I agree that is very easy for someone outside of an emotionally abusive relationship to say ‘try harder’.
By the time I left my partner of 10 years, I had nothing left to try with. I honestly thought that I wasn’t capable of emotions any more, I was so damaged that I would never be in a relationship again. Sounds rediculous now as I type it, but that is truely how I felt. That is the stage I let myself get to before I left. And you know what? The only reason I ended up actually making the leap of leaving was because he humiliated me in public, and I felt that after so long of desperately covering up how crap my relationship was, now that it was out I could leave.
I am otherwise a confident, educated, well adjusted person. Yet to be in an emotionally abusive relationship took my confidence and self esteem away. It wasn’t until I had some time to heal on my own, that I realised how much better life could be. I haven’t told most people close to me the full extent of the crappiness of my past relationship, but the little I have told others has left them shocked. They can’t believe that I stood for that, and frankly neither can I.
After 7 odd months of working on myself after the breakup, I felt ready to date. Shortly thereafter I met my current SO, and I realised I was completely capable of happiness and love.
It honestly wasn’t until I was outside of my previous relationship that I realised it wasn’t me that was damaged beyond repair, that it was our relationship that was. I was still capable of love and happiness, just not with my ex. I could not forgive him for what he did to me, and I couldn’t trust him to maintain the changes he made.
I still came to my current relationship with my share of baggage, but I am so lucky in that my SO is such a loving and caring man, he has taken the time to help me unpack that baggage, so to speak.
I do regret not having left sooner. But my concience is clear, in that I know I gave our relationship every chance I could afford.
Also, if I had left sooner I probably wouldn’t have met my current SO, so in that sense perhaps fate played a part.