Abuse

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Ask Dr. Schwartz
Psychotherapy and Mental Health questions

after verbal abuse

Hello, Last year I left a 6-year long relationship which at the time I understood as unhealthy and harmful, and now would probably label as verbally abusive. I am 99% sure my ex suffers from bipolar disorder. He was prone to anger outbursts during which he would scream, curse at me, be unreasonable, punch or kick objects, or throw things at the wall. He also sometimes acted inappropriately in social situations with my friends. I ended up spending a lot of time trying to please him and anticipate his moods, and spent less time with friends, so that my social circle diminished somewhat (though not entirely.) I found it very difficult to leave him. Leaving the relationship co-oincided with other big changes in my life, as I moved to a new country to start a PhD program. I have been working on taking care of myself, trying to exercise, cook, and meditate. Now I am in a new relationship with a really wonderful person. We have been together for three months and I am very much happy and in love. I explained to him about my ex, but obviously I try not to bring this up often. A few days ago, he was driving and as \'navigator\' I kept accidentally misreading the directions. At one point, he screamed. He is a very gentle person and his reaction was half sincere but half joking. But it brought back all these memories, insecurities and fears. I spent hours holding back tears before being able to explain to him that this was a trigger for me. After making sure that I didn\'t actually believe he would be abusive, he said \"I understand. We can deal with this. I will be more careful.\" I felt calmer after and we have been getting along as well as ever, with just as much affection. What I have realized from this is that I have a lot of healing left to do. I think I have a lot of shame at staying with him for so long and allowing myself to be treated that way (and shame at my occassional attempts to \"fight back\" by screaming back at my ex.) I especially want to make sure that these issues do not prevent my current relationship from flourishing. I would like to get any advice on this, and be directed to any resources you know of along these lines. Thank you!

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