A toxic relationship can be either a friendship or an intimate relationship. A toxic relationship can be defined as a relationship that contaminates your self-esteem, your happiness and the way you see yourself and the world.
It can sometimes be challenging to identify a toxic relationship; however, for me it was blatantly obvious I just never had the self-confidence to say enough is enough. Some signs of a toxic relationship can be as follows:
- If you find yourself walking on eggshells
- Name calling
- Can’t say no
- Physical Abuse
- Lies/secrets are being kept
- There is never any resolution to an argument
I can confidently say that I was aware my relationship was toxic within the 1st year; there is a part of me that wishes I could go back and leave sooner. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I allowed myself to be sucked into that type of relationship, especially when in every other aspect of my life I seemed to have it together. I allowed myself to be belittled, made fun of, hit and never allowed to make any big decisions.
I had a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I did not want to be in that relationship any longer but I was scared to leave. I did not mange finances so how would I be able to manage my life without a husband. For some reason, I thought having kids was the answer to the problems. I am sure some of you are rolling your eyes because of course that did not work, but I was not in a place to think straight.
We subsequently had 2 children, the situation at home did not change. I just had to be more careful to not have arguments in front of the children or ensure they did not know how bad my marriage actually was. I felt more alone during this time, often left to manage 2 kids alone with a full-time job, but in a way, I preferred it over having to deal with my husband. I spent many months googling “what to do when you hate your husband?” I was no longer in love; I was just scared of the unknown.
There came a time where my husband decided he was going to leave, to be honest I was happy that he was forcing the situation. Still I fought and begged him to stay, I still can’t truly figure out why—I had it planned out, I looked at houses, I was ready to be done and leave. He agreed to attend counselling and I started to live on eggshells more than ever before. We went to counselling, however I did not share everything that I wanted because I knew there would be a backlash; we would leave counselling and he would turn to me ask say “see, I told you that you were crazy”. I managed to make it through the next few months until I found out that he was cheating and that was it for me.
The hard part about removing yourself from a toxic relationship is that you are broken; you are not a whole person that is dealing with a regular breakup. My ex is a narcissist, which I won’t get into in this post too much, but he had the tools and knowledge to manipulate and control me and he knew it. At that point, I was still too embarrassed to share the full details of my relationship with any of my friends but I did reach out for help. I think confiding in a friend is important, do not isolate yourself during the acute stage of a break up; you are more likely to return if you do. I had to get my life back on track; I am the type of person that needs to have a plan. Those first few weeks I spent hours awake, I was a mom to my kids during the day and at night, I spent time packing, organizing and planning my life. Within a week, I had a meeting with a lawyer to mediate and our house was on the market.
I can’t say that I dealt with the break up in the healthiest way, I rarely ate and slept and was barely holding it all together. Since many of our friends were mutual, I distanced myself as much as I could; I needed to be away from everything to do with him. I took many things personally at that time, I was extremely sensitive if a friend did not reach out or if they still got together with my ex. Honestly, at that time it was easier for me to eliminate friends and keep my circle extremely small.
When you’re in a relationship like this you need to determine what your deal breaker is, is it cheating, is it abuse? Mine was cheating because I knew I was not put on this earth to babysit an adult male, my job is to take care of myself and my kids not track the moves of an adult. I was not doing it. I am very proud of myself for ending it and sticking to it.
My personality type would usually block the person that was causing such stress in my life, however, I had children so I was stuck. The next few months we had to disassemble the life we had built together. The difference was, instead of doing what he wanted; I started to look out for the needs of myself and my kids. As you can imagine this did not go well. We spent so much time disputing over the phone, attending mediation but ultimately I was much happier. The day I purchased my new house and moved in was very freeing. This house would not have the tension and aggression the last one did, it was mine to do what I wished. This could be a safe place for my kids.
The one thing I always wanted was to be proud of how I handled myself and not give my kids any reason to be ashamed of my actions. I did not destroy anything, I did not go to his house to yell, I simply let him go. The weight that was lifted off my shoulders when we broke up was immense; I truly wished him nothing but happiness. When you are dealing with this type of personality however, happiness is not something they find, they will continue to try to break you down, they will continue the abuse from a distance.
I tried my best to continue my life as amicably as I could, dating when the kids were not with me and excelling in my career. However, I was constantly riddled with e-mails or texts shaming me for the happiness I was seeking. I was called a money-hungry bitch when it came to child support, when my weight loss became noticeable, I was a stuck-up bitch since I was smaller, I was accused of not caring for my children or being resentful. I cannot even count the number of times I was told I am not over him and how lucky I was that he cheated with a friend.
I can’t say that I completely hate him, because having hate means caring enough to have such a strong emotion. I wish things were different, I wish he was more amicable for the kids’ sake, I wish he would seek help to be a better person but those are things I cannot control. I remember after a mediation session about a year in, he told me he saw us getting back together in 5 years or so. The thing was at that point, I had healed and changed enough that there was not any part of me that would go back. There is nothing about him I miss, I wish for my kids’ sake that they had that “normal” family, but I also know they are better off with us separate. Now when I see similar traits in friends or potential relationships, I avoid it, I do not want that type of person in my life anymore.
What I wish is if he could have felt what it was like on my end, I was there 24/7 for my kids and now they had to be away from me. I had to let my kids go to a house that was not their home at the time; he included someone in their life when we still did not know how they would handle the separation. Everything was a fight, it was always a battle, and I was constantly belittled and abused. There was a time when he wanted to know I was with the kids at all time; the kids were questioned on what we did and who was there. This took a toll on my kids so I had to learn how to manage this situation effectively.
If you are getting out of a toxic relationship without children, cut off contact! Block and delete all numbers and social media accounts, do not go back. I assure you it sucks for the first few weeks but you can begin to heal and move forward with your life. They will be back, and if they come back when you are most vulnerable you might make poor decisions, this cannot happen if they cannot get a hold of you. If you have children, develop boundaries for yourself. I would suggest seeking out independent legal advice and get everything laid out in a legal agreement; this would avoid any unnecessary contact. Have everything written down, all holidays figured out, don’t think anything is too small. You will thank yourself years later when your life was more peaceful.
Getting out of this type of relationship is the most freeing experience anyone can ever have. No one deserves to be put down and abused, I used to think it was more important to say I was in a relationship then to be happy. I was so wrong! I am now in a place to be a good mom to my kids and live my life to the fullest.