Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

When Someone You Love is Toxic – How to Let Go, Without Guilt

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When Someone You Love is Toxic How to Let Go of a Toxic Relationship, Without Guilt

If toxic people were an ingestible substance, they would come with a high-powered warning and secure packaging to prevent any chance of accidental contact. Sadly, families are not immune to the poisonous lashings of a toxic relationship.

Though families and relationships can feel impossibly tough at times, they were never meant to ruin. All relationships have their flaws and none of them come packaged with the permanent glow of sunlight and goodness and beautiful things. In any normal relationship there will be fights from time to time. Things will be said and done and forgiven, and occasionally rehashed at strategic moments. For the most part though, they will feel nurturing and life-giving to be in. At the very least, they won’t hurt.

Why do toxic people do toxic things?

Toxic people thrive on control. Not the loving, healthy control that tries to keep everyone safe and happy – buckle your seatbelt, be kind, wear sunscreen – but the type that keeps people small and diminished. 

Everything they do is to keep people small and manageable. This will play out through criticism, judgement, oppression – whatever it takes to keep someone in their place. The more you try to step out of ‘your place’, the more a toxic person will call on toxic behaviour to bring you back and squash you into the tiny box they believe you belong in.

It is likely that toxic people learned their behaviour during their own childhood, either by being exposed to the toxic behaviour of others or by being overpraised without being taught the key quality of empathy. In any toxic relationship there will be other qualities missing too, such as respect, kindness and compassion, but at the heart of a toxic person’s behaviour is the lack of concern around their impact on others. They come with a critical failure to see past their own needs and wants.

Toxic people have a way of choosing open, kind people with beautiful, lavish hearts because these are the ones who will be more likely to fight for the relationship and less likely to abandon.

Even the strongest people can find themselves in a toxic relationship but the longer they stay, the more they are likely to evolve into someone who is a smaller, less confident, more wounded version of the person they used to be.

Non-toxic people who stay in a toxic relationship will never stop trying to make the relationship better, and toxic people know this. They count on it. Non-toxic people will strive to make the relationship work and when they do, the toxic person has exactly what he or she wants – control. 

Toxic Families – A Special Kind of Toxic

Families are a witness to our lives – our best, our worst, our catastrophes, our frailties and flaws. All families come with lessons that we need to learn along the way to being a decent, thriving human. The lessons begin early and they don’t stop, but not everything a family teaches will come with an afterglow. Sometimes the lessons they teach are deeply painful ones that shudder against our core.

Rather than being lessons on how to love and safely open up to the world, the lessons some families teach are about closing down, staying small and burying needs – but for every disempowering lesson, there is one of empowerment, strength and growth that exists with it. In toxic families, these are around how to walk away from the ones we love, how to let go with strength and love, and how to let go of guilt and any fantasy that things could ever be different. And here’s the rub – the pain of a toxic relationship won’t soften until the lesson has been learned.

Love and loyalty don’t always exist together.

Love has a fierce way of keeping us tied to people who wound us. The problem with family is that we grow up in the fold, believing that the way they do things is the way the world works. We trust them, listen to them and absorb what they say. There would have been a time for all of us that regardless of how mind-blowingly destructive the messages from our family were, we would have received them all with a beautiful, wide-eyed innocence, grabbing every detail and letting them shape who we were growing up to be.

Our survival would have once depended on believing in everything they said and did, and resisting the need to challenge or question that we might deserve better. The things we believe when we are young are powerful. They fix themselves upon us and they stay, at least until we realise one day how wrong and small-hearted those messages have been.

At some point, the environment changes – we grow up – but our beliefs don’t always change with it. We stop depending on our family for survival but we hang on to the belief that we have to stay connected and loyal, even though being with them hurts.

The obligation to love and stay loyal to a family member can be immense, but love and loyalty are two separate things and they don’t always belong together.

Loyalty can be a confusing, loaded term and is often the reason that people stay stuck in toxic relationships. What you need to know is this: When loyalty comes with a diminishing of the self, it’s not loyalty, it’s submission.

We stop having to answer to family when we become adults and capable of our own minds.

Why are toxic relationships so destructive?

In any healthy relationship, love is circular – when you give love, it comes back. When what comes back is scrappy, stingy intent under the guise of love, it will eventually leave you small and depleted, which falls wildly, terrifyingly short of where anyone is meant to be.

Healthy people welcome the support and growth of the people they love, even if it means having to change a little to accommodate. When one person in a system changes, whether it’s a relationship of two or a family of many, it can be challenging. Even the strongest and most loving relationships can be touched by feelings of jealousy, inadequacy and insecurity at times in response to somebody’s growth or happiness. We are all vulnerable to feeling the very normal, messy emotions that come with being human.

The difference is that healthy families and relationships will work through the tough stuff. Unhealthy ones will blame, manipulate and lie – whatever they have to do to return things to the way they’ve always been, with the toxic person in control.

Why a Toxic Relationship Will never change.

Reasonable people, however strong and independently minded they are, can easily be drawn into thinking that if they could find the switch, do less, do more, manage it, tweak it, that the relationship will be okay. The cold truth is that if anything was going to be different it would have happened by now. 

Toxic people can change, but it’s highly unlikely. What is certain is that nothing anyone else does can change them. It is likely there will be broken people, broken hearts and broken relationships around them – but the carnage will always be explained away as someone else’s fault. There will be no remorse, regret or insight. What is more likely is that any broken relationship will amplify their toxic behaviour.

Why are toxic people so hard to leave?

If you try to leave a toxic person, things might get worse before they get better – but they will always get better. Always.

Few things will ramp up feelings of insecurity or a need for control more than when someone questions familiar, old behaviour, or tries to break away from old, established patterns in a relationship. For a person whose signature moves involve manipulation, lies, criticism or any other toxic behaviour, when something feels as though it’s changing, they will use even more of their typical toxic behaviour to bring the relationship (or the person) back to a state that feels acceptable.

When things don’t seem to be working, people will always do more of what used to work, even if that behaviour is at the heart of the problem. It’s what we all do. If you are someone who is naturally open and giving, when things don’t feel right in a relationship you will likely give more of yourself, offer more support, be more loving, to get things back on track. 

Breaking away from a toxic relationship can feel like tearing at barbed wire with bare hands. The more you do it, the more it hurts, so for a while, you stop tearing, until you realise that it’s not the tearing that hurts, it’s the barbed wire – the relationship – and whether you tear at it or not, it won’t stop cutting into you.

Think of it like this. Imagine that all relationships and families occupy a space. In healthy ones, the shape of that space will be fluid and open to change, with a lot of space for people to grow. People will move to accommodate the growth and flight of each other. 

For a toxic family or a toxic relationship, that shape is rigid and unyielding. There is no flexibility, no bending, and no room for growth. Everyone has a clearly defined space and for some, that space will be small and heavily boxed. When one person starts to break out of the shape, the whole family feels their own individual sections change. The shape might wobble and things might feel vulnerable, weakened or scary. This is normal, but toxic people will do whatever it takes to restore the space to the way it was. Often, that will mean crumpling the ones who are changing so they fit their space again.

Sometimes out of a sense of love and terribly misplaced loyalty, people caught in a toxic relationship might sacrifice growth and change and step back into the rigid tiny space a toxic person manipulates them towards. It will be clear when this has happened because of the soul-sucking grief at being back there in the mess with people (or person) who feel so bad to be with.

But they do it because they love me. They said so.

Sometimes toxic people will hide behind the defence that they are doing what they do because they love you, or that what they do is ‘no big deal’ and that you’re the one causing the trouble because you’re just too sensitive, too serious, too – weak, stupid, useless, needy, insecure, jealous – too ‘whatever’ to get it. You will have heard the word plenty of times before. 

The only truth you need to know is this: If it hurts, it’s hurtful. Fullstop.

Love never holds people back from growing. It doesn’t diminish, and it doesn’t contaminate. If someone loves you, it feels like love. It feels supportive and nurturing and life-giving. If it doesn’t do this, it’s not love. It’s self-serving crap designed to keep you tethered and bound to someone else’s idea of how you should be.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, but a healthy one is a tolerant, loving, accepting, responsive one.

The one truth that matters.

If it feels like growth or something that will nourish you, follow that. It might mean walking away from people you care about – parents, sisters, brothers, friends – but this can be done with love and the door left open for when they are able to meet you closer to your terms – ones that don’t break you.

Set the boundaries with grace and love and leave it to the toxic person to decide which side of that boundary they want to stand on. Boundaries aren’t about spite or manipulation and they don’t have to be about ending the relationship. They are something drawn in strength and courage to let people see with great clarity where the doorway is to you. If the relationship ends, it’s not because of your lack of love or loyalty, but because the toxic person chose not to treat you in the way you deserve. Their choice. 

Though it is up to you to decide the conditions on which you will let someone close to you, whether or not somebody wants to be close to you enough to respect those conditions is up to them. The choice to trample over what you need means they are choosing not to be with you. It doesn’t mean you are excluding them from your life.

Toxic people also have their conditions of relationship and though they might not be explicit, they are likely to include an expectation that you will tolerate ridicule, judgement, criticism, oppression, lying, manipulation – whatever they do. No relationship is worth that and it is always okay to say ‘no’ to anything that diminishes you.

The world and those who genuinely love you want you to be as whole as you can be. Sometimes choosing health and wholeness means stepping bravely away from that which would see your spirit broken and malnourished.

When you were young and vulnerable and dependent for survival on the adults in your life, you had no say in the conditions on which you let people close to you. But your life isn’t like that now. You get to say. You get to choose the terms of your relationships and the people you get close to.

There is absolutely no obligation to choose people who are toxic just because they are family. If they are toxic, the simple truth is that they have not chosen you. The version of you that they have chosen is the one that is less than the person you would be without them.

The growth.

Walking away from a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is always brave and always strong. It is always okay. And it is always – always – worth it. This is the learning and the growth that is hidden in the toxic mess.

