Restoring Balance After Leaving Abuse

October 7, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

I am struggling in my relationship with Max. He requests more attention from me, and I know his request is rational. Truth is that I find it difficult to connect with him in an intimate way on a regular basis. It seems that "everything else" gets my attention and focus, while I place Max's needs on the back burner.

First, let me tell you a little bit about my wonderful boyfriend. Max is my age and has dark hair, crystal blue eyes, a cute little nose, and a smile that lights up a room. He supports me in my efforts to forge a career and complete my education. Max and I enjoy many things in common and used to be able to talk for hours. But now my nose is buried in my career chase, and I can't quite figure out how to restore my balance. Going into this relationship, I knew I wasn't completely healed. I had (and have) more work to do on myself. Right now I find myself struggling to keep it all together.

The way I see it, we all deal with

  • relationships,
  • financial concerns,
  • mental clarity,
  • spiritual connection, and
  • physical health.

The more healthy we are in each of those areas, the easier and more joyful life becomes. Lately, I've lost sight of everything except for my financial stability, or lack thereof. The "lack thereof" is especially disconcerting, and I hear that I am not alone in my concern. Many of us suffer financial losses, especially in our current economy, but I believe that our wheels are spinning right now and when conditions improve, we're going to take off like race cars. But that can't happen if we don't spin our wheels now, during the hard times. So work I do.

However, on top of gaining 50 pounds and neglecting to pray and communicate with Spirit, I've also neglected my relationship with Max. I am afraid that my boys and the rest of my family suffer from my neglect too, but Max is the one who notices. The others are probably "used to it". I have an explanation for it that goes back to the abuse in my marriage. I'll share it, but I'm not offering it as an excuse.

My marriage was intimately challenged. Abusers use intimacy against their victims, so eventually I stopped sharing with my husband my innermost thoughts. It just wasn't safe to talk to him. There was a wall between us, but it was a needed wall. Staying in unhealthy relationships sometimes require unhealthy relationship behaviors behaviors for survival, and I was in it "forever" I thought.

So, for the last 16 years of my marriage, I did without intimacy. Sex was on an as needed basis, too - his need, not mine. I became accustomed to receiving no emotional support, no love-making, no long talks, and certainly no romance. I tolerated it very well, I suppose, but that wall eventually extended itself to my children, sister, and mom. When Max entered my life, he brought a breath of fresh air and a reminder that relationships ARE important.

I connected with Max and everyone else, but more importantly, I reconnected with the part of me that wanted to connect with them. Finding that piece of me again was like magic. I swore to myself I would never let it go again. But now, it feels like I'm in (financial) survival mode, up the creek without a paddle. And guess what I sacrificed first to focus on survival. Yep. Intimacy.

This time, my partner balked. He wants that part of me that I've shut away back. He misses me. I miss him. But I am struggling to reconnect with the part of me that connects to Max. It stinks. None of this is his fault. He's done nothing to push me away. I feel guilty and stressed because I thought connecting would be "natural" in a non-abusive relationship.

I'm finding out that it takes more than just an awesome partner to have an awesome relationship, and I am sorely lacking in my ability to stay balanced. So, I'm asking you for advice. Please tell me what you've done to enhance your relationships during times of stress. How do you reconnect with your desire to be intimate? How do you keep your balance?

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, October 7). Restoring Balance After Leaving Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

October, 9 2012 at 12:42 pm

I'm no expert but it sounds like it's the old control thing. You're focussed on the one thing you think you can control. But really, financial security is a myth. You could do all that work and something or someone could still take it from you. IMO, to know that we really, truly *need* very little in a material way frees you of some of the burden. Spirituality and healthy relationships, both of which involve giving up some of our perceived control to someone else, actually help us to be resilient.
I'm certain the balancing act is something most, if not all women struggle with. Use the guilt as a diagnostic tool rather than allowing it to paralyse you or weigh you down. Negotiate a plan that you can both be happy with.

Jodi Aman, LCSW-R
October, 7 2012 at 11:30 pm

I try to give even if I don't feel like it. I actually win in the end, and my efforts are more than worth it. I am thoughtful and I show him that I care and that he is worthy. Everyone wants to feel worthy. I validate and honor. And then I get it all back bc my partner is awesome, too!

