breaking the cycle of abuse

Are You Making the One Mistake That Keeps You From Breaking the Cycle of Abuse?

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She wants a family, but this keeps her from breaking the cycle of abuse.

My client Margaret has been stuck in a dead-end, emotionally abusive relationship with Colin for several years and is desperate to unstick herself.

She turns thirty-six this fall and her ovaries are impatiently tapping their stilettos.

Her ovaries whisper to her in the dead of night while she lays next to her sleeping, non-committal, pot smoking, job losing, philandering boyfriend: “While his semen is aging like fine wine, we’re shriveling up like sun-dried raisins. Get it together, Chica, or there’ll be no babies for you!”

Margaret’s cycle-of-abuse with Colin looks something like this:
  • She pushes him to make a commitment by nagging, complaining, begging, crying, smothering him in anxious, manipulative sex until finally …
  • He sabotages the relationship by shutting down emotionally, not speaking to her, sometimes for days, becoming inconsistent and unreliable and possibly cheating on her.
  • Margaret pulls herself up by the bootstraps and breaks up with Colin, then spends the next several days, or possibly weeks, curled in the fetal position and biting a bullet to keep herself from alleviating her pain by calling him and relapsing.
  • Colin eventually appears in a desperate condition. He regrets everything he’s done to destroy their relationship, he really needs her. Nothing goes well in his life without her. Not his job, not his health, not his friendships. He’s a wreck.
  • And this is where Margaret makes the one mistake that keeps her coming back for more of the cycle-of- emotional-abuse.

Margaret allows herself to feel smug and superior which inflates her ego. Her ego says this:

Now he knows how much he needs me. Now he knows how special and important I am.

Now he knows he can’t live without me, because only I can help him and love him the way he needs a woman to.

Also, I’m much smarter than him and a much better person in every way. I was right and he was wrong.

Now I can make him change to give me everything I want and deserve.”

The death of attracting emotionally healthy relationships is our pride.

Until we can get humble enough to admit we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing when it comes to our romantic entanglements, there’s no way we’ll be willing to ask for help.

Some of us can find help for breaking our addiction to toxic relationships with private therapists, some with life coaches, some in the right 12-step programs like Coda (Codependents Anonymous), but until we recognize we’re getting an ego payoff every time our man comes crawling back to us, we will continue to do the Dance-of-Death in our dead-end relationship.

Ladies, check your Pride at the door.


Shannon’s book is here: She Dated the Asshats, But Married the Good Guy: How to Go From Toxic Love to Real Love in 12 Exercises! And don’t forget to opt-in to Shannon’s newsletter here.

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