Lately, the term ‘toxic’ seems like a buzzword that is loosely thrown around without people actually understanding what it means.
Anyone with a different opinion or way of doing things can be easily labeled as toxic. Understanding what toxicity in general really is about is a whole long conversation that we need to have sometime soon.
In this article, I will focus on toxic relationships which have been defined as relationships where one person feels unsupported, misunderstood, demeaned, or attacked.
Toxic relationships come in all sorts of shapes and forms, and they are different for everyone. They can be found in all contexts, from romantic relationships and family setups to work environments. Differences in our personalities, experiences, past traumas and triggers shape how we respond to these relationships.
When it comes to toxic relationships, there is no universal checklist that can be used to assess where the relationship stands. However, some of the common signs of toxic relationships include:
People in toxic relationships can stay in these relationships for a while. Each person’s reasons are different, and it is not for us to judge.
After enduring these relationships, some people eventually leave the relationship. While that is a great first step in the right direction, there is a lot of work that one needs to do on themselves.
After leaving a toxic relationship, the other person seems to go on with their life while you are left behind to deal with the mess.
Whether you were in a toxic relationship with a parent, partner, friend or colleague, you are left with emotional wounds, and often, you have no idea how to nurse them.
Sometimes we find our emotions so overwhelming, and we just don’t want to deal with them.
Rather than feeling and going through these emotions, we think it’s best to be numb and lock them away. Sadly, if you do not feel these emotions, they will keep on bothering you until you pay attention to them.
Allow yourself to feel sad, betrayed, or anything you might be feeling. If you think you need to go and scream on top of a mountain, go and do so. Let those emotions out and start your healing process.
When you leave a toxic relationship, focus on moving forward.
Do not expect the other person to come back to you and apologize for what they did and how they treated you. In most cases, they will never come to explain themselves and give you closure.
While closure is good, you will not always get it, and if you tell yourself that you will start healing when you have received closure, then you might never heal.
When you look back at your past experiences, remember to be kind to yourself.
Do not be harsh on yourself for not seeing the signs early or for not leaving the relationship earlier. Be tenderhearted towards yourself and forgive yourself. Appreciate the fact that you now know better and are in a position to make better decisions.
This can either be a support group, a good friend or a trusted family.
These are people who love and are concerned for your well-being and they will do their best to make sure that you are in the best state possible. When you share something, they listen without judgment, and they help you boost your confidence.
These people can be rare, but if you have them, they will really help fill in the void you might have and hold your hand throughout your healing journey.
This can be a tough one after spending a long time with someone who tries to shape you into the version that they want you to be.
In professional and academic settings, you will meet supervisors who do not want you to express yourself in a manner that you want, rather, they want you to adopt their way of doing things. In romantic relationships, you might be with a partner who wants you to interact with certain people and dress in a particular way.
Throughout that relationship, there is a high possibility that you will lose yourself in an attempt to please the other person. Once you leave that relationship, you might need some time to remember who you are. Pick up hobbies that make you happy and put yourself first.
Your story goes beyond that toxic relationship.
Focus on other aspects of yourself, especially the ones you had to bury during that relationship.
As you get over the relationship, you might encounter some triggers that will take you back to the toxic relationship for a moment. In that bit, take a look at and appreciate how much things have changed. You are good enough.
Everyone’s healing journey is different, so be kind to yourself and take one day at a time. The process won’t be linear, and some days will feel worse than others. But remember, you have already left that relationship, and that is a big step on its own!
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