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rodydoe89's avatar

How can I stop dreaming about my abusive ex?

Asked by rodydoe89 (356points) September 21st, 2010

Months and months ago I finally got out of a very abusive relationship. We lived together for about a year, and for the last 6–8 months of our coinciding he cheated on me multiple times and began physically abusing me. He would become angry at the most ridiculous things, and would show his anger towards me by dragging me down the hall by my wrists, pulling my hair from my head, choking me, and the last straw—hitting me. I am now in a very happy relationship with a man just like my dad. He is by far the best thing that has ever happened to me, and we are getting married in November. When I go to sleep with him, I feel safe, protected, and loved. The best thing is he is my brother’s best friend and my brother and myself know that he would NEVER treat me like that. However, I still have nightmares almost every night that I am still with my ex and he is abusing me. It is making me feel tired every morning when I wake up. Why am I having these dreams, and how can I stop them? Please help me!

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17 Answers

diavolobella's avatar

When things are doing really well in your life, I don’t think it is uncommon to fear the worst could happen. In your case, because your past relationship was so bad, a return to it would be the worst thing that could happen and is your worst fear. It will take you time to put that behind you – even though it has been “months and months”, you have to heal at your own pace. I think that the longer you are in your new relationship and it continues to go well, the more likely these fears that manifest themselves in your subconscious when you dream will taper off and go away. When unhappiness and fear have been the norm for you for a period of time, you almost have to learn how to be happy again. You will get there. Try to relax, concentrate on the good things in your life and confide in your new man. Allow him to be there for you and lean on him – you will do that for the rest of your life, so don’t be afraid to now. I think the fact that your wedding is coming up is probably also heightening your fear that “something will go wrong” before that date happens. Recognize that and try to relax. Weddings are a stressful time for anyone and you probably unconsciously feel that once you are actually married you will be “safe” so as the date gets nearer, your fear of trouble or something bad happening to stop you from reaching that safe place increases.

I hope that you will be very happy and wish you the best.

harple's avatar

Oh @rodydoe89 I’m so glad you’re in such a better place now.

With regard to the dreams… it sounds like you are still processing an understandably high level of anguish at – I guess – your subconscious levels. This processing almost certainly needs to happen, but if you can actively help it along, it may be possible to lessen the dreams. You have a lot going on in your life, with the wedding coming up, and it is natural for your mind to be processing all sorts of emotions, and worries from your previous relationship experience. (I daren’t even start commenting on how awful it was that you were treated that way – I wouldn’t be able to finish my thread and answer your question.)

Help from a professional would absolutely be the most beneficial for you (in my humble opinion) – being able to talk and talk and talk, exploring all the emotions that go along with being treated the way you were treated…

I also find writing is an incredibly good way of getting stuff from the inside, out. It doesn’t have to be beautiful, it doesn’t have to be full sentences, it doesn’t even have to make sense… it just gets it “out” and lets you leave it be… Some people like to burn their writing as a cathartic way of getting closure on whatever it is they have written. Personally I don’t, (I wanted to keep the writing as a reminder to me of what I should never let myself get into again) but it helps some people.

Once again, I am delighted for you that you now have a happier life, and congratulations on the wedding! I truly hope you can be free of nightmares soon.

marinelife's avatar

It sounds as though you have not processed all of the trauma and subsequent feelings regarding this man’s abuse. Your current happy life does not leave room for it so it comes out in your dreams.

I strongly suggest you seek work with a therapist in the short term to come to grips with the situation your ex caused.

nebule's avatar

@rodydoe89 First of all, major achievement getting out of the relationship! Congratualte yourself on that one..many women and men never do! I’m sorry anyone has to go through this. I’ve been in abusive relationships and it has taken me years to begin processing and acknowledging the feelings I was left with. I do think @marinelife has said, you should seek counselling, therapy…it is priceless and will ultimately I imagine stop you dreaming about it.You are blessed that you have found someone who truly loves you and makes you feel safe.If you want to PM, you’re of course welcome…talking to others that have gone through these things often helps but otherwise, all the best xx

rodydoe89's avatar

Thanks a lot you all. I am so happy in my life now, and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I know that I can talk to my new man about this, but I feel sad to because it upsets him so much that someone could ever treat me in such a way, and he cries. With the wedding coming up, I’m kind of strapped for cash. Any suggestions on where I can see a free or low income counselor?

thekoukoureport's avatar

The dreams will subside, the thoughts will come with less frequency and life will more and more be wonderful for you. Congratulations! This is a wonderful part of your life… when you finally took control for YOURSELF! All that will subside with time it’s just part of the Human experience. Just don’t let it cloud your judgement and think of a return engagement. Then you lose.

nebule's avatar

@rodydoe89 it depends where you live, but you can almost always find some form of charity which supports abused women, men and children…although they do seem to becoming few and far between…where are you?

rodydoe89's avatar

brooklyn, new york

daytonamisticrip's avatar

You need to forgive your ex. Leave what happened in the past. You just need time to heal. Like @thekoukoureport you will have the dreams less often, and eventually never.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I agree with the people who say the trauma hasn’t had time enough to work itself out of your system and being in a good relationship with lots of plans means your brain works overtime to heal. I’d just give it more time. If you were feeling like this several years later then I’d be more in support of a therapist but it’s not even a year since you left the bad guy. I can’t see why a therapist could rush healing along any faster but I’m sure plenty are willing to take your money.

rodydoe89's avatar

That is very true. Thank you all for your suggestions. This has helped me tremendously.

thekoukoureport's avatar

The forgiving part is the tough one. Don’t think I ever did that.

diavolobella's avatar

@thekoukoureport. I don’t think forgiving someone like that is necessary. You can move on, but some people don’t deserve forgiveness. First they have to want it and then deserve it. If they never changed their behavior and/or never admitted they were guilty of wrongdoing, they aren’t entitled to forgiveness. And there is nothing wrong with that. Saying that the injured party is required to forgive their abuser in order to move on puts all the onus on the wrong person.

rodydoe89's avatar

Yes, it is going to be so hard to forgive him, because after I finally had the guts to get out of it, I still had to go to the police, deal with filing a report and going to court… twice. Apparently he knows all about the system, and how to play it, so he got our court date moved—making me wait four months for him to finally be put in jail. They gave him a 6 month sentence, split it to 3, then he got “trustee” so he actually only spent a month and a half in jail. And I found out that this was NOT his first offense!! So I suppose that could be another reason for my trauma. I put up with his mess for more than 6 months, and his punishment only lasted ¼ of that. So as you can imagine (as wrong as it may be) my hatred for this man is very strong.

thekoukoureport's avatar

My point exactly I was replying to an earlier post, Not suggesting that someone do it. In fact the only comfort I gain is the belief that Karma will prevail!

diavolobella's avatar

@thekoukoureport. Yes, I understood you. I was agreeing with you, not saying you were suggesting it. Sorry for any confusion.

thekoukoureport's avatar

No no, I am sorry for confusing the confusor with a confusing reply. Confused? lol

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