The Cycle.

I had an “Ah ha” moment this week.  It was really more of an “Oh my GOD, get your head outta your arse” moment.  I am not too proud to admit when I feel as though I have been foolish…dumb…oblivious.  DENIAL really is a powerful thing.

Now,  for those of you who are immediately reading this and saying, “Ella, don’t be so hard on yourself.” I am here to tell you that I am okay. I have a wicked sense of humor and while I don’t use it on other people while I encourage and support them along on their journey, it is a part of my heritage and it helps me to get on with it.  It’s how I deal personally. So, that being said…I am okay and ever so grateful that I have seen the light finally.

This is a pretty tough thing for me to admit, but I need to share it in order to own it.  Maybe it will open someone else’s eyes to their own situation.  So, here it goes… As many of you know I am a survivor of Domestic Violence. I have become an advocate for many women over the past few of years and I am always referring back to the Cycle of Violence chart that we have all come to know so well.  For those of you who do not know about this incredible Cycle of Violence let me give you a very quick lesson.

The Cycle of Violence

It really is this simple.  I could get into a wordy explanation, but this diagram pretty much explains it all very simply. If you would like more information just Google, Cycle of Abuse and you will become very well-informed.  Sometimes the cycles might be a year apart, and other times they might be hours apart.  DV victims are systematically broken down over time.  The cycle starts and it grows stronger, bigger, and bolder before the victim ever realizes that they are in it. Being aware and educated is the first step in breaking the cycle.

I broke the cycle. I took my 2 young children and fled and extremely abusive marriage.  I recognized the cycle and I knew that I could NOT allow my children to grow up in it or they would perpetrate the same cycle as adults. I chose to leave.  I thought that by leaving I broke the cycle…this week I learned that I was wrong.

This is a very humbling experience for me.  I educate people about this…I run groups for women.  I am in the KNOW.  This past week my “Ah ha” moment was that I was allowing my youngest child, my baby, to perpetuate the cycle in my home. He had been given control, by me. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Talk about a hard pill to swallow.

Let me give you a little background here; my son struggles with anxiety.  He has been misdiagnosed as having ADHD, OCD, ODD, and etc. PTSD is really the only thing that fits right now.  We are still working towards the missing puzzle pieces for him at the moment.  Keep in mind that he is an amazing child; brilliant, funny, loving, and a love of my life. However, his anxiety issues have always caused him to act out.  Yes, ever since he was a baby in the crib.  He has been quick to upset and hard to soothe. It has been suggested that he might have Asperger’s Syndrome; we continue on our journey to find the key to unlock the mystery of him.

Here’s the thing. When you live with a person who is easy to upset you can start to tip toe around their triggers.  You in fact start to walk on eggshells and just try to keep them calm, keep the peace in order to have some sort of peace. This is exactly what I have been dealing with.  We have been going through a crisis lately and as a result we have brought in new therapists. It was this weeks session that brought the curtain down for me.

I had left my husband and the cycle of violence behind, only to find that I was continuing to let similar behavior perpetuate in my home from my son. It is not my son’s fault….it is mine. I have been the enabler. Wow.  Talk about a slap upside the head. My other child gave such a simple example that summed it all up so nicely.  He said, “I am tired of eating Vanilla ice cream.  I like other flavors, but we always get Vanilla so he doesn’t throw a fit. Vanilla keeps the peace.”

Did I mention to you that I had an “Ah ha” moment this past week?! Holy Shit.
What more can I say…I just laid it all out for you. My youngest son has some issues that I need to get a handle on. In the meantime, I am learning how to take the control back since he has had all the control in this house since his father left. I have given him the control…not intentionally, but because it was what I was programmed to do.  I would NEVER allow another man to treat me this way, but I was allowing my son to do so.

I am taking parenting lessons to teach me how to raise my son in a manner in which is best suited for him and his special needs. I am taking back the control and I am going to allow him to be him in all his glory; he just doesn’t get to rule the house with his outbursts.  All along I was thinking that his issues dictated our life…we rolled with the punches. However, I have now learned that while he may have special needs he still needs to follow a code. I have allowed him to emotionally manipulate and control this home and it has now stopped.

It is not going to be easy.  I am already exhausted, but I have such HOPE.  I KNOW that my son is going to be okay.  I know that I have caught this in time to help change this bad cycle. I know that he is going to grow into an amazing man and that his brother will have time to heal as well. My children are as different as night is to-day. I have always known that not all children respond to the same type of teaching.  What I didn’t realize was that because I was so used to being in the cycle of walking on egg shells around my ex husband that I just continued to do it with my child because it is what I know.

