Flat-Lining in Domestic Abuse Recovery

My domestic abuse recovery depends on my ability to work through the mind-fucks of remembered abuse. I'm flatlining in domestic abuse recovery. Read this.My domestic abuse recovery is flat-lining. I’m dead in the water, forgetting that I have skills to stay afloat.* I feel much like I did a year or so before I figured out that the problem in my marriage was not me. The problem was abuse.

Flat-lining in domestic abuse recovery as I am, it is difficult to refrain from blaming him and myself for my present depressed circumstances. I sink to the pit of despair because of the what-ifs running through my mind. I feel the pain of hate trapped inside of me. I point my middle finger at the past.

Stephen Covey says to “live out of your imagination, not your history.” Depression, suicidal thoughts, hate, despair and hopelessness result when I live out the mindset of my past. It’s as if he is abusing me all over again.

“You can’t make it in the real world,” he said. And I look to the past as proof that he was right. I worked from home and failed to make a living. I lost passion for writing and living. I became homeless and my son abandoned me. I felt love for others, but didn’t allow others’ love for me to strengthen me. I raged at God for abandoning me. I believed, and continue to believe up to right this moment, that I can’t make it in the real world.

Domestic Abuse Recovery And Confusion

In reality, I’m abusing myself with crazymaking. I’m lying to myself. I’m confused over whose reality is real. An abusive man’s assertion negates my current reality.

When I think about it, I sit here now, in a pretty home, protected from the elements. I’m in touch with both of my sons. I keep the lights on. My belly is full. As he told me in the past, I have children to care for, a roof over my head and food on my plate. And as I felt in the past, it isn’t enough.

But wanting more and “not making it in the real world” are completely different ideas. He wanted me to feel guilty for wanting more. Now, I confuse his guilt-tripping with my wish to live a fuller life. There’s not one thing wrong with wanting more.

I Feel My Pulse Returning

The fact is, I’ve lived through the real world and succeeded.

  • There isn’t anything more real than being homeless.
  • There isn’t anything more real than allowing myself to feel the love of others when I can’t love myself.
  • There isn’t anything more real than taking a chance on myself and failing (I will try again).
  • There isn’t anything more real than picking myself up from nothing, leaving an abusive relationship, succeeding – and then falling flat on my face only to pick up again with the love of family and be here. Where I am now. Sitting here with a kitten on my lap.

I kicked the real world’s ass. I don’t need to listen to his fucking ghost. And I certainly don’t need to abuse myself into thinking my successes are proof that I will fail.

They call the skill used here reframing, or rewriting your story, and it comes from cognitive behavioral therapy and narrative therapy.

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About Kellie Jo Holly

Kellie Jo Holly passionately advocates against domestic violence through her writing and mentoring service. She loves helping women cope with abuse while in the relationship and supporting them as they leave the relationship and begin to heal. You can also find Kellie on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. You can buy her books from Amazon.


  1. Thank you Kellie for telling us the real truth: Your truth! Which in many ways resembles my own. I recognize bits and pieces of myself, and my life story, in yours. Please, don’t ever stop writing, sharing, posting because sometimes your voice is the only real voice I truly understand. Imagination vs history. Wow! What a concept. Thanks again.

  2. Hearing these words assures me that all of the thoughts, fears and “voices” from the past are common to the growth occurring. Most often developing into a whole and healthy child of God comes from learning where to place perceived failures in our thoughts and living with the strength gained in having overcome or even just getting through that failure. God really is there and loving us through every step. Parents allow their children some freedom to make mistakes so they can learn from them. Like falling when they are learning to walk. God’s hand is never far from reach even if you don’t see it. Thank you so much for your words. You are strong!

  3. Thiis abuse crap is real and getting more real. I was abused by boyfriends and a huband that i was able to kick to the curb. Im now facing the truth about my mom. Shes been the worst abuser and i didnt even know it. I akways knew there was something wrong but she has always convinced me i was the problem. Wow thank you helping me figure this out. Its hard kicking your own mother to thr curb but i have to.

    • I know how u feel about ur mom…have u worked things out? My man has told me to kick my mom to the curb….but he shouldn’t talk. Cause he’s the same as her…I was ten dreaming of how to get rid of her. That’s when my depression started. And the suicide attempts started (2 times) but she never called for help, just let me suffer it out! I moved out at 15 and at 23 I got with HIM! I’m 42 now and need help…….

  4. The verbal abuse for me is his yelling and swearing at me if I tell him he made a mess or if i.am driving ,which I’ve done for 47 + yrs.he makes me nervous.
    It’s sometimes just saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
    Then at times,he acts normal ( whatever that is ) & in public,he is the joker, so who would think he’s mean and nasty to me.
    No wonder I don’t go around with a smile.
    I am 65 and get very little SS. Been married 47 yrs.with NO place to go.

    • I am 51, 2 younger kids, no job and NO place to go. Hes got a new supply I think (for his ego) and wants us out even. To the extent of yelling at me to leave almost once daily the past week.
      Try THAT 1 on for size!
      I have NO where to go, none. My dad has dementia and sold his house, living with friends. My moms dead. My brother has a form of leukemia n is a narcissist himself. Rly, I have no where to turn.
      Im stumped. Im the analyzer and I cant figure this one out. Im stumped.