Letting go will likely come with guilt, anger and grief for the family or person you thought you had. They might fight harder for you to stay. They will probably be crueller, more manipulative and more toxic than ever. They will do what they’ve always done because it has always worked. Keep moving forward and let every hurtful, small-hearted thing they say or do fuel your step.

You can’t pretend toxic behaviour away or love it away or eat it, drink it, smoke it, depress it or gamble it away. You can’t avoid the impact by being smaller, by crouching or bending or flexing around it. But you can walk away from it – so far away that the most guided toxic fuelled missile that’s thrown at you won’t find you.

One day they might catch up to you – not catch you, catch up to you – with their growth and their healing but until then, choose your own health and happiness over their need to control you. 

You can love people, let go of them and keep the door open on your terms, for whenever they are ready to treat you with love, respect and kindness. This is one of the hardest lessons but one of the most life-giving and courageous ones.

Sometimes there are not two sides. There is only one. Toxic people will have you believing that the one truthful side is theirs. It’s not. It never was. Don’t believe their highly diseased, stingy version of love. It’s been drawing your breath, suffocating you and it will slowly kill you if you let it, and the way you ‘let it’ is by standing still while it spirals around you, takes aim and shoots. 

If you want to stay, that’s completely okay, but see their toxic behaviour for what it is – a desperate attempt to keep you little and controlled. Be bigger, stronger, braver than anything that would lessen you. Be authentic and real and give yourself whatever you need to let that be. Be her. Be him. Be whoever you can be if the small minds and tiny hearts of others couldn’t stop you.

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519 Comments

Fragile

I have been in a toxic relationship for almost 10 years. I met a man who I had the most intense connection to I couldn’t see straight. After 6 months of dating and thinking his wife had left him because she was so career driven, I found out she was about to go into labor with their second child.. I didn’t even know they had a child. After him pleading with me that his family were religious folk who didn’t agree with divorce and being told that he couldn’t tell me that he had children, I naively gave in and decided to give him a chance. That was the beginning of my isolation from family and friends and my co dependant relationship began. He was never abusive physically but I believe emotionally. He suffered depression and always made me feel like I had done something wrong. He would ignore me for days without telling me why and I would constantly try to make it bettter and apologise for things that I didn’t even know I had done wrong. I would get so much anxiety that I would be ignored that when he was nice to me it was like a drug. I went from being a vibrant, social creature to being introverted, anxious and so lonely. I had no friends, no family and was constantly in tears because I knew I needed to leave. He was recently diagnosed with MS and I did everything I could to make it ok for him and stay positive. If I tried to stick up for myself in an argument he would blame the stress I cause on his condition worsening. My inability to speak up became so intense I had a breakdown at work and nearly lost my job. When I asked him to be kind to me he just told me I needed to grow up and realise that life isn’t meant to be easy. We recently had a fight and he walked out. When I woke in the morning he wasn’t home. I finally left and I feel so guilty and sad he’s alone as he doesn’t have any friends. I still love him but I know it’s killing me… he won’t stop calling and I’m scared to give in.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Stay strong. You have made your decision to let go with strength and courage and self-respect. It’s understandable that you would feel tempted to go back – that’s really normal, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you. You sound as though you fought for the relationship for a long time, and gave it everything you could. Now it’s time to fight for you. Keep moving forward. You have everything inside you to find the life and the love you deserve. You can do this.

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Healing and Confused

I’m going through kind of the same thing. I’m young lady in college. In the end of first semester of grade 12 a guy who is two years older then me, messages me on Facebook. I knew him because I used to hang out with him when he went to my high school. Last December I had to call the cops because he threaten me. He would ignore me for days even weeks with out a reason. He would leave me with out saying anything. Every time he would leave me I would wonder if I did something wrong. Any time I gave him attitude or swore at him he would choke me. He convince me to sneak out and “Hang Out” at his house. He would never tell me about his problems. Every time he left he would come back a couple months later. I would feel so bad because I felt it was my fault. Eventual I got so used to it that it didn’t even hurt any more. I realized that their was a pattern. All I expected from him was this toxic pattern. Last summer I got a job next to where he worked. While I was working their I found out that he had a girlfriend for two years and he lived with her. I had to find that out through a co-worker. We would always fight because I was right about him having a girlfriend and he would always lie. I would ask him if had a girlfriend. I would find pictures of them kissing and them be together while he was gone. When he came back I would send my prof to him. He would still lie. He even tried to get me pregnant to make me stay with him. But I not pregnant. He even asked me to move in with him. I went to their place and I didn’t see any sign of a girl living their. I told him I’m done and I cant deal with his crap anymore. So I left and I went straight into college. That was a get way to get my mind of him. Now, he is back. Now I have mixed feelings and I cant think about cause I will cause tears and headaches….

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Sharon

Don’t give in – I am doing something similar… I am trying to get out of it now, but frightened that the mental and emotional abuse may become physical…I am leaving anyway in March. I admire that fact that you left…..the process that you are going through now is called pruning and its painful. It does get better – I have been there before. The guilt will go away. I leaving no matter what the cost! Hang in there – don’t give up!!!

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Lynnette

Everything I have read, sums up what I’m going through and it has given me the strength to say NO and be able not to be dragged into a situation whereby, I felt I should defend myself, thus now being the one in the wrong. Thank so very much

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Lynnette. It’s so easy when you have an open, generous heart to be dragged into these situations. I’m pleased the article has helped you to find the strength that is in you, and will always be in you.

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Nika

I met a guy 5 years ago at a time I was getting a divorce. I was leaving my 8 year relationship due to physical, mental and emotional abuse. When I met him I knew that he was a player and a bit immature, but he was there and charming. All signs point to trouble to be honest, but because I wanted so much to be loved and wanted and I was very co dependent I wanted to be with him. I was addicted to people that mistreated me or hurt me. Deep down I felt I could change them. Long story short he was emotionally unavailable and manipulative. He cheated while I was pregnant, and had multiple affair but only admit to one because he was caught. I felt like because I was financially independent and outspoken, I was fighting back and that made me feel better but the truth is I was fighting a losing battle and I was drained. Everytime he lose control and we get extremely angry. He damage my property, multiple times and played alot of mind games. I started seeing him for who he really was and did not like him one bit. He was only nice after I leave, he would promise to be better. But it never last. I got restraining orders multiple times but they never could find him to serve him. He was very smart and sneaky. He would sabotage my childcare for our son by picking him up and being very disrespectful to the daycare providers. He would cause conflict with my friends and family so i was isolated. I changed my locks called the police and they never catch him. I would leave and come back because it was just exhausting and I cared. Recently I’ve turned to God to guide me when dealing with him. I have faith that one day he will move on and exploit some other needy woman. I’m over being afraid to let him go. I just want peace. I refuse to live my life letting anyone try to control me so they feel comfortable. Lesson learned, now I’m just fixing my mistake and healing so I never get involved with anybody like that again!

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Wendy

Nika,

You have all the right insights! God bless you for thinking this all out and becoming determined to move on! I am also just in the midst of fleeing/ending an abusive relationship. Please let us know how you do and manage. I need to know it’s possible too. Love.

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Jenny

I am with my adult child, her narcissist husband and kids on Christmas Day. They are being small, manipulative and controlling. I am grateful that I found this website as its is giving me a sense of support. I deserve loving and healthy relationships!!

Not sure how to let this go, but It doesn’t feel good to hurt, and I don’t have to anymore. Just not sure how to let this go, and what will replace it. I think its the Grandkids that has me hooked. I chose to have faith that one day they will move towards me.

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Bel

Thanks Karen for such a clear, compassionate life-affirming article. I have been trawling the web for any information I can get my hands on ever since I finally realised about a month ago that my partner of five years and father of my two beautiful young children is quite narcissistic and toxic and probably incapable of loving and supporting me in the way I deserve and dream of.

Today is Christmas Day and here I am, still searching for guidance and answers and affirmation that I am heading down the right path. I couldn’t help but notice, Karen, that even today you were on here offering the same to your readers. Your warmth and generosity shine out from these pages and give me the courage to share some of my story here too.

First of all, I’d like to wish all of you here a bright and beautiful new year, especially if your Christmas wasn’t all you were hoping for.

The toxicity in our relationship is somewhat more subtle than many others who have bravely shared their stories here, but nonetheless damaging and scary. I have decided to leave in a month or two and am taking steps to prepare for this but am scared my immense sense of guilt will prevent or delay me from doing so. I am also really struggling with feeling as though I am deceitful even to be thinking this way, but now that our relationship dynamics have become clearer to me I feel as though I have no choice but to prepare in secret in order to protect myself and the kids from the sh**storm that is likely to ensue when I make my intentions known. I can already hear the friends and rellies urging me to give him another chance, to try counselling or to stay for the sake of the kids. Even now he must know something is afoot as I have been setting much clearer boundaries lately and he has gone into totally charming mode again, giving me an eloquent Christmas card today professing his love and telling me how empty his life would be without me yada yada yada, helping out around the house and suddenly wanting to move back into our room with me and the baby after nearly ten months of sleeping in our toddlers room under the guise that said toddler needs that. I used to live for this kind of “change”, but I have now grown cynical (or perhaps can just see more clearly) and recognise that I have unwittingly allowed myself to be trained to accept only crumbs and then shower him with praise and gratitude.

The separate sleeping quarters (never a stated decision or agreement) have been a blessing in disguise and have allowed me time to read, reflect and ruminate (not always healthily) about our situation. In the early days I tried time and time again to encourage my partner back into our shared bed but I think I eventually gave up and embraced it. I had not realised how important this nightly ‘alone time’ (which I happen to be enjoying right now) had become until he started talking about moving back in, and now I am really scared it will make the process of detaching and letting go so much harder.

I have three siblings who know bits and pieces but have no idea I have decided to leave, and I constantly swing between whether I should let them know what’s happening so I have their support and encouragement if my resolve wavers, or keep it a secret in case someone lets something slip (would be disastrous) or I end up staying and want to keep propping up the illusion that he is essentially a good person who is trying his best (which, to be honest, a big part of me still believes).