I am not beating myself up over this, but yes, I feel a bit foolish.  Why didn’t I see this?  The point is that now I do and I am going to do the work and make the changes that I need to make.  In the end we will all be happier and I have such an optimistic outlook for our futures.  I share this with you so that you can perhaps learn from my mistakes.  The cycle of violence is a very real and powerful thing. Once we are conditioned it is very hard to break.  If you have left an abusive relationship…I am so proud of you.  If you have children please make sure that you are aware that you can still be subject to it.  There is hope…the cycle can be broken, but you will need help and support.

Today, I have incredible support and we are on our way.  We are going to find out exactly what is troubling my child and we are going to learn healthy and positive ways to deal with it. I am not going to break him by being a strong mother.  I am a strong woman…I have walked through fire to save these kids, and to give us a new life. I am not going to surrender to a cycle that I thought I had run from, only to find out that I had become the enabler of the cycle in my home, and with my own child.

Life is hard, but we must always strive to be better versions of ourselves. We must never settle for less. We can have balanced healthy lives no matter what our circumstances may be.  We need to commit to the idea that we are WORTHY of being treated with respect and love in all situations.

XO Ella

30 thoughts on “The Cycle.

  1. Oh Ella – you described the cycle so well and the impact upon our young ones too – Yes, they can in some ways become a replacement for the controller and we are so used to walking on egg shells we don’t notice it for a while – I am trying to break this pattern too so your AHA! moment is something that I need to be aware of too – I am so fluffin proud of you matey – not only for the fact that you escaped but because you are a beacon of hope shining your light for others to see – you have inspired me so much and although I have only known you a short while you have had such a positive impact upon my life – you truly embody the spirit of a”Rebel Thriver” and I strive each and every day to be one too : ) evie x


    1. Gosh, thank you my sweet friend. You understand me…I know that. I understand you right back. When one has an Ah Ha moment it’s so good to share…in doing so we learn from each other. You are a Rebel Thriver Evie….of Epic proportions! Xo Ella


  2. Been there, and doing it with a PTSD kid. It IS a lot of work, but that having been said, it so totally pays off. He’s generally a delight now, but we are still tweaking!


    1. Tweaking is a great work Annie. We are all works in progress ultimately. I guess that by being open to learn new ways and admit when something isn’t working is the key. Flexibility with ourselves, our family, and life in general. XO Ella


      1. Ella, I felt like for years that I did nothing but redirect and correct. He was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, then Asperger’s, the an adjustment disorder, and we have been around the block with ADHD. In the end, it is PTSD. He can write out his feelings now, and verbalize them. He is up to speed in school in all areas. We’ve only had two scary meltdowns in the past six months. I’ve had to set certain limits…for instance, if I see an uneaten sandwich in your lunchbox each day, then it is school lunch for you, darling. You can toss their food, but not ours. He’s done well with that. Also, I am over asking him for input for dinner. He eats what I serve or he starves. His nightly bad dreams are nearly gone, and he’s getting there. I had to take my power back over the winter. I am glad that I did. Keep at it! Xoxoxo


      2. Wow! Thanks Annie…sounds so familiar to me. I am thankful for your input. Yes, taking back control is what I am in the process of doing. It’s a must. Thank you!!! Xoxoxo


  3. Well done, Ella. Like watching a rose bush in the spring, the blossoms of your awakenings are a beautiful sight to behold. As you awaken, you set the alarm clock for so many of us to awaken. Thank you.


  4. I have dealt with the same issue with my oldest son…thankfully, my new husband, Matt, has helped a lot with the issue and is helping me realize the error of my ways. I think part of it for me was, and maybe you can relate…I felt so badly for them, they totally got the raw end of the deal and I tried to make up for it by giving….way too much! I’m the only person in my childrens life…they have no grandparents on my side and when I left their dad, those grandparents have turned their back on uncles, aunts, cousin…so, I’m all they have and I take my job/role as their caregvier, mother very seriously. It’s frankly a heavy burden to carry. I pray and have to have faith that God will help us all and “when you know better, you do better”!
    I’m very proud of your courage to be honest and transparent…I really love that. We cannot heal or help ourselves and others if we keep everything hidden.
    Thank you Ella for your bravery, courage, and love. You are a most excellent mama ❤


    1. Dawni, you are such a source of inspiration to me…every single day. I know you have walked a tough path like me. You are so beautiful and strong and I thank you for your support…every single day. XO Ella


      1. As you are to me and so many others as well…keep up the good work! If you were single and I knew where you lived, I would send my brother in law after you to sweep you off your feet and take you to promised land;) I’m still hanging on to hopes of an RT retreat so I can meet all my fabulous, diverse, and awesome sisters!!! I truly cannot wait. I know we were all brought together for a reason. I love you, truly I do…for life ❤


