Toxic relationships have always hit close to home for me. I grew up in a loving household, but once my adoptive mother passed away, the tune changed. For the eight years that followed afterward, I noticed my old self-starting to fade away; I was becoming a shell of a person that I once knew. I decided to take action and leave that atmosphere once I was of age. However, I felt lost. Instead of figuring out how to love myself again I jumped into a serious relationship thinking that would solve the problem.
It was a whirlwind of infatuation, and I was drunk. When the honeymoon stage started to fade, the toxicity started to creep up. I kept telling myself that no relationship is perfect, but the fighting and masking kept happening. Everyone who shared moments in our lives was none the wiser; this mostly happened between closed doors. My partner manipulated me into thinking that I was unhinged and I started to question my sanity. I was the one who was getting hurt yet he made me believe it was my fault.
I was there for him; I supported him. I was good to him.
When he brought up the conversation of parting ways (third time in over five years), I accepted. I felt drained, and I couldn’t keep apologizing for moments that were not my fault.
If this sounds familiar to you, I want you to take a step back. Are you making this person a priority when you’re not one? I didn’t realize how toxic our relationship was until after the fact.
I became depressed. I stopped eating. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
After a couple of weeks of wallowing, I knew that I had to do something about it – I couldn’t rely on someone else for my happiness. The only issue was how was I going to learn to love myself after being berated for so long?
- Surround yourself with Love
Support systems are different across all boards but make sure that you engage with those who are there for you in good or bad times. I surrounded myself with my closest friends whom I’m happy to call family. They kept offering their support and reminded me that things would be OK. I started to listen to them more even though I didn’t believe them at the time. I know they had my best interest at heart
- Keep Busy
I found that staying home under a blanket wasn’t doing me any good, so I decided to work extra hours at my retail position, and I stayed back from several classes to engage with other students. I didn’t want to do this, but I forced myself too. I was still exhausted from everything that happened, but I pushed through. (I got a promotion at work shortly afterward!)
- Be Positive
Yeah, OK Andrea easier said than done.
TRUST ME, I KNOW. I’ve always struggled with being a positive person since negativity always surrounded me. It’s so easy to feel that you will never find love in yourself or others but you need to know that this is not true. Create a mantra for yourself: “Everything will be OK – You are where you need to be” I know it sounds corny but saying it to yourself every day does help.
- Make ‘me’ time
I’m not saying to be positive all the time here, that’s not possible. You will cry, you will hurt – and that’s NORMAL. We’re all human, and there’s no shame in having low points. If you need to stay home, eat a pint of ice cream while watching Grey’s Anatomy – DO IT. I cannot stress this enough. Making time for yourself is a major part of healing!
- Define your self-love
Everyone’s definition of self-love is different; mine is to be comfortable in my skin & not apologize for my personality. Yours will most likely be different, and that’s OK because it’s for yourself. You need to understand what works and what doesn’t so you can stand up for what you believe. A great way to start this process is by making a list: What are your best attributes?
None of this will work if you continue to hold onto the past. Don’t feel like you can jump into this, either. I’m still navigating on my route of self-love, but I can thank my change in atmosphere. Leaving all of that behind really did make my transition to being happier easier.
If you’re unsure about toxicity – please read my post “It’s not you; it’s them”