Either way there are signs that you are in a toxic relationship.
You May Be in a Toxic Relationship If
You need to hide aspects of yourself for fear of criticism.
You regularly experience verbal and or physical attacks.
You are waiting for the next drama, attack, outburst, etc. (walking on eggshells)
You’re viewed as either awesome or ‘the worst.’
When things are good, they’re really, really good and when they’re bad, it’s terrible
Any argument turns into how you’re to blame.
It’s common to criticize you but criticism of them is not tolerated.
Shame is a common manipulation tool to keep you in line.
They always know better than you.
Nothing really gets resolved.
You doubt your sense of reality.
(Read: Dark Artists)
What I Wish I’d Known
Your Perception Has Been Messed With
It is a bit like a brain washing. Ok, a lot like brain washing. In order to get along, you have tried mightily to see things the way your loved-one presents them. If you’re honest, you can admit that in order to do that, you’ve had to deny, if not YOUR perception, but actual reality, at times.
They likely have data to back up their claims and have discounted the ‘experts’ in order to make their case, but guess what? You are ALLOWED to have your very own perception of things. You are right about many things, many times. You have good intuition and knowing. You’ve been convinced that you don’t.
Radical Self-Care and Acceptance is Now Your Homework
If you’ve been in a poisonous relationship for any length of time, you have some serious self-doubts and likely much self-criticism. It is time to practice accepting who you are as more than enough and more than o.k. You are likely also isolated. Reestablish contact with friends and family. You are loved by many people. This is your practice and the sooner you start, the better.
Consider That You’ve Been Traumatized.
Symptoms of Trauma include:
Social isolation and withdrawal
Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
Change in eating, sleeping, living habits
Extreme alertness of pending danger
Detachment from relationships and emotions
If you think you’re suffering from traumatic stress, seek support and help. Consult your doctor for medication or alternative health practitioners to help while you implement changes.
You Should Be Loved for Who You Are Not What You Do
Many toxic relationships become transactional. You may feel you have to earn your keep or justify your existence. You’ve probably been convinced that you're not contributing enough or that your loved one is doing you so many favours. You may have a general feeling of shame. Remember Brene Brown’s definition of shame; " Guilt is, "I did something bad.” “Shame is, "I am bad.” Again, if you’re honest, you can see that the whole relationship has become about them. You are given just enough attention to keep you in the relationship. You are worthy of love and respect for who you are, not what you do.
You Can’t FIX Them or The Relationship
This may be the hardest fact to accept. All of your ‘trying’ and working to be different or say things differently or all the ‘if onlys’ would not have made any difference. Trust that you’ve done all that you could and if it was going to be different, it would be by now. It takes two to make a relationship work. Accept that you cannot change them. In fact, research is showing that some personalities can’t be changed. Accept that they are the way they are.
Not Engaging is an Option
If you choose to continue in a relationship with the trauma-inducing person, you are experienced enough to know the warning signs of an impending toxic episode. You always have a choice, even when you feel powerless or scared. When the next episode looms, do whatever you can to extricate yourself from the present, physical moment. Don’t speak, leave the room or suggest a later time to discuss the issue and then don’t keep that appointment. Along with not engaging, stop defending yourself. Once you do you have engaged, and they’ve got you. Agree if you must in order to not engage.
It's Not About You, Ever
Recognize that the personal attacks on you are the way the other person deflects attention away from their insecurities and fears. It is not your job to make them feel good about themselves. Practice not taking what they’re saying about you personally. They are masters at keeping a checklist of your errors or supposed shortcomings, but you don’t have to accept or agree with them.
There is A Detox Period
Once you are free from the toxic relationship you are going to feel vulnerable and exposed. Your inner voice is going to be theirs for a long while. Notice when you are zoning out or your reactions are not matching the present situation. Have You Been Triggered? attention to your thoughts and question all of them. Whose voice is this? And, Is it true? And the best one of all; How do I feel when I believe this thought? If it makes you feel pain, it’s not true.
It is a Journey Back to Yourself
You are now back in charge of your life. Your choices are your choices and they are going to be difficult to make because you are going to be afraid of making a mistake and being wrong. And that’s ok. You are going to practice being in a loving relationship with yourself. You are going to provide yourself with all of the things that you want and deserve in a relationship. You are going to have to work at reclaiming your full self and freedom. (Hire a Life Coach or psychology practitioner.) You are going to re-join the land of perceiving the world your way.
I am still recovering, in many ways, from years in an unhealthy, entangled relationship. Talking about it to life coaches, therapists, friends and family has and continues to help tremendously in overcoming isolation, shame and blame. Using ALL of my Life Coaching Tools really works. All manner of alternative health and energy work has also worked well for me. I have taken medication in the past and have found supplements that work for me. Self-care is ongoing and necessary.
I appreciate all my strengths and weirdness and how I see things a little bit more everyday, which consequently, makes me enjoy others' strengths and weirdness and how they see things!
I am available if you want to talk.