Have you lost self-confidence?

Once, I felt like this. I couldn’t put a finger on it. It seemed like my self-confidence and self-esteem has faded away. I felt like a failure, unworthy. I looked at my life, and I couldn’t find a reason for it. I sometimes felt that I was fighting with an invisible enemy. I started to be sick and tired of feeling this way, and I wanted to get out of it. I wanted to feel happy again.

Do you want to feel happy, too?

I took a close look at my life. I did the work I loved. I was happy with the life I led. That wasn’t the cause of it. I dug deeper and looked at my relationships:

  • Who supported my growth?
  • Who supported me in achieving my dreams?
  • Where did I give more than I received?
  • Who were the people who drained me or criticized me?
  • Who shared the same values I had, who didn’t?

I chose to be honest with myself and observed what was happening in my relationships.

I was excited about writing my first book, and I shared the progress I made with my sister. Suddenly, I noticed that she never responded back. I sent her my book cover, and I never heard any appreciative word. I shared my dream to move to Canada, and all she said was that I would never make it. Then, she started to criticize my book. She had never expressed that before. Later, she labeled my spirituality as crazy. It also was the year when my sister’s cat had died. When it had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, I had sent it Reiki. I had told my sister that Reiki wouldn’t save her cat; it would just make his death gentler. At Christmas, she accused me of having killed it. I didn’t know anymore what to say. I decided to give me a time-out and didn’t contact her for a while.

As I’ve shared in my memoir “A Brave, True Story”, I grew up in a family with manipulative relationships. Guilt was one way to hold the family together. My family also denied the existence of any higher power. When I grew older, I chose a different path and started to heal myself. I saw that it was possible to move beyond the conditionings I had received in my childhood and that it was possible to have nurturing and loving relationships. As a child, I had experienced love as something painful, frightening and overwhelming. The more I healed, the more I experienced love as something expansive, supportive and nurturing.

What did you learn in your family? Does it serve you well?

When I had started my business a couple of years ago, I had also wanted to create this type of relationship with my sister, so our relationship had never been easy in the past. I thought that being a role model for her might help her on her journey. I underestimated her loyalty with our family of origin. In my family of origin, all I did was wrong. Healing? That was impossible. Spirituality? That was something for crazy people. Counseling? That was only for the outcasts of society. My sister didn’t want to change anything but stayed in her secure place, and it was easier for her to blame me, judge me or criticize me than to accept that I was just different. She did not often express her negative view, but I subconsciously had taken on her negative perspective on myself. As a result, I had lost self-esteem and self-confidence. Even though I love her, I chose not to have contact with her. If I have to choose, I love myself a little bit more than I love her. I can’t heal her past, nor am I responsible for healing it. That’s her responsibility and whatever choice she takes is true for her. I am only responsible for myself, I am not responsible for the choices of my family and I take choices that feel true for myself. Being with somebody who constantly blames, criticizes or judges me, conflicts with loving myself.

What conflicts with loving yourself?

I gave up on my dream to have a nurturing and loving relationship with her and focused on my life again. In the next months, I observed my inner dialog. It was amazing how often I still heard her voice telling me: “You’ll never make it.” In those moments, I started to dance, put a smile on my face and said, “Of course, I’ll make it. And I’ll make it my way.” And that’s what I did.

What negative inner dialog do you have?

Eight months later, she contacted me because of a heritage. She was sweet and nice as if nothing had ever happened. My inner child had some hope that she might have changed. However, the first time I gave her an answer she didn’t like, she sent me messages full of blame and threats. I answered her that I didn’t want to be treated like that and that I would only communicate with her if she talked to me in a neutral way. She didn’t send a message again. Then, I got a lawyer to manage this. It’s ok to be different.

Where do you choose to be different?

Do you want to read more? I invite you to read my memoir “A Brave, True Story.” Click here and find out more about it.

Copyright © 2015, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Do You Have the Right to Cut Contact With Family Members?

