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Abuse Patterns: The Awakening

After my last post, I have been pondering how to share the steps of breaking the cycles of abuse. The first step is to recognize the abuse cycle. This is the step to empower yourself so that you can start to recognize the patterning and gain strength to make a change. We can’t make a change if we don’t know it is there.

Abuse is tricky, it is hard to define and is often difficult to even recognize when you are living in it, much less address and break-free. Most often, folks from the outside looking in can see it. In my situation, I was very headstrong, independent and sure I would never fall into the abuse cycle. However, my childhood clouded my adult mind and kept me from recognizing I was still choosing abusive relationships. This is pretty common and how the cycle perpetuates through generations.

There are generally 4 phases of an abuse cycle. There can be cycles within the cycles– and the length of time of the cycles can vary. Just reading that sentence is a little confusing.

4 Cycles

  1. Tension Building– This is the phase after the “honeymoon phase” of the relationship. This is where tension and stress begin to build. This is the phase when the victim is walking on eggshells as not to “trigger” the abuser, and there is a lot of passive-aggressive tendencies from the abuser.
  2. The Explosion– This is when the violence occurs. There are many shapes and forms of abuse. Violent behavior does not always mean physical assault. The abuse can be psychological– a violent outburst, sexual (make-up sex), or any kind of extreme-controlling behavior. Emotional abuse can be even harder to recognize. Emotional abuse can look like extreme possessiveness, jealousy, isolation, guilt-trips, put-downs, or blame-shifting.
  3. Honeymoon Phase- This is the phase of reconciliation. The abuser apologizes for their behavior, swear they don’t know what came over them, and they never meant to hurt you or cause any pain. They shower the victim with love, maybe even gifts, and they appear remorseful, sad, and sometimes even threaten to hurt themselves if the victim wants to leave.
  4. Peaceful/Calm Stage- This is when all is well, and it seems the abuser is “doing their work” to never let the behavior happen again. This is when the victim is holding on to faith that the abuser has really changed and life is looking up. Unfortunately, without extensive help and true sincerity, this is rarely the case. Something will occur to flare up the tension building stage, perpetuating the abuse cycle.

This Cycle of Violence theory was developed by Dr. Lenore Walker, and is used in many therapeutic approaches to teach the relationship dynamics of abuse.

Generational Abuse

The sad fact is, that children growing up in abusive homes have trouble recognizing that their upbringing was abnormal. This is what perpetuates the cycle and unfortunately a high number of these children grow up to be victims or abusers in their future relationships.

Awakening to Make Change

I am going to get personal here. Making a change is hard– sometimes familiarity is a comfort, and sometimes admitting that a relationship has “failed” is hard on the ego.

I am not a professional, and do not claim to be. I am just a survivor and have first hand experience. To make a change, the thing that is most important is that you love yourself enough to remove yourself from abuse. This is the part that has to be nurtured from within, and the next piece of the puzzle is to find support. Loving family, loving friends, and a strong support network can help you find the strength and light at the end of the tunnel.

Know that you deserve love, and abuse of any form is NOT love.


National Domestic Violence Hotline


National Dating Abuse Hotline


National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011

Break the Cycle 

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This is 40: The Responsibility of Healing Generations of Pain

On Turning 40

I turned 40 in May. The day I turned 40 I received a phone call from my mom to wish me a happy birthday and to tell me that she is homeless. Sometimes I go months without hearing from her, and when we do talk it is like hearing the tale of a trainwreck.

Since early childhood I watched her walk a path of destruction. I always hoped she would “wake up” and make wise decisions, it just never happened. I wanted me and my brother to be important enough for her to fight to create a good life for us.

When I was about 14, I knew that one day homelessness would be her reality. I also kind of knew that if I wanted a different outcome, it was going to be up to me.

It is a sad reality, and at this point my life I have grieved the loss of a mother. Over the past decade, I have worked really hard on healing my mother wound. I know the women in my lineage have struggled for generations.

Choosing to Heal

The hardest work I do is on myself. Throughout this healing space sometimes the only thing I have truly known is that I have to go forward. Along the way I have to face fears or make steps even when my inner dialogue is less than pleasant.

My inner work is like “mental fitness”. I can either choose to be mentally-ill or balance and uplift and create the life I want to live. I have had to make the decision that I do not want to live in pain. One day I learned that I was responsible for my outcome.

My parents had bad circumstances, they felt a lot of pain and created a life of pain for their children. It was unfortunate. My dad overdosed when I was 33. That year I knew I had to wake up and stop allowing pain, failure, and unfortunate circumstances to dictate my behavior and moods.

I realized I could wake up and choose to fight like hell and make my dreams become a reality. That didn’t mean to wake up and fight like hell with the outside world so I had to fight with myself and find ways to relieve the lineage of pain.

The ways I’ve been able to balance myself and work out my past traumas and wounds has been quite an interesting journey and enlightening one, too.

My Top 5 Tools

I am going to share some of the things that have truly been life changers and have empowered me to find peace and healing.

  1. The one thing that has been constant in my life is having someone who believed in me. In each stage of my growth, I have had a friend, a mentor, a family member, or someone who showed me my worth. Believe it or not, when my mom is sober or having a moment of clarity, has been one of the cheerleaders. So the company I keep is tremendously important. Any success book I have ever read states that you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with. This lesson has been a tough one for me to learn.
  2. In a previous blog, I mentioned that essential oils have been a major tool for my healing. The simplicity and ease of using oil is super appealing to me and the benefits have been profound.
  3. Having a regular meditation practice is something else that keeps me grounded and peaceful. It is a place I can return each and every day and improves my daily life.
  4. The Emotion Code is something I found last summer and has really helped change some of my old patterns. It is truly a simple technique that can bring profound release.
  5. And believe it or not, my business has been huge. It has provided security (which relieves stress), personal growth, and has allowed me to serve others. It has provided more fulfillment than any other profession I have tried.

I write these tools down and look at them in retrospect and think “wow, that’s all”. I truly think the take-away message is that the strength came from within, once I stopped looking for it on the outside and started empowering myself to heal the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together rather magically.