When I first left my marriage I was fearful on multiple levels, but one of the main things I was afraid of was the reactions and threats from my ex.
This was especially intense for me because for years I had given away my power to him, and he really did have control over me. Upon reflection, I was afraid of his reactions during the marriage as well, which is why I gave him control and power in an attempt to keep the peace.
Obviously, that was not a helpful strategy. It caused me to lose my sense of self and facilitated an imbalance that would lead to the breakdown of our marriage.
In those early months post-separation, every interaction would have me in tears and shaken to the core. Nasty, hurtful words were said and financial and personal threats were made to me.
It was a scary time.
These encounters would not only bring on the emotion of fear, but would drain my energy immensely. It would wipe me out. The sad part was that the next day, my ex would act like everything was normal and that nothing happened. He’d text me a random question like all was fine, leaving me completely bewildered. I was so hurt inside, and he was oblivious that anything had happened. I now know why.
I recently learned the term “cycle of abuse”. Within the cycle of abuse, once the abuser has their explosion of anger/rage, they are done. They have released it. To them, it is like nothing has happened while on the contrary, the victim is still reeling from their wrath.
A lack of physical wounds does not mean there is no abuse.
To be honest, even today a direct phone call from my ex will trigger me to fear.
Fortunately, I have been able to work through much of this and greatly reduce the fear factor. I have learned that there is a pattern to his behavior and being aware of this and knowing my triggers gives me a heads up on the situation. The pattern is that he only calls me when he is upset by something, wants to let me know, and wants to blame me for whatever is to his disliking.
One of the most helpful things you can do when dealing with a toxic relationship is limit the interactions and set boundaries. Only engage with the person when absolutely necessary. Simply limiting the encounters greatly reduces the possibility of being triggered and feeling fear.
Through the study of emotional intelligence, I have been better able to understand why he calls me in this fashion.
Hurt people, hurt people.
This means that the underlying reason someone does or says something hurtful is because they themselves are hurting inside on some level. It is not actually about the person who is the victim of the hurtful words or behavior. Understanding this concept allows you to have empathy for the person and interact in a more compassionate fashion.
Despite knowing this, it is still hard not to react when you are being attacked emotionally with hurtful words. Our instinct is to fight back. However, when you have this perspective and know it is not about you, it takes some of the sting out of their words and enables you to process your own emotions appropriately.
Emotional Intelligence allows you to course correct faster.
Finally, learning how to shift your energy is key when you have to deal with an energy vampire in your life. When you are hit with fear, it is important to know what works for you to get yourself back in alignment. My two favorite energy shifters are walking in nature and meditation.
Sometimes movement is exactly what you need. Movement energetically creates change and is a powerful stress reducer. Get out there and move. Go for a run or hit the gym and it is pretty much guaranteed that you will release the stress. The endorphins created from exercise are an automatic mood booster.
Other times, it is more necessary to sit quietly and listen. Meditation or prayer can be rejuvenating as well. Those few moments of deep breaths and relaxation allow for you to heal and change your energetic state.
Managing our fears is a difficult, but doable task. You can do this by becoming aware of your fear triggers, setting boundaries, and learning to shift your energy.
How do you combat your fears?