The relationship with my father was always conflictive. Maybe it all started with my conception. While my father only wanted one child, my mother wanted two. To make her dream reality, she secretly stopped taking the pill and became pregnant again. She betrayed him. Her story was that my father went on holidays alone shortly after I was born. How does a man feel if he becomes a father of a child he never wanted? I assume it must have been difficult for him.

My parents separated when I was one and I saw him again two years later. The following two decades, I was torn between my infantile need to be approved by my father and rejecting him because of his manipulative personality traits. When I was 12, I cut contact with my father for the first time. His badmouthing about my mother’s family was too much. I saw him again when he got married to his 2nd wife four years later. I wished that he would stop blaming my mother now. But nothing changed. My mother died when I was 19, and I hoped that her death would put his mind at ease, sooner or later. The little girl within me still hoped to receive his approval. Eight years later, his torrent of hatred against my mother and her family persisted. It was unbearable to listen to him. His stories never changed.

Does a daughter have the right to cut contact with her father?

At that stage, I wasn’t sure. My father’s favorite bible quote was “You have to honor your father.” He used it each time when he wanted to impose his opinion on me. Sometimes I asked myself silently, and a father – is he supposed to honor his daughter?

One day, I finally woke up and acknowledged that he just wasn’t able to approve me. I was sick and tired of his repetitive stories and his unforgiving attitude. I cut contact with him. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but it felt right. It was not for his sake, but for mine. Even though, I didn’t know it at that time, it was one of the most caring acts I ever did for myself.

Do you have the right to cut contact with your parents?

I faced many opinions. Some people looked at me disapprovingly; a couple of counselors told me that I had to meet him and hug him to be able to forgive him. Other therapists approved it and told me that I had to find the right distance to be at peace with him. I felt confused by the different opinions. Was it right what I had done?

Who knows what’s right or wrong?

Each opinion reflected the perspective the other person had, their story and their values. How much did they know about my experience and my inner process that led to my decision? Not much.

Years after I cut contact, I still had a secret address so that my father couldn’t find me. But one day, he did. I called a police officer from the victim’s department, and she phoned him. Later, she told me that he would insist on having the right to see me. She asked me whether I would be willing to do so. I said, no. I just wanted to have my freedom. She continued: I have many years of experience with victims of violence. I know that you have every reason to fear him. It was the first time that somebody outside my family confirmed my truth about him, and her comment helped me to believe in my intuition and release my doubts.

You can’t choose your family and, as a child, you get used to accepting what is. However, as an adult you can choose how you want to relate to them. You are not obliged to stay in a situation that is toxic for you. You have the right to find the distance you need to protect yourself. You even have the right to cut contact. Trust your inner voice because the only person who knows the correct answer is you. You don’t owe anybody an explanation. You don’t need anybody’s approval. The only thing you need to take into account that cutting contact is just a step on your journey.

My ties with my father didn’t end with ending the relationship. It was one important step that allowed me to heal my relationship with him, to forgive and heal my heart. In a way, he’s now closer to me than he has ever been in my life. Sometimes, the best option to love somebody is without having a relationship with him.

Whatever decision you are facing, I know that you will make the right choice for yourself and your life.

I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.

Do you want to read more? Check the post Love and Freedom.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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What if You Are In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

It’s like a dream. I always wanted to be together with an independent woman like you are. And now I’ve met you. He said this after we had talked intensively about our lives. And he was right. It had been a beautiful start for a relationship. I thought that he was honest. And this stage, I had no reason to doubt his words. When I met a friend, she said, you should see your face when you talk about him, it is full of light. She was happy for my luck.

The relationship seemed to continue in a good direction. We planned our future and made many activities together. Then, I went away for a weekend. I attended a wedding of a friend. When I returned, he picked me up at the airport. I was excited to see him, and saw a man with a different face. He started to argue. Each day, he found another thing I didn’t do right. First, I was confused. Then, I became angry because I didn’t want to be treated like this. I gave him a warning. He apologized and promised to change. The next day, he continued with the same manipulative game. My inner voice said, it’s time to go. This situation isn’t loving for you at all. And so I did on the same day.

