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Toxic relationships part 5: Staying out of the hole posted Mar 30, 2018


This is the fifth and last article of the series of articles I decided to write about toxic relationships. If you missed the other ones, you can click on the link below and read there the forth one. Each one of the articles has the link of the previous one at the beginning of it: This article is focused on the previous steps you should take in order to arrive at the milestone that is having THE talk with you (ex) toxic significant other.

You have had THE talk and now you are on the other side; you are single. Breaking up from a toxic relationship can be, and probably will be, one of the best things that will happen to you. Not only because of the relief that comes when there is no one mistreating you but because of the satisfaction that comes with knowing that you have done something good for yourself. The great thing about ending a toxic relationship is that you discover a new and renewed power within yourself that will become an engine towards a better you. Nevertheless, toxic or not, breakups can still be a challenging thing and for that, every piece of advice you can get comes in handy. So, here are a few tips on how you can stay out of the hole of a toxic relationship, the one you just ended and future ones.

     1. Detox; the first step towards indifference

After ending your toxic relationship you will feel like a brand new person. Nevertheless, it is probable that some of the toxicity your toxic ex impregnated you with will follow you for a time. In order to get rid of that, some things need to be done and be left clear from scratch. For example, don’t think that is possible to remain friends. If staying friends with an ex is normally a bad idea, staying friends with a toxic ex is even worse. Of course, a zero contact policy is not something that everybody can do. In the case of a divorce with children, for example, both of the parents should be able to maintain a neutral good relationship for the better good of their children. In other cases, the toxic ex might be a coworker. Whichever the case might be the best thing to do is to start being indifferent towards the toxic ex. What does this mean? This means that you should avoid by all means any unnecessary contact with him or her. Be always polite, informative and short-spoken if you have to talk.

     2. Have little ritual, a symbolic end

One of the most difficult things of ending a toxic relationship is that you might feel that closure is something that you are not going to get. Either because your toxic ex will probably never apologize or because you feel no apology ever will be enough, closure is something that probably you feel is very far away. While this might feel like a horrible truth, there is a little secret I will share with you. Closure is your choice. Just as ending the relationship was your choice, closing the cycle is within your hands also. The best thing for doing this is having a little ritual, a symbolic end that helps you mark before and after. For example, a good way to mark the end of the cycle could be to take all of the things you have from him or her and get rid of them. How you do this is completely up to you; do you have clothes? Give them for charity. Old letters? Burn them (in a safe place) and throw the ashes away. You can tear them apart, throw them in the garbage. Be creative, at the end of the day, you will definitely feel how a very heavy weight goes off your back. This process is most likely to be painful, but there is something very important that you have to understand and that is…

     3. Grief is good

…that grief is good. Grief will be one of your greatest allies in the path for your recovery. Why? Because it’s ok and healthy to be. How on earth are you supposed to let your toxic ex go if you don’t allow yourself to feel and get rid of the sadness he or she has provoked you? Much people don’t recognize this, but not allowing yourself to suffer over someone is like refusing to let go of him or her. So, the best thing you can do is, to be honest with yourself and just allow yourself to feel what you have to feel. Do what you must in order to get rid of the pain. (Don’t harm yourself though!) Cry, write, jog, yell, yourself out of that pain and do it for as long as you have to. Don’t think it’s bad or wrong to be sad over a person that hurt you. At one given moment, whatever you felt was real for you, so don’t punish yourself over your toxic ex’s wrongs by not allowing you to grief over the breakup. While you probably do not want to feel the same as you felt while with your ex, part of reaching that goal is to set yourself free from the mourn you feel. Let it all out, let it go.

     4. Be your best friend

This might come up to you as a cliché, but it’s one of the most useful things you can do if you do it right and avoid all the cheese of the expression. Being your best friend is much like having an imaginary friend; you speak with yourself, you answer yourself and you do things alone, but in “company”. What would you do if a good friend of yours is going through a rough breakup? Imagine yourself having to take care of him or her; then take care of yourself as you would with that friend. It’s as simple as that. Ask yourself: “What would I like to do today?” Answer yourself: “I would like to see a movie and be alone.” - “Yeah, why not? Let’s buy some snacks though, I’m feeling hungry.” - “Great idea! Let’s do that.” That’s what being your best friend is, in a nutshell. At the beginning, you might feel silly, but behind the questions and the interactions with yourself there is a very powerful thing you need to recognize: you are asking yourself what do you want and you are making it happen.

This exercise has no waste; it’s probable that until now you have never asked yourself this simple questions, so it’s even more probable that you haven’t asked yourself bigger questions either. What do you want for yourself? Now? In two hours? Tomorrow? In a few weeks? In six months? In a year? Where do you want to be in that time regarding work? Or your academic formation? Or relationship-wise? It’s by beginning to ask simple questions such as “What do I want to do today?” that will help you ask yourself the next time you feel you are being mistreated by someone “Is this the treatment I deserve?” Being your best friend means to have always your back, to be supportive and to be attentive towards yourself.  It means to know when to say enough. Being your best friend means that your ultimate goal is to make yourself happy and that, is the key to avoiding toxic people. Being happy. Knowing you are responsible for your happiness is a synonym of being free. Free of all those things and people in life that want to make you feel that you need them in order to be happy.

     5. Whenever you feel like it, seek help

Family and friends will always be there for you if you need them. Speaking about your toxic ex, the relationship you had with him or her and letting it all out can be a very cathartic process that can help you in different ways than the ones listed above. Someone who loves you will always be there for giving you a new perspective, help you not to back up on what you decided. Friends can help you to make and expand a positivity network that can include new activities, meeting new people or return to an old hobby of yours.

Of course, friends and family are not the only ones that can help you along your way. A very important aspect of staying out of the hole of a toxic relationship could be to see a therapist, a relationships or life coach so they can help you to understand better some aspects (for example what attracted you to your ex toxic partner in the first place) that might need more than just what you can do on your own. Having a professional guiding your own introspective journey is paramount to avoid once and for all the trap of future toxic relationships. If you think you might need this kind of assistance, contact me and I’ll be glad to schedule an appointment with you!

2770 PointsGold

Javier Molina, LP

/ Licensed Psychologist / LP