My romantic toxic relationship was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse and being made to feel very small. I became quite silent and comfortable in silence and felt like I had to make myself small to feel super safe. – Lily Collins, We can do hard things with Glennon Doyle podcast.
When I was married, I had a business coach who was a rock star in the financial world. She was a strong, grounded spiritual woman who worked to empower women with an international banking initiative that provided loans for women in remote, male-dominated (aka misogynistic) parts of the world.
I’ll refer to her as “T” and she bore witness to my failing marriage at the time with skilled insight. As a mentor of women, she was so proficient at negotiating, speaking her truth, and owning the room or at least her “fiftum” as she called it. Long story short, one day we were meeting outside the coaching group at a local coffee shop and T began sharing a story with me about a colleague she used to work with one of the largest international banks.
This woman was president and high executive within a very toxic marriage and her spouse was abusive. The executive was trying to manage her home life and relationship and juggle the abuse, (she really didn’t put the dots together at what was truly occurring, she had her head down and doing holding it all together as “T” said) toxicity thrown at her until she couldn’t. Within the divorce negotiations the narcissistic “husband” said to her (paraphrasing)
Keep Piling It ON!
“I would keep piling onto you to break you and just won’t” (ex. Calling last minute, couldn’t pick up the kids, not showing up to important events, not sharing details, demeaning her every chance he got, and more… she just keep running hard and doing it all)
T was sharing this story with me and I looked at her bewildered. And then something snapped. She was me and I was her. You can’t outrun the abuse by trying and doing hard to keep the relationship and your life working, the toxic partner happy and the system afloat while raising your children. You can not outwork, outmanage, or outrun abuse.
Something triggered that day and at that moment, the very same coffee shop where my ex’s “new” assistant worked, the coffee shop where T chose to meet, I went to seek her out, almost with blind knowing and I was told she wasn’t there, I introduced myself to her co-worker and the young woman stared at me. After a long moment of silence the young woman said “Oh, I know your husband, he comes in here all the time and “blank” and he sits in his car or she goes on her break with him. (hence the 2 coffee cups in the car that I have been cleaning out!)
My knees buckled and felt faint but T was right by my side. She purposely chose that coffee shop and shared that story which was a watershed moment in my life. T and I parted ways and I sat in my car, knowing that the coffee shop barista and my ex’s new assistant had been in this car numerous times before, and began to create my exit strategy. (“Get my ducks in order” if you haven’t seen The Other Woman YOU MUST!)
I had been made to feel very small for a very long time in this marriage. Insignificant and became “head down and quiet” to keep the family together which of course didn’t work. Gaslight about my truth and the reality of what was going on and abused right, unfortunately, alongside our children. In that one pivotal, (there were more too) coming aware fully awake moment everything became clear.
If you find yourself feeling small, stifled voices and walking on eggshells it is not a healthy nor safe situation. And when you wake up to this, life can get very lonely and HAR. Here’s the thing though, you are strong enough to get to the other side, safely, and unfortunately you are not alone. The abuse and toxic treatment have absolutely nothing to do with you, it is some unhealed terrible place in the perpetrator.
You will learn to take up space again, expand yourself and open your heart. You will open your throat and feel safe to speak your truth AGAIN. It will take time and gentle care but you can and will reclaim your voice and feel super safe again! (pinky swear)
Sign up for a Complimentary 15 minutes laser session and be HEARD
If you see yourself at all in this story you might find A Guide to Create & Manifest Your Heart’s Desire 6 Powerful must-ask questions and 3-part video series helpful.