      • I am proud this summer I rly let it sink in that his smile or being nice was always apt to change in a heartbeat. I stopped caring n just watched him, even when hes yelling. Not involve myself in it, unless he was picking on the kids. Then i would enter into it with him. Ive ignored more shyt this last 3 mos than you can believe. I just ignore it. Incredible stuff. Then hes nice later. Like, WOW, split personality much? N.e.v.e.r an apology, which is fine becuz if he opens his mouth, hes lying. I got him to quit saying i love you too. I cudnt stand that, it was a slap in the face to hear that.
        The bizarre way they just switch, esp if they leave the house ( he doesnt much, only works parttime n has no friends) or some other thing distracts them n they kinda forget they just tore into you. N need to get down on bended knee for you to whip, but i digress 😉
        Bizarre has been my word of the summer. Hes just B.I.Z.A.R.R.E. His thinking, his behavior. I think hes borderline personality, not just narcissist personality. Both DISorders.
        Anyway, i totally hear you Ginny. Yes, they act rly, rly weird.

      • I agree

  5. I came across your blog tonight. I looked up “verbal abuse” as if I needed the definition to confirm whether or not what I’ve experienced in 27 years of marriage was just that. After reading a few of your blogs I thought my picture would pop up as the shining example. I’ve been called every horrible name possible. Methodically and by one very calculating and controlling spouse. I truly believed that all husbands or boyfriends call their wives or girlfriends a stupid bitch. Ugly, fat, liar, a waste, a terrible mother etc and words so bad that I couldn’t possibly post them. isn’t this normal? When I would gather enough courage I would ask a friend or family member. Believe me, I knew by the sheer look of shock on their face that being called a bitch by their spouse was not something they were familiar with. I never believed them in all honesty. I suppose tonight those “demons” in my head for years made me realize what the heck happened to me? I no longer believe I have any worth. I believe if I didn’t do this, or say that then I wouldn’t have been called every horrible thing a person could ever be called. I realized I believed “him” This man who had never even purchased me a wedding ring. I bought it. I never thought much about it then as we were young, broke and in college. What I realize now so many years and paychecks later and a teenage son, that perhaps it wasn’t money. It was control. Almost training me up to never expect anything from him. It worked. I can count on one hand the number of birthday cards or gifts over 27 years I’ve received. It’s not material things I was after. I was praying for that thought of me to cross his mind, to make me smile, feel special and so loved by him for just a moment. I’ve waited, prayed and begged for that moment. For 27 years!!!! I’m pretty sure now it’s never coming. I’m no longer that young, dedicated, full of life girl. I’m almost 50 and feel worthless daily and put my hope in “maybe he will come home and be nice”. My mom always told me it’s like hitting your head against a brick wall for years, maybe one day you’ll say “ouch” honey. She was always right on about everything. Have I said ouch tonight? Did hearing I’m a worthless piece of garbage for the umpteenth time tonight finally cause me to say ouch? I’m so used to it that I can’t honestly find that strong girl anymore. I have never typed a comment into anything like this. I guess I feel like nobody will ever see this and so it doesn’t matter. I’m alone typing into this and I’ll be alone after. I can say I’m grateful for the blogs and comments I’ve read. God Bless everyone. God Bless Kellie! You got me through tonight.

    • Peggy Robertson says:

      Kris H., I hear you. I read your reply to Kellie’s blog. I have something to say that I believe you need to hear: Stop that! Snap out of it “full of life” woma! I’m 13 years oldet than you. I ended the marriage of 20 some years, as one night I pondered if he would change? (No.) And: do I really want to go into and live my golden years (retirement) this way? The simple answer (No.) and awareness that “nothing changes if nothing changes” was the beginning of a new direction in my life for me.

      Don’t Romanticize (what I’ve told myself when I need strength and no one has the answer – but ME.) And don’t eulogize. Just put your feet in your shoes and start walking. Put one foot in front of the other. YOU must get yourself out. YOU must CREATE your solution (NOT find help.) YOU (and God, if you are a believer), are your only way out Your mind will become open to ideas, thoughts to consider, once you accept the fact that only YOU can satisfactorily help you. Keep your mind open. Get to work. You (and ONLY you) can do this.

      If you are interested in hearing more detail about what I am doing in my quest to get back on my feet, ask me. I’ll be willing to share. But at the moment I don’t want to go on too long. And I basically just felt I should (& could) give you a pep talk. Change your mind and change your life. All the best to you. Peggy Robertson (PS. I thank God for Kellie, my angel from God who had a blog with a “good word in time of need.” -from Proverbs somethingOrAnother.)
      I’ve got work to do! Bye for now. BUT Don’t forget: change your mind and change your life.

    • I feel the same way you do

  6. Hi I’m so lost at this point I almost feel like my body is getting ill very stressed out

    • I can relate to that. I’ve convinced myself that I must have some terminal illness I’m so fatigued and depressed. I think I know what it is-the illness of chronic abuse. It takes the life out of you physically and mentally. I want my life back-the person I was before him.

      • Hi Ayla, My name is Janet and I work here at Verbal Abuse Journals. Recovery from abuse is exhausting and you are right it can feel like you are fighting a terminal illness. One thing I have learned on my journey of recovery is to practice self care, I have learned to love myself again by doing that. If you are not familiar with the term “self care” it is the act of looking after yourself more during the difficult times. Self care acts are different for every person, but here are a few suggestions; take a nap in the afternoon. If spleeping is difficult then just give yourself some quiet time (I take an hour each day) to just let my whole being rest. Abuse affects you down to your cellular level so it is important to take the time to heal down to that level. Quiet time can do that. Also, as silly as this may sound, make sure you are eating healthy, lots of fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from the junk food (as tempting as it may be). Getting out for a walk or a coffee are other ways to take care of you, anything that is special just for you is essentially self care. If the dark feelings persist you may want to talk to your family doctor. I had to start taking medication to help with my recovery and it has helped balance me. Take care

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