It didn’t seem toxic at first. In fact, it started out as most of us have heard toxic relationships do — as a knight in shining armor saving the damsel in distress. Except I wouldn’t admit to myself that I was a damsel in distress, even though I was.
When I met him, I had no faith in myself, overall. I knew I was a good teacher. I knew I was a good mother. I knew I was a good wife (or at least the best version of ‘wife’ I could be). But putting it all together and pulling it off scared the shit out of me.
But what does pulling if off mean? How is that measurable? I mean, yeah, there’s making sure the kids are bathed and fed well and see doctors when they need to and do extracurricular activities and are growing spiritually, etc. And yes, there’s ensuring you are teaching your students what they need to know by grade level outcomes. And there are even some guidelines you can live by if you’d like as to what it means to be a good wife.
But did I really want to make my life a series of lists and charts and measure all of that? Or did I want to live by how I felt about it all at the end of the day? I’m not sure that I even know that now.
What I do know is that I met my second husband at a time when I was extremely vulnerable, and I was unable to ward off the toxicity that would ensue. My second marriage was toxic for me. For me. I am not saying my ex-husband is a toxic person. He’s just toxic for me. I’m probably not his best fit either. But that’s just it. It’s so incredibly important to be able to suss out what’s toxic FOR YOU, and then get the hell away from it.
Things came to a head when I also recognized that the relationship with my oldest child was not what I wanted it to be. We were in a constant power struggle. It doesn’t matter what the power struggle was over, because the struggle itself was the problem. It was how I was approaching what I perceived to be a problem.
When I shifted my perspective and began to control the only thing I can control (me), everything else started to shift in my relationship with my child. It was at that point that I realized I could shift the toxic relationship with my second husband, as well.
It took me four years to get away from that toxicity. Most of that involved high-charged courtroom drama, back-and-forth ‘but we love each other we have to make it work’ ridiculousness. I did love him. I still want what’s best for his heart. He deserves that. And we created a beautiful little girl together. But as for a relationship with him? No.
I made the decision with my heart almost a year before I would actually stand my ground and say ‘no more.’ It’s difficult to walk away from toxicity, because there’s always an element that draws you in. And if you’re optimistic, like me, or feel that there’s a lesson to be learned in everything, like me, it can be truly hard to walk away and not look back.
But that’s what you have to do.
I had to go through withdrawals because I was addicted. I was addicted to knowing that he’d always be there when I called. I was addicted to that faux security. Because with that so-called security came the strings of toxicity. His energy zapped mine like a bug zapper kills mosquitoes. ZZZZZZZZZZT! And I was spent. Emotionally drained. Not myself. In fact, my not-self came out more and more often when I was with him. The parts of me that I don’t like. The parts of me that act from fear and from frustration.
Let me be clear. He did not cause that. It was simply the way our energies interacted. But it was my responsibility to get the hell out of that, no matter how uncomfortable it was.
(It’s the Tweetspot! ^^^ Tweet it out!)
I was weak at first. I wanted that hit of (false) security. And he would give it to me every single time.
In fact, it took him relocating for work over 700 miles away for me to really get it: I can do it all on my own (however that mix looks in my life), I am better off without him in my life in a romantic relationship capacity, and I am soaring to new heights every day as I continue to build my independence muscle and exercise it daily.
Here’s what I wish I’d known earlier:
Know you’ll have withdrawals because you are most likely addicted.
Prepare yourself, and surround yourself with supportive but no-nonsense people who understand your desire to get out. Tell them you want them to hold you accountable.
Hold yourself accountable.
Every time you want to react to something in the same old way, stop. Remember how it feels when the toxicity takes hold. Remember the aftermath. Remember what the cycle does to your valuable energy. Then, choose to act differently. Hold yourself accountable to acting differently.
Take baby steps.
You might not be able to quit a toxic relationship cold turkey. THAT’S OKAY. Don’t get down on yourself or think that you’ll never get out. If you have the desire to get out, you’ll make it out. Be kind to yourself. Still hold yourself accountable, but understand that like anything worthwhile, it may be a one step forward two steps back deal for a while. Go with the flow. There will come a time when you are so sick of the cycle that you’ll be able to make a clean, healthy break.
With love and light,
Did this resonate with you? Did you enjoy reading it? Did you learn something? If so, please share! xoxo
Have you released yourself from a toxic relationship? How did you do it? Leave a comment below!
Join me here, too: