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How did I end up in an abusive relationship?

There are a lot of different perspectives out there, within social work, psychology, spirituality, social media etc. on how people end up in abusive relationships. A few years ago, whilst I was under assessment by social workers, who were assessing me to see if I was likely to return to the abuser, it was often written and spoken about that I may still have the 'vulnerabilities' to go into abusive relationships if I did not understand the reasons why I had ended up in one. I remember being questioned on this in court, having to explain how I'd learned from my mistakes and wouldn't repeat them, advocating that I was a secure parent to return my children home to.

During the years I was being abused I would regularly seek refuge in my parent's home. During this time, I was naturally drawn online to a public speaker named Dr. Gabor Maté. I really resonated with his talks on addiction and the need for infants to have attuned and nurturing caregivers - and the link between a lack of nurturing and attuned parenting and addictive behaviors in later life. I could relate the abusive relationship to an addiction - I kept going back for more, despite the risk to my well-being and life. One of the parts of the abusive relationship that I yearned for the most was the cuddling. We would lie down for hours on end in each other's arms, squeezing each other tight, spooning like a perfect puzzle. He was hyper-aware of my emotional state, quick to point out if I seemed anxious or happy. There was also a strong sense of belonging within the relationship, he ran community martial arts classes and there was a great sense of purpose for nutrition and optimal well-being among us all.

Later, I came across a psychologist called Dr. Jessica Taylor who has done immense research and work on the topic of 'victim blaming' and passionately advocates that women are not to be blamed for ending up in abusive relationships or labeled as vulnerable or different as she insists that anyone can find themself in an abusive relationship regardless of upbringing, class, race, gender, etc.

These well-educated, well-intentioned, and passionate speakers have left me in a conundrum. At certain points in time, I find myself reflecting on how my upbringing in this society left me starved of feeling truly connected to and self-empowered, and that it was this foundation that built my life into the abusive situation it became. At other times, I bought into the idea that some men are just incredibly gifted at manipulating anyone and that there was nothing about me 'pre-disposed' to abuse. One concluding factor of this conundrum is that none of this is black and white, and there's some truth in all of it. I find at different stages of healing; different truths are more important to focus on. Whilst still blaming oneself for abuse, it can be really unhelpful to focus on the contributing factors of one's life that may have led to experiencing so much abuse. Although we can convince ourselves that we're 'healing' and 'doing the inner work, these reflections can lead us down roads of further self-blame or moving blame over to someone else, like our parents or caregivers. With a lot of abuse, comes a lot of pain. Hell, even just growing up in the world as it brings a lot of pain! Sometimes we grow up in environments that don't teach us healthy ways to cope with pain. So many adults still have to find someone in society to blame for their pain. You'll hear them bad-mouthing someone from society to get a kick that they're not the worst. Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Fat Phobia, Poverty Shaming, Addiction Shaming, Homelessness Shaming, you name it, people love to find someone to shame and blame for the world being the way it is. It saves us from feeling the dreaded pain of self-accountability of our own shortcomings to just cast a shadow over someone else instead. I say all of that to say this: I haven't coped very well with my own pain. I've blamed and shamed my upbringing a lot to try and escape the overwhelming pain and anger I feel at the expense of everything I've experienced and witnessed.

I feel terrible. I feel terrible that I've done that. But where did I learn to blame? Are we born blaming? Or do we pick it up as a learned behavior? And where do we learn our behavior? So maybe the very people I've blamed for my suffering are also the people that showed me how to blame. And those very people may blame me for blaming them, and make me out to be completely unfair, which I am, but who showed me this unfair way of being? We keep going full circle, right? It's hilarious and ridiculous. It's made me think I need to do a poem about blame born out of this blog today.

Now that we've cleared that up, I feel a bit clearer about my conclusion to all this. It's both. How did I end up in an abusive relationship?

  1. Because I grew up in a world led by abusive leaders, a world disconnected from our true nature that keeps us in a rat race for survival. My parents did their best in the world they were given, but it takes a village to raise a child and the mental health/addiction epidemics we're facing are much less to do with individual parenting failures and much more to do with global oppression of mankind to live in opposition to one's true nature - isolated and individualistic - to serve the interests of the elite minority's greed and power trip.

  2. Whilst in the midst of struggling with the weight of the world and not knowing which roads to take for the best, I met a delusional man, a self-proclaimed guru, and healer that was happy to take me under his wing to feed his self-image of a protector and leader, whilst simultaneously tying me into a life of mental, sexual, financial and physical slavery

So, I feel like I've answered here the leading question of this blog, but as I mentioned earlier, I find there are different truths that are important to focus on at different stages in my healing. When asking the question 'how did I end up in an abusive relationship?', I feel a lot of anger and pain ready to be fired off somewhere, and it's those nearest and dearest that feel the most accessible to lash some of that pain out onto. This is why I am actively steering the answers to this question away from my parents and toward the society that raised them and surrounded them whilst they raised me. All of this, however, does not take away from my own healing journey with early childhood experiences. It does not invalidate my experiences of pain or neglect growing up. There is still a place for me to reflect on this, but this reflection must be kept outside of the discussion of where responsibility lies as to why I ended up in the abusive relationship. When I was born into this world, there was no one that cared for me or protected me more than my parents. They protected me from the worst evils of this world and poured all the love they had into me, pushing beyond their limits of what they believed even possible. They stressed about my well-being like all caring parents, they took it upon themselves to support me in my passions and interests beyond average parents, they spoke words of love and affirmation of my worth, they shared stories of their own lives, they organized family events and surrounded me with as much love as they could gather. To quote Tupac; my parents were given this world, they didn't make it. They did their absolute best to give me all the tools I needed to flourish in this world. Part of the reason I know all this now is because I'm a parent myself, and I'm experiencing how ridiculously difficult it is to parent in this world. It's really stressful and you never ever feel like you're doing enough, it's an enormous weight to carry and it's terrifying. We constantly mess up, stress out, shout, and are way too hard on our kids than is necessary. I know this because I am this.

All of that being said, I think it's pretty natural to have some unprocessed anger and pain associated with your parents growing up, where they are the face of this society's cold rush. I have written poems that have been part of my way of processing the pain and anger that is associated with my parents. I just want to say now though, for the record, that I express anger to release it, to process it, to let it go because once anger is acknowledged, processed, and released, love can flow through. I hope that if my parents ever hear or read anything that they feel is anger towards them that they know this: even the most renowned public speaker and educator on early childhood development (my idol) Dr Gabor Maté's son has openly expressed pain and anger towards his father based on his upbringing. Every parent-child relationship in this world is massively strained due to societal circumstances we are all trying to survive in. Anything I've been angry at my parents about, they are probably angry at their parents for deep down too if they were to go there.

Anger is a response to when we are treated unjustly. We need anger. Anger protects us. Anger lets us know where our boundaries need to be. When we listen to our own anger and respect it, it will guide us out of environments where we feel unjustly treated and into environments that feel just. Anger is a sacred expression of our soul to keep guiding us into the reality where we deserve to be.

Anger can be confusing and easily lashed out when we do not spend time getting to know our own anger. Once we do get to know our anger, she becomes one of our greatest allies and friend.

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