Michelle Schneider
October, 7 2012 at 3:46 pm

I think it starts with being right spiritually. If you are a child of God through salvation (Romans10:9-13) , then you can cast your burdens on God ("Cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you" I Peter 5:7). I have had a lot of financial troubles this past year. I finally completely left my abusive (in every way) husband last December. I am going through a custody battle that takes LOTS of money as he has dragged it out and been very uncooperative. (Thankfully for the past 10 months I have had sole custody with no visitation for him.) It's been amazing to see God work! When I haven't k own where my next paycheck will come from as I have has to go from temp job to temp job (I had to move to a different state for safety, so I had to leave my longtime job), I have been able to rest in God, knowing that He works ALL things out together for my good (since I am His child) and His glory. (Romans 8:28). He continually provides for me in His way and I abide in Him to care for me as I do my best to glorify Him and take care of myself and my son.
Another thing you may consider is keep talking to Max. Tell him exactly what you are thinking and feeling. Even if you feel like there's not much that's great to give at this moment, share what you do have and are and let him walk through this with you. And ask questions of him. Probe and go deep with him to get down to what is deep inside of him.
Have you considered talking to a counselor or mentor during this time? A trained, wise person really may be able to help you walk through this murky time.
I am praying for you!

October, 7 2012 at 2:45 pm

I have a hard time too. All I can offer is that I am working hard in therapy to be able to connect. I wonder if you have a lot of pain shoved down that hasn't be dealt with yet and that is blocking you. Maybe even anger towards men and fear? It's so easy to hide in busyness. I wish you all the best, this is tough.

Vicky Mull
October, 7 2012 at 1:41 pm

I feel this way too. Your bank account in your marriage that he gives, she gives the feeling that the only reason he married you was for his own benefit. That is what I'm going through with my ex husband. Stop. You need to realize that your bank account is filling up with a new person and it's okay to take. You are allowed to feel. Let the happy happen. Take it slow, but I am so in your shoes. We give.....give birth, give hugs, love and affection. When somone DEMANDS his withdrawl from that account, Your justified in feeling like crap begcause you think you gave it away. Start over with a new Bank. They have different rules and you don't have to let this bank controle your life. Tell him thoght. Start slow, snuggle, hug spoon and so on, Build up the trust in your bank again. And it's okay to feel and enjoy it. Not every many is after getting his jollies because you are there. Some men respect the right to ask first and he will give you what you need and you will give you what you need.

October, 7 2012 at 1:30 pm

Hi there :) Firstly, stop punishing yourself. You're allowed to have these feelings however unpleasant. You've been through a great deal in the past and this might happen from time to time - but you've recognized it which means you are in a position to deal with it, when you are ready. From what you've said, things are tough at the moment and you have worries financially, this has triggered your 'survival mode' and possibly it's reverting to that time in your life when that's all you had to keep you going and keep you sane. This is a normal response for someone who has been abused, but it doesn't mean it has to stay that way. There are things that you could try, 1) giving yourself time to reconnect spiritually, even if it's just 10 mins in the morning or at night. Self care is vitally important, reconnect with yourself. 2)cognitive behavioral therapy if a CBT counselor is out the question, then there are self help CBT books available e.g. from Amazon - help yourself to rewire your thinking patterns, reset your fight/flight response to factory settings! 3)Be honest with your partner, tell him you think it may be a trigger response, that you will be able to deal with it in your own time, reassure him, ask him for his patience and support. If he's not coping a support group may be an idea. Make time once a week just to sit and chat about absolutely anything, make no demands on each other, communication is so important, but be honest if you feel scared.
I remember feeling why, why now when I'm happily married and the past is behind me. It's precisely because your safe that it happens, that it can happen and your body is telling you that you are o.k. to deal with this now. It isn't easy, can be quite painful, but this is part of your road to full healing and recovery.
My own experience of going through difficulty and losing that emotional and physical intimacy with my new partner is that once we got through the 'what the hell is going on' part we remembered that communicating to each other how we are feeling at any given time in a non-violent way (in other words no blaming, arguing, self blame or guilt) spending time with each other but without any expectations, trusting in yourselves (even when you feel doubt) remembering happy occasions, why you fell in love. Just being the best of friends and having a laugh. Slowly these walls, fears subside and the emotional intimacy comes back first, then the physical.
And remember, most of all be kind to yourself, love yourself, hug that hurt part of yourself and tell her it's o.k. now, she's safe now, she can let go. I know I don't know you, but you are a survivor, and that makes you a wonderful and courageous woman who deserves to be loved and cherished, remind yourself of that.
With all best wishes for you and your partner. In love and light Liz xxx

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