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

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.

[irp posts=”1602″ name=”When It’s Not You, It’s Them: The Toxic People That Ruin Friendships, Families, Relationships”]

1,030 Comments

dana

I love this piece…especially the values of space. I recently left a 14 year toxic relationship where I was was in the state of constant frustration. Best thing I ever did was to stand up and walk away without a word. He did not deserve the explanation of my leaving as my pleas and wishes were met with manipulative lies – time and time again.

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Anya L

To the author of this article:
Your writing is amazing. You have a way of expressing yourself… that makes wisdom poetically sink-in to the soul. Thank you.

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Shannon

THIS article confirmed a ton of what I’ve always known about toxic people. I had to read it because I just recently left a toxic relationship. While I do still have feelings for this person and want nothing but the absolutely best for them, It was imperative that I chose myself over my feelings him. I refuse to be taken backwards to things that I’ve already leveled up from and that includes dealing with toxic, selfish, self-centered and narcissistic men. Thank you for writing this article, it is truly a great reminder!

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Preksha

I met a guy and we instantly clicked it was magical and he lives far but I thought we could have a future so stayed in touch …but staying in touch has been the most exhausting thing …everytime I try to communicate with him his answer is bye everytime I tell anything he tells me I’m wrong I shouldn’t act like a child …that I don’t understand him …whereas he doesn’t listen to what I’m saying at all … he tells me goodbye and messages me again …he tells me that he doesn’t want me to move on but also wants me to forget him I have tried to fight for me and him until yesterday that he blocked me and I sent him a message from another account telling that he hurt me …he said I broke myself and I need to grow up and I will text him in few years and thank him …I didn’t do anything wrong all I did was be kind and care about him …every step of the way …he told me that he cannot teach me things and I should grow up …all I did was care and be myself…today I realised that maybe he’s just trying to push me away and make me hate him but it’s toxic it’s hurting me making me think things about myself about who I am as a person questions me my values …but I’m deciding to let go of the ideas the hopes I had to see him in the future I am letting him go and to focus on myself and my life !
I don’t think I deserve this chaos

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Quinten

I barely recognize myself anymore , i was so excited and ready to be his boyfriend , and when i became that , he punished me for it … he gaslights me so hard , i’m starting to question every little thing about myself … i’m the only one who cries and the only one who is noticing that our relationship is going nowhere … i just don’t wanna be alone .. but tbh i was happier when i was alone ..

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Raye

I know I’m seeing this many years after it was published, but it just gave me the peace I needed to sleep. My ex has broken up with me 4 separate times and blamed me each time, and I always came back because he was my first love. He tried to come back again tonight and it was my first time telling him no. His begging and manipulation made it one of the hardest things, and I hate seeing people hurt. I always ask myself “is this toxic or is it just love?” But then I realized I shouldn’t have to ask myself that. I’m beginning the process of walking away now and I know it’s gonna be hard, but for once I feel proud of myself. Reading this made me know I made the right decision and I’ll be okay.

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Stephen

I know how you feel. I’ve broken up several times with mine. I think we’re done, this last time was just horrid. But, between two therapist, friends and family they all say she’s coming back. I’ve taken her back every time. We ended this last May. I’m doing everything I can to say “NO!”. I’m afraid, the woman I thought was the most beautiful woman in the world, will corrupt me, one more time. I’ve got to have to courage to say no more. The only way it could happen, she’s gone to counseling, wants us to further that. But, both therapist say that ain’t going to happen. I’ve got to find the courage to say “NO!”.

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Stephen

I ended a relationship this last May. I still love and hurt losing her. I’ve researched so much and currently doing therapy to why this all happened. Many would say she’s codependent, she’s borderline, she’s bipolar, she has anger issues. In reality, she’s toxic. She used our love to control me. She’d often claim we were soul mates, we were meant to be. In reality, she was doing everything she could to control me staying there. Even though she had assaulted me twice. Was fully convinced I was cheating on her with my ex wife, women that I looked at, or women I had a conversation with. Though inside me, there was no woman in this world could have taken me away from her, except her. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I still love her, it breaks my heart, but she’s toxic and she has already replaced me. And we were together for over 8 years. It hurts, but I had to end it.

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Stephen

I know how you feel. I’ve broken up several times with mine. I think we’re done, this last time was just horrid. But, between two therapist, friends and family they all say she’s coming back. I’ve taken her back every time. We ended this last May. I’m doing everything I can to say “NO!”. I’m afraid, the woman I thought was the most beautiful woman in the world, will corrupt me, one more time. I’ve got to have to courage to say no more. The only way it could happen, she’s gone to counseling, wants us to further that. But, both therapist say that ain’t going to happen. I’ve got to find the courage to say “NO!”.