The game of manipulation lasted ten dreadful days. I didn’t doubt my decision to leave him for a moment. There is one rule I have for relationships: No to any form of violence – and manipulation is violence. It took me years to learn the difference because my family relationships have all been emotionally abusive. I believed for many years that they were as relationships were supposed to be until I became a different perspective. As an adult, I can choose relationships, and I owe it to myself to choose relationships that are nurturing and loving.

He couldn’t believe it. He waited for me in a park where I volunteered to feed a colony of abandoned cats. He wanted another chance; he promised to change. Just give me a month, he said, and I rejected. The next week, I sat in my monthly training for healing techniques. The doorbell rang. My spiritual teacher went outside and came back with a huge bouquet of flowers. She had a smile on her face and said, It’s for you. I had just told her the story about him. And he knew that I loved her and that she had a big heart. I had never received such a beautiful bouquet of flowers before in my life, and it was the last thing I wanted to receive. I felt angry because he didn’t respect that the relationship was over. I felt humiliated because I had fallen in love with a manipulative man. I looked at her and said, I don’t want them. She looked at me appalled and said, you can’t do this. They are awesome. Her soft heart was speaking. I looked at her and said, you know that they come with the wrong intention, don’t you? Living compassionately doesn’t mean that I allow somebody to manipulate me. She sighed, you’re right. She took the flowers home, and I sent him a message that I didn’t want the flowers and that he should never contact me again. When he ignored it another time, I asked a friend who was a lawyer for help. She called him and told him to leave me alone. That’s how I got rid of him.

Even though I wasn’t responsible for his manipulative behavior, it took me a while to release shame, guilt and humiliation. I analyzed our relationship again and again, and I couldn’t find any signs in the beginning. They appeared when he felt secure of the relationship. The relationship lasted three months, but I needed about two years to forgive myself for having fallen in love with him.

You can’t choose who you fall in love with but you can decide whether you want to stay in this relationship. You have the right to leave. Emotional abuse leaves deep wounds on your soul, eats away your sense of worthiness and your belief in yourself. His promises may sound sweet and tempting but don’t fall into them. They are part of the game. When I told this story to a friend, she said, I admire your decision. I don’t know whether I would have been able to leave him. The thing is that it’s not about how much you love him. It’s also not about him and what he is doing. It’s about you and whether you respect and value yourself sufficiently to say no to emotional abuse. You may have had harsh experiences in your life. I had them. You can’t choose how you start your life, but you have a tremendous potential to heal and transform your reality. To tap into this potential, you have to connect with your inner voice and learn to appreciate and love yourself. That’s the best protection of violent relationships and the most empowering act for yourself. And it’s a sign of strength to ask for professional help if you can’t do it alone. Manipulation and emotional abuse is a dead end for love. And what if you love him? I prefer to love without having a relationship if the person is manipulative. This way, I respect and value myself.

How about you? I’d love to read your comments below.

Do you want to read more? Check the article How to become a modern heroine.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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5 Warning Signs For Toxic Relationships

Each relationship has its ups and downs, and both partners will grow through their bond. And sometimes, these up and downs of the relationships become emotionally abusive. Emotional abuse is difficult to recognize and it can deeply damage your soul.

Here are 5 warning signs of a toxic relationship:

Isolation from the people you love.

You get increasingly isolated from the people you love. This can start slowly and subtle: Your partner may have required all of your attention and convinced you in a flattering way to spend all your time with him and his friends. Maybe, he or she talks in an insulting or depreciating way about your friends and your family, and they never seem to be “good enough” in the eyes of your partner. Your family and your friends are an essential part of your life and loving you includes accepting your friends and family as they are. If you suddenly notice that you have lost contact with most of your friends, then this is a warning sign that you are heading in the wrong direction.

Your partner’s jealous behaviour limits you.