So how did I find myself here? I am hoping in the telling that I can learn to forgive myself. I think now that the’unusual, unique’ personality that was my mum was / is narcissistic and contributed to my people-pleasing, care taking, extreme giver nature.

I recognised these traits (and blamed myself) after two significant relationships which were emotionally abusive, the latter of which nearly cost me my life despite never having had a hand raised at me (it took a dramatic incident for me to finally trust my intuition in that relationship). During a difficult period of probable PTSD, severe depression and crippling anxiety, I had the liberating experience of being diagnosed as an adult with ADHD, which suddenly helped me make more sense of my world and centred my search for help within a more holistic framework. I had a short relationship with a true giver, and the pampering he gave me really helped me on my way to learning how to gracefully receive, but alas, he was clearly still in love with his ex, so I moved on.

Having nearly given up my dream of becoming a mum (seemed an impossibility during the depths), I did enough healing to start working again and to open myself to the possibility of meeting someone. I was determined to strive for a more balanced relationship and was very proud of myself for recognising and sidestepping two potential toxic relationships.

Then I met my current partner, and I felt it was love at first contact, destiny, a brighter future for me, soulmates, all that stuff…and I fell hard. And here was my chance to finally create a family. I recognised early on that the giver /taker balance was way out of whack, but I assertively addressed this and didn’t believe I would ever end up there again. There were many red flags but I really didn’t want to see them. Maybe I had a fantasy that my love and support could help unlock this man’s potential.

Well, it seems he ran with that, and took up the challenge to assume control and extract what he needed from me, mostly without me noticing that I was getting very little in return for my investment. My children bring me such joy and I am quite an independent soul and I have grown accustomed to more overt criticism and anger and almost comical controlling measures, so this felt like a big step up and I kept pushing aside my nagging concerns about his selfishness, laziness, sense of entitlement and constant distortions of the truth.

I thought about leaving many times, and held him to account and declared my needs at least once every twelve months, but when I did he would always seem to take responsibility and promise the world, be on his best ‘behaviour’ a couple of days, then get some mysterious illness or ailment that flipped the focus back around to him again…

Well, I fell asleep before posting this last night and it’s long enough already, so I am just going to post as is. Part Two will be along shortly…

Happy Boxing Day and thanks for reading!

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Bel I’m so pleased you found me here. It’s no accident that your partner chose you to love – your heart is so beautifully open and it sounds as though you have fought hard to make this relationship work. I imagine the decision to leave wouldn’t have been an easy one for you. You deserve the love you give – we all do – and it sounds as though you have given a lot.

Subtle toxicity can often be harder to deal with because of the guilt and self-doubt it can raise. Don’t let this interfere with your decision. It’s not unusual for people with open, generous hearts to feel guilty, or to blame themselves for any pain that happens when a relationship ends. These feelings don’t mean that what you are doing is wrong. They certainly don’t mean that. What they mean is that letting go is hard, and that you are someone who feels compassion and empathy when someone else is hurting. The pain for you or your partner that comes from the relationship ending, won’t last forever. Letting go is never easy, even if the relationship isn’t working. The pain of being in a bad relationship, on the other hand, will last as long as the relationship does. If you stumble on your way out the door, that’s okay – come back and read what you have written as a reminder of the reasons you want to let go. Your reasons are valid and clear and they make so much sense. You have the insight, courage and strength inside you to move yourself and your children forward, you really do. Love and strength to you.

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Bel

Thanks so much Karen, your response means such a lot to me!

And Sad (this may as well turn into Part Two) I have had some luck negotiating with Centrelink to hopefully be put on Single Parenting Payment under the ‘separation under the same roof’ clause even though I haven’t yet told my partner of my decision. This will keep my head above water as I will get a higher payment, maximum Family Tax A and B, a higher threshold for personal income and my payment will not be reduced by my partners’ income (a recent hike in his income has now cut my Partnered Parenting Allowance to zero even though he owes me about $50,000 (on my credit cards, unfortunately), and pretty much stopped contributing the little he was bringing in as a full time Uni student at the beginning of this financial year when I told him I wanted to split finances (possibly started stashing it for himself)). Since I brought it up AGAIN that I want some of that debt in his name soon, he constantly tells me about every dollar he’s earning and how he will gladly do the right thing and take responsibility for his debts. I am taking a ‘look after myself and the kids’ attitude at the moment because I will believe that when I see it. At the moment, the more he works, the less I get. So, I currently have much less than no money, no significant assets (I already sold my little block of land in the country to pay off HIS debts, silly me) and two kids, and I think with this little bit of financial independence I will still be OK to rent a little place and put food on the table while I build myself back up. The key was getting the forms from Centrelink (if you pick them up personally, have it noted on your file and then get them back within two weeks, you can get back paid to form collection date) and then asking to see a Social Worker. The SW called me up for a phone interview a couple of days later and, after hearing about my situation, and that a new psychologist I just started seeing who knows a fair bit about narcissism recommended I don’t do any ‘prodding’ until I see him again on 10th of January (ie focus on looking after my own health and set healthy boundaries but no confrontations), she wrote in my file that she had recommended I proceed with a claim without my partner’s knowledge or consent, follow the advice given and provide supporting documentation from my doctor and then later from my psych, and then tell my partner when safe to do so. I feel very nervous about my partner finding out somehow before I tell him myself, but it is the only way I can think of to survive as I am guessing he will immediately stop any loan repayments that he may have finally started making to me as punishment for me leaving, and the interest alone on his debt is costing me hundreds of dollars a week. I know, crazy right? Finally I see all the excuses for what they are.

I am also submitting an application for an interim rental of a two bedroom cabin in a family-friendly caravan park as a back-up plan in case things turn nasty and he won’t move out. Rent is the same as we are paying now, but I can rent from 4 weeks to permanent without signing a lease.

One of the biggest issues that has brought me to this decision, other than finances, is that my ever-trusting soul has finally started uncovering a web of lies and I really don’t know what is true and what is not. Although there has not been any cheating (as far as I know, anyway) and no obvious abusive behaviour, I have noticed a disturbing passive aggressive pattern in his communication, accompanied by associated dysfunctional responses from me in an effort to keep him calm, happy and nice (I have always been so scared of angry). Although he has always been very self-absorbed, it never occurred to me that he would lie to me, but over time, the stories just don’t add up eg 11 months bed rest for a broken back that nobody from his past, including the ex-wife who was supposedly caring for him, knows anything about. There is a fair bit of gas lighting…blaming my memory, or I must have misunderstood, plus more lying to try to cover up what’s going on. This has been devastating for me as I hate that I sometimes feel like I have turned into a suspicious, untrusting, heartless individual full of resentment. I don’t like who I am in this relationship anymore, and when you have spent so much time building someone else up while they are slowly chipping away at your soul, it is not an easy pattern to break.

I’ve tried lots of strategies aimed at creating a more balanced relationship, but he is very smart (IQ-wise), and adept at inventing a new illness or injury to excuse him from his responsibilities (to the point where for a long time I suspected he may have factitious disorder). I know some are genuine and my level of empathy makes it hard to challenge him because what if this time he really is in pain? Well, I guess psychologically he is always in pain, but now I know that that is no longer my responsibility, and if I keep focusing on his needs my needs will never be met.

I can see now how he manipulated the situation to paint a carefully-crafted picture of who he was, mainly using shyness, illness, his own ADHD (which now I think may have been an invention to match mine and help create a bond of understanding between us, as well as to demonstrate how much better than me he is at dealing with it) and his own empathy as excuses for his at times cruel or anti-social behaviour (eg “I just have to switch off from what you are talking about because I feel it too deeply and I have to protect myself”). He has been very ‘helpful’ pointing out all the other narcissists in my personal and professional life and advising what I should do about them, and how they are liars who have no empathy and are at the opposite scale to his ’empath’ nature (making sure they are all the grandiose type to reinforce my misconceptions of what narcissism is and to avoid me suspecting what has been right under my nose). I had considered everything BUT narcissism until I recently stumbled across an old book of his of the same name, and finally recognised all the signs of covert narcissism in him, which was quite liberating in itself to have a framework for understanding the patterns at work in our relationship and my role in that. Interestingly, he recently seems to be demonstrating the more typical grandiose signs now that he has started achieving great success and many accolades in his academic and professional life for the first time ever. And even now, with all this new knowledge, I still doubt myself and wonder if I have somehow got it all wrong, but I am trusting my feelings and forging ahead anyway.

I am a lot happier since I have come to understand that I need to look after myself and the kids for now and stop pushing for change and that it’s not my fault and that I can still have empathy for him without rescuing him at the expense of myself again, and I am allowed to choose to leave at a time when things appear on the surface to be going well. The hardest thing at the moment is feeling like I am living a lie as I pretend everything is fine while I execute my exit plan. The saddest thing is that it is easy to do as most of the time he is so wrapped up in his own goals, ambitions and details that he doesn’t care to ask about what I have been doing or how I am feeling anyway.

Ok, now I am just rambling and I have taken up more than enough airspace, so I will wind up and hope that some little morsel in here has been useful to someone, somewhere. Love to you all, and stay strong! Bel x

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Wendy

Thank you so much Bel. From your first post, the phrase “selfishness, laziness, sense of entitlement and constant distortions of the truth” struck me so strongly. These do indeed constitute [psychological] abuse and are what I have been experiencing in my relationship over the last seven months. Your current struggles are felt also. I really relate to the feeling that you are ‘living a lie’. My own need for authenticity is very strong and is commuted only when my even greater needs for safety (emotional and physical) and tranquility (mental), as is happening now. So, you are, temporarily, overwriting your need for authenticity in order to meet your greater needs for safety and the possibility of growth. And as soon as you no longer have to do that, you will stop. It is actually a sacrifice you are making- give yourself that. Empathy. Love.

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Bel

Thank you Wendy, you articulate it so well and with so much clarity…and it really helps me feel OK with myself and my situation, despite the agony of it.