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J. H

I am in my 70’s. I have struggled all my life with depression and anxiety. I knew it was family related but felt guilty blaming someone other than myself for my life. In the last few years I decided to look back. 90% of my problems were family trying to fit me into something they could control. It’s too late to go back and get the confidence I was lacking because of family shaming. They diminished me and shamed me to raise themselves up. They didn’t want me to bring confidence into the mix of their low self-esteem. So the put downs were continual. They fit me into something they could control and diminish. Because I trusted that they loved me I couldn’t see the evil manipulations used by my mother and sister. I now see that they dissolved into alcoholism from low self esteem and couldn’t deal with a family member having confidence and making it in life. This is the ultimate destruction a narcissistic family will create to safe face.

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Jim

Wow, I had not one but two toxic Ex Wives when i was married twice. I will never ever do that again. Then again, i have people in my family that really lucked out when they met their loved ones. And are still married today as i speak.

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Stephen

I know how you feel. I’ve broken up several times with mine. I think we’re done, this last time was just horrid. But, between two therapist, friends and family they all say she’s coming back. I’ve taken her back every time. We ended this last May. I’m doing everything I can to say “NO!”. I’m afraid, the woman I thought was the most beautiful woman in the world, will corrupt me, one more time. I’ve got to have to courage to say no more. The only way it could happen, she’s gone to counseling, wants us to further that. But, both therapist say that ain’t going to happen. I’ve got to find the courage to say “NO!”.

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Robin

I hate toxic people. I’m immediately disgusted by anybody who isn’t almost exactly the same as me and just avoid others if at all possible, now.
I’ve been through too much with others dictating what I’ll eat, what religion I’ll be, have had relationships assigned to me, have lived under the roof of various dictators had many male stalkers who were entitled to my company and now I have the world’s worst “PTSD” and self-harm, constantly. I guess you can “do it to yourself” instead of having them do it to you.

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Deborah

This is where my life is..nice to know these men picked me because I am soft and open.. I really was starting to feel like it had to be ME since it happened twice. My mother died when I was very young (almost 10) and we were extremely close..I have NO doubt that any good in me comes from her. My father remarried pretty much immediately and to someone completely unlike her.. I don’t say she was bad only totally different and with my step siblings I would generally say the same (one always introduced me as ‘Bruce’s Daughter’ not even step sister (remember this was from 10 years old).. my biological siblings were all younger by a couple years and I feel easily fit the ‘new family’ dynamic. I was scared to death both physically and mentally of ever disappointing my father and always tried my best to be Perfect, which of course wasn’t possible and the ones that always acted like they could care less got all the praise and respect. Mine you I was about an A- student etc..so not a problem child… they were A+ and I was never allowed to forget that… some got in a little trouble but nothing big. I just tried to be quiet and out of the way..did every after school and church activity I could to stay out of the house.
Then at 18 I went out on my own and felt like I almost fit in and was happier than I remember being since my mother.. I found out not everyone thought I was a loser and started to slowly get some confidence as a person, and the girl who always thought she wasn’t ‘good enough’ actually even did some runway modeling, nothing big but a paycheck. Found out I actually have an IQ of 140..who knew?! I had some very good years, making my own money, military and had a decent amount of nice friends. Then I fell madly in love and got engaged ( I still want to believe he was a good guy that just had his own issues ) and I got pregnant, something we were both happy about, with my upbringing timing was a little off not being married first but I wasn’t concerned too much.. until we ended up not getting married..then it was a tap dance, I even lied to my family and said we were married.. we were in the military so I figured they wouldn’t know for the time being and was hoping to be back together and married before they even knew..wasn’t to be.
Anyway long story short my family acted like I would be ‘no good’ until I was married. Never mind that after 12 years of marriage to this Wonderful person who had a great job and let me be a stay at home mom , with 4 more children, he went to prison, 20 year sentence, served 19, for abusing under age girls. Nothing was in my name because that wasn’t how I was taught growing up, but I did the best I could raising 5 children on my own from 16 down to a 2 year old with no help…I didn’t go to the state, because I didn’t grow up that way, even though other siblings did with no recriminations from family..I worked full time when the two year old was still home and once he was in school worked 2 jobs and my ‘loving family’ did nothing but stab me in the back at every turn (acted like it was somehow MY fault that wonderful provider was in prison) . I did divorce him because I didn’t want myself or my children even connected with him.
A long and lonely 10+ years, I was 40 at the time and looked younger so I had ‘offers’ but didn’t trust any man around my daughters .
After all of that I still felt strong and confident in my abilities for the most part because I knew in my heart none of it was my fault and I actually made it through…even though I spent plenty of nights crying myself to sleep then.
Again I’ll skip a few years again… all my daughters grown and son being 14. I felt like maybe it was time for me to be in a relationship ‘for me’ again and met someone on a chat line…not thinking of a serious relationship AT ALL, just a friend/date whatever… on the phone we had a lot in common and even though it was obvious immediately that he had lied about one thing important to me..but it was a height issue, so even though I had told him was a huge thing to me that a man was taller because I’m tall and feeling feminine, wearing heels and all of that was a big part of me and I just felt more secure with a tall man, he lied to me on purpose and when I brought it up later he said it was ‘ok with him because he likes tall women’…I’ve been told that since I was at least 16!!! But by the time we met we had talked on the phone for months and seemed like we had EVERYTHING in common…so I convinced myself I was being ‘shallow’…( I later found out a lot of things were lies..but of course not everything and he was on the road for work about 3 weeks out of the month so by the time I could hardly Stand something he’d be gone again ) but he was always knocking down my confidence and going out of his way to make me feel stupid… but NOT in front of others, like I hear a lot of people say, he acted like I was great then …to make me look like the ‘bad guy’ if I left I think .
I left twice before we got married..the first time I felt wonderful on my own and felt like I was comfortable in my own skin again…this was about 2 years of being together..then he begged me to come back and swore to change…I don’t have to tell you what happened, and he seemed to try for a couple weeks and quit as soon as I was comfortable again…but there was even a different change…he got Worse! He was killing any respect I had for my abilities and called me names even more etc…also he had Never wanted me to work …everything that should have been a Red Flag so why am I so stupid??? A big part of me knows this is sooo toxic…but my self esteem is so low…even though guys still look at me no problem..although I just want to be happy and content on my own, not looking for a man for a very long time! I’m so afraid that people don’t see what he really is because he can be chatty and nice in public for awhile and is careful NOT to put me down in front of people…how do I stop caring about that to save my sanity???

