I needed chaos and drama. But being still healed me.

Do you know people who run around like chickens (or chooks if you’re an Aussie) with their heads cut off?  The woman who volunteers for everything and acts like a martyr about it?  The workaholic bloke who never gets to tuck his kids in and if he does take time off, he’s on the phone the whole time?  I used to be a bit like that.  Always doing something, always surrounded by people.  Busy, busy, busy.  I was never still.

I was also great in a crisis.  I thrived in one.  Perhaps that was why being a news reporter and later, a Foreign Correspondent was so appealing to me.

When I met my Ex he was perfect.  But not in the way I thought.  Yes, he was charismatic.  Our first meeting, the chemistry was intense.  But we were the perfect fit in quite an invisible way. One that took me many years to see.

Our relationship was a rollercoaster.  The highs were high, the lows low until one day they scraped the bottom when he almost killed me.  You can’t get much lower than that!

But even after that I went back to him.  He ‘needed me’ I thought.   In my mind, all I needed to do was love him more.  To fix his damaged soul and show him I could be the one to turn him into the man I believed him to be deep down inside.

My focus was on him, on his issues, the ones I thought I could fix. Most of my sentences started with ‘You this…’ (to him) or ‘He that….’ (to friends).  I had all the answers.

I put him and his wellbeing above my own.   I denied my fears, suppressed all my emotions.   I was too busy to feel anything anyway. When he was remorseful I was in rescue mode.   Trying to fix him into the man I thought he could be (or if I am honest, the one I had projected onto him).   And I was trying to prove I was worthy of him.  That I wouldn’t let him down by all those so-called others before had done. I’d be the perfect wife.

It was exhausting.  The chaos and drama wore me down.  Little by little my self-esteem dissolved until I was a helpless mess. Nothing I did worked.  I couldn’t fix him, I couldn’t save our relationship.

I needed chaos and drama. But being still healed me.
I needed chaos and drama. But being still healed me.












My loving him had become an unhealthy obsession.  An addiction for me. I was in a futile search for that first high I’d felt and he’d reward me with, between the bad times.

I also thought I could control the chaos.  If only I do X, then he’ll be change.  If I do Y, then he’ll be happy, I thought.   I could make the bad go away and we’d live that dream life I envisioned.   It was an addiction that could have killed me.

I didn’t know then how much I needed that chaos and drama.  When I found the courage to leave it was the opposite.  I was still for the first time in years.  That led to the most painful withdrawal and a volcanic surge of emotions: anger, loneliness, fear, guilt.  You name it.  I sobbed until there were no tears left some days.

Being still also meant I had to face myself.  For the first time.  I’d spent years going from one boyfriend to the other.  By the time one dumped me I’d already lined up his replacement.  I was never alone.  The new boyfriend therapy was the best antidote to a broken heart.

It was great for my self-esteem too, always having a gorgeous man on my arm and happy in a relationship. I was friends with a gorgeous model at the time.  She was one of the leads in Mad Max 2. Even she told me she was jealous of me, that the nice guys were too scared to approach her.  She was tall, stunning and a lovely girl.  She, jealous of me!  What a boost that was!

But this never being alone.  Never being still was also an anaesthetic. Masking my own deep-seated issues. Once I was away from the chaos and drama, I had nowhere to hide.   I had to face me.  

I had to ask myself the painful question: why had I stayed after violence, when others wouldn’t have?   That opened up a Pandora’s box of pain.

I didn’t like the person I saw.   I always thought I was the confident one.  Ask any of my school friends, they’d say the same. ‘Outgoing, confident’ is how I am sure they’d describe me.

Instead, I found this frightened little insecure girl.  One whose fear of abandonment was coming to the fore.  No wonder when I first met my ex it had felt so right.  Why I thought he was The One.   Our baggage matched in a weird way.

Whilst he was the ‘damaged’ one.  Whilst my focus was on fixing him, I could deny I needed fixing myself.  My need to be needed was a great way to numb my insecurities.  He ‘needed me’ to save him, nothing wrong with me!   It made me feel good.  It filled the void inside.

It was a void of shame.  That I wasn’t good enough.   If I was in a relationship with a man who needed me, was more damaged than me, he’d never leave me or so I thought!  My fear of abandonment: alleviated.

But this is not the basis for a long-term healthy relationship.  Bandaids (or Plasters for those in the UK!) never last.  They fall off after a while.   When mine did I saw the rot inside.   But, as painful as it was, it was also liberating. I realised:

I couldn’t control the uncontrollable, but I could change me.  So I took my focus off him and placed it back where it needed to be.  On me.

I couldn't fix him. But I could change me. That's how I started to heal. Click To Tweet

That was when I began to START WITH ME.  That was how I started to heal.


