I remember all too clearly what it felt like to hear a vinyl record skip on my old stereo. I’d play it loud so I could listen to music throughout the house. If I were in another room, repetition over the distance increased my discomfort. I’d dash back and dive at the needle to stop the offending sound.
Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are tortured with repeated loud music. It’s intended to derail their thought processes and break them emotionally.
So why do victims of relationship abuse do the emotional equivalent of compulsively replaying bad music in their brain? The simply answer is grief.
Regurgitating, negative, non-productive thought
Rumination will plague us during the “bargaining” stage of grief recovery. And everyone who loses a relationship needs to grieve that loss as surely as one needs to mourn the death of a loved one.
In bargaining, we tend to ask ourselves what we could or should have done to produce a different outcome. In reality, when we’ve been embroiled in a relationship hoax, nothing, other than not getting involved in the first place could have kept the bond from collapsing. Engaging with a liar builds a house of cards. Discovering that nothing you valued was real, is a devastating loss.
Typically, women ruminate over sadness, while men are more inclined to do so when angry. But both can get stuck in a wallowing cycle that puts off supporters and isolates us in our pain. Family members and friends often don’t relate to the impact of our emotional loss, as they would if someone close to us died. But the grief and mourning we experience is very similar.
Why relieve yourself of rumination?
It robs you of problem solving and creates a vicious cycle of depression. While you perseverate to make sense of things, you dwell on the unsolvable issues….. how you got there, what you could have done differently. Instead, you need to focus on how you will reclaim your life.
We are more likely to ruminate over unfinished business….. the circumstances that occur in our lives without closure. We want validation. We need to accept that it will not come in a relationship with a predator, and move on. Our memory rehearsals keep us connected to the source of our pain, when we truly need to let go.
How to get past rumination
In The Truth About Grief, Ruth Davis Konigsburg tells us, “Loss is forever, but acute grief is not.” If someone close to you died, you’d be encouraged to get exercise. Your friends would try to distract you by engaging you in activities you enjoy. You need to be your best friend and provide yourself with that same encouragement.
Here are some recommendations that can help you get past rumination:
- Don’t be bullied to change the way you feel. Allow yourself to feel your loss, the anger the disappointment. Everyone grieves at different speeds. There is no right or wrong way.
- Get exercise. You need to pump up your endorphins so you have a deeper emotional well to draw from.
- Distract yourself with activities that get you away from your constant memories. Begin to make new, positive memories for yourself.
- Box it up. Write your story so you can put it on the shelf. Doing so will enable you to let go of the need to hang onto it in your mind.
- Volunteer for an effort that makes you feel good about yourself. There is nothing more gratifying than to help someone in need. Doing so will give you a strong sense of self-reliance and can aid you in seeing that no one goes through life without a struggle, including you. It will enable you to create better perspective about your painful condition.
- Join a grief support group or engage in counseling. Mourning a loss is difficult. Seeking help can get you past the thoughts that keep you stuck.
The loss of a loved one throws us for a loop, whether the person deserved our caring or not. People who experience sexual misconduct and relationship abuse, resulting from being embroiled in a hoax, are no less in need of grieving than anyone else. Rumination can be a debilitating part of that process but you can heal and bring joy back into your life.