Where do you go when you need to learn to love yourself?
In 10 years time I see myself on a farm I’ve made into a retreat and rehab centre for women who want to end their cycle of toxic relationships. Why? Because for years I have asked myself where women can go when they love too much.
Having spent lots of time reading and listening I’ve recently discovered more information around codependent behaviour. Which taps into my passion for retaining the thoughts you have about yourself.
The cost of domestic violence alone to the uk economy is £66 billion a year. 66 billion!
It doesn't discriminate on age, wealth, what your career is or where you live.
So instead of focusing on offenders, I’d like to focus on the victims. At the root of the problem, not the symptoms as we do with other addictions.
Addiction is a disease, and fortunately for me, I get to share my home with a recovering drug, alcohol and gambling addict. He has had intensive treatment and stayed clean for eight years, that's enabled by the support and encouragement of the community he is a part of. To go through "rehab" is to reprogram your brain, to accept that you are powerless to your addiction and can not do it alone.
Yet when women show signs of codependency they often, as I did, end up in a string of toxic and violent relationships, which makes me question, why are you there in the first place?
Or, why are there multiple relationships that end the same way?
I also know first hand that when you leave, it’s normal to lose everything from your belongings and home to friends and dignity. Going from a nice family home to a place where you can’t afford a bed.
So why is it you think women go back? They go back for their life, the things they were used to. They think that’s their worth. They are punished at home and punished for leaving. Being expected to maintain a family and rehome them, making sure their children are cared for, starting a life again, often under the duress of the ex partner, and rebuilding their own inner strength alone or with little support. How can you be educated to love yourself without available knowledge.
My 10 year plan is to show that loving yourself will give you the internal power to say enough is enough.
To know your boundaries before you get into another relationship, to know you’re worthy of respect, love, intimacy. That it’s ok to be in a relationship where you’re heard.
That you don’t need to seek approval.
So you can remember how you feel, who you are, what you do, how you live!
So when your friends tell you to leave but you can’t, I hear you, and when they tell you to block him and change your number, but you don’t, I feel you.
When they tell you to move on, I remember.
I listen, I understand.
I hear you when you say it’s not that easy because I know it is not. When unwillingly go back again and hide your life from people who love you.
I hear your heart saying they might see how valuable you are and change, for you.
This was me, when in the midst of leaving, a suitcase contained my life. I was eating to survive, I lived on the edge. I was petrified and rightly so. You can’t just leave a manipulator unless you make a clean break and have the power to make it a clean break. No ties.
I remember rushing to buy a printer to print out my own bank statements to prove my innocence that I hadn’t been stealing essentially from myself, in a complete toxic series of mind games, that when I say now sounds ridiculous but when you live it, it’s so f***ing real, you don’t know anything but adrenaline and deflation.
But I know now that a narcissist will quickly train you to seek their approval, even after you leave. That you learn to forget who you are, what you like, how you feel, how you want to live.
These are the times when you’re addicted to love and it nearly kills you. To say “just stop” is like telling a drug addict to stop taking drugs.
You know what is right, but you feel powerless to the urges.
It’s these times that you need support not instructions. You need kindness and love to nurture you to the place where you can and will love yourself.
All recovery requires you to reprogram your thoughts and love yourself first.
It’s my why.
It’s about rebuilding and forgiving yourself rather than punishing yourself or blaming yourself for how things turn out.
Learning to make decisions for yourself, thinking for yourself again.
In those relationships you give everything and keep nothing for you, so when it is over you’re empty and easily allow another toxic partner in.
Or spend all your money, get drunk, have sex with whoever you think will take the pain away.
Loving yourself is the way to save your heart.
It’s a self love journey. It's the only way to reprogramme the thoughts we have.
Realising that we can have love away from desperation and neediness, we do not need to attach ourselves to anyone to make us feel whole and complete. That when we do recover we can find love with someone who truly loves and respects us because of the healthy, kind and loving boundaries we have created leaving us feeling like our most attractive, glowing self.