Are you in a Toxic Relationship?
Almost always, toxic relationships involve either an intimate or love relationship. They generally involve a relationship with a family member, a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife or a close friend or caregiver.
Dr. Lillian Glass, a California-based communication and psychology expert who says she coined the term in her 1995 book Toxic People, defines a toxic relationship as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
A normal relationship has its ups and downs, but a toxic relationship has struggles that are continuous throughout the length of the connection. Also, your attempts to communicate your feelings are often if not always shot down.
For you specifically, the relationship issues are NEVER resolved.
As an independent adult, there is no reason for any person to have control over you. As an adult, you can make choices for yourself, choices that maybe you couldn’t make when you were a child. If you feel uncomfortable in any relationship you have the right to leave or take a break.
Breaking away – even momentarily to collect yourself – means making a ‘conscious’ choice to do so.
Looking at Yourself in a Toxic Relationship
It can be difficult and take a long time to finally admit that you are in a toxic relationship, especially if this is a connection with a parent, sibling or with someone in your family. It is not easy to leave, let alone challenge a family member.
The situation becomes more convoluted if you depend on them for anything like financial or emotional support. But if you have subjected yourself to constant negativity from this person it is important to know why you put up with the abuse for so long.
This self-reflection is NOT about berating yourself! This is all about understanding yourself better so that you don’t repeat this same situation again with someone else. If you don’t know YOUR role in the toxic relationship you will be doomed to repeat it again.
Know what is really driving the dynamic between you and the toxic person so you don’t repeat the dynamic in a new relationship.
How Toxic Relationships Warp Our Perceptions
I don’t need to tell you how deeply damaging toxic relationships can be to you. You know this all too well. But how you change and morph yourself IN a toxic relationship, especially a long-term relationship, can be truly mind-blowing and important to understand for you to heal. The following examples below show how you might be trying to ‘survive’ in the relaitonship, all the while causing harm to your own self esteem, wellbeing and mental health.
Do you play small in your life?
In a toxic relationship with a parent or spouse, you might have been told on a regular basis how much they have done for you and they take credit for any success in your life. Meanwhile, you are still reeling internally from the damage they caused you. As a result, you ‘subconsciously’ choose to play small, rather than confront them with the truth, which will only cause a conflict that you know all too well is a losing battle.
Do You Feel Unsuccessful in your life?
In a toxic relationship, you might have tried to confront this person the only way you know how, by holding yourself back. You know that talking or discussing matters never works, so instead, you subconsciously make yourself ‘unsuccessful’ by their definition, to prove (in a passive way) how much they have damaged you. Because you are not allowed to speak your truth in the relationship this cycle deepens with destructive results to your inner self.
A perfect example of this is in the very public breakdown of Princess Diana’s relationship with Prince Charles. She couldn’t voice her concerns, and in the eyes of the royal family, she was the one who was ‘wrong’ so she sabotaged herself and went public with her concerns. Basically, things got worse and it ruined her life.
To prove to the toxic person how they damaged you, you resort to messing up your own life.
Are You Crying Out For Help?
In trying to ‘cope’ and survive in a toxic relationship you may subconsciously wear your wounds like a badge to prove to them and other people how this person messed you up. You end up personifying the wounded person and victim mentality because you are not heard, seen or understood at all.
But a toxic person will never see their role in your misery. No matter what you do to get the attention you seek, they truly do not think they ever did anything wrong. In fact, they might even call you crazy for carrying on about things that are not true. Toxic people have very bad memories of anything they ever did to you.
How to Start Healing Now!
It’s time to take your life back! Time to stop dwelling on the misery. Time to turn your attention on how to get better.
Admittedly, a toxic relationship breaks you down, often slowly over time. It can be filled with disappointment, pain, humiliation, unfairness, rejection and certainly tons of misunderstandings. You try to get understanding by communicating with the toxic person but in more ways than one you know you are not heard, felt or understood.
Toxic people are skilled at making all your complaints about you, you are the problem. Also, often they do not ‘consciously’ know what they are doing to you. They were no doubt in toxic relationships with their parents and they have developed toxic behaviours that they are truly unaware of. You will never get a toxic person to see themselves honestly.
