This week, a toxic relationship that I was in came to an end. The toxic part of this relationship has been going on for a little over a year and even though I always knew it was going to end in flames, I still felt surprised when it happened.
Toxic relationships come in many forms, and unfortunately, they are notoriously difficult to get out of. Individuals in toxic relationships are so used to the push-and-pull routine and the constant heartache that sometimes becomes easier to live with than to imagine a life without it. I have read multiple accounts (and feel similarly) that people actually miss the drama that comes with a toxic relationship. Because it is so emotionally taxing and takes up most of your time, when it is finally over with, you find yourself with an amount of free time that you never had before – and it is incredibly overwhelming.
There are signs and definitions about what a toxic relationship is, but at the end of the day, you know when it is toxic. If being around your partner makes you feel anxious most of the time, and if you never know which version of them you are going to get, this is the biggest indicator. Listen to your gut. In my case, my anxiety is linked to my stomach and before meeting up with my partner, I’d feel a wave of nausea and feel all the symptoms of anxiety wash over me. This is not normal – certainly there are rough patches in relationships and seeing them may not always fill you with joy. But you should not continuously feel anxious and unstable about the state of your relationship and what your partner is going to do.
The “good” waves of my toxic relationship were still bad. It only ever became “good” whenever there was jealously involved; my partner would then step it up in fear and love-bomb me. However, as good as the admission of love was, it was partnered with checking my phone when I wasn’t in the room and telling me off and breaking things off with us temporarily if I said I was out with someone of the opposite sex, or if he found texts in my phone from other guys.
In the “bad” waves, we would go weeks without talking. If I tried to reach out, I would either be ignored or told to stop trying. In almost every case, I never knew what was wrong or what prompted the shift. I would beg for answers, apologizing profusely for imagined things that I did, since he would refuse to tell me why he would shut me out. We’d go from talking and seeing each other every day to weeks of emotional neglect by outright shutting me out, and most of the time, I never received answers. Then, whenever he decided he missed me, he’d come back like nothing ever happened and I welcomed it, desperate to just go back to where we were before.
This toxic relationship has been understandably awful to my mental health. I have had to go back to therapy to work through it, I’ve leaned too much on friends, and I’ve gone through depressive episodes because of it. Being in a toxic on-and-off again relationship is like being broken up with every couple of months. If you haven’t been in one before, imagine the most painful breakup that you have gone through. Then imagine having to do that every few months. It is very tiring and emotionally exhausting.
I have missed out on a lot of what I wanted to do when I was with this person and sacrificed a lot of myself in the process. My biggest goal in moving on is to find out who I was before I met him. I want that person back – I miss her desperately. I am having a difficult time indulging in my previous passions or even remembering what I liked to do, as I invested all that I had into trying to salvage this relationship.
I wanted to write about my experience with a toxic relationship for this month because I find great comfort in relating to other’s stories. The thing that has helped me the most through my breakups are reading forums where people post about their experiences in their failed relationships. It feels good to read the experiences of others and feel like you are not alone. I often read these and think, “I’m going through the same thing” or “that is exactly how I feel.”
If you are in a toxic relationship, know that you are certainly not alone and that it will not last forever. Even if a small part of you, like me, hopes it lasts forever because you love the person you are with, you will feel relief once it is over even if it does hurt. Know that you do not have to get out of this relationship right now, or even next week, but begin thinking about how you plan to get out of it in the future and start imaging a life without them. Allow yourself to think about life after them and how you want to celebrate and find yourself in the process. It is scary having an endless amount of free time and not knowing how to spend it – but I am excited for a new positive future.
Have you been in a toxic relationship or friendship before? How did you overcome it? Please share your experiences or advice below!