Jealousy is an emotion, and your partner is responsible to manage his or her emotions. If your partner feels jealous, he should explore the emotion more deeply and understand its root causes. It becomes a warning sign if your partner uses jealousy to control you and to prevent you to do the things you love and enjoy. Don’t find excuses for their jealous behavior and don’t feel flattered by it. Jealousy isn’t love and in a healthy relationship you should have the freedom to do what you enjoy.

Insults and depreciation.

Instead of expressing their appreciation for you, your partner tells you things like “You are lazy” or “You are fat.” Or your partner doubts your abilities to meet your goals and talks about you in such a way that you feel belittled or ashamed. It is a warning sign if your partner talks about you repeatedly in a negative way. Don’t try to whitewash this issue. I have experienced this myself and the words my partner used left a deep mark on my heart, more than I wanted to admit when it happened.

Blaming.

It doesn’t matter what’s happening, you are responsible for all the bad things that are going on in your partner’s life. This blame can be completely irrational, and you might feel very confused about what’s going on. It is a warning sign if your partner blames you all the time or if you feel constantly guilty.

Continuous fighting.

A relationship consists of two people who have different needs and desires. It requires communication to create solutions that meet the needs of both partners. These solutions need honesty, negotiation and creativity. If your conversations consist of constant fighting with an attitude of “my needs are more important than yours” then this is a warning sign. The needs of each partner are equally important. If your partner uses threatening behavior or constant screaming or yelling to meet his or her goals, then this is a sign of a toxic relationship.

In summary, the subtle manipulation of a toxic relationship will eat away your self-esteem and your sense of worthiness. You may end up believing all the negative labels your partner says about you. He or she usually knows your weak points and will push the buttons when possible. The longer you stay in a toxic relationship, the more difficult it can be to leave it due to your decreased sense of worthiness. Only you can change this situation. The best decision you can take for your well-being is to ask for professional help and to leave a toxic relationship as soon as possible. You are an adult, and you are responsible for taking good care of yourself. You deserve a fabulous relationship. You deserve a loving and supportive partner.

A recently published Danish study shows that “middle-aged man and women” who experience stressful social relations have an increased mortality risk.

Do you want to pay this price?

I’d love to hear from you. Just read a comment below.

Do you want to read more? Check the post What if love is painful…?

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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5 Ways To Deal With Unhealthy Family Relationships

This week, I read a quote by Willard Scott in google+. It said, “Positive feelings come from being honest about yourself and accepting your personality, and physical characteristics, warts and all; and, from belonging to a family that accepts you without question.” Willard Scott. Somebody had posted a comment: I have it all… except for the family that accepts without question. When I read it, I felt sad. It reminded me that family is sometimes seen in a rather limited way and it is more than just the family we are born in. I commented that family does not only mean the family you are born in, it can also be friends or colleagues. He answered with a smiley: if it’s that kind of family I have too. I replied, me, too. It’s a good one. and he posted, the best one ever.

Life seems easy if your family relationships are supportive and nurturing.

However, how can you deal with family relationships if they are unhealthy or manipulative?

Our family relationships are the first relationships we experience in our life. As children, we needed their attention, their love and their nourishment. During our childhood, we adapted the best way possible to the circumstances and tried to fit it so that we could belong to them. We may have tried to save them from their problems. We may have taken on the responsibility for their happiness. As children, we need our family and we love them unconditionally without knowing what is good for us.
However, as adults, we have choices. We do not have to stay in relationships that try to control and manipulate or that constantly use blame or shaming. You may still feel obliged to do what your family says and wants, however you can learn to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. It’s part of your personal growth process and your path to become mature. You can’t save other people, even if it is your family. You can’t change them if they don’t want to. You can only save yourself. And you are free to leave relationships that hinder your growth, that don’t accept and don’t support you. You are the most important person in your life. You are responsible for your well-being and your emotional health.

What can you do if your family relationships are unhealthy?

