They say the first healthy relationship after a toxic one is the most difficult relationship. I have no idea who “they” are, but they were right. After you heal, work through the toxic parts of your past relationship, and begin to feel better again, you consider dating, adding someone to your life. So you swipe, or make eyes at someone from across the dance floor. You feel happy. Open. Willing. And you are all of those things. At first it feels nice, but then almost in the same sense as your toxic partner began to reveal toxic signs, you begin to overthink. Read into everything he says. You are no longer sitting next to the man you like, but rather someone who may be hiding toxic traits better than your ex did. So you sit, listen, observe yourself into a rabbithole that leads you to losing someone who most likely is a great fit and absolutely nothing like your ex. At home, now alone, you can see what you did. You can see where you went wrong. You can see how you got yourself into this black hole. On the other side of the black hole, with him moving on without you, and you wondering if you should try again, you heal. But this time instead of healing from what someone else did to you, you heal from what you did to you. And it’s not entirely your fault. You had no idea it would be like this.
At first dating sounds fun. Fun, something you have never really had, until he says one thing that your ex said and it triggers you. From their its a snowball effect. One thing turns into another and you are a wreck in your head while hes going on like nothing happened, and guess what? Nothing happened.
How do we, as recovering survivors of abuse, ever feel good enough to accept love? To let in. To let go and embrace the good we all deserve? At this moment, after five years of being single, learning to love myself, and years of healing through recovery, I can honestly say, I have no idea. I guess for me it may mean taking an L and learning how to control my thoughts. Walking into something new with someone who has no idea what it is like to be in something toxic and abusive, I can’t expect him to treat me as if I’m fragile, because he too is walking into something with is own traumas. His own hurts. We each have to be responsible for how we feel and take care of ourselves first. Understanding and patience with yourself is key. But at times that may come too late.
Looking back on it we can see where we go wrong. We take things they say personally. We wait for them to morph into our ex’s. Standing in front of them, we can see and even feel they are nothing like we are used to, but in the back of our minds, we hear the voice saying
“Don’t get excited yet, lets wait and see.”
As time passes and they don’t call us names, yell at us, or put us down, we begin to build trust, but then an off the cuff comment destroys what we are building and we are once again left confused about absolutely nothing. It’s scary to explain to someone how we are feeling when we don’t truly understand what we are even feeling. So at times we self sabotage. We get passive aggressive and want to end things before they do so we fell as if we have some control in our lives. But we do have control in our lives. We have had it all along.
It’s not easy to be with someone healthy after such abuse even if you have gotten help. You can go to school for four years, learn what you need to learn for the job you want, but that job is entirely different on the first day than the thought of it was in your head and that is scary. Reel it in. Breathe. Step back and consider who is saying things to you. It is not your ex, it is someone new who is choosing to be with you and spend time with you. Overthinking may be part of it, but work each day at controlling it. It will not happen over night. Get comfortable with telling others what you need or how you feel. But remember there is a time and place for discussions. Be calm and cool. Be straight forward with what you need to say but expect nothing in return. Your partner has the right to feel how they feel. Work together and things will work out.
Each one of us deserves to love and to feel loved back. If it turns out that its not right with him, it will be right with someone else. But be sure it won’t work out for actual reasons not just because you are overthinking. If thats the case, it will not work with anyone. If you have to, pick up your pieces, learn your lessons, know it’s going to be OK, then try again. Keep trying until you find your match. It can only get better from here. But most importantly, realize loving again is so crazy brave!