Last night, my roommate stood in the doorway of my room and asked for my advice. It was her birthday, and on the heels of a recent breakup of her long-term relationship, she was struggling. Her ex had not reached out and she wanted to text him. I reminded her that texting him would make her feel worse, since the response that she would receive would not make her feel any better.
I went through the cycle I usually do in order to encourage her, but at the end of the day, they are just words. After I had finished my spiel, she asked, “What can I do?” She didn’t want encouraging words – she wanted an action to help her cope.
Since I am in a similar spot, I had a few different options for her and figured it would be a good idea to share them here if anyone else is in a situation like one of ours.
Our situations are slightly different: she desires to reach out to someone who is toxic to her that she has not heard from, and I have been trying to ignore a toxic person reaching out to me. However, at the core of it, we are trying to ignore the urge to bring a toxic person back into our lives.
I have been going through a painful breakup of a long term partner who was incredibly toxic and verbally abused me constantly. Although I can acknowledge that this person should not be in my life, it is still difficult when he is reaching out and wanting to see me. In these moments, I think about the good times that we had and let that overshadow the abuse that I went through.
For the last two months or so, I have rejected four invitations from my toxic ex to meet up and reconnect. Here is how I did it:
Write to yourself, write to them, or just write freely. Do not worry about proofreading or making it sound cohesive. Write exactly what you are feeling as you are feeling it. The first time that I turned down going out with my ex, I wrote down how I was feeling and reminded myself in the letter how bad he was for me. During this time, I played songs that we used to listen to together and let myself cry as I listened and wrote. It was painful, but it was a necessary release, and it kept me from letting a toxic person back into my life.
Talk to a friend, or if possible, meet face-to-face
As soon as you feel the urge to reach out to someone you shouldn’t be reaching out to, talk to someone healthy in your life. Tell them how you are feeling, and make sure it is someone you feel safe and supported in venting to. If it is possible, meet up with a friend in person. You will be focused on them instead of the toxic person you are thinking about reconnecting with. Also, your friend(s) will be able to remind you why you should stay away and hopefully be able to focus your mind on more positive things.
Reach out to your therapist
A few times, when my ex reached out to me, I texted my therapist right away to tell her. She coached me through and encouraged me not to interact, or to turn down the invitation if that would make me feel better. Additionally, it made me feel proud to let her know that I had turned down the toxic person who initially brought me into therapy. Sharing that progress is an amazing feeling!
Consider this your moment to treat yourself to something you normally wouldn’t. Pick up dinner from your favorite restaurant (or have it delivered!) or buy that thing you’ve been eyeing up online all week. This is the time to show yourself some love and do things for you that will make you feel your best.
Have you ever had a toxic person in your life try to come back? How did you handle it? Do you have any tips for keeping them away? Feel free to share below!