  • Execute your rights.
    You are an adult now, and you can claim your rights. What your rights are? Here are a few to think about: you have the right to be happy, and you have the right to be happier than those around you. You have the right to follow your own values and standards. You have the right to take care for yourself, no matter what. You have the right to be uniquely you, without feeling that you aren’t good enough. You have the right to be in a non-abusive environment. You have the right to dignity and respect.
  • Put some distance between yourself and your family.
    If your family relations are unhealthy, find a place for yourself that enables you to feel well with it. Put the distance you need between yourself and your family. What distance can you put between yourself and your family so that you feel well? What kind of contact do you want to have with them? You are free to put the distance you need and to follow your path. It is kind and caring for yourself to love your family with the necessary distance.
  • Cut contact with manipulative family members.
    If the relationships are manipulative or if they constantly drag you down, cut contact with these family members. You are not obliged to stay in contact with your family. You are responsible for your own well-being and for taking care for yourself. If your family ties hinder your personal growth, you have the choice to cut contact with them. I cut contact with my father when I was 26 years old. It was the best and wisest decision I took for my well-being. I acknowledged that he wasn’t able to give me the love and appreciation my inner child longed for. It was not an easy decision. I faced comments like how dare you, or you are a bad daughter. I received looks that expressed disapproval. I also received a card from a friend who thanked me for cutting contact with my father and given her the courage to do the same. The world is full of different opinions about what is right. Important is that you follow your intuition. I don’t know how it is like to grow up in a supportive family. I do know that there are good reasons to stop having contact with family members. Being a family relationship doesn’t justify manipulation.
  • Heal your inner picture of your family.
    Your childhood experiences influence your way to relate with the world. If you have experienced unhealthy situations, you have to heal the effects it had on yourself. If you don’t face the issues you experienced in your family, you risk repeating the same mistakes as your parents did. I always said, “I never want to have the manipulative relationship my mother had.” And I had it in another disguise until I dealt with the effects my family had on myself.
    As an adult, you are able to face the pain and heal your inner child from the pain he or she experienced in their childhood. Face your grief of all you didn’t have and let go of it. You also can do a family constellation to liberate the effects your family had on you. Through the process of self-discovery and awareness, you can find inner peace with the family issues you are dealing with.
  • Create your own definition of family.
    I am blessed with two types of family: the family I was born in and my chosen family. My chosen family consists of my three cats and my closest friends. They give me the love, support and sense of belonging I need. You have faced challenging family relations. You can continue to look at all what you never had, and it is likely that you will never get it there. You family gave you the best they could. They didn’t have more. They have their own story that hinders them to give you what you want.
    As an adult, you have the choice to create the kind of family you wish. Outside the family you were born in, there is a group of people waiting for you that accepts you without questions. That’s your family of souls. Invite them into your life!

Difficult family relationships are painful experiences. However, they don’t define your capacity to experiment positive feelings. Through growth, self-awareness and self-discovery, you can transform them into life mastery and wisdom. That’s a path so that you generate positive feelings with the kind of family you had.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post Forgiveness – your choice to find freedom.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Can You Heal From Emotional Abuse and Violence?

Can you heal from emotional abuse and violence?

Yes, you have experienced traumatic events. Emotional abuse and violence have left a mark on your soul. Everything may seem dark and hopeless. You feel pain, shame and guilt. You may hear judgments of other people like “poor victim” or “you will never overcome the effects of emotional abuse.” You feel small, you feel unworthy. The scale of your life seems out of balance. The trauma seems heavier than any resources you may own.

And the trauma weighs so heavy on you that you can’t see clearly: you have precious and valuable resources. You have developed strength, perseverance and courage. You have resilience because you have learned to go through a crisis and move forward with your life.

It doesn’t matter what happened to you: you are worthy of love and belonging.

The emotional abuse or violence you have experienced don’t define yourself nor your future. Healing them is your challenge on your journey. Facing them is the starting point for the greatest transformation of your life. And that’s your hero’s journey. You have the power to become whole and to recover all what seems lost in the traumatic events. And nobody else can do this for you. Your partner can’t save you. Your parents can’t save you. Your children can’t save you. Only you can save yourself.

