These tips on breaking free from an emotionally destructive relationship are from a spiritual counselor who overcame her own fear of leaving. She teaches others to live in freedom, fully and deeply.

I always feature books on my articles because I believe books can change lives. If you’re in an emotionally difficult or destructive relationship, read The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It. It offers a spiritual perspective on overcoming the pain and suffocation of emotionally destructive men.

Here’s what Sara says – she feels trapped by an emotionally destructive man: “I have been married for 14 years and I know it is time to leave, but I can’t seem to find the courage. My husband is very controlling and verbally abusive. I know I’m not perfect but a day doesn’t go by that he is not yelling at me or complaining about something. I’m only allowed to have pictures of our family in one room. He locks the theater room and other areas of the house and equipment. His reasoning is that when he was working on it and putting money into it I did have any money and I didn’t help. Oh did I mention I’m a teacher and he makes three times my salary. He says teaching is a waste of my degrees and why don’t I have goals and want more for myself. He doesn’t understand I LOVE TEACHING!!!!” – from my article on survivng a marriage crisis.

And, here is a spiritual counselor’s take on reclaiming your life…

Breaking Free From an Emotionally Destructive Relationship

I’m a spiritual counselor, writer and media consultant; you said something that went “BINGO!” in my mind when I read about your relationship. I nodded and said “Ah, she’s one of us … she’s my compadre, gotta help a fellow traveler…”  And what was it you said?  You love teaching? I do, too!

How to start your journey – tap into your inner Dorothy

You’re living in a loveless prison, but you already know that.  Every day I want you to get up, and in the privacy of your own space (even if it’s the bathroom) I want you to click your heels together 3 times, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “I KNOW my way home, I KNOW my way home…”  You DO know you’re way home — your “true” home, the home that’s screaming within your soul, but you’ve lost your emotional ticket.

I’ve been there.  No judgment here, friend.  Fear is the greatest obstacle in our lives.  Fear does have value; it can help us from harming ourselves in unsafe situations, but for the most part, the fear we feel in our hearts about ourselves and taking a risk, is imaginary.  It’s put there by the spiritual-enemy to stop us from living the best life possible, and to enjoy the blessings that God equipped us for.

What would I do if I were you? … well, I “was you” at a different point of my life and I broke free from an emotionally destructive relationship!  I’m still a work in progress (smile), but the life I’m living now is light-years ahead of the one I had when fear ruled my thoughts.

Get your financial house in order

First thing, my friend — act like the General of your life and formulate a plan, military style.  Make a list of what pragmatically needs to be done, check– check — check — and work down it.

Start with finances which are the MOST important thing for women who are trying to break free from emotionally destructive relationships.  We all need a roof over our head and food in the fridge, those things aren’t free.

Second, try and get your “army” in place … recruit friends or people in the community who will be there to help you, even if it’s with a supportive word of empowerment.  But, if you can get someone to help you more, GREAT.  Having help is important.

If you’re financially dependent, read How to Get Money to Leave Your Husband.

Do what you were put here on earth to do

You, my friend, were put on this earth to do a great and worthy job and we’re not gonna let this controlling creep keep you back.  Teachers (the ones who truly love teaching), have deeply emotional connections to people, but unfortunately having that emotional sense can make them HARDER when it comes to being good to themselves.  I know, I’m also a “creative emotional” as you are.

Breaking Free From an Emotionally Destructive Relationship

How to Break Free From an Emotionally Destructive Relationship

The truth is there is a well of strength inside of you, right below your rib cage in the core of your energy, and in your heart valve, your mind … it’s there screaming to get out.  LET IT OUT MY FRIEND.  You have no idea how happy and content you’ll feel once you do.

Trust that it will all come together

Things will start to flow like water … it will all come together.  Now, that’s not to say you won’t have challenges and adversity like the rest of us humans even after you leave an emotionally destructive relationship, that’s part of the life game, but … the beautiful life that you know if inside of you, the one that has your true sense itching to burst forth, will become a reality.

