Talk to a friend: ‘Abusive relationships have ruined my self-esteem and I feel like I’ll be single forever. How do I learn to love myself again?’
I’ve been single for almost two years and that’s mostly okay, but I’d love to be in a relationship again. The problem is, my self-esteem is too low. I’ve had a few abusive relationships that really destroyed my confidence. I let myself go and struggled with depression. I’ve lost some friends and I really don’t know where to start dating. I’ve tried dating apps, but it hasn’t really worked so far. I either don’t want to meet someone or pick guys who seem nice online, but we don’t get along in real life. Sometimes I go home in tears after wasting another date. I felt like I was going to end my single life forever, and I felt stuck in a cycle of blaming myself for falling into a bad situation and not being able to love myself. Where do I even begin to try to break this vicious cycle and really care about myself so others can love me too?
Dr West replied: What you are describing is extremely common for people who have been through difficult situations like abusive relationships. It’s not you, it’s the impact of the trauma. It is very difficult to continue to take care of ourselves and manage our day-to-day affairs when we are trying to recover from an injury – it can take all our mental and physical energy, no There’s plenty of room for unnecessary things. Ironically, those unnecessary things can make us feel better, but because of our inability to pamper ourselves, we end up feeling guilty for not taking care of ourselves. Bingo — a vicious cycle is established. A GP is a great first point of contact to see if medical help is available for mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
I really, really don’t like the idea that you can’t love anyone else until we love ourselves. For those who have never known what true love feels like, whether from childhood or adult relationships, it can be difficult to know how to truly love yourself. We can strive to be a masterpiece while still in the process of being perfected — we don’t have to be perfect to be liked by someone. A loved one can create space for us to learn to love ourselves, because energy is not consumed by surviving an abusive situation.
Years of abuse can take a toll on a person. They are surviving, but often feel very, very far from development. There may be some sense of self-love there, but that feeling is buried under layers of raw pain; an onion of trauma. Should we rely on others to save us? Not quite, but true love can create a sense of security that allows the victim to pull herself out of the past.
Even an hour of presence helpsfocus on other areas of life
However, what we have to do is take the responsibility to start nurturing ourselves. It can be small – big goals can seem daunting if you’re not used to this kind of work, so it’s not realistic to suddenly flip the switch and become exploding with narcissism. Small pieces that turn into a bigger picture, slow and steady really win the race. Start small like booking a massage, a hair appointment, or a spa day. If this is out of your budget, there are at-home alternatives and you can learn how to do your hair etc through YouTube tutorials. It sounds petty, but let’s take the example of nails. As a lifelong manicurist, last year I decided to make this happen by booking a regular manicure appointment at a salon that I feel comfortable in (thanks to La Bellissima and Monika they are amazing! great!). I feel proud every time I go to see my nail growth and love planning the colors I will get through the Pinterest board. It’s an hour of my day every few weeks where I don’t have to focus on work, other people, or an endless to-do list. It means being present, and even an hour of being present helps to focus on other areas of life. Now my nails are twice their original size and I’m so happy I finished them and now I enjoy looking at my hands instead of feeling annoyed at myself for biting them. . That sense of pride is a lovely feeling, and even though nails may seem like a minor thing, that warm, fuzzy feeling will stay with me for the rest of my life. The small thing has really become a big thing in reality, pervading so many other areas of my life. Who knew the power of nail polish!
Nails may not be your thing, but they could be something else. Browse Pinterest to see if something catches your attention. Part of the devastation of abusive relationships is that we can lose ourselves in the abuse and terrible feelings. Recovery means finding yourself after being abused. What hobbies do we like? What do we do to relax? Yoga and mindfulness can be difficult for people with trauma or those with neurodiversity as it can be a challenge to get the brain to relax for a while, so if that’s not your thing, don’t worry – something will be your business. You don’t have to force yourself to stick with something that works for someone else but not for you. We can get caught up in feeling ‘this will work for me because it works for someone else’, which can lead to self-blame. That warm, fuzzy feeling comes in many different forms.
Part of self-nurture is to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, some people target vulnerable people like you, so part of your recovery will include learning the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships. Be healthy, learn to socialize, set boundaries, and identify what your gut feelings are telling you. This journey of learning will help you feel more secure and more comfortable when you’re dating. Be self-compassionate while prioritizing yourself. Build your peace one small step at a time and self-love and love from others will follow.
Dr. West is a sex educator and host of the podcast Glow West, which focuses on sex. Send your question to drwestanswersyourquestions
@ independent.ie. Dr. West regrets that she cannot answer questions privately
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https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/asking-for-a-friend-abusive-relationships-have-ruined-my-self-esteem-and-i-feel-like-im-going-to-be-single-forever-how-do-i-learn-to-love-myself-again-42323473.html Talk to a friend: ‘Abusive relationships have ruined my self-esteem and I feel like I’ll be single forever. How do I learn to love myself again?’