Why I Suck At Dating

I am a survivor. The difference between a survivor and a victim is that survivors are healed from their traumatic experiences and display no signs of victimization. We got the support we needed and made the necessary changes to move on and live our life to the maximum. We got help and counseling and overcame PTSD. So we are fine now, right? Not necessarily.

The leftovers of pain still remain, but it is not pain anymore, it becomes a defense mechanism. Especially when it comes to start dating again. Dating? Ugh. That’s what I thought to myself, but it turns out I was not the only one who feels that way. Often women and men who have endured domestic violence in a relationship dread dating again. There are victims who continue to be in abusive relationships after abusive relationships; they often do not focus on healing themselves first, thus they are not fully recovered from it. That’s why they are still called victims.

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But still for the survivors, dating is not a breeze. We wonder to ourselves, How will I ever be able to trust that the next person I fall for and want to be with is not another abuser? The reality is, and I’d like to believe so, that most of us have already accepted that the abusive tendencies of our exes has nothing to do with our taste in partners. The three possible reasons why we view dating like a toddler with a plate full of veggies are:

~The person you loved betrayed you and deeply hurt you. You fear for another betrayal.

~You became vulnerable to a person who may used that vulnerability to control you, and you don’t want to become vulnerable again.

~Your trust is lost, or seriously damaged, and to rebuild that ability to trust takes time.

But I think the main reason is, why would you want to risk opening your heart and getting hurt again?

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That goes for me too, but I’m about to be able to count the years I have been single on both of my hands. I wondered why it took me so long, and I realized my reason is:

~I forgot what a healthy relationship feels like.

It is common for anyone who has underwent such a severe isolation for a long time. That means all contact with my family and friends were monitored and inquired, and eventually severed altogether, because it was easier just not to keep in touch with them at all. I had no one to turn to and that was when he had complete control over me.

In the aftermath, I didn’t trust myself to rebuild a normal relationship with anyone, especially with men who were talking to me. I couldn’t look them in the eyes because I could still see his face and feel him judging me in my head.

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It took me a long time- a couple of years and plenty of pinot grigio to bond with my girlfriends again, a lot of dirty diaper changing to join back in with my family, and endless soul searching to finally remove him from my mind and reconnect with public life.

After some time, I convinced myself I am ready for the real thing: DATING. Yes, I’ve told people I’m ready to date again, but it wasn’t easy. I had to start all over again and relearn how to date. I made many assumptions and misunderstandings and tons of communication mistakes along the way. Trust issues have a lot to do with it too.

I KNEW for a fact that in order for me to have a healthy relationship with a partner, COMMUNICATION is the KEY. But if someone said, “We need to talk.” I immediately feel a pang in my stomach, Did I do something wrong? I overanalyze things because sometimes petty comments could trigger strange reactions from me that I couldn’t explain because it is too “complicated”. But the truth is, I couldn’t find the words to describe my feelings because they used to be dismissed as worthless. I couldn’t even bring myself to say I’m sad or scared because I was brainwashed to think it’s my fault. So, I appeared to be “too strong” or became emotionally closed off from other people.

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I envy those people in healthy relationships with open communication and trust; they always seem to have so much fun together. However, a healthy relationship does not just happen. It requires a set of skills to maintain in a safe and healthy way that was lacking in my last relationship. I need to understand those skills. I need to learn to stop punishing myself (by avoiding and shutting people out) and reprogram my mind to remember that I will not get punished for wanting to communicate my feelings. I must forgive and trust myself so I can break free from my shell and let other people enter my life. I guess I still have a long way to go in the dating department, but if you ask me for thousandth time, I will tell you for thousandth time I prefer to be SINGLE and HAPPY than to be in a TOXIC relationship.

P.S.
As for you who are returning to the dating scene after an abusive relationship, I strongly encourage you (and myself too) to keep on alert for any possible red flags. Here are a couple of informative links with the lists of red flag behaviors that you should pay attention when dating other people:

http://www.thehotline.org/2012/09/red-flags-of-abuse/

http://www.caring-unlimited.org/what-is-domestic-violence/for-victims-and-survivors/is-my-relationship-abusive

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Thank You for the Liebster Award!

Leila, thank you for tagging me and giving me the Liebster Award. It’s a great honor. Also your blog is awesome!

Of course, I had to google up the Liebster Blog Award and what I found out is that it is actually a nice token of appreciation from bloggers to other bloggers with around 200 followers or less. The award recognizes the emerging bloggers and encourages them to get more recognition. The word “Liebster” comes from German language meaning beloved or dearest.  Naturally, there is a set of rules that come with the award:

The Rules:
1. Each blogger must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you have tagged to answer.
4. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
5. Go to their page and tell them.
6. No tag backs!
So, here I am excited to carry on the honor of presenting the Liebster award to some of my favorite bloggers, but first, I gotta share 11 things about myself:
1. I have a serious case of British invasion fever.
2. Washing dishes is my favorite chore. I think it’s because of all dishwashing I had to do as my punishment during the summer camps.
3. My hobbies include painting and jewelry-making.
4. I’m still not over the Olympics, so I’m reading Gold by Chris Cleave right now. So far so good.
5. Two things I must have daily: COFFEE and DARK CHOCOLATE!
6. I like to watch The Bachelor/ette. So what?
7. The Harper’s Bazaar and Elle are my fashion bibles.
8. I’m a proud child of Polish descendants.
9. I have one year old son who is an absolute joy in my life. He signs CHOO-CHOO for anything that has wheels. How can you not love that?
10. I love being near a body of water, especially ocean.
11. I meditate sometimes to de-stress. I strongly encourage people to try it.
Now to answer Leila’s questions:
1. What does your favorite pair of shoes look like? Describe them in detail and explain why they are your favorite. Take a picture, even!
I just bought my second pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I absolutely love them! I can’t imagine going back to regular sneakers again.
2. What is your all-time favorite movie, or the closest thing to it?
    That’s always a hard question for me since I don’t have any particular favorites. I like different movies for different reasons, but few of     them are impossible to forget like My Girl, the first movie I cried to ever. I was 8 years old at that time.
3. What is one thing people generally like to eat or drink, but you can’t stand?
     That’s easy, soda!
4. Why are you where you are right now?
     That’s a long story, but in a nutshell, what would you do in the name of love?
5. What is one guilty pleasure you would have a hard time giving up?
     Reading the tabloids. My favorite: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
6. Favorite month of the year, and why?
     January because it’s beginning of the year, and all summer months because they are summer months!
7. One place you loved traveling to?
    Several, but I’ll have to say Costa Rica.
8. What is the one word in the English language that you absolutely love?
     Love. It’s a lovely word.
9. What are you reading now? Would you recommend it?
     I’m reading two books simultaneously- Gold by Chris Cleave and Burn Down to Ground by Kambri Crews. Both highly recommended.
10. When you just need a place to escape to, where do you go?
      Somewhere with trees and grasses.
11. What physical trait do you have that makes you you?
      I have a couple of scars on my left knee.
My nominations:
Your 11 questions:
1. How was your summer?
2. Any exciting plans until December?
3. Who’s your favorite author and why?
4. What’s on your must watch movies list?
5. What is your favorite era in history and why?
6. What’s the most memorable place you have been to? Why?
7. Which do you prefer to live, on the mountain or by the ocean? Why?
8. What is your beauty routine?
9. When do you feel most beautiful?
10. What is the last thing you do before you shut your eyes for the night?
11. What is one thing you MUST do before you die?
Good night!