Featured

Around late October, many of my clients begin to relate personal tales of trepidation over family gatherings during the holidays. A strain in a relationship comes to the forefront, begging to be addressed despite the longstanding history of suppression and neglect. Painful feelings emerge as...

If you’ve been in any type of abusive relationship and successfully gotten out, at some point in your recovery, you are likely to experience feelings of reticence, caution, cynicism and even paranoia about others. This is particularly the case in regard to romantic partners. Once you’ve been burned, it’s not so easy to risk getting close to fire again, right?

When it comes to abuse, the most important thing we can do to help ourselves and our children is to educate ourselves on the early warning signs of abuse. We need to know what to look for beyond name-calling, lying, and hitting. We also need to know how to spot an aggressive and controlling relationship, because while there are no physical scars, psychologically abusive relationships can slowly strip away a person’s self- esteem, self-worth, and quality of life.

What is reasonable to expect out of a relationship? Love and support? Understanding and encouragement? A sense of safety and belonging? Knowing that your partner really sees you? Knowing that your partner truly values you? Knowing that your feelings and needs matter to your partner? Trusting your partner even when you are not with him or her? Both of you seeking resolution, taking responsibility and attempting to restore closeness after conflict? If these things seem way over the top because you’re used to surviving with far less, they are not.

Our parents are our first mirrors. As we grow, we look to our primary caregivers to give us feedback and help guide us through a world unknown. What gets reflected back to us is the basis upon which we form our first self-impressions. Based on these reflections, we begin to develop a self-concept as we identify ourselves more with certain attributes, less with others.