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But He Says He Loves Me: How I Finally Left an Abusive Relationship

But He Says He Loves Me: How I Finally Left an Abusive Relationship

Domestic violence, whether it be emotional or physical abuse, is always a difficult and controversial topic. I have spent months wondering how I would be able to write about this, as it is a delicate subject.

Everyone’s situations are different but after careful thought and consideration, I have decided to speak from my own experiences and my own perspective in hopes that someone that may need to read this, happens to come across this article. They may relate to it in their own way just when they need it the most.

When Will Enough Be Enough

“Where are you?!” I could hear him searching for me frantically, slamming doors as he looked for me in each room. I heard glass break and he screamed out for me again. His voice filled with anger, he was huffing, puffing and swearing profusely.

As I lay on my stomach under the bed, I held onto the knife tightly trying to hold my breath, scared he would hear me if I made a sound. I didn’t know what I would do with the knife but it made me feel a tiny bit safer. My body was shaking in fear, my mind was racing, “Is this really happening? What is this even about? Why did he have to come home drunk?”

I heard the back door slam, he must be searching for me in the yard. I quickly grabbed my phone and called the police. It felt like forever for someone to pick up, my heart racing, palms were sweaty and I was in a crazy state of panic. Finally, someone answered, “Please state your type of emergency.” I tried to speak quietly but I was so frightened I was speaking too fast.

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“What is your name and what is the emergency?” The voice on the phone asked. “Please just send someone to help me, my boyfriend is going crazy and I need help fast,” I pleaded. “What is your name, location and what is your contact number?” The voice over the phone asked. “I don’t have time for this, just come help me”, I pleaded.

I heard the back door slam again, he was in the house. My heart skipped a beat and I hung up the call almost immediately. I grabbed onto the knife while I lay under the bed. I couldn’t hear where he was, my blood was rushing through my veins as I used every ounce of my energy to hold my breath. I didn’t want him to find me. I was scared for my life. There was silence. Then I heard a bang, it sounded like he punched a hole into the wall again.

My phone rang, I looked at the screen and it must’ve been the police, I quickly hung up. My heart sank, “Oh my god, I hope he didn’t hear that, why on earth would the cops call when I have already told them my situation!” Next thing I knew, he grabbed my foot and was dragging me from under the bed.

Why I Stayed

Before him, I would’ve said that I would always leave if a guy were to hit me or even touch me in an abusive way. It wasn’t until I was actually in the situation, I finally understood why it was so hard for many people to walk away from any type of abuse. It started off small, little remarks and comments that undermined me and my character. Slowly, it grew into something bigger, by this point, I was invested.

When I first met him, I wasn’t interested in him. He was a charismatic guy that everyone in town knew and loved. He was known to be a bit of a “player” and I just didn’t want to get entangled with a “player.” I was a challenge to him. He was determined to get me. I wasn’t as easy to catch as the other girls were, so he chased hard.

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When I finally agreed to go on a date with him,  he did his best to sweep me off my feet. He wrote me cute notes, bought me gifts, wined and dined me. He treated me in a way I had never been treated before. He told me how special I was and he told me he loved me. This went on for over a year and I remember wondering how on earth his ex had ever left a guy like this. I was on cloud nine. Then we moved in together, got engaged and everything went downhill.

Every time I tried to leave, he promised he would change, he promised things would be different and I would end up staying in hopes that the guy I had met would come back. Every time I told him I had had enough, he would say, “You are never going to find anyone that loves you like I do. Your family didn’t even want you, they kicked you out of their home. You lost your virginity to several men you don’t even know, who’s going to want you? Every other guy is going to think you’re worthless.” He knew my past, he knew my insecurities, he knew how to use it against me and at the time, I believed him. After all, who would want someone like me? He says he loves me. I should be lucky he loves me because nobody else would.

How I Finally Left

As the old saying goes, people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. The universe knew I needed to open my eyes. I was back and forth, making up and breaking up with him and just couldn’t get the willpower to leave. That’s when someone that I call a “soulmate” walked into my life.

My soulmate inspired me to travel, to see what else was out in the world. He knew nothing of my past but he knew I was stuck in my own little bubble. He doesn’t know just how much of an impact he had on my life but because of him, I finally decided to take the plunge and booked a one-way ticket to Thailand. Little did I know that this was the start of a massive transformation and self-discovery journey.

What I Learned

Looking back, I had a part to play in that relationship. He was messed up and didn’t know how to deal with it so he lashed out. I too was messed up and didn’t know to love myself so I accepted that kind of behaviour.  Misery loves company and we were both two insecure souls that came together and made a recipe for disaster.

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I don’t regret that relationship though, I learned a lot from that. I learned what I didn’t want and it also pushed me into a path towards learning to get to know myself, my flaws, my insecurities and to discover who I really am and what I really deserve.

That relationship taught me that even though at times we can feel stuck and see no way out, there is always an answer. Most often than not, it is the simplest answer. Just leave. No matter how hard or impossible it may seem at the time, once we start to action what we know deep down is right, the universe will help you. It brings people, situations and light bulb moments to us in order to assist us in our paths.

I’m not saying that everyone should book a one-way ticket and leave but for me, it really did help. Completely removing myself from the situation stopped me from going back. It opened me up to a whole new passion, travel. It opened me up to the big, wide world out there and taught me that the bubble I was stuck in was actually a tiny fraction of what was actually going on in the world. It taught me that I did have control over my life and I did have a choice.

I will admit, that relationship left me even more messed up for a while but I’m definitely a stronger person for it. I wouldn’t know how to love myself the way I do now if I hadn’t experienced that lesson. Just because someone says they love you, doesn’t necessarily ring true.

Nobody can truly love someone else until they can love themselves. Even though he said he loved me, he didn’t. He didn’t love himself. If he did, he would never have treated me like that. I didn’t love myself either because if I did, I would never have stayed or accepted that treatment.

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I just remember having a moment while I was overseas, sitting on the beach, toes in the sand, watching a gorgeous sunset, a wave of freedom washing over me and I thought to myself, “Why did I not leave sooner?”

If you are in a similar situation or know someone that is, please know that there is a way out and it doesn’t have to be like this. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, no one deserves to go through this and no one deserves to feel stuck. There is a solution and there is always a way. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you are in Australia and need support please call ; 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au

If you are outside of Australia here is a link for shelters, crisis centres and hotlines; http://www.vachss.com/help_text/domestic_violence_intl.html

Featured photo credit: medicaldaily.com via images.medicaldaily.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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