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Love is strange... for some, love is often filled with joy and laughter, other times it's laced with despair and lies. Many of us would agree that love should be patient -- should be kind... But what happens when what we thought was love, raises it's hand against us? Why does this love tear us to pieces? If love is good, why does it hurt so badly?

I'm talking about a kind of "love" that would destroy a wild flower, the kind that would cage a bird, the type of love that steals innocence away... Do you know this kind? Abusive "love." Abusive love is quiet, and it looks an awful lot like real love -- but there are silent rules, rules that must be followed... or else...rules that aren't open for discussion and which can't be shared with family or friends. Abusive love creates a sort of high. "Flowers after the beating," meaning after you have been beaten (abused), an apology (the flower) feels so much nicer than the flower could have otherwise felt. It is the "flowers" that convince an abused person that this thing called "love" is the source of their pain, rather than abuse being the source of their pain. Here is the thing about abuse: it is only an illusion of love, a beautiful(?) illusion that is built on a web of lies. For those with little self esteem and a whole awful lot of brokenness, this beautiful illusion becomes something we will settle for. After all, who would choose to face pain -- rather than "love", it's easier to convince ourselves that an abusive relationship is the real thing called love.

I've been broken.

Have you?

Self-blame is potentially the worst thought to feed your mind with. When someone hurts you, emotionally or physically, it is easy to think that the outburst was somehow your own fault. You begin to lie to yourself.

"If I had just done something different..."

"I should have been better, I should have been there!"

"If I had been enough... he/she would not have left."

"He/She is just having a bad day, I should make it up to them."

and then the victim of abuse tries harder, and harder to be the perfect significant other. Somehow, however, it is never enough. The cycle begins over again. Eventually, the abuser walks away. The victim finds themselves left with the original pain and on top of that, new pain.

Then comes the time to struggle with the temptation to put walls up and bury the pain. People try to break through those walls but the scars from previous relationship keep those walls standing firm. Then one day, the broken heart wakes up alone... wondering where everyone went -- but it's too late. Everyone's gone... somehow, it's all your fault... so the old question pops back up

Why was I not enough???

Why does love destroy?

Why does love take?

The pain left from this so-called "love" slowly grows bigger and can pull you deep into the hole of depression. No one can see what's going on inside you and shame keeps you from talking about it. It begins to eat away at other relationships until nothing is left. Thus you stay alone...

All because of love.


Or is "love" not the issue.

Shame does not come from love. It comes from pain. Love IS good. Love IS patient. Love IS kind. That is not to say that love is not difficult. Love IS difficult, it always will be. But love does not destroy, love builds. Abuse is never "love" though it can put up a good disguise. Abuse is selfish, greedy, and cruel... absent of love. But when you are in the thick of abuse, and you have just received the flowers -- It is easy to see "love" where none is there. Abuse is blinding.

So how can you tell if you are in a bad relationship???

These are some major red flags pulled from the website

"Calling you names and putting you down.• Yelling and screaming at you. • Intentionally embarrassing you in public. • Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family. • Telling you what to do and wear. • Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate you. • Blaming your actions for their abusive or unhealthy behavior. • Stalking you. • Threatening to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with them. • Threatening to harm you, your pet or people you care about. • Making you feel guilty or immature when you don’t consent to sexual activity. • Threatening to expose your secrets such as your sexual orientation or immigration status. • Starting rumors about you. • Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking. • Throwing something at you such as a phone, book, shoe or plate. • Pulling your hair. • Pushing or pulling you. • Grabbing your clothing. • Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon. • Smacking your bottom. • Forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act. • Grabbing your face to make you look at them. • Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere."

Now, if you think your relationship is bad -- RUN or talk to a trusted parent or other adult. Yes, it sounds cliche, but in the long run, this will help you feel safer, and less lonely and help you see more clearly.

Because abuse is blinding, ask for someone to help you look objectively and closely at the signs, before becoming vulnerable to someone, and give away your heart- make sure that what your heart is telling you matches up with what you know love should be in light of what you know about what abuse looks like.

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