If you’re coming out of a toxic relationship, the whole world may feel blurry right now.

 

What is a toxic relationship?

Toxic is sort of a catch-all term that people use for relationships that get ugly.

If you’re coming out of a relationship where insults or accusations were hurled back and forth, it was probably toxic.

If your Ex told you that you weren’t good enough, if they put you down or humiliated you in private or in public, it was probably toxic.

If there was verbal, physical or sexual abuse of any kind, it was definitely toxic.

Toxic relationships are not always romantic — sometimes friendships, familial or professional relationships can be toxic too. If a relationship of any kind is damaging, it is fair to label it as toxic.

If you think your relationship was toxic, it was toxic. Ultimately, what matters is how you experienced it. Truthfully, toxic is not a clinical term. Toxic is the term people use for things that they know were harmful to their well-being. If you are getting out of a relationship tht felt harmful to your well-being, you’re recovering from a toxic relationship.

In toxic relationships, we lose our sense of self and often our feelings of worth, value and sanity right along with it. 

While we may feel some relief at ending the relationship, we may also crave and miss that same relationship wondering if some of what our partner said about us was actually valid. 

This is common. This is normal. This is rooted in trauma. 

Recovering your sense of self after a toxic relationship is critical.   It’s not easy — it takes healing and it comes from focusing on ourselves and our own experience while resisting the temptation to ruminate about the relationship and our ex. 

If your ex gaslit you, insulted you, told you that you are crazy, a part of you may believe it’s true. 

You loved them. They knew you. If they said these things, is it possible they are right?

A part of you knows the answer. A part of you knows your worth and that part may feel small right now but it’s important to build it back up. 

Nobody is perfect and we all play a role in our relationships and their demise. This is true. But when a partner is verbally abusive— resorting to name-calling, accusations, insults about worth or intelligence— this is not about you. It’s about them. 

When people lash out, it’s a sure indication that they are unable to tolerate their own discomfort, pain or shame and resort to gas-lighting or attacking you as a means to take the heat off of them and their own behaviors. 

You are not crazy. 

You have value. 

You have worth. 

Rebuilding your sense of self after a toxic relationship that leaves you like a shell of your former self is possible. It’s a journey inward and may require some neural rewriting. Therapy can help. 

Boundaries are critical — they exist to keep us safe. However, if nobody taught you how to set boundaries in a healthy way, it may feel unfamiliar or even unkind. Therapy can help with that too.

Ultimately, it’s a critical journey. People will treat you as well as you treat yourself. If you don’t feel your value and worth, you may unintentionally fall into another toxic relationship. 

Unhealthy or toxic relationship teach us what we need to learn to have the relationships that we want if we pay attention to our own role in the partner we chose, the behaviors we tolerated, and the boundaries we failed to set.

Learning to take care of yourself, set healthy boundaries, and recognize warning signs may keep you from going down this same excruciating road with another future partner. 

You deserve to be treated with love and kindness. 

That starts with you. 

Honor yourself by making choices that honor your worth. 

Reach out if you’re looking for a therapist to support you through this journey.

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