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Diane

I think I’m a magnet to toxic people . I’m in the worse marriage ever and have finally realized that’s it’s over . The most selfish manipulative man that I ever known. Never again

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James

It’s amazing to see how many kind hearted people end up with a toxic partners.
I try my best to treat people with respect even though they can make you feel worthless. Personally I need to understand myself more, why do I get involved with nasty people? Maybe it’s because I want to see the good in them, or that I see them in pain and they need help.
But I now realise that some of these people can only live by being like this. It’s like I need air to breathe, they need to cause heartache and misery to live. All they are, are bullies.
I have just ended a relationship with a girl, because it became unhealthy. We had been seeing each other for 6 months and the first few months were great, but as we started getting closer, she started to change. Causing arguments so she could use it as an excuse not to see me. Whatever I told her in confidence she would manipulate it and use it against me.
Example: I told her I couldn’t have children. Medical reasons, (for background she is a very senior nurse and is 51yrs old and uses contraception ) she told me that she might be pregnant. There is no why on this earth I would be dad, but she new that I always wanted a child and said if she was pregnant she would get an abortion. When I asked her why she thought she was pregnant, her answer was, “I felt sick one morning “
She has a couple of children from her previous marriage, 24 &13. She never introduced me to her 13 yr old son. I accepted that due to his age and what happened with the break up. But each week she would tell me that I will meet him then cancel at the last minute.
One week she hadn’t seen her son for about 5 days as he was staying with his father. We had arranged to go out the following weekend. So I suggested why don’t you take him away for the night and spend some time with him. And we can go out next weekend. The answer I got was abusive, “don’t you tell me when I can see my son and what to do. If I want to take him away I will. If you don’t want to see me then don’t“ so we didn’t speak for a few day, and yet, that weekend we sent her son to her fathers and she went out with her friends and even told me she was staying out.
Texting became sparse, I found that if I didn’t text her then she would not get in touch but then blame me for not being in contact.
I have confronted her and said she is a controlling person, she laughed and said I’ve not heard that before.
The hard thing about all this is that she is a senior nurse, who can care about everyone else except the people that love her. Her son will grow up seeing him mother out all the time, her daughter is such a beautiful girl and who knows what she is thinking?

It’s been heartbreaking walking away, but if you are in a toxic relationship then, that’s the best thing to do.

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Karen

I would like to ask to ask the question, How do I know if iam the toxic person or is my partner ?
We have been together for over 20 years, we both have children to previous relationships, we have had many issues over the years.
I share my needs with him and he seems distant.
I find that he is able to cope with material thing but I feel he is emotionally close off.
He never askes anything of me and never shows a vulnerable side.
He always agrees to help if i require anything materialistic, when I bring up emotions he says I am over acting and there is nothing wrong and these are my thoughts and not his opinions, which I can agree but I am left feeling flat and at some point I should have paid for his help, he does not say as much its just a feeling I have.
We had a good sexual chemistry in the past, but as years go bye his interest has almost gone, I don’t feel he is seeing any other person. He does drink a fair bit, but also functioning he has a full time job and takes care of all his needs.
When I feel Iam suffocating him I back off and tell him I will give him some space and wait until he initiates contact, as we don’t live together, which I will always respond to.
I have tried sending emails to explain how I am feeling, to which I get no reply, and when we do see each other and I bring up the subject he will say “there were no need for a response, as he did not see a question.

