prepared to tolerate the emotional abuse, indefinitely, because I feared I would ruin my kids lives forever if I left and broke up the family. How very sad that I didn't think I deserved more from life.
Because I didn't value my self-worth enough, the universe intervened delivering a big blow, quite literally. The emotional abuse turned physical one night. I knew from that moment on that life would be different. I had enough self-respect to realise this had gone too far and there was no backing out of the pact.
I had been warned that the behaviours my ex-partner was displaying would continue to escalate and was told get out while I could. I ignored the advice hoping and believing that things would calm down. They never do! I set a plan and I went about executing that plan until the kids and I were set up in our new home.
The impact of that continued abuse, amongst other stressful circumstances left me broken and numb. I knew that if I didn't focus on my own healing, life would just get harder.
Here are the 6 ways I started to rebuild my self-esteem:
1. Reduce the ongoing conflict:
In the short term, I did everything possible to keep my ex-partner at arms length and keep the conflict between us to a minimum. His primary concern was his kids and although he was abusive to me, he wasn't to his kids. When he would send a message asking how his kids were, I would respond. I sent him photos of them having a good time and I would compliment him on the nice things he did with his kids. To a narcissist, this type of stroking the ego is necessary to keep a level of peace between you.
2. Put all your energy into your well-being:
Being alone gave me the opportunity to focus on my own well-being again. I didn't need to please anyone but myself, so I turned my priorities to self-care. I undertook a couple of online well-being courses. I surrounded myself with positive communities, I treated myself nicely with the occasional massage, regular kinesiology, daily exercise, good eating, meditation and getting quality sleep.
3. Speak your truth:
When I was ready, I told people the truth about where I had ended up. I hid from reality for about the first three months. People were shocked when I told them and naturally said: "Why didn't you tell us what was going on?" The truth was, I wasn't ready to. I was embarrassed to admit where I had ended up, but when I went through my angry stage, I needed to talk and expel myself from the build up of pain and disappointment.
4. Be consistent:
As I consistently did step 1 and 2 that gave me breathing space to turn inwards and start asking the bigger questions about why I needed help with that, so I reached out for support and worked through the layers of expressing my truth, my underlying beliefs and feelings of low self-worth. When I became aware of those drivers, I could do something about changing them. Working on my mindset became a strong focus and still is to this day.
5. Take full responsibility for your life:
Even though I continued to receive abusive text messages from my ex and still do on occasion, all I can do is focus on me and becoming the best I can be for myself and my kids sake. And as I do that, I don't feel drawn into justifying my worth or defending myself, which means I can see the abuse for what it is and feel thankful every day that I got away. If you want things to change in your life, then you need to be the one to change it for yourself.
6. Rebuild your life:
I remember once saying that I really liked who I was. It had been a long time since I could utter such words again. But, the evidence was there, I just needed to find me again and what made me happy. I thought about what made me happy back then and recreated those patterns in the present moment. Every day I bolstered my worth by telling myself that I was on the path of transformation and focused my energy on developing more self-loving behaviours.
I became so inspired by my own transformational journey and learning that I created my very own 8 step program to help woman just like me.