Origins of Enlivened


Giving life to Enlivened starts with my own experience of abuse

The origins of Enlivened begin with my own story and I want to share it with you in case you glimpse yourself or anyone you know, in it.
In 2015, I ended a relationship which I knew hadn't been serving me for a very long time. It wasn't a decision I took lightly: I loved my partner (when he was nice) but those times had become fewer and further apart.

I had been thinking about ending the relationship for over three years, waiting until I had the strength to do it but, in the end, my hand was forced. A situation arose which impacted on someone very dear to me and it was a step too far. The police became involved and there was simply no turning back.

In the beginning

When I first met my partner, I was a mother of three and a successful career woman with a lively and witty personality. I'd experienced divorce, worked in male dominated industries for over 20 years, had experienced bullying and lived with debt. I'd lived through some tough times and considered myself strong as a result.

He was successful in his career, attentive, loving, made me feel good about myself and treated me better than I'd ever been treated by anyone before. He would drive miles to be with me even if at times it was only for an hour. He seemed to understand me, we had much in common. In many ways I thought I'd met my soulmate.

As my feelings developed, I felt like I was on a steam train, which I couldn't get off. It was exciting, albeit slightly scary too, but after failed previous relationships I felt this was the one and I committed to it fully.

The emotional abuse starts

Then like a sledgehammer, incidents started to happen. It wasn't physical. It was mental and psychological abuse. I was told I didn't dress or speak correctly, or I was flirting with men. He said I was stupid, I undermined him, I wrecked his self-esteem, and my friends weren't suitable. In fact, pretty much every area of my life, including my values and beliefs, were called into question and with this came sanctions and punishments.

I was ignored, screamed at, texts were sent. I would often receive as many as 30 texts an hour, regardless of the time of day, where I was and what I was doing, all demanding I explained my actions. If I ignored them, the threats increased.

His threats included death threats to himself, my family and me. I was petrified and yet when it got to a point when I felt I couldn't stand it any longer, it stopped as quickly as it began and was replaced with 'love bombing' instead. I would be inundated with apologies, presents and excuses for his behaviour. His reasoning was very clever and plausible and as a result, I began to question everything about myself.

The toxic shadow of emotional abuse
I did fight back verbally, and I had opinions which I freely gave, but over time I began to take the path of least resistance and learned to avoid situations. As a result, I distanced myself from friends and family as it felt easier this way for both me and them.

Yet, through it all, I went to work every day. I was a business owner and operations manager. I was meeting clients and networking regularly.

I was a walking façade

On the outside I was professional and businesslike; some would say even ballsy and often frosty but on the inside a crumbling mess. To those who knew me well, I seemed quieter and at times snappier. However, I confided in no one and kept everything to myself.

I felt ashamed for getting into such a relationship and even more ashamed that I stayed in it. I sadly, even tried to end my life twice. Finally, not only was I fearful of him and what he might do, I was also fearful that if others found out what was happening to me, they would think me weak and pathetic. I hated myself.

The realisation I had been abused

Despite living through seven years of hell, I didn't realise I'd been in an abusive relationship until afterwards. I knew I hadn't liked how I'd been treated but I just thought he was crazy. To me, domestic abuse was physical. I even used to think to myself, "at least he doesn't hit me!"

A few days after ending the relationship, I trawled the internet for explanations about what had happened to me and found myself reading about Narcissism and coercive control, which is indeed, a type of domestic abuse. I felt completely shattered. How had I, an intelligent woman not known this?

My recovery

The first stage of my recovery took around three years. Fortunately, we had never lived together so I didn't have the added burden of splitting up a home and all its possessions. During this time, I attended counselling and tried getting back into the dating game once again in a bid to move on with my life. However, I wasn't ready and instead spent time with friends and family. In the main, I spent time on my own. I read, I chilled out, I worked on my business and gave myself time to heal and become reacquainted with the 'real' Julie.

Fortunately, just before the relationship ended my first grandchild was born. She gave me a focus and a reason to carry on when at times, I didn't see the point. It wasn't easy and I certainly never expected to feel happy again even though I wanted to.

Time really is a great healer, but I believe the time I spent on my own was the biggest contributor to my journey of recovery. I had a lot of time to think, I learned a lot about myself and embarked on a journey of self-discovery which I'm still on now.

It's because of my experience that I have since studied to become a life coach and left my career in sales and credit management to set up Enlivened to support women who are not feeling as fulfilled or as happy as they have every right to be.

If you or anyone you know are experiencing domestic abuse, or you feel you could be, please get in touch here and learn more about the safe and supportive environment Enlivened can offer.

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