If you clicked on this article, it means you know a thing or two about toxic relationships. It could be you personally, having dealt with one in the past or dealing with one right now. It could also be someone in your life, your friend, parents, significant other, etc., who is dealing with the baggage that comes with being in a toxic relationship. If the world was a better place, and everyone took the time to process and heal from their traumas, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Unfortunately for us, here we are.
For the lucky ones who haven’t been in that situation and are hoping to continue avoiding it, let me give you a quick rundown. In a “normal” relationship, things mostly just work out. Of course, there are highs and lows, but both (or all) parties work together to find a solution that is favourable to everyone or an equal compromise. That is not the case for toxic relationships. No matter what you try, you can never find a happy compromise. It is constantly draining and demanding, and more often than not, you find yourself wondering if it’s worth it.
Toxic relationships come in many shapes; romantic relationships, workplace dynamics, friendships, and even relations with family members. Each interpersonal relationship has the potential to be toxic.
When you’re looking to break the cycle and heal from the trauma that can come from being in that situation, it can be challenging to keep your head on straight. So to get past the confusion, here is a checklist of things to keep in mind when tracking and understanding your growth.
9 Ways to Get Over Your Trauma Of Toxic Relationships
1. Are you trusting? People who have a history of being in a toxic relationship find it very hard to build trust in all of their relationships. It's possible that bad experiences from your past cloud up how you approach trust in relationships and as a concept. Being constantly nervous and asking people to cross-check and corroborate information is difficult for every party involved in any given relationship. If you see yourself assuming the worst in people, it is time to review your behaviour and what purpose it fulfils in your life.
2. Boundaries and faith One of the most important things in any relationship is healthy boundaries. It is essential to communicate your boundaries in terms of your relationship and the expectations that come from it. However, a majority of people who have trauma from toxic relationships use said boundaries to push people away. It is imperative to establish healthy boundaries but pushing people away and calling them boundaries is misguided. Trusting yourself and having more faith in people to respect you is important when trying to heal.
3. Over-analysis helps no one Going through the bad parts of your past relationship is important for reflection, but it's necessary to know when to stop. Going through all your memories with a fine-toothed comb adds stress and doubt to your daily life. When you're stuck living in the past, it overlaps your day-to-day life, and you get anxious over every action and word. Remember when to step back and know when your analysis turns into over-analysis.
4. To speak or not to speak Communication is a major part of every healthy relationship. People with trauma surrounding toxic relationships struggle to effectively communicate their thoughts and feelings. More often than not, they are afraid to voice their opinions and outline their thoughts. Getting over this barrier in communication is an important step in the process of healing.
5. Types As is the case for many people who were previously in toxic relationships, you tend to stick to a ‘type’. While having a specific set of characteristics that you like is in no way a bad thing, understanding why you’re attracted to certain types of relationships is eye-opening. If you keep getting into toxic relationships, understanding the Whys and Hows is crucial in your journey. Asking yourself questions like “Am I attracted to this person or the thrill of it?” is a good starting point.
6. Not everyone is out to get you With most traumas, there is an inherent fear response embedded deep in your psyche. It can be debilitating and sometimes even infuriating. Seeing the bad in everyone and everything is not self-preservation; it is cynicism. Not everyone is out to get you. Your anxieties make it seem like everyone has bad intentions, but some light reflection and introspection will make you realize that your anxiety is the one that is fooling you. It is time to stop looking over your shoulder and start looking ahead.
7. Self-depreciation is not a defence mechanism It is 2022, and self-deprecating humour hasn't been funny for about 6 years or so. While it is great to be able to laugh about your hardships and take them head-on, there's a huge difference between making your trauma a joke vs making yourself the joke. Calling it a defence mechanism doesn't give you the power over your trauma; it only solidifies bad thoughts in your brain. The more you say, the more you start believing it. Let's start being nicer to ourselves.
8. Enjoy life for the sake of it Trauma survivors often have intense guilt for living their life past the moment of their trauma. Being happy shouldn’t come with conditions attached. With toxic relationships, enjoying the things you did in that relationship by yourself brings forth a lot of guilt. Listening to the same music or wearing those same clothes can bring to the surface a lot of unresolved emotions. It is important to remind yourself that you can’t avoid those things for the rest of your life. Enjoy your life for the sake of it; everything else comes after.
9. Heal for yourself We often try to find motivations outside of ourselves for getting better. These motivations work for the short term, but it's not sustainable forever. Healing for yourself is more beneficial for you in the long term. Basing your happiness and healing off of conditions that may or may not be met is most definitely not the healthiest route. Do what's best for you but remember to transition from short-term motivations to long-term motivations.
Moving forward after being in a toxic relationship is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. It is imperative to surround yourself with good people who have your best interest at heart. If you feel like you have no one to talk to, our community here at Now&Me is always happy to discuss these matters. You can also get professional mental health services from Therapy&Me.