  5. “Vanilla keeps the peace ” , you could knock me over with a feather after that . I have done the eggshell dance as a child and now am thrust into it again ,time will show me my way . May I have your grace to deal with life and determination that you show to be the best rebel thriver I can be ! You set the bar high ,but ask little of us . I aspire to follow your lead and be true and honest to me . You are a true rebel thriver in every sense of the words ! I thank you from the bottom of my heart . I am in awe and send you huge hugs and blessings as you go forth ! All my love ,robin


    1. Robin, thank you so much my friend. Remember that life is a process and that as long as we are open to learning. Walking on eggshells is horrible and I am so tired of it. I am done with that my friend… I have come to far to roll any other way. You are such a shining light my friend…I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. XOXO Ella


  6. Wonderful post. You remind me of that time in my past… negotiating the funhouse mirrors that are our relationships, especially those with our children. Blessings to you in your journey. I’ll be cheering you on!


  7. So insightful! I only realized this week myself that my marriage has several of the red flags of narcissistic abuse that I endured in a previous abusive relationship, minus the malicious intent. Despite the fact that my husband seems to mean no harm, I had to address with him the way his “antics” were shattering a peace I have worked very hard to construct for myself, and that I could no longer allow it.
    Even though I trust that this situation is different, seeing his behavior in this light was a sickening realization that I really have become conditioned into passivity as a reaction to another’s persistent and coded methods of dominance. Blech!
    Change takes effort, and we are making it day by day! Standing up for my sensitivities and insisting that they be respected in my own home is already paying off in a big way!

    So yes, I see how easy it is to slip back into the ‘eggshell’ syndrome, especially with a special-needs child (when you aren’t even sure what the needs are)! Getting everyone’s needs and boundaries balanced takes insight, perception, and firm kindness, and from what I’ve seen, you’ve got that!


  8. Ella.. I can relate very well with what you are going through.. the abusive relationship.. Children caught in the middle, & wanting a peaceful.. loving existence for yourself & your children. Being tired of the drama you’ve lived in & not wanting anymore. Having a child who is different form the others & trying to appease them so there is minimal chaos in your home. We tend not to see what is going on & that while trying to be the best Mom to our children.. we somehow justify it in our minds.. In my case it was my youngest.. a son.. I justified it thinking.. my girls were old enough to understand why he needed this or we couldn’t do this or had to do it this way.. I was trying to just have a happy.. loving family. Which for the most part was.. but my girls did sacrifice things a lot. They were doting, loving sisters & his protector from everyone.. including me sometimes. Not from any violence but from anything they thought was not fair to him. My girls took on protecting & appeasing him. I worked & when they were at a sitters house before or after school, if someone treated him ordinary & would expect him to do what all the other children did & how they did it.. they would step in & try to make the sitter change the rules.. for their brother. They would get very upset if He was treated different than how we did it at home. I know a lot of this was because when he was a 13 1/2 months old, he nearly died & we lived at the hospital for a little over a month. Yes the girls were there with me too most of the time. There were many things he had to learn over.. sitting up.. feeding himself.. talking & walking.. it was like bringing a newborn home again.. We all were coddling him & we protected him from everything. Going through this we all made sacrifices & it became our first nature where he was concerned. As the years went by He did rule the house & every aspect of our lives. It was very painful to discover that there were several “vanilla ice cream” things in my daughters lives.. I had to change it & give my family back their childhoods & true happiness as a family. Things were difficult, but they were slowly changing for the better. Then I got cancer again.. Our lives would change drastically after this.. but the things my children were learning to change in our lives helped them through this too. Thank you for sharing this with others, it gives hope to those out there struggling & wondering what they can do.. you seem to have a good head on your shoulder’s & are blessed with two wonderful children.. I commend you on your courage to recognize & make the changes necessary to give them & you a beautiful life.. Lot’s of love.. Peace & Blessings sent your way..
    Hugs !! Cr Adams..


    1. Wow. Thank you SO much for sharing this with me. It is amazing how in the desire to love we can also harm. This is the balancing act called parenting that we must all strive for. IT’s been a few days and I am finally letting it all sink in. There is no question about my love…nor who is in control now. It will be hard, but I am ready XO Ella


  9. Your post reminded me so much of the early years with my youngest. Vanilla and eggshells, indeed. Thankfully it was only him and I, violence wasn’t the issue with his father but so many other terrible things he saw before I realized.

    Boundaries, consistency those were the two most needful things in my home.

    It is never easy, the layers we peel back and what they reveal. You are such a blessing.


  10. Hey Ella ~~
    Wow! My 22 year old son has anger outbursts & I know it must be connected to PTSD…..He is living with me and my 74 year old mother. The thing is for him now that I fear he is going down the road I did with substance abuse and is as what he has witnessed, a rage-a-holic.
    Heavy Sigh.
    Jesse stays gone a lot and is going through some legal trouble.
    I don’t even know how to wrap my head around his behavior…..that it is My Fault.
    I am now in Recovery but get to witness the effects on my only son. This makes me So So Very Sad.
    Any Suggestions at this stage?
    He is Averse to Counseling, because he has been through it growing up.
    He is the focal point for my mother. I go to al-anon (and AA of course), so I have a network of support and tools I’ve learned…..And I have you!
    Thank You Darling Ella!


