Let me paint a picture for you of a woman after an abusive marriage.
There is a beautiful wife who was living in an abusive marriage for years. It may have been physical, sexual, or emotional in nature, likely a combination. She finally acknowledges that she is not willing to live this way any longer. She finds the strength and courage (oh what courage!) to leave for herself and her children. She rebuilds a new life, one of peace and dignity. She works hard (oh so hard!) to make this happen. She feels a sense of accomplishment. She recognizes that she is experiencing joy and peace.
She rests for a time.
Then, the doubt starts to creep in. Life is hard. Stresses come up. The kids need braces, the car breaks down, the yard needs to be cleaned up. There is no other adult to share the burden with. There is never enough money or time. The stress is great, and the temper is short. She starts to snap at her kids.
She starts to feel worthless again.
Now, she starts to question… Did I do the right thing? Maybe I shouldn’t have left? Maybe the kids would be better off? How can I do this alone? How can I make more money? How can I care for this house by myself?
I am not enough.
Friend, if you are thinking these things, I want you to STOP right there! These are NOT truth!
You are enough.
Your life is hard, but it is BETTER!
It is completely normal to have feelings of self-doubt, low self-worth, and low self-confidence after an abusive marriage or relationship. Realize, that it is often the objective of the abuser to build these things into you and they have spent years doing so. It will not change overnight, but you can do it! You will do it!
How can you rebuild your self-confidence after an abusive or difficult marriage?
1. Take this assessment to find out how your attitude is towards your self.
Are you full of self-confidence or are you self-critical? This quiz will help you see what you are thinking about yourself, so you know where your problems lie. This quiz at Fort Refuge will show you how high standards you hold for yourself, how critical of yourself you are, and your sense of self-worth.
2. Remember ALL you have accomplished.
Right now, I want you to stop and take a few minutes to make a list of all the things you have accomplished. I would even go back as far as grade school and think of the awards you received for art or writing or the science fair project. Start there and work your way forward. List everything you can think of that you worked hard for and accomplished. Things like graduate high school, thanks from my boss for the project I volunteered on, PTA committee I helped with, having a baby, recovering from a c-section, having labor without the loving support of a spouse, protecting your children, LEAVING ABUSE, got a job, a project you finished, something you repaired in your home, how you carefully decorated it, kept your family well-fed, etc, etc, etc!
I KNOW there is so much you have finished and finished well!
3. Take time to be proud.
Most times in life we find we are told we are not supposed to have pride in the things we do. We don’t want this to go to our head for goodness sake! ? However, when you are struggling to progress or you are feeling like you don’t have what it takes to make it as a single mom, then this is what you must do. Look back at what you have done and feel pride and accomplishment in it. Let the feelings swell inside you and even allow that grin to form. You did it, you did all those things and you can and will do more!
4. List on paper or think through some of the characteristics it took to accomplish those things.
Traits like these might be on your list:
These represent you! These are you! Even when you are feeling defeated and deflated by what this life has brought you. Remember that you are not your circumstances and they do not define you. You define you.
Print these beautiful cards to cut out and place around your home. Use them to help you remember as you see them and think about them often. They are found in my Resource Library. You can sign up for the password here:
5. Give your self time and allow yourself grace.
It will take time to regain your sense of self, but girl you have what it takes. If you left an abusive marriage, you are the strongest type of woman out there. You can do anything that comes your way! When you feel down, pick yourself up. Go to your reminders and then move forward a little stronger each time.
6. Have an ‘arsenal’ to help fight these feelings of self-doubt.
Use 1-3 of these mood boosters each day to lift your thoughts about life and yourself.
Use your list of accomplishments and traits to refer to often. Go over them and remind yourself whenever you need.
Start listening to some great podcasts to encourage and embolden you.
Read an encouraging book about self-care and confidence to boost yours.
Listen to music that reminds you of your strength.
Read the verses about who God says you are.
Spend time with people who encourage and uplift you.
7. Give back to others.
Giving back to others can also encourage and uplift us. Take some time to reach out to another single mom. Encourage a woman who is not as far on the journey of leaving as you are. Invite a friend to coffee and offer to pay. Take your kids for a service project on the weekend, helping your whole family to remember how well off you truly are.
8. Embrace Self-confidence
Now take all these things and move forward with self-confidence. There is a point where you must choose. You must choose which path you will take. Will you move forward in self-confidence or remain on the path of self-doubt? The path you choose will make all the difference in your result.
I suggest you choose confidence and walk in it, proudly and bravely, dear sister.