Let’s take a look at a lotus plant: Its roots stand in the dirt and mud, and out of these roots, it develops bright and colorful flowers. Its roots are strong enough to survive in an environment that seems difficult. Its leaves have a mechanism to repel water. And it can produce heat to the water that surrounds its body. This way it creates its own friendly environment.
You are just like this lotus plant: you have the strength to grow through these painful events and transform them into a bright and colorful life. You can release the negativity you have experienced and liberate yourself from its influences, and you can create for yourself a loving and nurturing environment.

Why am I so sure about what I am telling you? I have been there, too, and I used this path myself. I experienced emotional abuse and violence in my childhood. And I used the following steps to heal myself. If I was able to do it, you can do it, too.

How can you heal from emotional abuse and violence?

  • Create a bright and colorful vision for your future.
    Your past doesn’t define your future. The vision you create will define the outcome and you can create joyful and positive experiences you may never have experienced before. Everything is possible. Your definition of the future gives you the energy and courage to face your challenges and move forward on your healing path.
  • Become whole again.
    The painful events have shaken your soul and your sense of being. You have absorbed many labels and many opinions about yourself that are not true. Your task is to connect deeply with yourself, to love yourself and to liberate yourself from the conditioning you have absorbed. Re-establish your self-esteem and self-worth. Value your needs and dreams. Be loving and kind towards yourself.
  • Become a compassionate parent for your inner child.
    During your childhood, you have experienced painful events that you weren’t able to deal with at this age. Now, you are an adult. You can choose to become a loving and compassionate adult for this child within you that wants to be seen and loved by you. Don’t blame your parents for what they did or didn’t do. They can’t help you with this. You can’t change the past, but you can take the responsibility for your inner child. Be a good parent for your inner child. This way, he or she will heal and become a source for creativity and joy.
  • Connect with your intuition and your higher wisdom.
    You have learned many beliefs about yourself that aren’t true. Connect with your higher wisdom to clarify the truth of these beliefs. Sit in silence, go for a walk in nature and connect with this part of you that has all the wisdom you need. Listen to and follow your intuition. It will show you the right path for your healing.
  • Find somebody to go with you without judging you.
    You cannot do it all alone. You will need somebody who supports you on this journey. Find a person who doesn’t judge you or the events that happened to you. Find a therapist, counselor, coach or healer who deserves your trust and who deserves to hear your story.
  • Learn to practice emotional intelligence.
    Connect with your body, and learn to listen to your emotions. Learn ways how you can express them in a healthy way. Your emotions aren’t your enemies. They are your allies, and they give you signals. If you numb yourself to avoid painful emotions, you limit your capacity to feel joy and happiness, and it can lead to addictive behaviors. Explore your emotions and listen to what they have to tell you.

As human beings, we have a need to connect and love. Traumatic events can limit your capacity to connect. Healing yourself is your path towards love and connection. Take responsibility for your life and your needs. Dare to walk down this path. You deserve it.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post Love and Freedom.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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What Are the Limits of Love in A Relationship?

“I don´t need to own to love. I don´t want to be the owner of the person I love. I don´t neither want to conquer nor take: love is not an act of war. Saying she is mine is treating the other like a thing, as if it were a matter of buying and selling. I don´t possess you, I enjoy you while you are around in my life; and that means a lot.”

Walter Riso, Psychologist & Writer

This phrase describes well how a relationship should be like. Yet, there are also these types of relationships that are painful, difficult, confusing and incomprehensible, maybe you have seen them in your family, in the circle of your friends, at work or maybe you have experienced them yourself. As observer, a separation seems to be the only wise solution and you wonder why the couple stays together. If you are involved in abusive relationships you may feel like Don Quijote fighting with the windmills: powerless, guilty, without energy and maybe even embarrassed when you talk to friends about your relationship. Love has turned into continuous suffering and fighting even though you saw all through rose-colored glasses at the beginning.