Do you thrive in chaos and drama? Are you finding it hard to be still?  Let me know in the Comments below.

[PS – Doors to my START WITH ME: Victim to Survivor online video course are now open for just one week.  I will show you how you can go from feeling like a helpless victim to an empowered survivor.  Join the course now].


Domestic violence resources are widely available.    If you need further help or counselling please refer to the following helplines (or the equivalent in your country):

1800Respect: 0800 737 732  RESPECT
Lifeline: 13 11 14  LIFELINE

National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 NATIONAL DV HELPLINE UK
Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service 020 3866 4107  PALADIN UK

Women’s Aid:1800 341 900 WOMEN’S AID
Safe Ireland:  +353 90 6479078  SAFE IRELAND

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233  THE HOTLINE USA

DrugRehab.com 1-877-695-5395  DrugRehab.com

DAWN Canada crisis hotlines:  DAWN CANADA

Are your relationships – past or present – good enough for you?  Do you deserve better?  Try my FREE QUIZ to find out!

Written by Vivian McGrath

Vivian McGrath is a TV Executive Producer who makes documentaries for major US, UK and Australian broadcasters.  She is also a survivor of domestic violence.  Her book ‘Unbeatable (How I Left a Violent Man)’ – her story of surviving abuse to finding success in love and life – will be published soon.  She hopes this blog will help others to become strong, fearless and successful too.  Find out more about Vivian Here.

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6 thoughts on “I needed chaos and drama. But being still healed me.

  1. Hi Viv,
    Boy, did this blog strike a chord deep inside of me! You are SO right on the money with this, and thanks for putting a finger on something that I always knew all along but didn’t want to admit to myself. What a true blessing and guardian angel you are for all those who have been/are victims of our own demons, which invite & attract other demons to come hither. There are more of us than we think.

    Much love & respect,


    1. Thank you so much. Every comment of support and encouragement means so much to me. It was one of the hardest things for me to do of all in my recovery. Just being still and facing my demons and me. But as painful as it was, it was the most healing thing of all. Being still, seeing that scared, lost little girl. Nurturing her and telling her she was okay. Once I did that my life changed. (Although when I met Mr V and he was so calm, nice and available I tried to create drama. I’d cause an argument and tried hard to push him away. I couldn’t deal with the stillness and lack of drama. Without it I had such a fear of abandonment that I tried to force the relationship to end before he abandoned me, which I was convinced would happen! Thank God he stuck around! Slowly I was able to be still and trust him. PS – 29th Wedding Anniversary this weekend!). Lots of love x

  2. This touched me deeply. I finally left an emotionally abusive relationship after 22 years. We were 14 years old when we met. He came from a physically abusive childhood so every time he raged at me I forgave him since he had such a rough childhood. It was my normal. I finally walked away 6 weeks ago the freedom I feel is indescribable but sometimes like today I am letting the pain take over. I know to truly heal I have to face the pain. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. I am so glad it resonated with you. Well done for finding the strength and courage to know you deserve better. Leaving can be the hardest and most painful time. Feeling emotions that have been suppressed for so long is hard. Healing takes work and time. But try not to look back and keep walking towards the light.

      If you do struggle please get help and support. I have listed domestic violence resources here: https://www.beingunbeatable.com/domestic-violence-resources/

      Work on your self-esteem, put yourself first. You are enough, with or without a partner. Stay strong x

  3. Hello. Wow I can’t believe I stumbled across this. I was w my ex for 3 years and we have a 3 month old baby. Prior I was married 12 years with 2 kids. That man neglected me and was emotionless and controlling. It was a loveless marriage. I met my current partner. And he is very emotional, verbal and mentally abusive. I have never been in that before. At first he was charming, sexy, kind, nice. And a year and a half later slowly changed into this malicious, evil person. Things got bad and he wanted to break up but still live in house to raise our son. I did that for a week and then walked away and moved out. Been on my own for 2 weeks a single mom with 3 boys. I’m scared, lost and confused but want to desperately heal and move forward but I have so many demons to face and it’s very difficult on most days. Thank you for this blog. I’m reading and learning as much as possible to heal myself and learn to love myself again. Sometimes I feel I will never get there. I hope and do pray one day I can be a survivor. I know one day yes but the days and nights are so dark now.

    1. Hi Erin. You are already a Survivor as you’ve taken the hardest first step. Well done for finding the strength and courage to do this. It takes time, but you are doing the right thing by focussing on your self esteem and learning to love yourself first. Everything stems from that. I’m glad you’re here and hope it helps. Time is your best friend. Take one day at a time and I promise you will get there. Why not join my closed FB Group? It’s full of others going through what you are and you’ll find support in there too: https://www.facebook.com/groups/508030766214038/ Stay strong x

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