You’ll leave the controlling husband…You’ll continue to teach or go back to teaching …you’ll start to see life will get better, more enjoyable… you’ll develop greater self-esteem because your power will start to be released … and in time, you’ll meet someone else to love, someone who LOVES YOU …

Believe you’ll find a man who loves you the way you deserve to be loved

…he’ll let you touch the remote.  He’ll let you touch him!  He’ll listen when you talk and support you with your dreams.  You’ll nourish you with physical and emotional love.  You’ll think, “Oh heavens, why did I waste so many years not understanding what a real, balanced relationship is?”

But, regret not — you’ll have it now.  Every day is a new page in our lives.  Grab it and break free!  Trust me.  Good luck my friend.

Are you stuck in an emotionally destructive relationship? Read How to Find the Strength to Get Out of a Bad Relationship.

Sometimes it helps to share your story – look at the advice Sara got! I welcome your comments below.

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9 thoughts on “How to Break Free From an Emotionally Destructive Relationship”

  1. Well. That confirms my conclusion. No financial stability. No help. Hopeless situation. Sad. Sickeningly tragic. I have lived the nightmare and suppose will have to do as my Father predicted, “. . . made her bed hard. Let her lie in it.”. Thank you, cruel world for all your negative sabotage toward all my positive beliefs and hopes. I leave this cruel with my innocence. Of which, was always accused of many rude and disrespectful labels: Crazy. Lazy. Deluded. Living in a fantasy world, (the nicest accusation). Blessings to all who cursed my life. Blessings. :)

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    April, my prayer is that you continue your journey towards healing, strength, and wisdom! That’s fantastic that you’ve started counseling and you’ve opened your own bank account – those are positive, strong steps towards breaking free from an emotionally destructive relationship.

    May you continue moving forward, and may you find your source of energy, faith, strength, and wisdom. I pray that you’ll find the resources you need to see through the guilt and manipulation, and find freedom and health. May you figure out how to do what you need to do. It’s scary, forging ahead on your own when you’re not sure what your future holds! Cling to God. Know that you are loved, that He is watching over you, and that you CAN do the things that scare you most. Hold on to faith and hope, strength and joy. Take all the help you can get, and know that you are stronger than you realize.


  3. Hi I am so happy to have stumbled on your website. I am so lost at this time of my life. I am a mother of 3 kids, ages 5 to 11. Even my kids are subjected to the violent screams and reactions of my husband when he is in a rage. I am sure he has the whole bi polar depressed and medical illness on top of his horrible childhood that lead him to be the man he is today. I hear his sister say things like he is just like their stepdad, from that time. Long story short, I have finally realized the stress he puts on my kids and myself from all his controlling and dictating everything we do. I made it known I am not happy but since then I fell back into the cycle of things and nothing has really changed. I did get my own bank account, and I started my own counseling too. I feel like I have myself locked in the closet and she cant find her way out. I have never been the one to not say what is on my mind, or have to think about things before I do or say in the manner I do and have had to do for the last 14 years….I believe I am in a emotionally abusive relationship. I have tried many self help blogs and books. I am not sure what I am supposed to do, well that’s not true I know what I am supposed to but I don’t know how to do it. I know what I would say to a friend or my sister but its still so hard not sure how to find my inner she woman to not let him control me any longer. He has isolated us from my family and my friends. I am not allowed to go any where alone. I am not allowed to even go see my mom out of state. I am working on standing up for myself so I have talked him into letting me go to WI to see my mom for a weekend. I will see how that goes…He became disabled 3 years ago and he makes me feel guilty because I was a stay at home mom but went to work….He don’t seem all that sick to me, but he sure likes to put on a show. He blames his mood swings on elevated sugars. I am a medical assistant and I think I am pretty knowledgeable but he seems to talk down to me and it hurts my feelings especially when he does it front of family or friends. I like what I read so far and I hoping to continue to find stuff to help me in this long journey I am trying to master.

  4. Dear Marissa,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how difficult it is to break free from an emotionally destructive relationship. Leaving the safety of what we know — even when it’s unhealthy and causes us pain — is hard.

