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Toxic Relationships; the secrets we keep

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There is an adage that “time can heal all wounds,” and in essence, it can to a point. Realistically, we are habitual and will find ourselves cycling repeatedly; this truth, among others, is part of our very human comfort zone and desire to seek out what we know and feel secure in. That means, we can leave multiple toxic relationships yet still find ourselves in the same continuous saga. You don’t need signs you’re in a toxic relationship; what you need is a survival plan that doesn’t just heal, but reformulates your very existence. To change what is, you need more than a new environment; you need a new you.

The Truth in Acceptance

What is one of the easiest things we learn to do in life when surrounded by toxic people? To accept. If we just agree, there is less drama and that is so much easier than fighting and losing more than just the current disagreement. Children who fight you non stop? Whatever, do what you want. That family member always bringing you down? Whatever, I’ll get away soon enough. That partner you hold a “relationship,” with? If I stay quiet enough when they’re upset, it’ll pass. You see the pattern forming?

Toxic relationships can range across the board, and oftentimes that feeling of powerlessness is haunted by extreme changes one cannot simply make in a day. We, in turn, find a way to survive by giving allowance to actions and ultimately break down over time. The will to fight gets buried by how we’ve learned to cope and manage; the results taught you compliance or straight ignoring situations were easier and safer. Don’t blame yourself for wanting peace, you’re not the negative in this equation. But you must address it more than simply accept it.

Firstly, if you find yourself currently in a toxic situation, you must create a plan. You’ve been conditioned to acceptance as much as the other has been conditioned to their own responses. They won’t simply change because you fight back; it doesn’t work that way unless you hold extreme power to the situation to make that change. Solely owning the house versus in a marriage with joint ownership will have drastic differences in planning, the same for a teenager with abusive parents who have less rights and ability versus one who may have multiple support systems in place. A person with many skills versus one with less employment ability will find it difficult to simply walk off a job when they have bills to pay, as well. A good plan has to start with weaknesses in mind; always find the negatives you have to overcome first as they are the easiest to present themselves and work your way up. This way, you are well prepared for the worst case scenario.

What you need to do is outline your current situation and what you need; need, not want. If you are being physically harmed, you may want the abuse to stop but life doesn’t work this way. What you need first is to be safe and secure. In this situation, you plot your path to any formula that resolves the situation. Wants? I don’t want to burden a family member, I don’t want to stay in a shelter, I don’t want to get the law involved. See how “wants,” clout our resignation? It’s not about what you want right now, but what you need. You have to accept what you need first, before worrying about what you want. Wants come when you are at a point to dictate them. Burden the family member or friend, call the police when abuse happens and get a restraining order, do everything you don’t want to do, but need to.

And for those who’ve moved past situations, begin accepting a new no — one that will cost you, but ultimately save you from cycling. Met someone new, but having mixed feelings? Notice a similar behavior? Walk away. Now. I read somewhere that we seek similar relationships in an attempt to recreate our past relationships; that we do this to learn and heal, to validate ourselves in the process. Yet it doesn’t and won’t — we just find ourselves in a similar situation with a new face. You have to trust what you want and be comfortable with walking away when it doesn’t match with your needs; you don’t owe anyone anything.

The Truth in Loyalty

What do investment and loyalty have in common? A given time period from A to B, and what we value or interpret from that given time period. I invested so much time here and don’t want to lose all of that! You know what the true sum of some of our A’s and B’s are? Absolute bullshit.

We learn loyalty in a lot of ways from “family is family,” to survival; if we are loyal, the other will be as well. Unfortunately, life is not a movie and so many times you will feel betrayed and let down. To be fair, we have to accept that we cannot always get what we want and there is a need for sacrifice on our own part; you have to give, as well as take. There is a difference between toxicity and love — partnership is an equal union, respect it. People also make mistakes — forgiveness is a gift we are worthy of, as well as others.

For those in a toxic relationship, it is more often than not that you will find yourself on the shorter end of the stick — your acceptance, your sacrifice, your will to endure rather than live fruitfully. Inevitably, you will lose more than you gain and you’re loyal to hurting yourself rather than to yourself.

Look at the timeline you’ve dedicated yourself to; what do you see? Pain? Discontentment? Dissatisfaction? Ask yourself what you are gaining here by staying? What are you missing out on in life by not moving past this? Ten years of marriage? Is that really ten years of a union you’ve been blessed by or has it felt like a curse? A dead end job you’ve locked yourself within with no room for growth all because you’re scared to start over and possibly flourish? That friend you’ve known since childhood who always seems to cause more damage than positives, you’ll feel what? A greater loss due to knowing them for so long? A toxic parent you try so desperately to prove you’re good enough for their love; if they could only see! You’d be surprised how much a healthy relationship changes your perspective when you’re able to actually experience one.

See, the truest form of loyalty has to be to yourself; not your kids, not your partner, not your family, friends — yourself. How are you able to uphold a world for another when you’re struggling with your own? That’s not to say we cannot sacrifice parts of ourselves to help another, but not at the cost of breaking ourselves. This hard line is a tough lesson to swallow, but you’ll find how much more you’re able to help others and yourself without destroying everything to make it happen.

Being loyal to yourself is understanding you are imperfect, but you are your own best friend first so you know when someone crosses a line and ultimately when it’s time to walk away. Remember, accepting what we need isn’t about what we want; it’s about defining our standards and what we accept.

