As I was writing about living with the uncertainty of these times for businesses, it dawned on me that women living in abusive situations live with uncertainty every day. When I was married, I felt like I never knew what each day would be like. It depended on my ex’s mood and what was going on for him.
It was something that I recognized more toward the end. That’s when I came to the realization that he was likely suffering from borderline personality disorder. I started researching and saw how his traits lined up with the clinical symptoms. I learned more about how unstable this disease caused its victims to be. Later I discovered a great book called Stop Walking on Eggshells by Paul T.T. Mason, MS and Randi Kreger.
The title describes so perfectly what I hadn’t realized I felt for so long. But living with an abuser is a constant roller coaster. There is usually no predicting when they will explode about what. And so, one is constantly in a state of disquiet, trepidation and fear.
I just heard the term “chandeliering” the other day. The term refers to someone holding in their emotions and then blowing up unexpectedly, “hitting the chandelier”. It’s a funny and very graphic description, but if you’re living with someone who does this it’s no fun.
Living in a state of constant unknown is exhausting and stressful.
It will likely lead to health issues as your body is frequently thrown into flight or fight mode. It ramps up your adrenaline and causes your system to produce mass amounts of cortisol. Once that happens, it can lead to adrenal fatigue, disrupted sleep cycles, sugar and salt craving, fatigue, weight gain (usually belly fat) and any number of other symptoms.
If you are living in an abusive situation, you are already under the stress the abuse is causing. Add to that living in a constant state of uncertainty, and your body will pay a toll.
There is no easy solution. There never is, when living in an abusive situation. I think the obvious answer is to reduce your stress level. But, of course, that is so much easier said than done.
Leaving an abusive relationship sometimes seems as scary as staying. And, it can take a long time to figure out how. I think the first step is building up your self-esteem.
Living in a state of constant stress and uncertainty can drive you to a complete lack of belief in yourself and your ability to make decisions or move forward.
Building one’s confidence is not an easy process, and setbacks can be expected. But I do believe it can make a huge difference in anyone’s life.
Another great book I highly recommend is The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathanial Branden. This is one book that changed my life. Although it’s not easy to find time in a stressful living situation, I encourage you to prioritize caring for yourself. Figuring out a way to get some time, even ten minutes a day, to focus on the exercises in this book could help tremendously.
No one is going to take care of you except you.
So, make it your mission to help yourself. The only way your situation will improve is if you force change. You can’t do that from a place of weakness.
Abusers know this, consciously or subconsciously, and are constantly undermining you to keep you in your place: under their control.
The only way out is through your ability to figure out what will work for you, whether that’s standing up to them or leaving them. It’s your choice and only you know what’s best in your situation. However, nothing will change unless you change.
If you choose to build your self-esteem, you will realize that you deserve so much better than you are getting.
Because my specialty is finances, I’d like to circle back to how this can impact your financial savvy as well. Confidence with money and your ability to earn, keep, manage, and use it wisely are all learnable skills.
I realize that there are some people who have more of an aptitude for finances and the detail involved in understanding all the ins and outs of money, and others who have different strengths. However, I also believe that with a certain level of confidence, anyone can learn to handle the basics and can find the determination to figure out what they need to do.
Living with uncertainty of any kind is stressful. Figuring out how to deal daily can be challenging. However, I believe that if you have good self-esteem you can figure out how to improve your situation and find the resources needed to manage on your own.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse