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We are all sinful, fault filled human beings with insecurities, fears, and selfish desires. But, navigating new relationships and getting to know people post abuse causes us to hold a magnifying glass to other’s humaness. We dissect their every word and the subtle nuances of their tones and body language, looking for that ah ha moment when we can prove beyond a doubt that they were indeed attempting to deceive us in order to use and abuse us.

New man is definitely not perfect. He has been through his own pain that created calluses on his spirit. He was born with a sin nature that pulls him down. If I were to tell my friends the cruel things he has said to me or the time he tried to lie to me or about his nasty habits/addictions, I’m quite certain they’d tell me to heed the red flags and run. But, I won’t. I mean, I threaten it weekly. The poor man just said on Tuesday evening, “Baby, you’ve GOT to stop taking your stuff and leaving every time you get upset.” Running, leaving, bailing is my default. I operate in “flight.” But, I won’t really fly far away, not for long.

Over the last four months I’ve had to face the reality that often my anger or hurt feelings are because I’m judging New Man’s words and actions through the lens of the past. I’m holding him accountable for what the abuser did and said. He’s not to blame for all of that, but I accuse him nonetheless. I get “triggered” or just scared, and suddenly everything from every wounded moment in my life is his fault. It’s confusing for him. And, it feeds his own insecurities and issues. And, I hurt him.

Falling in love is exhilarating and fun, but it’s also one of the most frightening things you can do once you come out on the other side of domestic violence. I could choose to shrink back, unwilling to risk being hurt again. What if I’m wrong about him, too? What if he’s tricking me like my abuser once did? I’m choosing grace instead though. Because I want to experience the give and take of genuine love and friendship in an intimate relationship with a man. I really do want to try.

The truth is– the truth I’m having a hard time accepting– is that this imperfect New Man does love me. He does see good in me. He’s willing to forgive me. He’s able to walk and talk through the ugly stuff. He actually wants to recover from misunderstandings and unintentional wounds. He’s in this. He’s with me, not against me.

At this point in time with the abuser, we were already engaged. We’d already had horrible, horrible FIGHTS. He already regularly called me names. He had already ruined holidays. He was routinely insulting me. My friends and family were already being replaced by his friends and family. The red flags were more like neon billboards.

I’m a strong woman. I’ve survived so many horrors. I know I am courageous. So, I’m courageously now giving my bruised, fragile heart to another human being, hoping for the best, and trying to relax into his love for me.