I just came out of an appointment with my psychologist where we made a plan for the separation ‘talk’ for next Tuesday, and now I am sitting down at a waterfront table with a special meal to celebrate choosing life and authenticity, and I just flipped open my IPad to see your message there to greet me.

I think the universe is on my side….

Have a lovely day, and thanks again for your perfectly-timed message.

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Sad

How do you leave a toxic relationship when you kids, no money and no where to go? I’m desperately trying to leave; not only for my mental state but for my health as well. I NEED to leave but I honestly have no way out!

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Speak with the welfare agencies in your area. They will have the resources and contacts that will help you with a strategy. I know this isn’t easy, but there is help out there.

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Hope

Sad,
You just get up and go! Don’t think about it. I recently had to face the same situation as you. Narcissistic family brought me into a narcissistic relationship and when I finally had enough I had nowhere to turn. Limited income due to a child on disability as well as another child wh both of their needs we’re and is still what chews up my finances. The state I lived in could offer me no help, or defense in my situation. All shelters were full which was my only chance at getting immedesimazione help. With just $40.00 ish in the bank I took off the overdraft protection on my account and at once over drew it until I couldn’t anymore. I packed some clothes, a cooler with food, and my kids and began to drive with no destination. Miles and miles away from home and everything I had ever known as well as no friends or family around to help or back me up I threw a dart at the map and just landed in any place I saw fit. I found a shelter to take us in and while I was there sought out help from that states government. Within 3 weeks I was out of the shelter and into my own place on the road to find the me inside that needed to come out and rescued the shell of me that I had become. I have never been happier nor had I ever felt how beautiful and intelligent that I was (and some nice people in my life would often remind me that I was even though I never bothered to see it for myself at the time) until I was happy. I started to let all my telents and intellect shine in this new life I am building for myself, the same tallents and intelligent that I had hidden from the world because I was always put down for them as well as for the way my mind works and thinks. After that experience I now feel that I can achieve anything in this world that I choose. It was the healthiest most empowering moment of my entire life and the scariest decision I ever made while I thought about what would happen if I didn’t find shelter or help, would I had ended up in my car on the streets or worse my kids taken away because I was not financially stable enough to care for them? I think showing the way I battled to save them and myself from a toxic life is what actually made the difference to prompt complete strangers to help me get through this. Believe it or not millions of people live in this exact situation daily some don’t even realize it because of how accustomed they have gotten to a life like this giving that it’s all they had ever known and seen growing up and all around them as it has both hereditary and environmental factors. So show your strength and your beauty for yourself and your children and stop wondering what will happen if you leave but rather if you stayed! Be strong for all who face this very battle and share your story as I have with you! Give others the strength and encouragement they need, the same strength and encouragement that you are seeking right now. I’ve never been happier, I’ve never been so brave, I never felt accomplishment as a mother as I do today. It isn’t easy! The shelter was pretty tough too as it was not a life I was accustomed to but once you make it past them hurdles you will feel that same as I do. My only battle now is that my oldest child (7) shows signs of this narcissistic behavior that I now am aware of and I absolutely hate so much. The lies and manipulation used to get his way is unbareable! I find this trait coming out in myself only towards him to exercise my authority and try to shut down his need to control everything and in both cases of myself and him I don’t like it. I don’t know how to change him so he don’t grow to hurt people like me such as his kids or his lover or if I can change him, but our relationship is being damaged because as much as I love him ever so dearly I honestly can say I hate everything about him too. This is my own child! Do you now how hard and long I have fought to protect him and raise him right? I don’t like to think I could hate my own child especially because I love him so very much but just as if it were a lover that all of us have experienced this is the truth. I can rid a relationship so toxic with a lover or adult family member but what do you do when it’s your own child? Do you keep fighting or do you give him up for adoption or to the narcissist members of your family that you just ran from? Any advise would help!
Good luck to all of you on your journey to build up enough strength and courage to change your situation. Remember that getting up and leaving a toxic life is something you have to do blindly and not think to hard about (unless it’s a minor child your questioning).

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Moving Forwars

Your article really spoke to me. I am leaving, for the second and final time . He managed to kill my love for him, which makes me feel healthier. But up until tonight, I have been pushing back, stronger and stronger foolishly believing that if I am strong enough he will hear me. I now finally realize thats not going to happen. Nut tonight I was really mean. It started out with me once again hoping he would hear me, but as usual he turned the tables and made the failure of our relationship my fault and the. I just became angry. I had spent the day packing and organizing my move and felt resentment that his inability to be a decent and loving person has put me in such a difficult position. But now I am just wracked with guilt and so angry at myself for saying such hurtful things. I know better. And I especially know in my calmer moments that for whatever reason, he cannot help being what he is. I suppose I am writing this hoping that you will tell me my behavior was understandable or anything else that will assuage my guilt and diminish the anger I feel towards myself.

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Bel

I hear you Moving Forwards. I, too, have unreasonable expectations of myself even though I tend to set the bar too low for others. It is very hard to contain suppressed anger and resentment, especially when your buttons are being pressed and you feel completely unseen. Your reaction is more than understandable, it is basic human emotions. Allow yourself to be imperfect and even embrace that. It doesn’t make you a bad person. You are being pushed because you are doing the right thing in setting healthy boundaries and some people don’t like that!

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Mike

I’ve been in a toxic relationship for nearly 20 years. I fell in love with a person that from day one has done me wrong. Lying, cheating, stealing, etc. and to top if off was on the road to becoming a full fledged drug addict. I now have a 10 years old child with this woman. I have raised him and have custody since age one. She’s been to prison twice since his birth.
IF ANYONE HAS READ THIS FAR PLEASE HELP ME!

I have spent these last 10 years holding on and wishing this person would change even giving her the open door to stability and a settled life with me and our son after both her short prison terms. I’ve even lost other relationships because of her. I hold on….. I hold on because the thought of us as a family and her sexy stylish feminine ways keep me in my lust for her. Her way of manipulating and controlling me is with sex. Yes sex! And Even though I’ve had other woman in my life my mind is always on her.
It goes way heyond this though. My story is a long and painful journey with a woman who destroyed her life and has nobody left (family) but me and her son and boy has she taken me on a ride. I always try and be her friend and it ends up with her throwing herself at me In the bed to keep me without being able to move on with my life.
I haven’t lived with this woman in two and a half years but I always let her manipulate me with sex.Every time she does and I realize that my fantasy of having a family with her is not possible I break and destroy myself. When I tell her she needs to go and we cannot be she becomes a cold cold, selfish, self centered and knowing exactly how to break me. Almost making me feel like her life without me is so much greater and leaving me doubting my own.
Recently I let it happen again father a few month break and thinking that I was beginning to let go. But no, here she comes and there I go giving in to her manipulative ways. This last time she told me she had to see if she loved me or not after I tell her to go. She said ” yea I don’t love you had to check one last time.
IT FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME SHE HURT ME LATELY! This woman has broken my spirit as a man and has left me broken. I’m suffering inside and am trying to let go but feel like I can’t and will never remake my life with someone who will truly love me for me. She is as toxic as it gets for me and I hate myself for being so weak to not have let go a long long time ago. She has battered my self esteem and I feel I’m not worth it. No matter the great, stable amazing man and father that I am I can’t understand why she doesn’t want to be home with me and her son.
She is actively going to methadone clinic and is still in her own destruction. I guess I’ve been wanting to save her life but it’s left me with a completely diminished sprit.

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beanz

If you think this woman is doing all this negative stuff to you think what your 10yr old has been through and that’s his mother. I’m sure he would like a more stable happy relationship with her too but I can’t imagine he’s getting it. If you can’t break away for yourself do it for your son who your currently teaching it’s ok to be treated so poorly. Would you be happy to see him married to a woman like her? No… time to break the cycle of misery and go show you and your boy that you don’t need abother person to make you happy so why should you put up with not being happy? Wish you all the best.. there’s more to life than sex

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Mike

Thank you for your thoughts for a better way for me and my son beanz. I’m lately extremely depressed and feel alone as ever without the same old shit with her. Sometimes when she’s not around I’m At peace. Yet when I get that lustful taste of her I’m back to step one and knowing she has taken control once again. And she knows it because I let her know I’m broken.
My social and family circle is not too big and far from the norm. My support team is barely visible. I can’t stop thinking about her and what she does or who she’s with possibly enjoying her life and having fun and in here suffering. But then I also realize how much she hates herself and her life and think she’s just in her box suffering with herself as well? Im not quite sure of where this will end but sometimes I feel as if I won’t make it past this point in my life and thus will steal my life away. I will never find love again or the wife my heart desires I feel. Im too broken and feel ashamed and worthless because of all this time wasted in someone like her. I feel she will be happy even though she’s such a hiorible person and I will be torn for ever. I just survive for my son but my loneliness is slowly killing me.im a broken man beanz. Thee is more to my pain that stems from a torn family of my own with my father being gone in my early teenage years. I don’t mean to ramble on and I’m not looking for pity. Im just lost and feel I have no support so I’m searching wherever possible. Thank you again.

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beanz

Dont apologise it’s why we’re all here nestor looking for answers to questions we can’t answer for ourselves because the hurt is so blinding and the loneliness of the situation gets to much at times to bare…. Some things you say mirror a place I was in.. its not a nice place to be and at my lowest it was fade away or get up and keep moving for my son. My toxic relationship with his father landed me a broken hyoid bone and him 3yrs inside and allas I still care for the man… there’s that side to them right? That amazing perfect side that we so love lust and crave… feels a rarity to hold it but when we do it makes all that hurt dissappear for a time and in that time the weight of all the pain is gone… I crave the break from all the hurt and yet went to him to seek relief because he was the one causing it. I also feel bad to give up on someone I care for… on my journey of self discovery I’ve learned that just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean the love wasn’t real..that it’s not my fault.. I’m not a bad person for saying no more thankyou.. I can love a person and not put up with how they treat me because in the end of the day I have to love me first. That im not alone no matter how small my circle which like you is extremely small and really have only me to rely on. I have my kids and they are my everything. Being alone and being lonely are two different things with one thing common. They are both thoughts.. I’m learning it’s the thought that creates the emotion.. and yet it’s us that holds the power to change our own way of thinking about any given thing.. change the thought process change the emotion right… put this thing with her away for awhile and just tell yourself yano il revisit that another time when I’m stronger it’s not going anywhere anyway right and then use the spare thinking time to throw yourself into other things…reading self motivation soul search find you what u like who u are and want to become. Do things with your son who I’m sure needs the break to talk to him bout how u feel he is a great friend if you let him my 16 yr old is my best buddy. Ul soon find after so long not tormenting yourself with thoughts of just her that there is much better use for your time…. I’ve stopped trying to fight my empathetic side I’m always going to be to caring and forgiving but I’ve also learned one massive thing I never seemed to get before… I put all my time n effort into the betterment and love of others yet I don’t give myself the same treatment? How silly is that? 🙂 I’m a person too I deserve love and respect too who better to love and respect me than me ay! Love yourself nestor. Don’t waste the short time we have on this earth being horrible to the one person on this planet that’s got your back when there’s no one else around…you!! We are in charge of our own happiness. X

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Mike

Wow! Thank you so. I have for another caring response.
I believe my pain stems from my first marriage that didn’t work and also involves a child. My first son who is now 21. I was 23 when I walked into an empty apt. we were living in. His mother only 20 at the time wasn’t ready for that type of life (family life) . She wanted to party and met someone else and just walked away taking my son who was my life. I believe that started this pain and sorrow within me. I shortly started my relationship with this new woman we speak of believing she loved me and truly cared. She was a few years older than me, was in the process of starting a career and I just fell completely head over heals. Only to soon realize I wasn’t at the top of the list in her priorities. We would go out with friends we were both aquanted with and at times she would want to leave the party or gathering with me always flirting and loving the attention she recieved from others. These moments were some of the worst at the beginning. Her desiring others instead of me. I would break up with her and what do you know here she came looking for me and if it wasn’t her it was me. It was back and forth for a while until she really well all in to her drug addiction. She started getting arrested and going to jail for short moments. Few months here and there. I would take care of all her belongings and go see her and answer her calls. Upon one of her releases and living in a halfway house she visited me and this is when our son was conceived. How freaking stupid was I!! She went back to jail unknowing she was pregnant and then a few months into her stay was tested and we found out. She was ordered to a live in rehab until the baby was born. Thank God! This saved our son from a pregnancy with her using and abusing drugs and destroying his brain.i would go see here and she would give me promises of her being ready to change and how different things were gona be. I had an apt. waiting for her and the baby. I was ready to start a new life with her only to find a few weeks after she was home her using opiats once again. I left her as hard as it was. Our son was only 6 months old and one of the hardest things I ever did. I love my boys and am a family man, a loving father who had my dream of my own family, my wife and support, my kids and our fun adventurous life full of love and encouragement. Shortly after he left her legal troubles once again started and I saw my opportunity to take my son. I did and have had custody of him since age one. She went and served prison time trying to sneak in drugs into a jail. Recieved a year and a day in prison for it. When she was gone of course I started receiving the letters of sorry and I love you and she’s gona change and my dumb ass believing it and writing back and going to visit.
Here I am 10 years later and trying to move came on??😔I feel so exhausted and knowing that I have to deal with this person because of our son makes me hate everything good I have. Through go all this time I’ve managed to still pick up all the pieces and find success and stability in my life. Yet my spirit is broken. I’m trying to find the strength and you know what’s funny is that there’s been times for instance when I made her leave about 2and a half years ago I felt peace knowing I didn’t have to put up with her drama and chaotic behavior. Where I’ve went wrong is continuing to see her on and off sexually and expecting her to be more loving and caring or change her ways. Nope! She is still stuck and to this day is at a Methadone clinic every morning to start her day. She lives with her old step dad who has took her in fortunately for her because she has no living family left to help her.
I appreciate your advice and I’m trying my hardest to be strong for my boys. I have had my oldest in town visiting from college these last few weeks and spending some time with both. It’s been nice but I’ve been really empty inside regardless. Last night me and my little guy actually camped out in the back yard with a fire and iPad movie on Netflix. He was so excited.. I was pretty cool. Im trying my to find my strength and push on.
I think being Im on vacation and took some time off work has affected me too. At work I’m always active, working out and in front of the Atlantic Ocean. Fresh air and life. Being home during these holidays and processing things have been hard. The loneliness his and steals my joy. I’m trying beanz, believe me I’m not giving up. I just pray one day I’m past this and God gives me the wife my hearts desired since I was a young man. It’s all that’s missing in my life. It’s all I’ve wanted. I see so many out there who have one and yet don’t appreciate her and are unfaithful. But she’s right there always as his backbone even if he is doing her wrong. I don’t get it?? It baffles my mind not understanding how humans work. Anyways didn’t mean to ramble on and on about the same stuff. Thank you once again for your kind and caring words. I will try and push myself today and find some strength and joy in my life. Thank you Beanz

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beanz

Your welcome I mean we are all here in similar boats getting to understand your situation in turn helps me look at my own and that helps me appreciate the differences again some of your experiences mirror my own and I too wonder how being this loyal n caring winds me up on my own with 2 kids when others are married and cheat or seemingly have it all but yano along my journey through all this I’ve found its staying in that perpetual cycle of negative thoughts gets me nowhere but feeling more rubbish than I do anyway… change the thought pattern change the feeling… so you and your boy had what’s sounds like a really awesome night camping 🙂 you live near the ocean? And you camped under the stars with what sounds like the most important person in the world to you ….wow…. breath them happy thoughts in for a moment.. now take yourself to a parallel universe somewhere and your wife is there on that same night…would you have had the same amazing night would your boy have loved it as much would you have even camped at all or would you have spent that time feeling anxious upset put down or just negative in any way? Which night would you choose? Go watch noah elcrief on loneliness on youtube it really helped me he said something that really kinda made sense it went something like this if you had two choices one was you could have the love of your life forever but you’d always feel hurt upset belittled etc or two you would be alone forever but always happy content and loved which would you choose? Well we would choose two right? Other people don’t create our happiness…We do…. its all just a way of thinking if you attach negative meaning to santa you’d always hate santa right? But santa isn’t bad 🙂 being lonely doesn’t have to be a bad thing… what’s so wrong with takin time out to work on you? Be with your son before he grows up and leaves to start his life…These are the best years. Another thing I tell myself everyday is nothing ever stays the same look back over your life and it’s a journey that’s always moving forward someway or another everything changes year to year month to month new jobs homes pets.. kids milestones. .. always moving forward.. nothing stays the same.. This too shall pass… stay strong buddy 🙂 we can do this

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Beatrice

I’m not sure if I’m crazy? It it’s wrong. I was going to get married, to a pretty great guy! I mean we had our issues,but he was kind. Then his best friend convinced me he wasn’t a great person and that he was the best thing for me. Talked about pedestals and loving me deeply for me. Talked to me morning noon and night it was fresh air from previously feeling ignored (one of the issues) and I left my fiancé and then started dating the friend. It was intense and the love and compassion was strong and I had never loved and been loved so deeply. It was.. some of the best days of my life. He talked about making my dreams come true and the future and he made me feel so special, but one day everything changed. And now he’s mean he makes horrid comments about me being a whore or him cheating and then when they upset me says they are jokes and gets disgusted that it upset me. But he makes these jokes all day. The love stopped the talking stopped the kindness stopped. He never stopped talking to his ex and we watched a video on his phone and her text popped up saying “missing you to” he deleted the feed then dumped me when I asked why he deleted it. Promptly undumped me, he won’t hang out with me in town but insists on going a state over (20 minutes away) I’m not allowed to post anything or pictures of him or us together on Facebook yet his ex keeps posting pictures. He ditched me christmas and up went a photo of him at his exes, which he says is old but I’m sure he’s still with her to. But I have no proof and it makes me feel crazy. Idk where his love went but I feel like it’s my fault. The harder I try the worse it gets if I stop trying it gets even worse. I just want the love back. I used to be bubbly and cheery and now I’m deeply depressed, scared to leave lest he accuse me of cheating (again) and scared to even text. We fight constantly (mostly about me doing or saying something wrong or getting upset that he is so meAn. But occasionally I get a glimpse of the past and it keeps me coming back. Am I crazy?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Beatrice you are not crazy, but it sounds to me that you are living in the past. Read back to yourself what you have written, and then ask yourself if this is the way you deserve to be loved. It’s not. You deserve to be treated with kindness and love. You deserve to feel secure and you deserve not to have jokes made about you. You have been dumped, undumped, and you have good reason to be suspicious. You have plenty of proof that this relationship as it is at the moment isn’t healthy. Even bad relationships have moments of happiness, but that doesn’t mean they are the right ones. You deserve more than this, but as long as you keep going back to the relationship that hurts you, the one that can make you happy won’t find you. What would you do if you loved yourself first?

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Emma

I keep coming back to this article and it really is my life. I have been married to an alcoholic for 10 years. In that time we have had two children. He was drunk at both of their births.

I have lived in this fantasy world that if he got sober (and that he could) everything would be better and we would have this perfect family. My children would have their father and we would have a great family. Instead after 6 rehabs over 3 years he continues to blame me for all his problems (as do his family). He recently told me that if I just showed him more love he would be okay. This after he spent 6 months in a rehab away from me and the children and then drank the next day. I made sure that everything carried on normally for the kids and all he could do was complain about how cold and horrible I am

What I dont understand is why i just can’t walk away from him – maybe I am the toxic person in thihs relationship. He has not been living at home for a year and I have filed for divorce but a small piece of me really wants the family to still work out. I allowed him to come on holiday with us for the kids to have their father on xmas. The whole holiday he basically ignored me or simply grunted. I was so hurt that he made no effort emotionally. He will cook meals and that is mean’t to show me that he cares.

