Get the feelings out by getting off.

Living in an emotionally abusive relationship means interacting with your spouse in a way that leaves you feeling hurt, exhausted and confused on a daily basis - sometimes multiple times a day if it's a "bad" day.

As you know first hand, telling your spouse just how hurtful they’re being doesn’t help you feel better. At best, my ex-husband would deny his words or accuse me of misconstruing them. At worst, he we get up on his high horse and proclaim, “You will not muzzle me!”

I usually said something to him anyway, just on principle, but because he never validated - or apologized for - the hurt he caused me, it had nowhere to go but inward.

In the beginning of my marriage, when the abuse was new and I still had some sense of self, I'd go cry in the shower to release these feelings. But over time as the hurts accumulated and built on each other they became too intense and complicated for a cry in the shower.

They built up inside of me turning into situational depression, unpredictable outbursts of pent-up rage, and unhealthy forms of self-medication. While I was in that relationship, I didn’t know that there was anything else I could do with the pain. In fact, it wasn’t until a doctor’s visit about two months ago - which was five months after leaving “him” - that the most novel idea was suggested to me.

The idea is that these feelings - hurt, anger, frustration, disappointment - can be channeled however we choose. These feelings don't need crying or yelling or pain to be released, even though we turn to these methods first. And the intensity of these feelings doesn’t need to frighten us into dulling them with drugs and alcohol.

What if these feelings could be harnessed and released in a way that brings you pleasure?

For example, they can be turned into the words of a hate-letter addressed to your spouse and burned. They can be the inspiration for starting a blog about emotional abuse in which the hated spouse plays a starring role. They can motivate you to go after the dream job that your spouse said you’d never be able to get. They can be released through the best orgasm you’ve ever had.

Last Saturday, when my ex-husband brought my son home to my house, he refused to return my son’s jacket even though it was laying on the floor of his car in plain sight. Before you dismiss this as trivial, let me tell you that this is the third jacket - my son’s last remaining - he has refused to return, and that this trend of item-stealing is not limited to jackets.

It’s infuriating that my ex would leave my son jacketless just to stick it to me, and I instantly felt as helpless as I did when I was living with him. Cue panic attack: my heart started pounding, the back of my neck tensed, and my vision went blurry. I powered through for two hours until my son’s nap time, but as soon as he was down and his door was shut, I wrote my ex-husband the best hate email I’ve ever written. It was really good - about how I’m going to be so powerful one day I’ll be able to chew him up and spit him out.

The hate email helped a little, but it wasn’t enough. So I walked myself in my bedroom, shimmied out of my skinny jeans, and gave myself an orgasm ten times better than any I ever had with “him”. The one-two punch of email/orgasm did the trick, but alleviating my immediate discomfort wasn’t the only thing it did for me.

Because I spent that pent-up energy on me, and I spent it in a way that didn’t harm me, I took power away from him. And the satisfaction of doing that stayed with me long after the glow of the orgasm wore off.

We can’t control the behavior of our abusive spouses when we live with them, and you’ll learn that we can’t control it once we leave. But we can control what we do with the feelings that behavior causes, and you’re worth releasing it in a way that makes you feel good.