Consult with Krystal – Is it my fault I was abused?
I just started reading your book, The Codependency Recovery Plan, right upon my fifth break-up with my boyfriend/fiancé or whatever he is. All I’m reading is “that woman gave too much” and blah blah in your book. It’s as if you think it was my fault I was abused.
What about the fact that the woman was abused, lied to and told to wait for more commitment which never happened?! What if that man created a sense of competition between the woman and the other people in his life?!
Isn’t it normal to take care of the one you love? Is it not normal to wait when you are told that you are loved and they want to commit but it’s not the right time?
I am at a loss. The last 6.5 years of my life I spent completely losing myself and being abused by the person who told me he loves me. I want to heal for my daughter and I yet when I get to reading your book, I am shocked. Do you really think I am to blame for my abuse? I’m like WTF!???
I know I’m traumatized. But don’t you think it’s dangerous for such books to get into the hands of people like my boyfriend or whoever he is (I don’t know at the moment) to tell me I’m the reason nothing worked?
Obviously, the situation was insanity and the fact he lived with his ex-wife and kids didn’t help things. But when I read your book, I kind of feel crazy myself. It only makes me think that maybe it’s true that all of this was my fault. I just feel worse now. Are you really saying it was my fault I was abused?
– Feeling more confused
It’s not your fault you were abused
I appreciate the pain that led you to reach out to me. It is completely understandable that reading my book, The Codependency Recovery Plan, may be initially confusing or upsetting.
Firstly, you are NEVER responsible for abuse. Your ex is absolutely responsible for his abuse, lies, and emotional manipulation. Part of the healing process for abusive relationships is to honor the truth that what we experienced was indeed abuse. We also honor that the abuse was our partner’s choice and never our fault or responsibility. You are not responsible for the fact your ex chose to be abusive. This was his unfortunate choice.
Abuse can be confusing
It is a major step towards your recovery that you are able to identify you experienced abuse. In my own recovery process, it took me years to acknowledge that what I had experienced in my codependent relationships was abuse. Not naming the abuse for what it was led to lots of confusion.
So, again, I’m proud of you for identifying that what you have experienced was, indeed, abusive. For example, comparing you to the other people in his life while living with his ex-wife must have led to a lot of internal insecurity. That was abusive for sure.
Related: 7 (not so obvious) signs of emotional abuse
Abuse is not your fault but you are responsible to heal
While you are absolutely not at fault for the abuse, there is still a role you played in the relationship. My book, The Codependency Recovery Plan, was written to honor you cannot heal after a traumatizing relationship by focusing on the other person’s failings.
While you are absolutely not responsible for another person’s abuse, as an adult, you must look at why you chose to disregard the facts of his actions. In codependency, it’s common to have issues with reality. One way this manifests is by choosing to believe someone’s words, rather than their actions, repeatedly. Another sign of reality issues is not being able to identify, or validate, your own truth. I hear this may be a struggle of yours, at times, since reading my book led you to feel “crazy” at least in part.
Related: The meaning of “codependency” and how to find healing
Noticing Your Truth
Without blame or judgment, I hear you spent six and a half years waiting for him to commit to you more deeply while he continued living with his ex. The part of you that deserves healing is the part of you who believed him more than yourself for years. I say this, because, deep down, you likely felt or knew things weren’t adding up when it came to his promises versus his actions.
In my own codependency, I spent years denying what I knew to be true like the fact that deep down, I knew I should walk away because the men I was dating didn’t want to change. I spent years overlooking the fact that the men I chose were unreliable and inconsistent. Rather, I prioritized their words like when they told me they loved me or they were attracted to me over how they never showed up in my life. To heal, I began telling myself “I can’t take that to the bank” when I wanted to believe words over actions.
Healing Yourself after Abuse
I wrote my book, The Codependency Recovery Plan, to help you, and others, heal the parts of them that were attracted to unhealthy relationships so this pattern never has to be repeated. This is related to a concept called dialectical thinking.
Dialectics teach us that one or more things that seem like opposites can be true at the same time. It is true that the abuse is absolutely not your fault. Abuse never is your fault. Yet, at the same time, you can heal the parts of you that led you, as an adult, to keep choosing another person over your own sense of self-worth and mental health.
Taking Space from Your Ex
I am so proud of you for wanting to heal and reaching out. It is my sincere hope I have clarified my intentions for my book. At this time, I would highly encourage you to take some time to contemplate my feedback and perhaps return to reading my book. Reading this blog will provide you numerous free resources as well. You may also choose to engage in my book, The Codependency Workbook, for more direct application of the healing skills.
You say this is your fifth breakup so you must have a pattern of going back to him after ending things. I totally get it – I was stuck in this same cycle for years. At the same time, giving yourself at least a month of no contact with your ex may provide you clarity. You may notice that you aren’t as motivated to be with someone who causes so much pain as you take some time for you.
Related: 5 ways to stay no contact with your ex
Strengthening Your Boundaries
It can be incredibly hard to keep a no contact commitment. However, to truly heal after an abusive relationship, it’s imperative we take time away from the person who so deeply hurt us. Without this, you won’t be able to get the space you need to know how you really feel and be able to heal.
If you struggle with keeping your boundaries whether it comes to no-contact, or in general, you may learn more about boundary setting in The Codependency Recovery Plan. I provide an overview of numerous skills to help with boundary setting. At the same time, many people benefit from more education, and skills, for healthy boundaries. There are numerous articles here such as “How to Know Your Boundaries in a Relationship: 3 Essential Tips From a Couples Therapist” and “Setting Relationship Boundaries: 4 Important Limits When You’re Dating.”
Abuse is traumatizing
Your experiences have, of course, been traumatizing as you acknowledge. It is deeply wounding to be repeatedly betrayed by a person who tells us that they love us. If after reading more, and taking time, you still feel stuck, overwhelmed, or in deep pain, you may choose to do some trauma therapy. I highly recommend EMDR therapy to support you in healing. To find an EMDR therapist in your area, you may check out the Psychology Today directory.
EMDR will help you see things more clearly and no longer feel stuck on what happened so you may move forward peacefully. I personally chose to do some EMDR after I realized my last codependent relationship was abusive and it helped tremendously. I stopped thinking about what my ex did to me completely after this and felt completely free.
I sincerely hope I have been able to clarify that the abuse is your relationship is never your fault. Additionally, I hope you keep reading my book and practicing the steps towards recovery so you never have to return to this same cycle you have been in for years. I am sending you a lot of love as you heal from the abuse.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
Her third book, Therapy Within Reach: Setting Boundaries, will be released September, 2023.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her on Instagram.
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