When I asked the question, why do we stay in unhealthy relationships, here were some of the answers I received…
• Fear of being alone
• Fear of not being able to find someone who will accept you and your baggage
• Fear of making your child/children fatherless/motherless and suffering your same fate
• Shame and embarrassment
• Reluctance to start over
• Don’t want to be a single parent
• My parents said…
• I vowed for better or worse
• The covenant of marriage
Let’s begin with why I stayed knowing the relationship was unhealthy.
Let me start with this, when a relationship is in the beginning a.k.a honeymoon stages, we often ignore unhealthy relationship characteristics because we’re so “in love”. We choose to ignore, even going as far as calling certain unhealthy quirks “cute”. Now, obviously, this is for people who have been in, or are in unhealthy relationships.
Being pregnant at 20 and ending the relationship with my daughter’s father before she was born was rough, and I was lost. I gave up my apartment and moved back in with my parents. Anyone who has ever moved out and had to go back home knows that this is hard!
Weeks later I reconnected with an ex. We’d known each other since we were kids. Running into each other led to conversations, conversations led to dates, dates led to dating, dating led to engagement, and engagement led to marriage. Remember, I was still pregnant with someone else’s child so I felt “blessed” that someone wanted me.
Now I’m not in the business of bashing so I’m not. My relationship started off real good, but like my mama always said, “a new broom sweeps well”. I didn’t understand it then, but I get it now.
Because I felt lucky that someone wanted me while pregnant with some else’s baby, I was willing to accept any and everything to keep this special person. As time progressed things became toxic. I talk about this in my Overcoming Divorce Guilt blog. We both brought a bit of unhealthy to the relationship. But why did I choose to stay?
Fear of being alone.
Fear of being a single parent.
Lack of self worth.
Talking to other woman in unhealthy relationships, I saw similarities. Some woman stayed because it wasn’t their first marriage. It was marriage #2 or #3. They were willing to accept controlling behavior and verbal abuse to avoid the embarrassment of another marriage ending.
Then there were some who grew up fatherless and now had children of their own. These woman were willing to stay in unhealthy situations which included infidelity to make sure their children didn’t have to experience what they experienced.
Then there were those who felt trapped and incapable of surviving alone.
I found all of this sad, but I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t surprised because I too stayed for some of the very same reasons. The affects on your physical and mental wellbeing remaining in an unhealthy relationship can be severe.
Here are a few of the things I experienced:
Low self esteem
Loss of friends and family
How did I overcome? Lots of therapy!
What helped me leave? My children and my faith. Listening to my heart and NOT my family. I had to make this decision alone.
Was I afraid? More than anything, but I allowed my faith to overpower my fear.
Not only did I survive, I thrived!
When writhing this blog, I wanted to be an encouraging force to those currently suffering in unhealthy relationships, feeling like there is no way out. You are not alone. You don’t have to stay, and leaving won’t make you a bad person. Leaving doesn’t mean you failed. If you’re a parent, your child/children will be okay.
If you are feeling stuck, I pray this helps. If you know someone who could use this, please share.
Until next time…💛