One of the defining features of my previous relationship which was emotionally abusive was the sense that there was something wrong with me.
There were a lot of things I never seemed to get right – the time in the morning I brought his cup of tea, how I peeled mushrooms, pureeing soup instead of leaving it chunky, not caring about him enough.
And it was always my fault when he got angry about it; a classic abusive trait.
But really, my only fault was that I took it personally. I took his claims that I was to blame for his attitude to mean there was something wrong with me – that it said more about me than it said about him.
When I set out on sailing around Great Britain with my current and amazing partner, fundraising for the UK Charity SafeLives, which works to end domestic abuse, I spoke to the girls at SafeLives and we talked about triggers.
Could there be anything during the adventure that might trigger feelings associated with my previous experience of emotional abuse?
It only took a week into the sail before experiencing my first trigger.
We were pulling into a marina and Mark had tasked me with tying up the fenders.
I had done it a few times before and felt pretty confident I knew which knot to use.
I tied the knot but did it wrong.
Mark took over because of the urgency of getting the fenders up and then he made me practice my knots.
I didn’t take it well. It triggered the sense that I wasn’t good enough. I internalised it, took it personally and concluded there was something wrong with me.
All because of a knot.
At face value and in hindsight it seems ridiculous. But at the time my world was imploding.
That’s what triggers do.
I took a long moment to calm down and rationalise and remind myself that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with me; I am not broken – even if in that moment I felt like I was.
Tying the wrong knot says nothing about who I really am on the inside, which is an amazing, special human being.
There is no relationship between my self-worth and how I tie a knot, the time I make a cup of tea or how I cook soup.
Self-worth comes from within. It’s always there.
Nothing and no one can take that away from us.
Sailing around Great Britain is an opportunity for me to look within and start to heal from that previous emotional abuse.
It’s also a great opportunity to raise funds for SafeLives and to support their amazing work endeavouring to end domestic abuse.
You can help support that cause too by donating here. Thank you for being the change I want to see. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/markandkatrina