I absolutely hated this topic of discussion and I believe that is because toxic relationships had become such a fundamental part of my existence. The irony in this was that I believed the other person was toxic and had absolutely nothing to do with my thinking and behaviour.
It was really difficult to admit to myself that I was equally to blame. I mean let’s be honest, all my relationships were based on fear and shame. I had different masks for every single one. Adapting morals values and beliefs along the way that weren’t mine, to begin with. Being equally controlling, angry, jealous, and insecure. Being in active addiction didn't help at all. Addiction affected every area of my life.
Toxic and co-dependent… a true reflection of the relationships I had. And I mean, that was evident from my mother to my partner, to my boss, friendships, and acquaintances. You name it, none of my relationships was in any way shape or form healthy. It was impossible! “Hold me, but don’t hold me down, carry me but keep my feet on the ground” – lyrics, a song from the Teskey Brothers sang, rocked the core of my soul. I was so shaken, that I had no other option but to explore why I was so emotionally affected by just a few simple words.
Why? The answer is simple; I had created a different identity around each individual relationship. A chameleon that could adapt to any situation but never felt authentic. I was manipulative and untrustworthy.
I wasn’t able to engage in more than one relationship simultaneously, it just became too much work, and often felt trapped.
I started doing some research on this topic and this is what I found on the ‘Toxic Relationship Trap’:
What are the signs that you are in a ‘Toxic-Relationship’ Trap?
You feel loved and understood like never before. Yet you’re lost.
It feels like an emotional roller coaster ride.
You feel there are petty fights where you are blamed or you are the one blaming.
You feel like saving the one you love.
There are long spells of unrest within you, where you cannot put a finger on what exactly it is that is wrong
You are confused about what love should look like.
You live in a state of not trusting your own perception of ongoing situations or feelings.
Your needs go increasingly and glaringly unmet.
Your beliefs about ideal love were matched and met like magic, yet there is an overriding sense of disconnection with yourself.
Intense disconnection with the world, your friends, and your family, like they cannot understand what you are going through.
You cannot understand what you are going through.
You live in a constant state of denial when you think things are not right and yet make excuses to hold on to any shreds of ‘feel-good' emotions.
You have high levels of stress and anxiety concerning your relationship and are always looking to make it right, believing it is just around the corner.
You feel responsible for the things that do not go right.
You take on all the blame or are blamed for the mess of the relationship.
You try to make things right, change a lot of your personality, and barely resemble who you were before the relationship, to make it go back to those golden moments.
The ‘ideal’ version of you is still far off regardless of the changes you have made and you feel very lost and defeated.
You walk around on eggshells wondering what will set off triggers and upset your partner.
You constantly think and overanalyze events and circumstances.
Your needs of security, love, and belonging are no longer ideally met as you thought they were, yet you remain in denial.
You want to get out but feel that you cannot live without this person.
You feel stuck and have a sense of responsibility towards your partner.
Relationships, however, should build one another up. Of course, there will be hardships, disagreements, and arguments.
That is a normal part of every relationship. There should however also be compassion, understanding, what I like to call the “adult talks’ listening and open communication, accepting and encouraging individual growth and in that maturing in the relationship.
Emotions such as love, acceptance, intimacy, trust, belonging, and self-esteem. These are very important and necessary drivers of all humans and are considered a normal form of motivation.
The presence of these emotions is a healthy state of being for all individuals.
So how do we break the cycle of toxic relationships and behaviours?
Toxic relationships stem from abandonment, rejection, shame, and other painful and traumatic experiences.
Until your emotional wounds and unmet needs are resolved, you will continue to seek healing from partners who are unable to give you the love, acceptance, and emotional safety that you need and deserve.
How to break unhealthy patterns
Be active in your relationship. The more that we are realistic about relationships, the more we can be active and build the relationships that we want.
Make time to connect and share experiences. Consciously try to behave differently, listen differently and engage with your partner, share some of the things that are going on in your life.
Take a step back and try and look at your relationship objectively. Watch your emotions when you’re with this person. Question how you think about things and how that is affecting your life and your happiness. Be more observant of yourself and then question, ‘Do I really want that?’
Learn to have better arguments. ... Conflict damages people, but the truth is, well-managed conflict is part of living, arguing or having heated discussions is healthy because it means that you’re speaking up and you’re airing something and you’re going to work on a compromise. To say that you don’t argue ever, would be a very quiet relationship with not a lot being said and that can also be very dangerous.
Recognise the red flags. Simple questions that can help you spot negative behaviour in your relationship: “Are you tiptoeing around somebody? Are you not able to be an autonomous person in your life in the relationship? Have you lost that part of yourself? You have to question also if that’s coming from yourself, if that’s your upbringing or if that is about the other person.
Beware that the thing you were once attracted to can be the thing that undoes you. you may be quite dramatic or quite an anxious person and then you get drawn to somebody who’s quite calm and relaxed. But the funny thing is that has a flip side. So the thing that’s calm and collected and a calming force in your life, somewhere down the line can become, ‘you’re disinterested in me, you’re not passionate enough, you don’t care.
Delve into the profound exploration of toxic relationships as the author reflects on personal experiences. The text navigates the complexities of toxic and co-dependent relationships, emphasizing self-awareness and accountability. A comprehensive list of signs for identifying a toxic relationship is presented, followed by insights on breaking unhealthy patterns. The narrative encourages readers to recognize red flags, engage in open communication, and actively participate in building healthy relationships. It concludes with practical advice on fostering emotional healing and steering clear of destructive relationship dynamics.
Recognition of Toxic Relationships
The author confesses an initial aversion to discussing toxic relationships, only to realize their prevalence in their life. Acknowledging personal responsibility, they admit that all relationships, from family and friends to romantic partners and colleagues, were tainted by toxic and co-dependent patterns, exacerbated by their active addiction.
Impact of Addiction on Relationships
Identification of Signs in Toxic Relationships
Differentiating Healthy and Toxic Relationships
Breaking the Cycle of Toxic Relationships
Cautionary Insights on Attraction
In summary, the blog addresses the personal journey of recognizing and addressing toxic relationships, the impact of addiction on interpersonal connections, signs of toxicity, the importance of healthy relationship dynamics, strategies to break the cycle of toxicity, and the need for caution in attraction dynamics. It encourages self-reflection and proactive steps to foster positive, fulfilling relationships.