After the Black Eye Has Healed

227234_10150189647514153_1184052_nSo, let’s say you escaped what could’ve been an even bigger disaster of a relationship than Rihanna and Chris Brown. Now all you have to do is deal with piecing yourself back together.

Sure, there’s always the break-up rituals we all have but when you’ve been physically and mentally reduced to nothing, there’s even more repair work to do.

What made me remember those post-abusive relationship feelings was during a recent pilgrimage to Chicago to visit family. I was out with my best friend D, hitting all our old haunts and it didn’t even occur to me that I might run into Jim. I mean, it’s been more than a decade; I thought he’d have moved – or died (one can dream) – or at the very least, that our history was water under a dilapidated bridge.

However, no sooner had I taken a sip on my first concoction D had ordered us, I looked up to see him. I thought it was just my mind playing tricks on me. I blinked. He was still there and walking in my direction. The strangest feelings came over me – familiar feelings.

I felt fear, angst and my heart beating in my ears. In an instant, I was mentally 22 years old again and he had control over me. I had to snap myself out of my stupor. I wouldn’t allow him to have that power over me – not anymore. I was in control now.

Since he had seen me, I didn’t want to just walk away, so I half-waved. Upon realizing it was me, Jim made a B-line toward me. We exchanged pleasantries. As he put his arms around me, a chill of disgust with a hint of lust came over me.

Yes, I said that right. I was disgusted AND slightly turned on. Weird, right?

However, within mere minutes of small talk, Jim was attempting to berate me, discounting what I do for a living, where I live and who I was dating. I simply stood there, contemplating. A sense of validation came over me, knowing that Jim was still a miserable, unhappy person. It had nothing to do with me. I interrupted him.

“It was great to see you,” I said, patting him on the arm. “D and I were actually just on our way out.”

Before he could utter another word, I slid past him, heading for the door. I smirked, knowing I had truly moved past him.

However, that didn’t happen overnight. I remember those first few months after leaving him.

You’re going to cry. Keep crying until you stop crying. You need to release the pain, and crying is the fastest way to extinguish an old flame in your heart. Even though you might feel dumb, this is the express lane to healing. Without the release, you will either find ways to numb the pain or possibly project the pain onto friends and family around you.

And yes, having friends around you to help build you back up and just be there, is great therapy. In my case, I even opted to speak to a professional. I had allowed myself to be so consumed by Jim that once the relationship was over, I had forgotten who I was. I needed some help in finding “me” again.

Erik Fact: Don’t forget to love yourself or be afraid to just be with yourself; it’s the longest relationship you’re ever going to be in.