I have been thinking about and working on this post for a long ass time. I haven’t felt satisified with how I have written it, until now. This topic is something I have struggled with my entire life, both romantically and not. Some people are lucky enough to have never experienced a toxic relationship, or have had the privilege of growing up in a non-toxic environment. If you have I envy you.
As someone who was exposed to toxic relationships from a young age, it has been a difficult road identifying what society considers “Normal”. In my opinion, more people are exposed to toxic relationships either personally, romantically, or professionally than those who aren’t. However, those who have had the privilage of not being exposed to toxicity are sometimes quick to judge those who fall into the cycle. Now, I have many friends who have not had the same experiences as I and they are able to sympathize and understand where I am coming from. But then there are those who put you down as you are less than because they simply do not understand. I understand how hard it is to comprehend this type of environment if your brain isn’t wired to thinking it is normal, so if you find yourself feeling this way regarding someones situation, please understand that you don’t know the entirety of it, even if it is explained.
As someone who is still trying to figure this out I have to ask, how do we overcome toxicity? I am sure some have been able to just make the decision to change, but for those of us who find it more difficult, how do we move on? Is it wrong to give second chances? (or third and fourth…) How do you change your brain from accepting this environment as normal?
I firmly believe that everyone can only answer this question for themselves, but this is a journey that I have been on a majority of my life and I can only offer my thought process and experience in hopes that it resonates with someone.
I am not ashamed and am extremely open about the fact that I have been in therapy pretty much since I was 9 years old. Without Therapy, I would not be where I am today. In-order to work through anything, you need to first identify yourself that it is something you want to overcome, and most importantly YOU NEED TO MAKE THE DECISION TO CHANGE AND DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO CHANGE. No one can make this decision for you. I am very much a people pleaser (something I have pushed away from over the last 10 years) and it becomes extreemly hard when you are dealing with something personal and every person who cares about you gives you their opinion, which typically is emotionally motivated on their end. It’s not their fault, they just care about you! Speaking with a counselor allows you to have an outlet with someone who is not emotionally involved, you literally pay them to speak with you and help you work through your thoughts. A good therapist will allow you to talk and work through your problems on your own, prompting you when you get stuck or empowering you to think outside of your normal box. They will not give you all the answers, that is something you must find within yourself.
2. Trust your Gut!
You know sometimes when you hear that little voice in side your head that tells you that you should or shouldn’t do something – typically its the opposite of what you “want” to do that you know may turn out to be the wrong decision? Yeah, that’s your gut. Typically it’s right. A lot of people choose to ignore it and just go with what they want to do and pretend that’s what they think was going to work out. Wether it is taking that ex back or continuing to date a Fuck boy/girl that you KNOW is not going to provide you with the commitment or stability you need, your gut is telling you what is realistic. Don’t shut it out, don’t ignore it. Process what it is saying.
Now this is totally different than Anxiety getting in the way. I am 100% an advocate of giving someone another chance if they are actually taking steps to change, and yes it is a risk. Yes there is a lot of anxiety around it, but if my gut is telling me to do it i will, but i’m going into it with a foot of caution. A friend said to me recently, “It is one thing if you continue to make a decision to stay in a situation working towards change, even if that means continuously getting hurt. It is another thing to continuously stay in a situation and be baffled when the same results happen over and over again. You have to understand and see that there is a risk, and you may not see that change. Expect that.”
This resonated with me because while I seem like a hopeless romantic sometimes, I’m not shocked when the people in my life I am giving another chance do the same thing over and over again. If this is the case, I eventually walk away when my gut tells me to. I am not afraid to deal with my emotions and feel. Yes I have depression and I try to avoid situations that trigger previous suicidal thoughts – but I would rather feel heavily than not feel at all. While I have plenty of examples of giving people chances that didn’t work out and I decided to talk away, I also have plenty of positive examples where I have given someone MANY chances and now our relationship is moving towards a place that each of us are happy with. This far in my life, I have followed my gut and honestly I can say that I don’t have any regrets on situations I’ve been through because it got me where I am today.
3. Put Yourself First
Now, I’m not talking about being a selfish little B** and not giving a fuck about anyone. Thats not good. Also, most people who are attempting to avoid toxicity are very generous and giving people – this is not a bad trait, actually its very noble. What I mean is put your health, safety, wellbeing, and mental stability first. Meaning, if someone is asking you to do something that takes away from these four very important components of your life in any way, FUCK THEM. Don’t put yourself fin situations that make you uncomfortable, and if you find yourself in one, it is okay to leave! If someone gets mad at your for leaving a situation you did not feel comfortable in, they should likely kick rocks and not be in your life. If you have never heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, you need to put your basic needs first before you can help anyone else or contribute value to anyone else’s life.
In Summary (all my professors hated this and I know a lot of you read my blog so that one is for you!) – you need to determine what overcoming toxicity means to you. Sit down and list out what you feel you need and if you feel lost, get a therapist! Trust me you won’t regret it, also no one needs to know if you’re weird about that.
I hope this helps someone or gives someone some insight of where to start. I would love to know your thoughts on this post and I you want me to continue writing stuff like this or change pace. Feel free to leave comment feedback or shoot me a private message on my Contact page!