I think the hardest facet about loyalty is that we are fighting for what we once had; to be seen properly. If I show this person that I am not all the things they say, they will see the truth and it’ll be good again. I just have to prove myself! If I just try harder! If they see my pain, they’ll know how much I love them and stop distrusting me so much! But I am so sorry — this reality you’ve taught yourself is a lie; you may as well be speaking to a wall or a tree, which by all means I think the tree would gain more from simply the synthesizing of your voice than this situational person you speak to who absorbs nothing.

And you know exactly what I’m speaking; it’s why you stop complaining to people who comforted you in the past, it’s why you’ve stopped arguing and accepted acceptance, it’s why you walk on those eggshells or try to imagine every situation beforehand to avoid disruptions, why you pretend to be asleep in hopes to be left alone. It’s the reason nothing has changed and you’ve been here in this moment, not alive but as a robot who goes through actions.

Please, take a moment to forgive yourself; you are not the enemy here.

The Truth in Empathy

As an Empath, I always had a fascination with sociopathic people; me, hypersensitive to all kinds of energy, and those with this ability to feel so little. A large part of me wanted to learn the difference so I could channel that same effect; to turn off or mitigate different emotions effectively for different situations. The resulting re-engineering has left me much more rational than emotional; I am generally clear and unaffected by most things at this point, though some things have a way of surprisingly sneaking in at times.

In all my personal studies of people, through many ranges, what stood out the most is our ability to integrate so many emotions into our choices; it’s like the achilles heel of humans. This is why advice from outsiders is always effective; they are not emotionally involved and tend to see in a straight line rather than all the curving roads we see before us. Outsiders see our needs despite our wants.

A person in distress needs to understand and will go to great lengths to do so, even at the cost of themselves because they feel that if they understand, everything will be understood and will end up at the same point and conclusion. Toxic relationships have a complex landscape that can’t simply be pinned on any one point; I’ve survived one heavily abusive relationship yet the abuser was a paranoid schizophrenic with a childhood that would be the most interesting case study had it been written. As friends? Not an issue. Relationship? Text book from A to Z. Was he abusive or mentally ill? Both. My point is, not everyone is some singular evil monster that terrorizes people; what we try to understand sometimes is heavily irrational and cannot be rationalized as there is no base or logic to it.

As we try to empathize, we put ourselves in their place — this person had such a bad childhood, they are trying but can’t overcome themselves. This person had so many horrible ex’s and trust no one; I will show them I am different. They were raised this way and are just so used to acting this way; they are trying, they cry and apologize. And maybe, oftentimes, those apologies and childhoods and ex’s — they aren’t lying about what the results created, but we are lying to ourselves about being their savior.

It’s not our place to save anyone; we have to understand that and understand, as well, that we handicap people by being their crutch. Not all cases, but a lot. How does someone see their behavior as an issue if it costs them nothing? You being someone’s punching bag is not helping them put their fists down; they need counseling, they need to see what the cost of their actions are, they need to lose. People can change, but motivation is vital. It’s like a child being scolded with no consequences; the child will continue to behave as it wants until it loses some benefit to change that behavior. Otherwise, it is simply normal and adapted.

Our standards for ourselves, this best friend we are in charge of protecting, have to be higher than any amount of empathy has a say. We can understand, but we cannot accept it. Imagine for a moment someone you love deeply and put them in a situation you are facing that is toxic and unhealthy; would you stand by and watch or fight for them? Would you allow this person to endure the same truth? If not, maybe you need to rethink your current situation and tell yourself what you would tell that person.

I understand we want to be the difference, we want to help those we love and see them through this journey in life; I do and I hope as a whole, it will always be our best feature as humans. However, we have to accept that not everyone is where we are or who we are; that some people need more than you could give and sometimes what they need to do is lose you, even. Sometimes people aren’t ready, they haven’t healed or have many underlying issues that prevent them from moving forward that only a healthcare provider can start to address. That wall you speak to can only be moved or penetrated by a force greater than itself. You may not be the wrecking ball, but you can only live among the walls so long till you have to acknowledge the door is there, you have an option.

The Truth in Toxic Relationships

The truth is something we all wish to veil, to push on the outside of ourselves as we feel the victimization and carry the results yet ultimately the more pressing toxic relationship we’re in is with ourselves. When we run to our wants despite our needs, when we make excuses that accept a behavior because we empathize and feel the reason “why,” justifies the means, when we actively lower our standards in an attempt to endure rather than fight like hell — this is truth.

No one deserves this treatment, no one should believe the lies they tell themselves, no one should excuse or justify anything they wouldn’t justify or excuse for another in the same situation. Yet we do, more often than we should. And that’s okay, it doesn’t mean that every hereafter is destined to the same basis; there is a door and no matter how many chains weigh you down in your path to get to it, it’s possible. You have to study them, create a plan and commit to the unbinding more than the acceptance of them. That is your superpower; you.

If you find yourself in a situation, reach out. There are many resources available to you; talk to that family member, talk to that friend, talk to a stranger — talk to someone. Start planning, building, and finding a tomorrow you need. If that means destroying the world to get it then destroy it, let it all burn; you will survive. In the ashes, you will find new birth; life will emerge. And while it may not be the fairytale ending you wished for, it’s your story and your voice in it is more powerful and magical than any fairytale could ever hope to be.

Originally posted 3/21 on Medium –

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