I never know if it is me or weather its him
Am I over reacting ?

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Paul

Hey Karen not a great place to be you deserve much more, this is sucking the life out of you it’s like accepting nothingness.
Make the years you have left in your life the best years you ever have hope you find the strength to accept a better life dare I say it’s time to be selfish !

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Janet

It’s not you, it’s him. Sadly he’s making no effort to meet your needs, including listening to you and responding. You’re not toxic! I don’t think your partner is either, but he’s short-changing you. You deserve a partner who won’t dismiss you in the way your current partner does, and someone who will be loving and kind to you. Your current partner doesn’t seem good at relationships or love!

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Deborah

Trust me it is not you I felt the same way that it must be me and I’ve read a lot of articles and I still found myself wondering if it was even partly me but I finally started seeing some articles that were more in line with how I feel and I know when it comes down to it what I’ve been through and that I’m a strong person and that he just hates that and even with
That said I still am having a hard time wrapping around leaving him because I know a lot of people see him as a good guy I am his fourth wife so there were so many red flags I should’ve seen and I know I blame myself even for that how am I so stupid when I know better? So it’s one thing to know something and it’s another thing to be able to act on it and not worry about what anybody else thinks my worst nightmare is to wake up in 10 years and still see him next to me .

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liz

It sounds like a nightmare. !0 years toooo long… Do whatever it takes to regain your life and self dignity.

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Emily

I’ve suffered from depression for a very long time but work very hard to manage it with meds, therapy, diet, sleep and good routine. I am in a complicated situation with my husband who vascillates among approaches of being dismissive and oblivious to my issues to talking to me very condescendingly and pedantically to expressing frustration and rage about it. Unfortunately, our teenage daughter inherited my challenging genes and suffers from depression, anxiety and has some anger issues. Usually, she and I are very close and I work hard to support her in any ways possible but, when I disappoint or upset her, she shuts down and refuses to speak to me about it and goes to her Dad and tells him how terrible I am (despite the fact that in typical circumstances, she and I are very close and he is often a bit jealous). He weaponizes these instances against me and tells me I am not doing enough to take care of myself and situation. And my daughter refuses to speak to me at all for days and even weeks and then further refuses to discuss what happened and they both just seem to blame me. If I could afford to leave, I would, but I often feel gas-lighted by both of them and sort of like I am losing my mind. Meanwhile, I have a successful career and close relationships with others. But at home I feel like a lunatic.

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Nene

My partner is toxic he’s even admitted it we argue nonstop every day because he just won’t own up to none of his BS he’s abusive physically mentally and it’s draining and I’m always there for him everything I just don’t know what to do

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Rach

I am in the same boat, I’m only 8 months in and am now 6 months pregnant with a toxic narcissist. Argue every day because I stick up for myself thankfully I never allowed him to move in. We barely see each other but pretty much breaking up every week , I’m on yet another mission to make that break as I fear my anxiety will leave me with an unhappy child wen she’s finally here. Just so hard wen they are sayin I love u, care about u so much , please don’t leave me etc etc but each time the relationship breaks down more and more . I’m hopeful I’ll be free of this crippling anxiety even tho I know it’s best for us to be apart it still hurts like hell !!

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Abby

When kids are involved it makes everything even harder. How do I just let it go? He tried to flip it all back on me making me feel like I should be the one begging for him to come back as usual. This is the hardest thing I have had to do.

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Anon

My Partner has shown serious sign of toxicity, these signs were apparent even when we were just friends, she’s a hypocrite, she’s constantly putting me down and trying to fight me physically, she’s constantly starting drama with people over nothing then dragging me into it, and when i don’t do anything about it, because its either something so minor that if i step it’ll make the problem even worse, or its something that she started, and is clearly in the wrong about, she’ll get mad and try to fight me over it. She’s acts like a child always spouting out fowl nonsense and fighting others for absolutely no reason. She threatens me randomly, like we’ll just be chilling and she’ll come out of no where with some crazy f*cked up threat that she’s clearly serious about, i don’t feel like I’m in any sort of danger because I’m much larger and stronger than her, but it hurts to think that someone who says they “love me” could just turn on a dime say that they’re gonna hurt me, I’ve told her many time that I’ve been abused in the past too, but she continues to raise her hands toward me and threaten me, its really starting to get out of hand. anyone have any advice on how to get out of this?

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Paul

The clarity you need has just happened for you , writing your feelings down and posting them onto this site is the start of your cleansing.disengage and walk away you are a beautiful person who has a future to enjoy find yourself before finding someone else and then you can search for love it’s out there just waiting on you .

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Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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