SINGLE LIFE as a SURVIVOR of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and OTHER FORMS of ABUSE or TORTURE
Are you now living the single life as a survivor of domestic violence and/or other forms of abuse or torture? How do you view the single life? Are you afraid to enter into a romantic, loving relationship with someone? Are you jumping from one romantic relationship to another (even though these relationships are not healthy ones for you)? Are you afraid to be alone? What are your fears?
This topic was brought to mind because of the deep loneliness I feel at times. A friend and spiritual mentor sent me a few quotations on loneliness in response to an e-mail I sent her. These quotations were:
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou
“The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.” – Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven
“There is the solitude of suffering, when you go through darkness that is lonely, intense, and terrible. Words become powerless to express your pain; what others hear from your words is so distant and different than what you are actually suffering.” – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
“If you learn to really sit with loneliness and embrace it for the gift that it is … an opportunity to get to know YOU, to learn how strong you really are, to depend on no one but YOU for your happiness … you will realize that a little loneliness goes a LONG way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colorful YOU.” – Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass
Although all the quotations resonated with me, I decided to read the book mentioned above written by Mandy Hale. I discovered that Hale writes with humor and honesty.
I am a single woman enjoying my freedom. Without consciously making a choice to remain single after the separation from my abusive ex-husband, I knew intuitively that I needed to find myself. That is more than a cliché. Being a survivor of decades of abuse meant that I lost myself or that I never knew who I was. Any person in a relationship (whether a survivor of any abuse or trauma or not an abuse survivor at all) can lose her or his self. It is not uncommon. We live in a society that still puts a heavy value on being part of a couple. That is not bad or good. It just is.
Many survivors and those who deal with PTSD due to trauma sometimes alternate between being too dependent and being too independent. The balance, the healthy interdependence, may be difficult to find until enough personal healing occurs.
When I was in college, my close friends were one by one getting married. None of them had a lengthy single life before marriage. I ended up living together with my ex-husband before marrying him. Staying single did not seem to be an option or at least not an acceptable and positive option. Now I know that being single is a decent option for each of us – just as being part of a couple is a decent option. If I had the courage and the self-confidence to be independent and single then, my life may have taken a different course.
Although I presently deal with loneliness at times, I know that seeking a relationship to fulfill that loneliness will not work. Loneliness is something I want and need to go through, process, possibly understand, and to eventually accept. Even those in relationship have times of individual loneliness. It is part of the human condition, I believe.
Hale’s book contains simple statements that made me think. It is a book with a God-slant which may not be for everyone. Mandy Hale made me realize that it does take strength to lead life as a single. There are also many benefits to being single.
Hale writes in her book, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass:
“A Self Checkpoint for the Single Woman
Am I complete in my own life, even if no one ever joins me on my journey?
Have I built a healthy network of friends and family who love me the way I am, and do I maintain those relationships even when I’m dating someone?
Am I ignoring my dreams to pursue a relationship, or am I pursuing my dreams and letting love find me?
Have I learned to love myself, even if I choose to be home alone on a Saturday night?
Once you’ve made sure you’re emotionally strong and secure with who you are, you’ll come to realize that late-blooming roses are often the sweetest. You’ll realize how much you actually like owning your own schedule, your own weekend, your own independence. You will be brave enough to boldly chart your own path, even if it doesn’t include a white picket fence. You’ll hope for romance, but with or without it you’ll crank up the music and dance. And when you look in the mirror, you’ll see a woman who doesn’t let go of her joy simple because love hasn’t yet arrived.” (Pages 22-23)
Several years ago, a friend tried to set me up on a date. The time was definitely not right for me. Although I had both male and female friends, I did not want to even think of being part of a couple. I needed to discover who I was. I knew I was a mom. I was born to be a mother. What else was within me? Megan, my daughter, was not with me anymore. My major self-definition of myself could not be a mom. (Many mothers and fathers deal with the empty nest syndrome. My empty nest syndrome came much too soon and in an unjust, violent way.)
It was unacceptable to me to define myself anymore as my abusers had defined me. I knew I wasn’t a whore. I knew I was more than a victim. It takes time to heal. The clouds of trauma clear eventually. When those clouds clear, it is time to decide who you are …. I knew it was time for me to discover myself. Friends and therapy helped me along on this path. Grief had to be faced. Anger had to lessen or dissolve. The process of forgiveness began. PTSD symptoms lessened. I found my voice. Life became brighter and lighter.
Spiritual mentors and friends still guide me. I am learning whom I can trust as well as learning to trust myself. A life coach can help at this point. Once you are ready to go past being a victim, your life can start moving forward in all areas. I, as your life coach and as someone who has been there, can support you to reach your desires.
One day, I may enter into a relationship with someone. My heart remains open. I know I would like a partner who will grow as I grow … emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Good relationships are not stagnant. They move – hopefully forward. Growth is important to me. I want to keep changing for the better! Change may take time. That is okay. As long as I move forward, I shall keep smiling inside!