I am not a fan of the word toxic relationships, it’s like the latest fad to me. It only takes five minutes on social media and your head is swimming with the latest labels, and I am simply over it. Can we just call it what it is? Toxic relationships are not new people. They are simply relationships that are unhealthy for one or both of the people involved, and guess what….they have been around for generations.
Let’s keep in mind that these relationships are not just developed between couples. We can see this happen between friends, siblings, parent and child, basically any relationship where one or both parties are feeling unloved, disrespected or mistreated. Today, we are going to focus on couples.
Each and every time I write one of these blogs my inner struggle is this, do I focus on the clinical side of things or write from the heart. Everything they teach you in school is to keep your personal ego out of it. Tell them what you learn in these musty smelling text books. Embark your wisdom upon their souls from the thousands of hours you spent with your eyes burning reading from your dimly lit laptop. I have weighed my choices here, and I believe that a nice balance of my past experience, the real reality of life and some scientific insight will do just fine. Much like I parent, a dose of reality along with something I read in a book somewhere. 🙂
My unhealthy relationship started when I was only fourteen years old. He was a few years older and my brothers best friend. We dated for eight years before we got engaged and were married. We were married for nineteen years and have three of the most amazing children to ever walk to face of the earth, yes I am biased. Before I found the strength to leave my marriage, there were more affairs than I have fingers. He still can’t tell me why to this day, but I now know that isn’t my problem to solve. There was abuse and I made excuses for all of it. At times, I still do. I try to remember how old I was when this man, who was supposed to love me, left me an empty shell on the bathroom floor weeping for the first time. I was seventeen and he laughed at me. Over the years, the cold bathroom floor would be my safe place to hide so my kids wouldn’t see me upset. At times his guilt would bring him in to ask me to come out, most nights I would stay put for hours. Broken, scared, alone, and always asking myself how can I make myself better for him. For twenty-eight years I dieted, cooked, cleaned, cried, dressed better, whatever he needed from me, for him. Every day I drifted away, drowning deeper, and spent more nights on that bathroom floor. In all of those years only twice did I ever give a thought to leaving, all of my energy was given to him and how to make this work. I wish I could have knelt down beside myself on that cold floor and told me that we can only fix ourselves. He was so broken. I was so broken. Neither of us was fixing the right person. ❤
That right there is the key. We are not meant to be in a relationship with someone to heal them. That is not what love is. Being by their side to support them and guide them is an amazing thing to watch, but their journey is just that. If their path is detrimental to yours in any way, move out-of-the-way. If what is going on in their life is hurtful, disrespectful and harmful to you, walk. Let them heal, let them make their choices, that is not your job. If you take it on as your own, it will become all-encompassing, it will be all you know.
I realized I had to stop sacrificing myself and my happiness for others. It was destroying my health, and my life. Doing something out of love, to be helpful, is different from doing it out of fear or need, because you want validation. Remember that.
If like me, you are considering letting someone go, ask yourself these questions:
How do you feel in their presence? Drained or Alive?
Does this person always have your best interests in mind?
Do they belittle you when you share your feelings?
Do they make promises and never follow-up?
If you answered yes to the final two questions, it may be time to move on and make space in your life for healthy and happy relationships.
It is never easy to let go of the past, but when the pain of holding on is greater than the pain of letting go, it is time to take the leap.
Many blogs will give you a concrete list of “how to tell you are in an unhealthy relationship,” but I am of the belief that if you need to read a list you already know. If you are spending your days asking yourself why, wondering where your future is headed and if this is really what you want for yourself, you do not need a list.
Also keep in mind, as you can tell by my story I am not one to give up on relationships easy. What life, and my career have taught me is that we far too often give up on ourselves too easy. When we stop loving ourselves we end up in relationships that are not healthy. How much love do you surround your children in, your friends and family in? That is how much love you should always be surrounding yourself in. Expect that from others in your life always. If you keep this as a hard rule in your life, great relationships will follow.
It all boils down to happiness. There will always be difficult points in any relationship, but they should be handled with respect and love. Your person should make you feel supported and make you feel capable of accomplishing any of your goals. Life always comes with uncertainty, you need that person to offer you stability and security. Those of us who have been in unhealthy relationships are robbed of these amazing qualities. Allow yourself to live a life in this kind of love. You deserve it.
Much love ❤