He shows no emotion and blames me for everything telling me how cold and unaffectionate I am and how I am controlling etc. He was sober the whole holiday and has been for 2 months.

Now I feel like I am tearing apart a family for no reason as he could stay sober. Yet another part of me feels I really deserve to be loved and cuddled and be the most important person to someone. Instead withh him I always feel second best and he admits he resents me. If I am crying he will walk out the room and tell me that it makes him feel like he is wrong and that irritates him. He never consoles me.

Why can’t I simply make a clean break and forget this ideal of a perfect family. How do I move on without the guilt

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Leigh

I have been married for 10 years to a person who became an alcoholic. Over the past 4 years he has been to 6 rehabs and numerous half way houses. We have two children. He has been drunk on and off and I have finally filed for divorce but am struggling to move on. I have this idea that we could be the perfect family and that I am tearing up the family

I allowed him to come on holiday with us to be with the children for xmas. He hardly spoke to me the whole time. He told me he resents me for putting him in rehab (even though he tried to kill himself) ando that I am cold unemotional and controlling. I am also a negative person.

He was sober for the holidays but angry and grumpy.

Why can’t I walk away from him with no guilt. I spend all day wondering if I am crazy or the toxic person and if I am making a mistake. How do I move on. How do I know what the right thing is?. I am so confused

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Deciding when to let go is never easy. When you have so many memories with somebody, and when you have built a life together, it is completely understandable that you would feel guilty walking away – but it doesn’t mean that your guilt is justified. It sounds as though you have tried hard to put this relationship back on track and to make your family healthy again. You can’t do this on your own – nobody can. It takes two to make a relationship work. If neither of you are getting what you need from the relationship, and if being in the relationship feels bad for both of you, it’s okay to move on. Just because you feel guilt, doesn’t mean that you have a reason to feel guilty. If it feels like it’s time to move on and let go of the relationship, move forward with love and strength and one small step at a time. Take it day by day. It takes time to adjust to a new normal, so be patient and kind to yourself and remember the reasons it felt right to walk away.

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Renee

My Aunt is the toxic person in my life I don’t know what to do with her. She continues to try to control every aspect of my life including my children. She helped raise me mainly for the money her brother left behind for me(my father died when I was 2). She used the money for herself and demanded I pay additional rent and give my entire paycheck to her. When I could get away I did to a failed relationship she continues to throw that into my face whenever possible. I married the love of my life and she continually tries to split us up, for 11 years and even before that. She tries to make me feel guilty for working and has caused me to lose jobs because she won’t stop calling every hour on the hour. I’ve resolved not to give her my work number anymore. Long story short now that she is older she’s getting worse, and is finding new ways to make my life miserable. This article is great and I’ve learned new ways to deal with her behaviors. I have a long hard road ahead of me I do believe.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Renee I’m so pleased this article has helped you. It can be so difficult letting go of family, but if she keeps choosing to do things that hurt you, it’s always okay to walk away. Kindness to yourself first.

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Tanya Caraher

I think that I have been in a toxic relationship for the past 4 years. I’m a very strong independent and sometimes selfish woman with a great big heart I feel empathy for every being and Soul on this Earth from animals to plants to people and the man I’m with find a way every time to never ever let me get my feelings expressed to never have them validated to never have them heard and to keep me looking just one day to the next day. I used to have goals and dreams and I used to feel centered and balanced and I can’t even discuss the week ahead of us without him getting upset and frazzled and telling me that I’m overwhelming him. He lost his job a year ago has not gained employment yet when he does go to interviews he wear sweatpants or shows up late I believe you doesn’t want to work and I’m even okay with that if you would help out around the house but it said I’m the one going to work and coming home every day cleaning cooking and taking care of things and worrying about the bills and animals and everything else. He then tells me that I made him this way that it’s my fault that he became a man that was not willing to work for his family and that if I would change and be a better Communicator with him that he would want to be a better provider for me. In my heart I know that this is not true I know that my actions do have a bearing on his ability to be in my life and the way we interact with each other but my actions do not make him into something else unless he allows it just as I cannot be made into something else unless I allow it. I guess the real reason I’m posting a comment as I don’t know which one of us is toxic or if maybe just the two of us together create a toxic relationship if that’s possible I believe that sometimes two people bring out the worst in each other and then given another set of circumstances with different people the best is able to be brought out but without either one of us ever getting a chance to fully Express and feel validated for our feelings we’re going nowhere. I’m constantly being told that my feelings are stupid or the way I’m doing something as stupid or just slow down or turn my turn signal on or a numerous things and I’m a 40 year old woman who has made it on her own as an orphan I called child at 23 years old by myself with 4 children that I have gotten raised I’ve never went to jail I’ve maintained employment I’ve always provided my own place for me and my kids to live and I don’t think I’ve done too bad of a job. It really takes a toll on my spirit to her be so micromanaged input into such a miniscule space that I feel like I can’t do anything without him telling me how to do it he sees no problem in this he tells me he’s offering me his opinion however his opinion is met with Force if you do not comply to what his opinion is that he forcefully makes you comply to what his opinion is I believe it one time this man love me greatly and saw me as his salvation and I love him greatly and saw him is my salvation through this relationship I have learned no one else can save you I think I’ve waited my whole life for someone to Save Me From Myself And if 40 years old I finally figured out I’m the only one that can do that and I have to make sure I know that I’m worth doing that and now I feel stuck. When were together 70% of the time I wish you wasn’t here I wish we weren’t together I wish I could have my own life then the minute I get home and I’m alone in this big house with just my youngest son is 13 I’m scared and I don’t know how to feel and I don’t know what to do and I feel empty inside and I can’t quit thinking about them and if what he’s doing and why he just can’t see things the way I see them and then I start to question myself whether I’m being honest and truthful about my interactions with them because I’m so unhappy in my in my not being a full-fledged partner to him and I’m not giving it my all of my not trying my hardest and I just don’t know what to do anymore because I know as a human being I’ve always tried to involve myself with knowledge with girls with information with change and I know that in these past four years I haven’t done any of that I don’t have any goals I don’t even have any Financial stability on things that I’ve always had before and I don’t know how to not reach out to him when he’s not here to keep that door open so that I don’t feel so alone and isolated thank you for letting me vent I really needed to get that off my chest hope you all are having a wonderful New Year

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Mike

I can somewhat understand hoof you are feeling Tanya. I’m a man who is raising a 110 year old boy since age one. His mother I have held on too for our whole relationship of 15 years believing that she will change. She has been to prison twice since his birth and even though she hasn’t lived with me in nearly 3 years I have held on to her. Feelings of loneliness and fear of facing the future alone have kept me in some type of relationship with her. A type where intamacy for a few days or a few weeks works but then I’m to my breaking point each time realizing that she is so unconnected to both me and her son even when she is home with us. She continues with her drug addiction which has totally taking control of her life and caused her to loose everything ,yet I still hold on to hope because I feel I want to save her and help her be happy. At the same cost the years pass by and even though I have stability with my life nothing ever changes.
I want a wife, someone who will also take the time to connect and be available for both me and her son on an emotional level and have more consideration for all of our needs. But she can’t give that to us and I’m always down and depressed feeling alone. I understand what your going through Tanya in many ways. I’m trying to find the strength to just let go and move on and set the boundaries I need too in order to have a more complete and fulfilling life without the empty that she brings. I know it’s easier said than done and I don’t think many people know the damage and heartache this brings to our own souls. I only hope time and learning makes me stronger as I hope for you to maybe one day be in a better phycological mind set for our children and for ourselves. This is a tough place to be.

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Shannon

Thank you for the article Karen.

I left a co-dependent toxic relationship after 15 years. There was no physical abuse, but psychologically I was very dominated. He had a brain injury (happened before I met him), which made it difficult for him to control his behavior, which is how I justified it for all that time. He also has an extremely loving, sensitive, vulnerable side that is the part I was so in love with.

It has been almost 1 year since I have left. I have a new partner who is really loving, sensitive and caring, but I haven’t been able to fully let go of my ex. We have stayed in contact, via text and phone, and he is now only showing me his sweet, sensitive side. He is begging for me to give him another chance, and I haven’t been able to fully say “no”. I hate that I have to break his heart, and I feel for him as I know the brain injury is not his fault.

How do I let go and move on, and tell him the truth that there’s no possibility of us reuniting, without feeling this crippling sense of guilt? I still love him, but I know the dynamic is toxic, and I know I can’t go back, but I’m having such a hard time letting go. And if my new partner found out, it would most likely be the end of things too. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

There is no easy way to let someone down, but the thing to remember is that if you don’t say ‘no’ to your ex, you will be saying ‘no’ to your current partner and also to yourself. Your ex deserves to know the truth so that he can move on with the rest of his life. Let him know that you are grateful for the time you had together, but the combination of the two of you stopped working some time ago. Saying this won’t be easy, and hearing it won’t be easy either, but it’s unfair on both men in your life, as well as yourself, if you aren’t clear about what you want. It’s also not fair on your ex to give him any reason to believe there may be a future with you, if you have no intention of being with him. Be strong for all of you. It’s not easy, but it’s important.