    1. Christina, Sending you BIG LOVE. I haven’t quite reached this age yet with my kids…I have a ways to go. It’s hard for me to give advice because every kid is so different. I guess I would say to you that he is 22 and an adult now. I know he is and always will be your baby though. Rage-aholics need therapy…no way around it. They will self medicate if they aren’t getting the help they need. Is there any way that you can approach him and try to find a way to comunicate with him. Be honest about where you are and your past. Perhaps in doing so he will see the strength and the courage you have. Never give up…there is a key to unlock the door. Xo Ella


      1. Thank You Ella!
        Perhaps I will talk with him about Family Counseling, and he may be more Willing (if he does not feel like he is the target & there is something wrong with him).
        He is Sensitive to feeling maladjusted in his living skills. But if he isn’t the only one, because, let’s face it, it wouldn’t hurt any of us 3…..XOxoXOxoXO


  11. HI this is my first time on your blog… found you through various FB pages and love the premise of yours.

    I can see why you would be so worried about repeating a trend with your son that you have worked so HARD to break by leaving your ex. A red flag for me is your repeated use of the word “control” and this idea that you need to take it back.

    In reality we do not have control over anyone or anything outside of ourself. Perhaps the dynamics in your household were/are skewed towards your son because he does have special needs, but the idea that you are taking back control puts you in a position of competing with him.

    If you can shift to the idea of cooperation and of the three of you being a team – all with needs and desires that are important – then ideally you can all feel fulfilled and loved (this is of course challenging for all families – with plenty of ups and downs and “learning moments”). I agree that is important that your older son feels like his desires and needs are important – as are yours. But also your younger sons needs do sound like they are more intense right now, and there is nothing wrong with recognizing it. If in your attempt to take back control his needs start getting less attention you may actually create more discord and unhappiness.

    I’m not sure I’m articulating this well and I really hope you don’t feel like I’ve overstepped with “advice”. The most helpful reading I’ve ever done, not only as a parent but also just as a human being involved in many complex relationships, has been about unschooling… It’s not necessarily directly applicable to your situation, but the people that write about this kind of homeschooling are amazing at pulling apart different situations and thinking creatively to help families improve their relationships.

    Good luck with everything! It sounds like it was a big moment for you.

    ps I know exactly what you mean about walking on eggshells – not that I’ve been in an abusive relationship, but in the “It’s easier to just keep this person happy than to deal with their reactions” and I also agree that’s not a good reason for them to get what they want at the expense of others…


    1. Hi Susan!
      I love your comment and I am so very grateful for your insight. I love when I am lovingly shown something in my thinking that with a slight perspective ship can change so much. You are right…I do need to change the word from control to co-operation. It’s amazing how sometimes we don’t even realize it. We are our thoughts and I am just so grateful that I have so many enlightened and soulful people along for the journey with me. Thank you my friend. XO Ella


      1. Phew! I was worried about coming across as “know-it-all-y” or saying that you were “wrong” about what is going on with your family, which was not my intent at all.

        I know that the idea that I can’t control others ever was a very liberating experience for me and gave me a lot of peace. There are 2 men in my life who do NOT get along at all and for a long time I just wanted them to see how they could “make it all better:” In reality I wanted them to see things the way I did (of course I was right!) What I ended up finally doing and realizing was that I could present my point of view to both of them and then let it go. So that is what I did (that in itself was scary enough!) Ever since then I’ve really found my own peace about their relationship. And that was the BIGGEST realization – that it is *their* relationship, not mine! I can have relationships with both of them and get to define *my* boundaries. This has been helpful for me in a lot of other relationships too – including my children. Knowing that I can’t control them I can only offer my presence, guidance, and ears for listening, arms for hugging and comforting, helps me not get frustrated when I feel like their emotions are over-the-top.

        I think we all experience what you described to a certain extent with our children. My daughter is intense – she has been since the moment she was born (or maybe even in the womb! man could she kick 😉 We’ve always given her a lot of freedom and say in her life. More than many parents may be comfortable with. But with the birth of my son things changed again. And I’ve begun taking my own needs more into consideration again – it’s easier because I already have to consider both of them! Before if it was just me or her I would most likely try to accommodate her (is this making sense??) This parenting stuff is the learning experience of a lifetime for sure!

        Anyways, thank *you* for taking my original comment so gracefully. That speaks so loudly about you and your character. I look forward to getting to know you better.


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