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Are you caught in a cycle?

Not to get too Lion King on you, but life happens in cycles.

We are born, we live, we die. Winter turns to spring, turns to summer, turns to fall. The circle of life. Etcetera.

Not all cycles are healthy or useful.

When we are in abusive or controlling relationships, that relationship usually has a cycle that looks something like this:

Cycle of Abuse: First the Honeymoon Period, then Tension Builds, then and Explosion, and back to the Honeymoon Period again.

Every time we get back to the Honeymoon Period, we think, finally, this is the last time. We're done with the Explosions, and we can move on. Only, it's not the last time.

It's a cycle.

The spin-off cycle.

Sometimes, we even start to participate in someone else's abuse cycle or have our own cycles that spin off of the abuse cycle. The Honeymoon Period is so intimate and rewarding that we want to stay there all the time. When life moves on from the Honeymoon Period, it is easy to make that mean something has gone wrong. We get desperate to find what went wrong. "Why aren't we as passionate as we were when we were making up from a fight?" we ask ourselves. "Are we drifting apart?"

We get so desperate that we might even create drama. We start telling a story about ourselves as a victim to friends, family, and counselors.

We break up with him. (It's easier now that the honeymoon has passed, but we know we'll take him back if we get to have honeymoon phase again. Let's be real, a drama breakup is different than a breakup that's positive and what we want for moving forward.)

We accuse him of something that is only going to start a fight.

We unconsciously expect that after a period of drama (maybe even violent drama), we get to have the Honeymoon Period. Or, we think, we will be free of him, and he is the cause of all of our pain. Either way, there is a reward from encountering his abuse cycle with a cycle of our own.

It makes sense that our brains do this. They start to associate violence with passion. They think we can only have intimacy after anger. They unconsciously assume that we get love by living through horror. We start to think that other relationships are weak in comparison to the drama. But, also, we hate it.

Especially if we grew up in a home where cycles like that were common, these patterns can be completely unconscious.

If we haven't grown up in a home where cycles like that were common, they can seem strange at first, but the transition from abuse to passionate makeups can be quickly seductive. (There's even a chemical reason for this - your brain gets a massive reward in the honeymoon phase. Like rats pushing a lever, we do what we can to get that reward again.)

I don't mean to be a jerk by comparing this to rats pushing a lever, but that's what our unconscious brains are like. It's not you. You are doing something all of us do.

But, there are solutions.

Breaking the cycle.

The way to stop these cycles is by becoming aware of what you are thinking, and how that creates your feelings and your actions. This lets you step out of the cycle and take a look at what he is doing and how you are reacting to it. You have control over how you feel. You have no control over what he does.

If someone you love is violent, abusive, or controlling, that means nothing about you and it means nothing about the love or relationships you deserve. It only means that his thoughts and feelings are creating a cycle of violence, abuse, or controlling behavior. He is in control of that, no matter how out-of-control he seems.

You have no control over his thoughts. I know you might want to try to control them, but it's not going to work. His thoughts are creating his cycle of abuse. Not anything you are doing; not anything anyone else has done. You can create all the drama you want, or become numb to protect yourself, and he will still be in control of his thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Here is the good news: you are in control of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. I know it may not seem like it now, but you are already free in the most important way. What you are feeling now is reasonable and justified, but it is not your only option.

So, here is the question to consider and consider honestly, with an open heart: do you want to feel love or do you want to feel drama?

Drama is very seductive, but it burns off quickly. I encourage you to choose love.

Sending love to you all day long!

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