Whatever you do, don’t even try to change a toxic persom. That will only bring further frustration and deepening resentment and issues.
That is why this is a toxic relationship, there is little you can do for them, instead, you have to focus on yourself. You have complete control, over how you are going to change and get out of this situation.
Focusing on how you are going to change yourself and get out of this situation is completely within your power.
Looking Deeply into YOU!
Knowing why you let this person have control over you will reveal more about you than them, and it will shift your focus onto yourself and off of them. This is healthy and marks the beginning of your transformational healing.
I know it can be hard to separate yourself from a toxic relationship, especially when the connection is deep, rooted in tribal needs and satisfies some emptiness or longing you feel. Usually, acceptance is a big motivator for people in toxic relationships. Somehow you want them to accept you, but they never will accept you for who you are; that is part of the power they hold over you.
Time to stop chasing after something you are never going to get. Time to stop feeling that you have to work for their love, their attention, their acceptance, their approval. You don’t need them, you can give yourself all you need.
If you feel strong enough to face your own truths, ask yourself WHY? Why do you keep craving their approval? Again this is NOT about berating yourself, this is done to help you get stronger and understand YOURSELF better.
Explore this on your own, in your own time, confide in a trusted friend (avoid other people close to the toxic person). This process will tell you a great deal about your own weaknesses, which allows you to heal those wounds. It also allows you to hold your pain outside of yourself and objectify it.
Healing from a Toxic Relationship
Many of us are wounded, and this is why we work through issues our whole lives. If there is ONE thing a toxic relationship is screaming loud and clear at you, it is that you need to nurture and love yourself to the depths of your core. That is where you will get the most healing by putting your energy back into yourself, not outward to someone who will never give you what you need.
In fact, NO ONE can ever give you what you really need. NO – ONE. As soon as you expect others to satisfy you, love you, help you, whatever…. you will for sure, be disappointed. This is a hard fact of life. You have got to start giving that to yourself.
Steps to Finding Peace After a Toxic Relationship
You have tried and tried and tried. You have indeed given more than you ever got back. Nothing ever seems to work, no matter how hard you try to make the relationship work. So here is a break-down of some easy steps to help you disengage.
Number 1: Walk away. It doesn’t have to mean forever, but leave it for now. Maybe it will be forever, perhaps not. Gracefully bow out of the conflict. Create space between this person and yourself. If you can do this respectfully even better, but get out.
Number 2: If they reach out to you, be strong, don’t get hooked back in. Keep the distance. Your healing is more important. If this person cares about you, they will respect that. If they keep trying to reconnect with you, do not engage.
Number 3: Deep personal healing. Make quality time for yourself. The urge when leaving a toxic relationship is to fill your time with other things to ‘do.’ Fight the desire to do this as you may easily fall back into another unhealthy relationship. Safeguard yourself, become a happy hermit, take up yoga, art, listen to soothing music. Do whatever it takes to get connected with yourself. Avoid building new relationships and even re-evaluate ALL of your relationships. If they drain you, or you find you are not your true self in them, let them go.
Number 4: Enjoy your freedom from pain. Start to feel the quiet, low drama new world you are now opening up for yourself. It will feel strange; you may want to escape but hang in there. Experience this new level of calm. Listen to trailblazers in this deeply soulful place, such as Eckhart Tolle and Anita Moorjani.
Number 5: Accept and embrace how you feel. You will feel sad. It is unfortunate to have to let go of someone you love. However, you might be able to keep the relationship, but you will need to have firm boundaries before engaging with them again. This healing might take months and even years before you feel powerful enough or safe enough to see them. You may end up choosing never to see them again. Accept whatever you are feeling, stay in tune with your inner self.
Number 6: Enjoy the small moments in life and reconnect with the real you. You indeed are all you need. You need to give yourself the time and space to do so. Peace is the greatest gift you can give yourself. You will soon realize just how stressful the relationship was and that it cost you more than you were able to see while you were in it. Enjoy your new-found freedom, and never look back.
You can heal and you will.
My blessings are with you all the way.
If you found this helpful, please share it with someone else who might benefit from it. Being responsive and present to a friend who is trying to get out of a toxic relationship is the best gift we can give them.