You did it! You made the gutsy move to leave. Now breathe!
You are probably in a fog, not sure what to do next and wondering how you are going to get through this painful time. I know it can be overwhelming, scary, empowering, and relieving all at once. It's perfectly normal to be smiling and feeling so proud of yourself one minute and then crying wondering if you made the right decision in the next minute. Life will feel like you're on the "Emotion Rollercoaster" for a little while.
You are brave and courageous. I know how much strength it took to stand up for yourself and move out. Be proud of your decision. Healing is possible and available to you, and there are a few things you can do to heal more quickly. Is it going to be easy? No. But here are five tips that will help you to heal after being in a toxic relationship:
1. Go No Contact and Set Clear Boundaries
If at all possible, and you don't have to communicate to co-parent, the very best thing you can do for healing is to go no contact or extreme modified contact.
No contact would entail blocking on all social media platforms and ensuring your pages are private and posts are only available to friends, blocking his number on your cell phone, asking friends and relatives not to update you on his life, circumstances and relationships. If physical abuse is involved you may also want to file a Protection From Abuse Order to ensure legally that there is no physical contact. All communication would be done through an attorney.
Extreme modified contact would mean that you have an email account set up exclusively for use between you and your ex which you check once a day at the same time every day. Set clearly defined boundaries about when you will check email and respond.
If you have children going no contact is not realistic, so you may want to consider using the app "Our Family Wizard", a court approved, secure system, which can never be edited, deleted or retracted.
2. Work On Your Self-Care
Self-care isn't just about getting a massage or a manicure, although that can be nice, it is more about establishing both your physical and emotional wellbeing. Consciously choose to engage in actions that promote self-esteem, happiness, and a sense of purpose. Look for ways to include self-care rituals as part of your daily habit.
Get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious foods, walk or exercise regularly. You may want to schedule lunch with a friend, or walk in the park, or visit an art gallery or museum, alone or with a friend.
It is also helpful to create a consistent schedule as part of your self care, as having a sense of predictability can really help you to feel in control, focused, and generally happier.
It's also important to seek support from a friend, trauma-informed coach, or experienced therapist who will validate your experience. Consider attending a group for survivors of abuse, or domestic violence as you move through your healing process.
3. Work on your Self-talk
Remind yourself regularly that this happened to you, not because of you. You are not a victim of abuse, you are a survivor of abuse.
You are not all the things the abuser called you, it was just his way of controlling you by attempting to make you feel inferior.
Make a list of 25 things that you love about yourself, and are proud of, and read it when you're feeling low spirited.
Speak to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend.
Consider speaking a daily affirmation over yourself:
Any troubles I had with my ex, I release now.
Getting divorced is better than being in a toxic relationship.
Even though this is scary and new, I will be OK.
I am strong and I have everything I need to get through this.
4. Express Your Emotions
When you first leave there will be a myriad of emotions that will come up for you, and sometimes several different emotions in a day. Try not to suppress or bottle up your emotions. It is much better to identify your emotions and release them. If you are sad, cry, let it go! If you are angry, journal about your anger. You can also use your creative side to process emotions by writing in a journal or writing poetry. If you're artistic you can use your art work, or music, as a helpful way to release your emotions too. The key to healing is to talk about how you are feeling, and to express your emotions.
5. Rediscover Yourself
Over time the narcissist does a great job in alienating you from your true self. Quite often they alienate you from your friends and family too. Once you are alone, it isn't uncommon to feel lost, as you may have forgotten who you are and what you like.
Take some time to discover what you like to eat, try some new recipes.
Try a new hobby or sport, or pick one back up that you haven't done in a while.
Try a new activity, sign up for a community college class and learn a new skill.
Make a vision board or a bucket list, and rediscover what brings you joy.
Healing is possible and very much available to you; but it is a journey. It is a process that is personal to you and it doesn't happen over night. But, I promise you, that one day you will wake up and realize, at the end of that particular day, you've had a really good day, and you're feeling hopeful, happy, and ready for the next chapter.
Happy healing to you my friend!