Relationships can be tough. If good, they can transform who you are as a person but the bad ones can well and truly break you. Things like this are rarely this two-dimensional, however, and deciphering whether something is good or bad for you can take a lot of time (and energy).
First of all, if you’re here, you have the courage to stand up for yourself and walk away. Good job, we are very proud of you. Secondly, we are so sorry that you spent your love and time on a person that didn’t deserve you. We hope we can help you heal from your loss and trauma.
What is a toxic relationship?
Before we get into healing from one, it may be best we get some perspective as to what makes a relationship toxic in the first place. Most relationships don’t start out this way, they are perfect and pleasant and you find yourself settling into them, so it comes as a shock and surprise when they take a turn for the worst.
Now, before you read further, toxic relationships can be of two kinds. One is more obviously toxic, it may include abuse, harmful behavior and controlling tendencies. The other is more mentally draining, they can be demeaning and ego-breaking, ones that make you slowly lose your sense of self.
It seems easy to tell a friend or a family member to walk away from a toxic relationship but it is rarely that simple. The person involved is tethered down by fear and guilt, not to forget love. Isn’t that what brought us here in the first place? Even after leaving said relationship the guilt and shame don’t go away that easily. But don’t worry. We’re here to help.
Related Article: 9 Signs You Are Married to a Narcissist
7 ways you can heal from a toxic relationship
1. Free yourself
This first step is more of a look into the past. To move forward and free yourself from the demons that are holding you back, you first need to analyze what went wrong and then realize what went right. Both of these emotions are very important to let go of the remains of your toxic relationship.
Not everything in a relationship is bad and we forget about the good things because the bad memories overshadow them. Remember the good and remember the person they made you. This realization is what will set you free. You need to remind yourself that you are more than the person you were in the worst part of the relationship.
This step can be accelerated by consulting a professional or even confiding in a trustworthy friend. Someone from your past who knows you for who you are may be the best person to spend time with in the days after your break up.
Remember, you need to take back control of yourself.
2. Go off the grid
Now, traumatic and toxic relationships are best ended bluntly. Once you walk away, try your hardest to end all contact with your old partner. You need to completely remove their existence from your life. This will be difficult, it is very tempting to check up on the person you used to (or perhaps still) have feelings for. Maybe just peek at their social media or a text asking how their day seems harmless enough but in the long run, these small gestures and reaching out will keep you tied to them.
Make it a point to avoid them. If you’re part of the same friends’ circle and you know they will be at a party or a gathering, refuse to go. If the people around you, your friends and family, continue to see and meet that person, cut off contact with them as well.
This may seem excessive but you deserve to surround yourself with people who will love and support you.
3. Surround yourself with loved ones
This brings us to our next step in your journey to heal from a toxic relationship. If you live away from home then maybe taking some time off work and going back to visit your parents would be good. Going back to your hometown would break you away from your usual routine and you’ll get to meet old friends and acquaintances. In this crucial time, it is important to not be alone.
After walking away from a toxic relationship we often make our weakest and most vulnerable decisions when we are alone. Distracting yourself by surrounding yourself with positivity and newness is a great way to take your mind off of the past.
4. Practice self-care
Join a gym or take yoga classes, take yourself out to a spa getaway or reward yourself with a night out fine dining. Do things with yourself. A little goes a long way with this step. Even a haircut could be enough to make yourself feel free and new.
The best thing you can do is enjoy your company, do not jump into a new relationship at once. Give yourself time to rediscover yourself and grow from the experience.
Leave yourself notes to find later, maybe stick one on the fridge or the bathroom mirror, leave it in the book you were reading or throw one in the drawer. Little reminders that you can find later in the day or the week and feel special. Treat yourself the way you wish to be treated. Reclaim your life.
5. Accept what happened
Before healing from anything, be it a disease or a condition or in this case, a toxic relationship, we first need to accept what happened. Don’t be apologetic for walking away and do not let others talk you into it either.
Another thing to remember is to not be apologetic for your ex. Do not let yourself think from their point of view. Their behavior is inexcusable and the sooner you come to terms with this acceptance, the better.
6. Take a break
It’s okay to break. We all do once in a while. It’s also alright to need a break. Everyone deals with trauma differently and while some may want to surround themselves with family and friends, some others might want to disappear for a while.
Take time for yourself. Take a vacation or get a pet, anything that will give you a fresh perspective. The goal is to heal from within and you can only do that when you give yourself time to reflect.
7. Be kind to yourself
This final step is the most important. You need to be kind and patient with yourself. Not all days will be good. You may think things are starting to look up but the next day may not be as good. Keep reminding yourself of the bigger picture and use positive affirmations to keep yourself from spiraling.
You are your only true friend so use this to your advantage and treat the bad days with the same respect as you do the good days. Give them their own importance and treat them as a learning opportunity rather than a burden.
We hope this list helps you in your journey to rediscovering yourself and becoming a better, stronger person. We wish you nothing but well on this path you have chosen and we hope you come out of this a fighter. Just remember, nothing happens with the snap of a finger. Take your time to heal. Keep fighting! We believe in you.