~ “The first step towards getting somewhere is to DECIDE that you are not going to stay where you are.” ~ (Anny Jacoby)
I just love when I read this quote. It reminds me of what we have been talking about now for months—since I began the “Living the Gentle Life” series, which has been about the recovery from PTSD and pathological love relationships.
I get emails that say, “I can’t leave him because_________.” There are lots of reasons that people, both men and women, feel trapped in pathological love relationships for various reasons. It could be finances, children, poor health, lack of employment or education, religious beliefs, family, attitude, fear of harm, or their own damage from PTSD. But the first step toward an internal shift, where something else might be a possibility, is beginning with knowing that you are not going to stay where you are.
The external reasons of why you are still there are just that—external. The paradigm shift starts internally—the decision you make that you are not going to stay where you are, whether emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, or sexually. Externally, things begin to happen when you simply make the decision that at some time in the near future, you are not going to stay where you are. What happens outside of us in recovery starts with the shift internally, before it is ever manifested in our lives. We won’t follow a path that isn’t first developed internally. We’ll end up only seeing roadblocks of the external, which doesn’t help us. The first thing that has to happen is the decision for internal movement.
Over the 20 years of working with pathology and its victims, I have heard every kind of story about pathological relationships. Anything from the most deviant kind of mind control to attempted murder, to actual murder. I’ve heard of financial hostage taking, rape, assaults, stalking, women put into comas, people alienated from their children, people being medically harmed, reputations and careers ruined, and people locked in their homes or psyches for decades. I’ve heard it all. The emails start with, “But, I can’t”—and then they give the reason for their inability to leave. But there is movement happening in them that they might not see. They have read our magazine, our newsletters, or are emailing us; so obviously something inside is shifting. Somewhere, they are deciding they are not going to stay where they are! Even mentally they are moving and changing. Their “yes, but” might be a reason to them, but they are already deciding to not stay where they are.
Yes, there are safety and housing barriers. Remember, every community has domestic violence (DV) services, or DV housing most likely exists in your area.
Yes, there are emotional barriers—you have PTSD. Remember most communities have DV counseling services that are free; churches have support groups, and community mental health counseling for you or your children is free or very low in cost.
Yes, there are starting-over barriers when you leave with only what’s in your suitcase. Remember, DV services and other nonprofit organizations offer furniture, clothing and household items to those starting over.
Yes, there are legal barriers—you don’t have an attorney. Remember self-help, nonprofit and women’s organizations. DV agencies have information on legal aid and OTHER types of pro bono services if you don’t qualify for legal aid.
Yes, there are other case-specific barriers—there are so many issues to manage at once. Remember women’s organizations, DV agencies and other nonprofit organizations have case workers assigned to you so you don’t have to do it all yourself.
You only have to first decide that you are not going to stay where you are. That’s the first step to the rest of your life. That doesn’t mean you leave tomorrow—that means you shift internally—that you open the emotional door of possibility that you will not always be where you are today.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I stop and give tribute and memory to those patients of mine who have died because they believed they couldn’t do anything about their situation, or they underestimated his pathology (or her pathology). In honor of all those who have been harmed, alive or not, we remember you this month, and send possibility to those living in a pathological situation that your life can and will be different. I don’t say that flippantly—I too have experienced a lot of pain when I see patients further harmed, so I say it from my own experience.
The Institute has helped thousands of people make that paradigm shift internally so they could eventually make it externally.