Love shouldn’t hurt – ever

Are you settling?
by Teresia Smith

Mandy Hale once said, “Sometimes it takes a little pain and heartbreak to shake you awake, help you let go, and show you that you are worth so much more than you were settling for.” When I read that quote, I thought of so many people who stay in unhealthy relationships even though they know it’s not a good situation. What does it mean to “settle”?
Settling is defined as ‘to accept or agree to something, or to decide to have something, although it is not exactly what you want or it is not the best’. Why would someone settle? That can be complicated. Sometimes, circumstances seem overwhelming and there doesn’t appear to be a way out. Often, women are swept off their feet very young, gain no job skills or education, have children and become financially dependent on their spouse, who uses this inequality to control them. At times, religious or family beliefs may hold someone in a bad relationship or being estranged from family and feeling like you have no one else to rely on can keep you hostage. Fear easily gains a stronghold and it’s perpetuated by the abusive partners constant belittling or undermining the victim’s self-esteem.

Once your self-esteem has been damaged, you don’t think you deserve better or that you will ever find anyone else or that you can ever make it without them.
Another great quote I read recently was by Drew Barrymore. She said, “In the end, some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.” This is true but hard to see in the moment. Whatever you want to call it — closing doors, completing a chapter, turning over a new page — it doesn’t matter what you call it, it only matters that you leave the past behind and find the strength and courage to pursue a healthy future. To do this you must acknowledge that it’s time to move forward and you must let go of hope that your abusive partner will change and leave the past behind. Once you leave that unhealthy relationship, you will be encouraged to stop contact with the abuser, work through your feelings, and build a good support system to help you move forward and not be tempted to quit and go back.

The most powerful changes happen in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of telling yourself you have no control. “We can’t make other people’s actions about us. They never will be. We can’t ever control what others do — only how we respond. And we have to remember this even when others hurt us. When people leave. Or betray us. When lie or cheat or steal. When they say they’ll call or text but never do. When the people we love break our hearts, when the people we simply care about don’t care enough back. None of that is about us. The only thing we have at the end of the day is what we do with what happens.” Kris Gage.

Instead of allowing your hurt and anger to imprison you, use it to propel and motivate you. You ultimately are in control of what you do with your life. You can choose to see yourself as someone who will overcome and beat the odds or you can see yourself as someone who is too broken to repair. The greatest gift you can give yourself is how you think. Someone once said, “your response is always more powerful than your circumstance”. That is truth. Yes, some of your life is decided by circumstances and people beyond your control; however, the vast majority is decided by how you respond and what decisions you make.

Are you settling and staying in an abusive relationship because you don’t know what to do? Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential services to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. You don’t have to go through this alone. You may call the Jackson County office for an appointment at 256.574.5826 or call our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000 to speak with a trained crisis counselor. Reach out.

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