The abuse we went through is impacting every area of our life and we don’t even realize it.
And the part that nobody talks about is the fact that it impacts our ability to take care of our home.
When you’re in the abusive relationship, there are certain standards that are expected of you.
You have to make sure things stay clean, that the kids are acting in a certain way, make sure that things are put away and dinner is ready on time. If you don’t, you will be putting yourself in danger, whether it’s physical, spiritual, emotional, financial.
Of course these standards are also impossible standards, so you never fully meet them. And even in the off chance that you do meet them, the abuser goes out of their way to make sure you don’t feel good about it.
This is the goal of the abuser – to ensure that you never feel good enough.
This bleeds into our life long after we’re out of the relationship.
Now that you’re out, you don’t know how to take care of your house outside of crisis. You don’t know how to function without someone else yelling and telling you what to do. If someone’s not making you feel like crap about how dirty the kitchen is, you won’t clean it.
If someone isn’t telling you to get off your ass and do the laundry, you won’t do it until it’s so backed up that you want to cry.
This could obviously stem from multiple things, but no one realizes that this can be related to abusive relationships.
You have this voice in the back of your head telling you that you’re worthless so you don’t end up doing anything.
When you were in the abusive relationship, you had that voice right in your face but you had to keep you and the kids safe. You had to do these things in order to make sure that bad things didn’t happen.
Now that the immediate threat is gone, your brain doesn’t know what to do.
This isn’t your fault. If you struggle with this, you are not alone.
Your brain doesn’t know how to life outside of abuse and threats, whether you got out last year or last decade, your brain can still be running on that assumption that someone’s going to come bursting through that door.
Or you may be the opposite. Your brain knows that there isn’t an immediate threat and therefore doesn’t have a reason to do anything.
Because when you were in the relationship, you were taught that your thoughts, feelings and emotions didn’t matter. Not only did they not matter, but they were an extreme burden.
You began to believe that your very existence was a burden on people, on society, that you’re God’s first mistake, that you don’t belong here.
The only reason you’re here at all is because of your kids. But at the same time, you’re wondering if they’d be better off without you.
But you don’t want them to go to the abusive parent.
It begins to cause the downward spiral, where you don’t even know which way is up.
You end up looking around you and see the mess, the stuff, the crap everywhere. The dishes are screaming to be done and the laundry that’s piling up. You don’t have a pair of clean underwear in sight and you don’t even want to know when your kid ran out of them.
They don’t even tell you anymore because communicating with you is stressful since you’re always on edge.
You don’t know how to take care of yourself because you don’t believe that you are worth taking care of. When you were in the relationship, your reason for doing those things was survival.
Now that you’re out of survival your brain doesn’t know what the hell to do.
And this is a problem.
Your lack of self worth and taking care of yourself is causing major problems not only in your personal life but also in your external life.
It’s causing problems with our kids because they don’t know how to handle you not taking care of yourself, so they don’t take care of themselves.
You’re constantly overwhelmed and stressed out.
Let me be clear: this isn’t your fault. You’re not broken and you’re not a bad mom.
You don’t deserve to live this way and stay in this terrible mindset. You deserve to live in a place that’s clean and calming.
Clean doesn’t mean “perfect and pristine.” Whatever clean means to you, you deserve that.
Also, you don’t have to feel 100% deserving before you create an environment you enjoy.
If we were working together one on one and this was a problem, we’d focus on this for awhile to rewire your brain and break the harmful connections.
I say that because I want to be clear that this isn’t an overnight fast fix. It’s going to take time.
But that doesn’t mean you have to wait for your brain to be in full belief before you take action.
It’s going to be hard and difficult. Your brain is going to pitch a fit and not like doing the work.
And that’s ok.
Now that we’re aware that it’s not our fault and its going to take time, how can we begin to change things?
Disclaimer: your brain won’t like the answer and it’s going to argue. That’s ok, your brain can throw a fit. But you can still do it.
Start by picking one thing, just one thing that can make a difference.
My one thing is dishes. I HATE doing them more than I can put into words, but having a sink full of dishes and being unable to cook stresses me out. So it’s my one thing.
Once I get the dishes done, it’s easier for me to cook and clean.
When I can easily do that, the rest of the day flows better.
Then pick a schedule that works for you to keep on that one thing.
Maybe you can do the dishes each morning while breakfast cooks. Maybe you want to wait and do all of the dishes at once on Saturday.
There’s no judgment to your how and when. You do what works for you.
You don’t have to do everything at once. Just start with one thing and let that be your only focus until it’s done.
There are certain seasons of life where my son and I live out of the clean clothes pile that always ends up on my bed. Sometimes my brain just can’t justify putting it all away just for it to be washed again in a few days.
And that’s ok.
Sometimes laundry is my excuse to sit on my bed and catch up on YouTube while I put it all away.
And that’s ok, too.
Your brain is going to struggle. That doesn’t make you a bad mom or a horrible homemaker. It makes you human.
Beating yourself up because you’re struggling is like slashing all of your tires because you got one flat. It makes the whole situation unnecessarily worse.
So pick just one thing and start there. Don’t overthink it. You don’t have to do everything at once to be worthy.
Just one thing is more than enough.
Then when you do that one thing, celebrate yourself.
That may be really difficult for you. Heck, it may be physically painful because your brain believes so deeply that it’s worthless.
But at the very least, acknowledge what you did. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you did the dishes and the sink is full again, even if you did the laundry and the dog peed on it.
You did it and that’s what matters.
Just look around and pick one thing. Don’t get overwhelmed – it doesn’t matter what you pick. There’s no right or wrong.
Then maybe next week, pick one more thing.
And maybe you continue this so that by next month, you’re working on 4 things pretty consistently.
This needs to be talked about far more than anyone will admit.
It’s so incredibly important.
If this resonated with you, please know that you’re not alone and you’re NOT a bad mom.
You’re a great mom doing the best she can. You’ve got this.