Why do abusive relationships exist and why is it so difficult to get out of them?

Many people miss a healthy image of a relationship because they grew up in dysfunctional families. They have never learned how a healthy relationship should look like due to a lack of positive role-models and they do not know that love in a relationship has clear limits. For this reason, they keep repeating as adults what they have learned during their childhood. However, your relationship should give you support, positive energy and well-being. This also implies that you have the responsibility as adult to heal your childhood wounds and your past to generate new experiences.

People also have idealized thoughts about love. Beliefs like “love is limitless” or “true love is unconditional” may make it difficult to set clear limits and leave the relationship if necessary. Another obstacle is that the society or your own family may tell you that you have failed when you get separated or that your children might suffer because of the separation. These beliefs are sometimes deeply anchored into the subconscious mind and make a separation a very difficult decision due to fear, guilt and shame. In reality, you should say, “no” to a relationship when it affects your dignity, your identity or your happiness and if it breaks with your values and principles. A healthy relationship signifies that you love your partner while you love, value and respect yourself.

Another limit of a relationship is if your partner doesn’t love you. It is not necessary to continue with the relationship, but you must face reality and to learn how to give up. In a relationship, both partners must love each other. It also cannot be considered a healthy relationship if you don’t have the possibility to realize yourself and to follow your dreams. A relationship should give you the freedom to grow in the way you want. Another impediment is if you have to change yourself to be accepted by your partner. A healthy relationship implies that the two partners accept each other as they are.

Physical and sexual violence clearly breaks the limits of love. Love doesn’t justify violence. There is nothing to argue about. Despite the evident signs like maybe a bruise in your face, physical violence also leaves a mark in the soul that requires profound healing.

A very subtle boundary is emotional violence or manipulation. It is hard to be noticed, but like physical or sexual violence devastating. Manipulation destroys in a hardly perceptible manner the self-esteem, the well-being, the happiness and the identity of the victim. In an abusive relationship, the victim and the aggressor are in a dangerous cycle of control and power and may even switch roles from time to time.

What are the signs of emotional abuse?

Here are some of them:
• Your partner makes you feel inferior, guilty or humiliated and he recurs to insult you by telling you phrases like You’re insane, You’re ugly, You’re stupid or You’re fat.
• He begins to isolate you from your family or your friends. He controls whatever you do or whom you talk to. He may watch the place you are visiting and he uses jealousy to justify all his acts.
• He may use threats by mentioning suicide or separation or he may frighten you by falsely reporting you to the police. He provokes fear through looks, gestures or by destroying objects.

All these behaviors break with the limits of love in a relationship. Often, the aggressor would minimize or deny the abuse, in occasions he makes even his partner feel responsible for the abusive attitude or clearly says that she provoked it. Sometimes, the aggressor looks like a charming person to other people and only shows his abusive behavior in the relationship. This makes it difficult for the victim to ask for help since no one else understands it. The affected person loses self-esteem until she starts believing that there is really something wrong with her personality and that all the horrible things she has been told are true. That is the point when the victim is convinced that her partner is right, and has a false image of herself. The affected person lives in fear and experiences a strong feeling of guilt and self-hatred. The victim faces difficulties at the time of giving up an abusive relationship due to a strong emotional dependence.

Even though it seems difficult, you can learn a lot out of these situations: you can clearly say, “no” to this relationship and walk away while facing the pain of separation. This pain is a useful suffering because it opens a path towards a healthy life. You don’t have to make the road alone, you can and you should ask for professional help that supports you in facing the fear of loneliness, in healing the traumatic experience, in learning to set up healthy boundaries, in regaining self-esteem and dignity and in learning how a healthy and mature relationship looks like. This is an inner process that can guide you to freedom, happiness and connecting deeply with your essence. The beauty that life has to offer is worth to take this step.

I look forward to reading your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post Can You Heal From Emotional Abuse and Violence?

Copyright © 2013, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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