Dear Daisy: How Can I Get Over A Destructive Relationship?

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by Katie Rosseinsky |
Published on

**Dear Daisy is our new agony aunt column, where Daisy Buchanan answers all of your big questions, from how to be more assertive to how to move on from sexual assault. Daisy's first job in journalism in her twenties was on the problems page at Bliss Magazine. This week, she tackles what to do when a relationship becomes emotionally abusive.

Dear Daisy

Last spring, after a very difficult 12 month period of depression and anxiety, I met someone very attractive and charismatic - I couldn't fathom why they wanted to be with me (I was upfront about what had happened and I was by no means 'better') but they were adamant that they did and that I was beautiful, wonderful and that they wanted to be with me. Things started well and although I did feel a bit uneasy at the speed of how serious it was getting, I began to let myself open up and started spending lots of time with him. I started seeing a therapist at this time to deal with my anxiety so I felt positive and things were getting back on track. I also felt very loved. My boyfriend was very supportive and, although he had a few reservations initially about me seeing a therapist, I convinced him that it was something that would be good for me and that I didn't have a history of seeing therapists (he had an issue that I might be someone who did).

However, as soon as I started to show signs of feeling 'better' and finishing my CBT i.e. re-engaging with friends, making plans and looking for some permanent work, things turned sour. He became abusive, calling me horrible names endlessly, he told me to leave his flat, get out of his life, shouted at me for making plans that didn't include him or, when I did try and make plans that did include him, shouted at me for trying to control him and make him do things 'he didn't want to do'. He criticised what I wore, how I styled my hair and how much make up I wore. He told me I was putting on weight. He accused me of being mental for having seen a therapist. He threw things at me, slammed doors, punched my arm, shoved me. He threatened suicide if I didn't stay with him. I loved him so much and yet I knew deep down that the way he was treating me was wrong. This cycle of treatment and my behaviour back continued on for months until this week when I walked out of his house, saying I couldn’t be in his life any more. He reacted badly, blaming me entirely for what when wrong. He could not accept that his behaviour and treatment of me had led me to this decision.

I am now battling my typical feelings of wanting to go back grovelling, accept his criticism and try to continue to be with him despite all of these things. How can I break this pattern? My self esteem is better than and that's how I managed to break it off this time but I'm not convinced I can stay away for good, I still feel pretty much worthless. For a long time I thought I could be the one that 'fixed' him (his past is littered with similar situations) and I feel so frustrated by the fact that if he had some more self awareness and a willingness to deal with his anger then he'd be so perfect. How I can stop myself caring? How can I stop feeling so desperate for love that I'll accept this? I just don't feel like I can get over it which seems ridiculous since I've dealt with lots of tough issues recently.

Please help - how can I get over all of this?!

Daisy says:

Oh, love. Your letter wholly blew me away. No matter what else happens, you’ve had the self-love and the strength to get out, and that strength can only grow and deepen in the future.

Have you seen Kill Bill 2? Uma Thurman is in a coma after her body has been ravaged beyond all comprehension, yet she wills herself awake. No one who has been through what you have should have to cure their own coma. I’m not saying that anyone who is in the throes of a truly awful situation should feel magically inspired to overcome the odds. However, when people do it they should get 90 minute standing ovations, and you have done it.

Loving ourselves is hard, but you’ve already loved yourself enough to save your own life. So you can do it - the fact that you’ve been to CBT and spent time investing in your mental health and happiness is proof of this.

The next few months will be about emotional structural work. ‘Love yourself!’ is a really annoying command. No-one ever really explains how it’s done, and as women we’re made to feel bad for liking ourselves, bad for not liking ourselves enough and bad for our imaginary, invented flaws that have been created to stop us liking ourselves and start buying stuff!

Fill your life with the loveliest voices. Read - it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as it makes you happy. But I think you might like Sarah Hepola’s book, Blackout. It’s about alcohol addiction, but it’s essentially the story of a smart woman escaping a destructive relationship and learning to like herself - and having the courage to break free from what is hurting her, and living her best life.

When I was escaping a destructive relationship, I deleted a boyfriend from social media, blocked his number and put aside some money. I gave myself 30 days to not contact him, and when the time was up I used the money to buy the Marc Jacobs wallet I’d coveted for ages. It sounds like the shallowest thing in the world, but it was an incredibly effective goal. Obviously it doesn’t have to be a wallet, but make a plan for cutting him out of your life and when you succeed, buy yourself a fabulous gift! It all comes back to self-love!

Your letter made me cry. You are beautiful and brilliant, and you deserve everything. Your ex is clearly desperately sad, and I hope he gets help because I suspect he’s going to find new girlfriends and make them feel as unhappy as he has made you. He’s clearly drawn to people who are already a little bit broken. He can’t be fixed until he stops hurting people, but you’re loved enough and strong enough to get better. You’ve had a difficult past, but the future is thrilling. You’re right on the brink of living your very best life.

With love,

Daisy x

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