Most people regard divorce as a major step, not to be undertaken lightly. No surprise there. But here’s where it gets interesting; usually, the people most hurt by the marriage, throughout the marriage, have the greatest difficulty in letting go.
Why should that be?
You’d think – wouldn’t you? – that the more criticism, humiliation and ill treatment someone receives from their partner, the faster they would call time on their marriage. You’d think they’d skip all the way to their lawyer’s office… You’d think, once the divorce was over, they’d just ‘wash that man right out of their hair. End of story.
Sadly, it doesn’t work like that.
Instead, something very strange happens. The worse the treatment was, the more likely the ill treated spouse is to become a ‘hopium addict’. This happens because of a curious, and insufficiently understood mechanism: if someone is prepared to hang around in the marriage and excuse a partner’s bad behavior, they quickly fall prey to hopium addiction.
Hopium addiction – as the name suggests – can be a very hard habit to break
From the outside, it just doesn’t make sense. You’d think someone would be able to see when their partner has stopped caring about their feelings, and their ultimate well being.
You’d expect logic to kick in, and point out to them that their partner has set the relationship on a downward spiral, which simply gathers momentum, with each hurtful episode. You’d expect them to realize that direction isn’t going to change simply because they want it to.
You’d imagine they would compare the enemy they live with, with the lover they married, and get the message that the good times are over.
But, all too often, they don’t.
Instead, they wait for Mr. or Ms. Nasty to ‘flip’ back into the person who was on their best behavior just long enough to woo and wed them. They make endless excuses for the hostile behavior, and they fantasize –endlessly – about having superpowers to, singlehandedly, stop the relationship hurtling towards disaster… Even divorce may not be enough to end their enmeshment with an abusive partner.
Why, oh why do they do it?
Why don’t they see sense?
Remember the saying: “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of” (Blaise Pascal)?
They’d call it love, of course. The truth is far more complicated than that. There’s a lot of anger, and dislike, even loathing that they feel for the spouse they can’t bear to let go of.
Reasons they can’t move on include:
Fear of failure: they tell themselves that since the marriage ended they’ve failed, and the World will see them as failures. Marriage is always a “two-hander”. One partner cannot bear sole responsibility for making the marriage work – however much the other partner projects blame and fault. The World is not privy to what actually happened in the relationship, and the World doesn’t really care. If you had the right to choose your view of the world – and you do have that right – you could divide it into Those Who Judge, and Those Who Care. Which group would you rather associate with, and give credence to? The marriage failed. Actually, you didn’t. Getting out is the only positive, successful thing you could do.
Fear of spending the rest of their life unloved and alone: Obviously, they have yet to realize they will never feel more unloved and alone than they do in a destructive marriage. They have yet to admit to themselves just how desperately unhappy they have been in their marriage. A bad marriage is a prison sentence. Once that marriage ends, the prison door is ajar, but you still have to push it open wide, and walk out, before you can enjoy the sunshine and smell the roses.
Failure to envision a better future: their unhappiness and hopium addiction have put blinders on them. As a result, they have forgotten how to dream. They’ve even forgotten that dreams are free. The ‘future’ they think they see is simply the misery of the past projected forward into infinity. In fact, once they put themselves out of the misery of the relationship, and clear the Misery Mind-set from their head – which is, actually, very doable, given the right help – Life can only get better. And they will find they have a capacity for enjoyment that may well AMAZE them.
“Axe phobia” : “Axe phobia” is the sense of paralyzing foreboding that occurs when you feel you are living with a axe suspended over your head, hanging by a thread. The fear is that if you take action, any action, it will be enough to break that thread, causing the axe to fall straight onto your head.
It’s much more helpful to acknowledge “axe phobia” and react by asking yourself some much better questions like:
- Do I know for a fact that the disaster I fear will happen?
- If I chose to overlook the disaster scenario, what lessons for the future might I learn from this relationship experience?
- What else might my foreboding anxiety mean?
You only have to ask yourself intelligent questions, instead of mindlessly listening to the old doom-and-gloom soundtrack in your head, to arrive at far useful thoughts, and conclusions.
If you’re struggling to let go of a bad marriage cut yourself some slack. It’s perfectly human – and usual, in the circumstances – to feel the way you do. Just bear in mind that doesn’t make your fears and anxieties true. Your fears for the future are simply past experience projected onto the empty screen of the future. Why not choose what you project, and start to project scenarios that will give you more pleasure – and inspire you to create a better life for yourself?
International speaker and writer, Annie Kaszina is rapidly becoming the voice of women who have been in emotionally abusive relationships. Annie helps women to stop treating themselves as second class citizens and settling for abusive relationships, so they can raise their expectations and self-worth, enjoy the happiness they deserve, and create a wonderful relationship with a quality partner. Over the last 10 years, Annie has enabled many hundreds of women to heal from the trauma of Emotional Abuse. If you’re struggling to get over the damage of an emotionally abusive marriage, Annie Kaszina can help. You can find out more here: http://RecoverFromEmotionalAbuse.com, or claim your free copy of: “The Secret Dictionary of Abusive Men” here: http://recoverfromemotionalabuse.com/go/