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Esther

I’ve been in a toxic relationship for 3 years and I’m at the point where I want to leave and get out. I’ve been through emotional abuse, psychological abuse and physical abuse from my partner. I keep making excuses for him infront of friends and family but they all see right through his act. I really want out and I’ve told him it’s over. He keeps calling me, crying and saying all the things I want to hear. He even threatened suicide and possibly killing me if I didn’t take him back but I know that these are all strategies he is trying to use to get back under his control. Everything he is saying now he has said before and yet nothing changed. Reading this article has given me a little confidence and hope that I am making the right choice. But I’m so afraid that I will give in to his pleas. If there are any other articles that I can read on standing my ground or any one I could talk to I would deeply appreciate it. He is making me feel like the only way out of his grip is unless one of the two of us is six feet under.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Esther I really hear you when you talk about being worried that you will go back, but you need to remember the reasons you have decided to leave. You made this decision with clarity, strength, courage and so much self-respect. You decided that you deserved better than the abuse you were getting in your relationship – and you were absolutely RIGHT. You deserve to be loved, nurtured and cherished, every day. You deserve to be free from all forms of abuse, every day. You have been with this man for 3 years and you know very clearly what it means to be in a relationship with him. If you say yes to him, you are saying no to yourself and to the life and love you deserve. The strength you need is in you. Write down every reason you are leaving, and before you are tempted to take him back, give yourself the time you need to read them. Here are some more articles that will hopefully help you to feel stronger and more clear in your decision http://www.heysigmund.com/?s=toxic+people

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Tarek

This is the best best assessment I have ever come through. It gave me much more certainty and clarity and content that I have taken the right decision by exiting a 23 year toxic marriage . The biggest cheat was that the toxicity has been consistently in disguise under a mask of a caring committed wife. But I found the reality and my kindness and loyalty was ferociously abused . I can’t believe I am saved. Thank you

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Derek

What do you do when you think you’re both toxic? My girlfriend of 6 years, the mother of our lives children, is leaving me. It’s tearing me apart, and I realize that we may both be toxic. I never have her enough attention, she felt she couldn’t trust me, and there was just so much distance sometimes even when we were in the same room.

I would do anything to find love with her again. She’s my world, but right now she says she needs to move out and be alone to find herself again. So I’ve agreed to let it happen and we’re seeking mediation regarding custody of the children. I have no desire for our kids to lose either their mother or their father. I just want to help her find happiness again.

Reading through this article really hit home for me, on a lot of points. But I can see how we could both be the toxic person. I don’t know how to cope with being alone. This whole situation has really opened my eyes to how much she really does mean to me and how I’d do anything to not lose her. But holding onto her now is just pushing her farther away, so I have to let go, no matter how painful that is.

What can I do to help both of us through this? How do I keep the person I love most at a distance? I just want to be supportive, and I hope more than anything that she’ll one day find her way back to me, but I also have to accept that may never happen. How do I learn to love myself again?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Sometimes it’s not about toxic people, but about the combination of two people. To help both of you through, it’s important for both of you to be honest and open about what needs to change in the relationship. If you can, try to have a conversation and gently discuss what each of you need more of and less of and what has got in the way of that up to now. The key is awareness and ownership of the things that haven’t been working. In relation to how you feel about yourself, it’s important to keep in mind that no experience is wasted. People come into our lives to learn from us or teach us. I wish there was an easier way for us to grow, but the truth is that we find our greatest growth in our relationships with other people, especially the people we love and the ones who love us back. It feels awful now, but know that you have grown. You sound as though you have enough awareness that means you are not the same person as you were going into the relationship. You are wiser, stonger, braver, and with more awareness. This will make you better for this relationship, for your children, or for any relationship you have in the future. You deserve to feel loved.

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B

Karen,
I am in a toxic relationship and I am the poison! My wife and I have been married 25 years and have 2 great kids! We have had our ups and downs but the last couple of years have been bad, and really bad for my wife.

We are both in individual counseling and we have both discovered we are codependent personalities, my wife has really been doing her work on how to deal with her issues and I have been continuing the same old behavior and of course you know the outcome, I am pushing her farther away…I have finally started looking at myself and realize that I must change to become a better person and a genuine person and in the process hopefully save my marriage. I have finally realized that my marriage may be over, but I see that if I don’t change I will be toxic till I die not good for anyone or any relationships, I am working hard to learn to change my behavior, do you have any recommendations for the toxic person to heal and become a loving, caring, and healthy person.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

This is such a turnaround point for you. It’s so difficult to own the parts of ourselves that are harmful, but you’ve done that. Now, it’s about staying open to that. Listen to what your wife needs and let her know what you need, gently and with an open heart. Check your impact on your wife and if you aren’t sure, ask what happens for her when you do or say certain things and what she needs instead. Change is never a quick process and there will be good days and bad days. Eventually, the good days will be much more and the bad days much less. Your needs are important, and so are hers. Look after her needs, let her look after yours and be open about what you need from each other and the things that get in the way of that. When you do anything unfamiliar, it will probably feel clumsy or awkward and you might feel the drive to go back to what’s familiar, but be open to the fact that this isn’t getting in the way of change, it’s part of it. All the very best to the both of you.

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Carolyn

Dear B.,

I have found great help in something called ‘Nonviolent Communication’ (NVC). Check to see if there are any classes or workshops near or within reasonable distance of where you live. Or even far away, that you could attend once.

-C

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Daniel

I’m really glad I found this page and all the conversations everyone is having. I’m going to try and keep this short to save anyone reading this the agony of reading a novel.

I’m pretty young. 27. I’ll be 28 next month. In December of 2015, I ended a nearly 7-year relationship that I should have ended much sooner. But that relationship isn’t the reason I’m here. It’s the new relationship I entered after the first one had ended. I fell HARD for her. I had known her for a year, and we had talked off-and-on, but around December of 2015, things really took off. I connected with her in the deepest way I have ever felt. She lives 2,000 miles away in Missouri. I’m in Northern California.

I flew out to see her for the first time on January 23rd, 2016. So this is an incredibly difficult time for me because this all happened exactly a year ago. Anyway, the day I was able to actually touch her and feel her and experience her was the greatest day of my life. Words literally cannot and will not ever be able to describe how deeply I connected with her. It got more and more serious over time, and eventually, I quit my job, left my family and friends, and drove out there to start a life with her. I know this sounds crazy, but there is so much more to the story that I’m sparing you. Anyway, I started to see, experience, and learn her family dynamic, and it was INCREDIBLY toxic. I can’t go into detail, it’s way too overwhelming.

She also had her own personal and behavioral issues that are most definitely related to her family dynamic and how she grew up. She is addicted to pot (and possibly other drugs, I don’t know), she got diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (among other things that she still hasn’t discovered or acknowledged) and her diagnosis was the result of my actions which were, in turn, the result of HER actions. Anyway, I eventually discovered that she had lied to me about A LOT of things. Almost exclusively in the name of obtaining drugs (pot), and the rest in the name of fear of what I would say if I found out that she was lying and not getting better.

Throughout all those months though, we connected so deeply and enjoyed each other’s company, even despite living in separate states. Again, I can’t emphasize enough how happy and connected I was with this girl. I was madly in love with her. I had seen her essence. Her true core. And I loved her completely and truly (and I still do, but perhaps we’ll get to that).

Anyway to start closing things up, I eventually started to learn that I can’t be her caregiver. I can’t save her. She has to do that on her own. I offered her help MANY times, and gave her the opportunity to get help with me along her side. I wanted to support her. She repeatedly didn’t take the help nor go out there and find help. She was addicted, depressed, and just completely emotionally unstable, and it was destroying our relationship. I had increasingly kept my distance from her because it hurt me too much, and I had told her that several times.

In November 2016, she reached out to me and said that she finally understood why I was keeping my distance, and said that she loved me, wanted to marry me, have kids with me, take care of me when I was sick, etc. She also said that she was done being stupid and was ready to change (which she had said similarly in the past). I remained cautious and kept my distance, and kept my boundaries as best I could. I told her that until she gets herself involved in some kind of recovery, I cannot be a part of her life. She claims to have understood that.

Now, I need to bring this up randomly, but it’s important…we had had so many deep conversations about what sex meant for us. For me, it’s the ultimate way of expressing love towards someone. Hence the term, “making love.” I was her first. She always said how special and emotional it was for her, just as it was for me. Our sex was unbelievably deep and intimate…for me. I THOUGHT it was for her.

3 weeks later, about December 27th or so, I found out that she had sex with another guy. Our relationship had never officially ended. This DESTROYED me.

I never once would have EVER thought that she would do this. I’ve been dying inside for the past week and a half. Once again, the connected I had with her…it was so special. And then she went and did that.

So today, I confronted her about it. I needed closure. I’m still hurting very VERY badly right now. In my heart, my stomach, my whole damn body. I told her what I needed to say. I let her say a few things, and I told her that it would be the very last time that she ever sees me and hears my voice.

I’m having a hard time deciding whether I feel any better, but at least I don’t feel any worse than I already was. I still feel like I’m going crazy. Because despite what she did, and how toxic she was, I’m still so deeply in love with her. I would have loved more than anything for our relationship to bloom. And maybe I’m still clinging onto that. But at the same time, I’m trying to do the right thing and let go and move on.

It is SO hard to do that though. I have never met anyone like her. I have a photographic memory. I constantly have visions of all of our memories. Down to the details. I’ve seen the best of her; the part of her I fell in love with. But I’ve also seen the worst. And that’s ultimately what did us in.

I don’t know what to do or how I’m going to get over her. I’ve been seeing an MFT since September, but I used up all of my EAP sessions today. I also don’t have any friends, really, that I can talk to. And my family has issues, so I can’t find help there either. I just feel empty, dead, and like I’ve lost a huge part of me that I can never get back.

I’m SO in love with her. What she did was unforgiveable by many standards. And I’m even crazy enough to forgive her. I told her that I forgive her. But I also told her that I will never forget. And I know I am strong enough to stay out of complete contact with her. But internally, I am suffering very badly. I just don’t know what to do.

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Elizabeth

I have been in a toxic relationship for 2 years and have recently had the strength to get out, but it may end in me going back to it. I had been in a relationship with my high school sweetheart for 2 years which lead to engagement, and then college happened. I never really realized he was toxic to me until I met someone else who showed me what a healthy relationship was. This was hard for my ex to accept and we have still been in contact since. He constantly tells me he loves me and needs me to come back. This enrages my current boyfriend of course. I just want to be free of this pain. Every day I live in fear of falling back to him because I do love him and sometimes miss the good times that we had. I grew up with him and have barely learned anything else other than what I learned in that relationship. Sometimes it feels like what we had was normal and the relationship I’m in now is not enough, but I can feel the difference. I trust my current boyfriend more and we have a mutual respect that wasn’t there before. I don’t know how to cut the cord for good, especially when my ex is so ready to start a life with me.