    My prayer for you is that you learn deep in your heart how lovable you are. May you find a connect with God, who loves you so much! May you find peace, freedom, and acceptance in your new life. May you find good friends who support you, and healthy resources that help you move forward into a new stage of living.


  5. I too am in a horrible relationship, and saddly it’s taking my kids to say “Mom leave” but I cannot leave wherr I live because I live with family. Years I’ve put up with so mich crud, thinking I was doing the best thing for my family. I have put up with emotional abuse, physical abuse, from a aholic, drug addic, who always twisted everything to be my fault, or that I enjoyed the punishments and abuse.Like when he cheated on me, but he said he didn’t cause he didn’t penetrate the women, and if I wouldn’t talk and bicker he would never had to be there, or it was the drug addiction that made him but he never did anything wrong. Many broken promises, (I know it our money but I’ll pay you back..then when the day comes for payback.. your crazy I never said that, you can waite) he never paid the bills it was me,and I even wanted to marry him at one point but listened to the little voice that said no, then my kids saying please don’t. I though he would change, but he won’t. He finally got diagnosed with PSD, bipolar disease, an I’m 100% sure they would find multiple personalitiy, schizophrenia, and my kids think he could be a sociopath. My friends, and family not understanding why I don’t just leave him, and myself asking the same questions..why? 18 years later, and many not so good things later I now I’ve learened when it comes to this relationship I need to losten to my kids, not myself. I won’t be able to talk, see or be around him he knows me enough to know what buttons to push. But I must be strong for my kids. I need to let go of all the dreams I had, all the hopes that fell through, and all the broken promises. I need to learn I won’t be alone I have my kids, and I am loveable.

  6. Dear Alexis,

    How are you doing? I hope the past few days have made things a bit easier for you. I suspect you’ll go through ups and downs, waves of emotional healing and grief…you will be fine some moments, and devastated others.

    Thank you for being here – I hope you have found support and guidance in person. Are you okay?

  7. Laurie,
    I just went through the worst ordeal of my life last night. I had to call the police on the man I love – – because he shoved me, destroyed my belongings, smashed the wall, etc… – – and was very drunk.

    It was nine months long – – – (starting out, of course, with all sweetness and love).

    Last night I finally ended it. It was so scary. Freeing. And sad. All at the same time.

    I am sitting here alone right now. Feeling free. But sad. THinkinking of all the “cute” things he said to me. All the Love and Marriage talk. All the “I love you” statements at least seven times a day.

    And . . . then I think about all of the bad words (too raunchy to write). And all the put downs of me, my education, my work, etc…

    Calling 911 broke my heart. I hated seeing him get handcuffed. I wanted to hug him. But I didn’t. I stayed strong. Got a restraining order.

    It’s awful tonight. I’m free. But I’m sad. I’m dreaming of what “could have been”, but knowing it can “never be”.

    (And by the way – – – Thanks Laurie! You’re blogs are awesome. Just what I needed to read to lift my spirits and not feel so alone.)

  8. Dear Melanie,

    Your husband sounds like he is so emotionally destructive, and has been for years! I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble breaking free.

    It takes time to overcome the pain of those years of selfishness and lack of love. Leaving a marriage – even an unhealthy one – takes strength, courage, and time!

    I wrote this article for you:

    Dealing With Guilt After Breaking Up – 4 Steps to Freedom

    I didn’t mention counseling in the article, but encourage you to connect with a female counselor who can help you regain your sense of self and personal identity.

    Please read the article – I hope it helps!


  9. I have been married for 21 years. My husband is not abusive in any way other then he will not discuss with me why he stopped being touching me as his wife in any way for the past 10 years. It is a fight to talk about it. He gets so defensive and mad when I try. So, he blows me off, conversation over! I think that is emotionally cruel. He is very selfish with his time. He would much prefer to be alone then with me. I have ask him to man-up and let’s end this facade of a marriage. He has destroyed my self-esteem. Just by his lack of attention and wonders why I am so insecure when he smiles around other women and puffs out his chest like he is a real stud muffin. It drives me crazy. He never says I look nice, don’t touch me and wonders why I am insecure. I’m leaving and he has me feeling guilty about it. Please help me.