We’ve all heard the phrase “the truth will set you free.” And those six cliched words are the basis for another path to freedom that I’m going to talk about today.
Walking that path isn’t free, however. Freedom almost never is. To be able to experience freedom after an abusive relationship, you have to give something up. It’s a big something, so get ready.
You have to let go of fear.
Fear of what, you ask?
Whatever it is that is holding you back.
Codependents fear lots of different things: being alone, intimacy, being abandoned, not being good enough, being unlovable, losing a relationship, people not believing you, losing time with your kids, violence, retaliation, saying the wrong thing… I could go on and on. Do you relate to any of these?
Someone said something incredibly powerful to me last week as I was struggling with fear and I want to share it with you today –
“The very thing you fear is what will set you free.”Tweet
I had to think about that for awhile.
Friends, I have been operating from a place of fear for so long. So long that I didn’t even realize I was still in the trenches. Even though I am “free” in the sense that I am no longer in the confines of my marriage, I recognize that I have still been living in fear.
The thing is, when you have been in an abusive relationship, you don’t even realize that operating from a place of fear is your normal. And that’s what it was for me – Fear felt normal… to me. It was a heavy weight on my chest that has been pushing me down without even realizing it was there until it was repeatedly called out to me. Even then I wasn’t ready to let it go. I acknowledged it over and over again and just decided that the heightened awareness and anxiety that it brought was a small price to pay for knowing my kids and I were safe. But that wasn’t enough; that wasn’t freedom.
Finally, it hit me in the face when I had a conversation with another lawyer mom in the middle of the night one day last week: If I was going to be as afraid, as anxious, and as controlled as I was for fear of what he might do, then I may as well still be married.
That cleared the fog right up.
Do you find yourself still on the never ending roller coaster even though you’ve escaped from your abusive partner? There’s a simple explanation to this.
Abuse can change your brain in a few different ways. One way is the numbing effect that can happen to the logical side of your brain, which occurs simply to protect you from the shock of what is happening. You’re addicted to the intense feeling of relief after the roller coaster ride is over, and kind of like birthing pains, you kind of forget the pain that occurred as a survival mechanism. Or, if you’re like me, instead the the emotional part of your brain is repressed and you become hyper-functioning. You slip into do it and fixer mode, and that in and of itself is also addicting.
The point is, you don’t realize it’s happening. You don’t realize the fear is consuming, that you are constantly living in a state of heightened anxiety. You don’t realize it because after time, it starts to feel normal. Even though you may have escaped the immediate danger, your body still is in fight or flight mode, which is exhausting.
Friends, freedom isn’t free. If you want to experience freedom from the never ending roller coaster ride, you have to push the fear away. You have to take control of your life back. You will never be able to control the other person, but that isn’t your goal. You want to simply take back the reigns of your own life, and if you’re operating from a place of fear, that simply isn’t possible.
If you’re looking for community in this journey, please reach out. You are not alone.