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Lydia

Yes… but no.

What if you are the depressed one and your partner is nothing but beauty. And then depressed self labels beauty as toxic?

It can happen.

And then articles like this support their altered thoughts… and who suffers? The beautiful ones.

Abuse is bad. Abusive relationships are bad. And if you are being abused, yes- get out. Seek help. Friends. Doctor. Therapist.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Lydia one of the traits of toxic people is that they will see fault with other people when there is none, and see nothing wrong with their own behaviour, when there is plenty. They have no compassion, empathy and will do whatever they need to do to get their own needs met, regardless of how much damage it does to the people around them. Depression is not toxic, though toxic people might use it as an excuse for toxic behaviour. We all have a responsibility to not harm or damage the people in our lives. Depressed people are often very sensitive to the needs and wants of the people around them and they genuinely care. Toxic people don’t do this. That doesn’t mean that toxic people can’t be depressed, and that depressed people can’t be toxic, but it is not the depression that is driving the toxic behaviour. In these instances, it would be likely that the person would be toxic with or without the depression.

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Jessica

I’ve been with my husband for 7 years now. We have a 1 year old son. Since having my son, I have realised just how toxic my husband is. We have spent months arguing and I have been fighting and fighting for this relationship.
And I have seen some changes in him, he is trying. But I am still finding myself hurt by him more than I deserve.
And I also believe that his behaviour and lack of emotional support and caring, has caused me to fall out of love with him.
I mean, is that even possible? I don’t want to fall out of love with him, I was once so IN LOVE with him that it was sickening. Now I can’t stand the though of him even touching me. But I don’t want that. I want us to be close and work on our relationship for us and our son. And i want the marriage I dreamed of. He is the man I saw myself being with forever.
I feel so conflicted and confused and hurt.
I really don’t know what to do.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

A new baby can cause a lot of changes in relationships for both people. What you are describing is understandable. The important questions are have these problems always been there? Or just since your son arrived? Do you remember a time when your husband was able to give you the emotional support you needed? If things have got worse since the birth of your son, it’s possible that your husband just doesn’t know what you need, or what to do to give you what you need. It can be a confusing time for everyone. New babies are a beautiful addition to any family, but they can definitely put a strain on the relationship for a while, at least until everyone has adjusted to the new normal. If you can remember a time you and your husband were close and loving and nurturing, keep fighting for the relationship. It’s so important to have time out with just the two of you if you can to reconnect and replenish the emotional well in your marriage. It’s important to be able to reconnect as a couple sometimes. This will be important for your son too. If you can, and if you aren’t doing this already, it might also be helpful if your husband can have time on his own with his son while you do something that feels nurturing for you – whether it’s having a quick catch up with friends, having a sleep!, going to a movie. Sometimes new dads struggle with where they fit in, and their new role in the family when a baby arrives. Time just for your husband and your son to establish their relationship and connect as father and son might help this.

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Julie

I fought long and hard for my relationship(no children together) and finally fell out of love because of the hurt that he could not see he was inflicting that was causing me to pull away emotionally and physically. When in this type of situation, the one being abused tends to send conflicting signals to the abuser, because we are trying to give chances and we hang on to hope that it will stop..not just get better bc that is not enough. That is called settling, children or not. I dont recommend it. Those mixed signals made life hard and frustrating for him as someone who thought I was making Mountains out of mole hills on top of it. I think that you should do all things mentioned in the last comment first if you havent already done so. I always go back to Karen’s advice; if it feels bad, it is bad. And from my experience, finding out the wheres and whys of the abuse can help determine what you may be up against in the long run. Good luck!

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Jessica

Thanks Karen. He hasn’t always been that way. But that was a long time ago when we first met, he was perfect basically.
Then about 7 months into the relationship, he really changed. And he became so so toxic. He was what you would call emotionally abusive.
But I stayed with him regardless.
Our situation is quite different in that we are from different cultures. I am from the UK and he is from Albania.
I hoped that he would change, and thankfully he did. And I was happy for a time. But looking back, he never changed back into the person I first met, he went from abusive, to toxic.
And I guess I never really noticed so much because we had our own lives and I wasn’t so dependent on him.
But when our son came, I really needed him, and he wasn’t there in the ways that I needed him.
And I realised more and more how selfish he can be.
There is nothing nasty or malicious about him, he just doesn’t get what it takes to be a dad and husband. We have had SO many conversation about our expectations and our needs, but he still does get it.
I would probably categorise his behaviour as neglectful. He believes he is doing his best because he is working and providing, which is great, but that’s not all we need from him.
My son and I don’t deserve to feel second best. And I do sometimes.
I want it to work with him, and he has made some changes, but I am finding it very difficult to forgive him for the fact that he just wasn’t there when our son was small, even when he was home, he would be glued to his phone or laptop, his excuse being that he needs to stay in touch with his family abroad, but that means he is missing out in his family here. He would also say that I don’t offer much conversation, so that’s why he is on his phone.
(Sigh) I just don’t know what to do.
Basically all this has made me co dependent and I’m so hurt by his toxicity, that I find myself reflecting his toxic behaviour back on him. I’m being nasty, and refusing to care for him, because he has spent so long not seeming to care about me.
But this is not me. I feel so lost.

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Flor

Thank you so much for this article. I just got out of a very toxic relationship of 8 years. We have 2 children, and for a while my mind was set on salvaging the relationship for my children. I’ve been through physical abuse, mental abuse emotional abuse. He says I’m evil, I’m ugly, I’m never going to find someone to love me, that my children will hate me. I have worked since I was 12. At 15 I had spine surgery that failed. At 30, I was approved for Disability because I have 3 herniated discs, arthritis of the spine, disc degenerative disease, and my scoliosis has come back. I live off Disability. I lost my home, depleted my funds paying for his drug, cigarette, and alcohol habits, and I lost my self worth and self esteem in hopes that if I did everything for him, he would change and love me back as I’ve loved him. He doesn’t work, has never paid me a dime for child support, and lives off women. He has 4 other children of which he never financially supported either. Recently, i found out for the last 3 years he has been cheating on me with a woman who used to prostitute herself and use crack and heroin. It was the last straw. He said she treats him better than I ever did and that he never really loved me, he only stuck around for the kids. He says I’m worthless and live off the government and will always be a nobody. He has a very long extensive criminal background, including a domestic charge for breaking my nose. He claims now that I kicked him out that he will get his life together and take away my kids. I hate that I still love him, that he’s still in my mind and heart. He’s destroyed every part of me. He’s turned me into a nobody. I have severe depression and anxiety, and now my mind is working against me, making me feel like I don’t belong in this World. My heart hurts so bad. All I want to do is sleep. All I do when I’m awake is cry. I can’t seem to get him out of my heart or my mind, no matter what I do. I feel like a failure. He makes me not want to exist in a World where he exists. The pain is unbearable. I just want to get better. I just want to let him go from my heart and mind. I don’t want my children to think it’s like ok for a man to talk to me the way he does, abuse me, constantly cheat on me, talk bad about me, leave my house and not come back for days on end. It is not ok. I just want to heal. I want to get my mind right. It is so hard. Any advice?

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vera

I could not have found this at a better time. A wonderful & impactful piece that I very much needed to read tonight.

My tale of woe is… 6 years ago, after surviving cancer and being left by my husband, I met and moved 2500 miles from home to be with someone. Things were good…not great…but pretty good. then my mom moved to be nearby. Life was better. My SO and I got engaged. We had a big happy family.

Then his mom was diagnosed stage 4 cancer and died 3 months later. This was 3 years ago. Since then, it’s been a downward spiral. His family fell apart. He started spending a LOT of money on things. He started hoarding. Then, more recently, I discovered the drug use and a serious gambling addiction.

I moved out a year ago and we have been limping along, but he is now in a seriously desperate situation (lost his job and home and has literally pawned or sold everything he has). I told him he can come here to detox and plan his next steps.

Instead, he has hoarded my garage (it was promised that it would be only 24-48 hours) and is being terrible to me because I have told him tomorrow is the deadline to get it out (it’s been over 2 weeks). I don’t have expendable cash but I’ve been putting gas in his truck and buying things that he needs. I am going broke.

For years now, he has cursed me, walks ahead of me when we go places, plays on his phone on the odd occasion when we DO go to dinner… my mom doesn’t hate him but she won’t have anything to do with him because he is disrespectful. He only comes over when he needs food or sex. My needs are, and have always been of no matter, though he would tell you I always come first. Whatever. Why oh WHY have I stayed in this for so long?!! Because I LOVE HIM. Because at first it was that I’d moved. Then it was because of his mom. Then it was financial. Now it’s rock bottom. BUT I LOVE HIM. Love love love. That stupid word. I have stayed under the guise that it was to help, but I have only hurt myself. Now he is furious because I have a bottom line with the garage and tonight, when I said, “Tomorrow,” he threw the house key at me and basically said, “Thanks, I’m homeless now.”

Your line, “The choice to trample over what you need means they are choosing not to be with you. It doesn’t mean you are excluding them from your life,” could not be more true. COULD NOT BE MORE TRUE. I so needed to hear this tonight and it is going to be my mantra now.

Tomorrow, if the stuff isn’t moved, I am throwing it in the dumpster. Tomorrow, after work, I am going to a NARCANON meeting. I am worth more than how I am being treated and I’m tired of longing for “normal.” He has bullied me into supporting his lifestyle and habits for too long and I’m done. If he ends up on the street, that’s not my problem. I am sad but ready.

Thank you.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Vera you sound clear, brave and strong. You can love someone and not like them at the same time, and just because you love someone doesn’t mean they are good for you. Sometimes it is that love that means they are able to keep getting close enough to cause breakage. You make so much sense and you deserve to be happy. I love that now you are fighting for you. Keep moving forward. You’ve got this.

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