There is a big wave of "lost" and "what now?" that comes after getting out of a toxic/abusive relationship with someone. You are not so sure what to do now but you are sure that you are struggling with things that you cannot seem to find or get enough advice on. You find yourself sitting with the same, negative thoughts and fears that something that has already happened to you will happen again. You are looking for people who understand and who have been there too, and if this is what you are looking for, I get that. You are going to struggle with things that might seem hard at first but with time, you will find peace again.
1. Loving and forgiving yourself
One thing you will find out sooner or later after the break-up is that no matter how much you try to look for things to help you love yourself, none of it will work. Loving and forgiving yourself starts with you. It starts with telling yourself all that has happened is to help you and allow you to attract better things. To love yourself you have to forgive yourself. You have to sit with why you loved your abuser and what made you stay for so long and forgive it all.
There is nothing wrong with why you stayed or how you could love someone who could hurt you so much. You don't have to justify why you spent so much time allowing someone to hurt you. You just did and to be honest, abusers have a good way of making you feel that you aren't capable of being loved by someone else.
But you are capable of being loved and it should start with you. You should set the example of how you want others to love and treat you. Forgive yourself for all that you have allowed and let yourself move on from that. Love yourself with all that you have to know that if someone were to come into your life and treat you like that again, you know to leave as soon as possible. Love yourself enough to know where you are comfortable and uncomfortable.
2. Opening up to others
Besides loving and forgiving yourself, you are going to have a hard time letting others in to love you. You are going to struggle with being yourself around others because you have been told it isn't worthy nor is it a good person to be around. You have been embarrassed and humiliated for who you are for so long that you are going to hide that away from others with the hope that they don't feel the same way your abuser did. You are going to protect yourself from any opportunity of being hurt again. You aren't going to know why after a year you still can't seem to open up.
Give yourself time. You don't have to open up right away after being abused, especially to those who don't know you or your story. You don't have to talk about what you went through and why even to those you are closest to. You don't have to do anything that you are uncomfortable with. It might take you months or even years, but that is okay. The last thing you need to do is pressure yourself into opening up to people. Being quick to open up might extend your healing process and put you in more positions to make things worse on you. So calm down and give yourself the time that you deserve and need.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is something that people forget that comes with abuse in any kind of relationship. Small, irrational things will become big triggers for you. People are not going to understand why things are triggers for you but that does not mean you have to justify your reasoning. You do not have to explain to anyone why you are scared or why something small to them is so big to you.
My ex-boyfriend used to grasp my boobs after yelling at me or calling me names, out of nowhere and for no reason. I was seeing someone not too long ago who, in the middle of a conversation, did the same thing. I was scared. The feeling of being looked at like an object instead of a human being came back to me. I have felt the pain that comes with feeling like I don't deserve respect for so long and right when I thought it was gone, it came back. I know how small that looks to people but when you are dehumanized for so long and it occurs again, in a different context with a different person, it is fucking scary.
Your triggers are going to happen and they are going to seem so irrational to other people, and that is okay. So stop thinking that you have to justify why you are always on the verge of freaking out. When someone is yelling at you or being mean, but in a more healthier way than your abuser, and you still break down and cry, just let it out. You do not need to explain yourself and your pain, it isn't for anyone other than yourself.
4. Understanding that your abuser still exists
You abuser still has a life and that is one thing that is going to hold you back from being happy. I know how it feels to sit around and wish that your abuser would encounter all that is bad in this world, but that is not going to happen. I know how it feels to see them with someone else and wonder if they are treating them right. And if they are treating them right, are you incapable of being treated right? I know how it feels to wish that they could feel what they put you through for so long. But thinking that your abuser will not continue life after what they did to you is a joke.
You might see them out acting like they didn't take away every piece of you. Hell, they even might wave at you. But that feeling of anger that you get when you see that life has not destroyed them the way that they have destroyed you is your own poison. You are allowing them to continue to suck the life out of you and this time, they aren't around you.
It isn't you that they have the potential to hurt anymore. It isn't you that they are calling names and yelling at. It isn't you that is laying up at night wondering what they are doing behind your back and with who. It isn't you that is being constantly embarrassed. It isn't you that is being blamed for every little thing. You have to remember that just because you see that they are overtly enjoying life, that if they were genuinely happy, they wouldn't have treated you and those around them so poorly.
Your abuser still exists and still has to move on with their life but let yourself find happiness in the fact that they can no longer hurt you and that freedom is your friend now.