truth of toxic relationships

The Honest Truth About Life After A Toxic Relationship

Life will always go on.

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Most of the time people associate toxic relationships with weakness. Someone who is weak, someone who doesn't have enough self- respect to leave, and someone who tolerates a lot less than they deserve.

As someone who has lived through this type of relationship, I consider myself strong, not just for going through it but having the strength to leave it in the end. When looking back at the relationship, at first I felt cheated and used but now all I am is thankful. Thankful for the lessons it taught me, thankful for the strength I've gained from it and thankful that I was shown something so crucial.

Like anything, a person, whether that be a friendship or relationship, can become addicting in a way just like drugs or alcohol. It consumes you and becomes something you need to function. It's finding comfort in something that is destroying you.

My personal experience consisted of mind games and doubts and questioning every move I made and every word I said. It was making each other mad just because we could. It was fighting about almost every little thing or giving someone almost 100 chances, while barely giving others two. I could go on and on about it, but I won't.

How can a toxic standard be the one I had?

Here's the thing about these types of relationships, they aren't all bad and don't necessarily start out bad.

In fact, there was a lot of good in my experience. They were a person that I could go to if I was having a bad day and almost every conversation had the words I love you somewhere in them. It was simple looks that said everything that I wanted them to. I can honestly say that even with all the bad stuff I loved them. It was one that, looking back now, I'm glad happened because it set the template for all the good things I could want in a person. As crazy as that probably sounds.

Another thing to point out about these types of relationships is that the person doesn't just change overnight, it builds over time and often times you don't see it coming. That's probably the worst part.

It was only fairly recently though that I discovered the effects it left on me. In almost every one since then, I've looked for some part of the relationship. I've questioned people's moves and motivations for getting to know me, been nervous to say no or constantly have to make some big excuse to not do something just because I didn't want to do it, and even thought that it was normal to be treated that way. When finally, somewhere along the way, I realized that it wasn't normal.

Life after a toxic relationship is sort of like a recovery in a way.

You admit there is a problem and you fix it, you build yourself up in such a way that even when you're tempted you don't want it. Because you understand the effects it has on you. It doesn't come easy but once you do it, you don't know why you let it have the effect it did in the first place.

I think a part of me will always care for them to an extent and possibly look for some of their better qualities in others but the truth is I don't want them anymore. And there's a bittersweet moment that comes with that followed by a feeling overcome with peace in realizing it.

Be true to yourself in knowing what you need, but don't let that relationship cause you to have such terrible views of the rest of the world.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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My Experience Falling For A Straight Guy And What It Taught Me

If you've ever fallen for a straight guy, I'm here to say you're not alone.

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Unrequited love is part of the human experience. It doesn't really matter if you're gay, straight, or bisexual. Everyone has cared for someone who didn't reciprocate those feelings. Some people even become drawn specifically to what they can't have. Since we can't control our feelings, it's inevitable that we would eventually meet someone who didn't share those feelings.

For gay men, most of us came of age in an environment where other gay kids were either closeted or nonexistent. I'm not sure if things are easier for gay youth today, but dating wasn't an option for me in high school. So I don't see how I couldn't have fallen for straight guys as a teenager. This is something I (and so many other gay men) know all too well. They were really the only guys our age that we were exposed to.

I always thought that once high school ended, these heartbreaking crushes on straight guys would end as well. But I was wrong. My most recent experience came a few years ago. I had just ended a six month long period of back and forth with a guy I went on a couple of dates with. The good news is, we've stayed friends. The bad news is, it wasn't the right time for either of us to be together.

I was online one day and came across a video of this musician on YouTube. We'll call him Mike. Mike was singing and playing guitar in some parts of the video. In other parts of the video, he was giving an interview. I was immediately struck by his good looks. I was also struck by his apparent shyness and introverted nature. Despite his quiet demeanor, he was so talented as a singer and musician. I also developed an admiration for his songwriting skills.

A crush soon developed, because I identified with him. I could relate to his quiet nature with his creative spark still yearning to get out. It was a juxtaposition I felt I understood. I decided to send Mike an Instagram message telling him I enjoyed his work. When he didn't respond, I decided to reach out on Facebook instead. I also took it upon myself to ask about any upcoming performances. I wanted to meet him in person. Mike responded thanking me for the compliment and directing me to his website with information on his shows.

I feel it's important to note that my crush wasn't akin to a teenager obsessed over a celebrity heartthrob. Mike wasn't famous and didn't appear to live a rock star lifestyle. He was an independent artist who performed at local bars and seemed very approachable. I felt like this was a guy who I could possibly bond with. Of course, I wanted something more than friendship, but I was also aware that I haven't even met him yet. I didn't want to get too ahead of myself.

Over the next few months, I sent him a few other Facebook messages to which I received no response. Two of them were simple, "Hi, how are you doing?" messages. The other one was a song I wanted to share with him since we're both music lovers. I wanted to develop a bond with him but was curious as to why he was ignoring me. I sent him an email asking if he received my messages. He responded telling me he doesn't like to use the internet to chat.

I should've gotten my first clue when he ignored my Facebook messages. I should've taken the hint when I read his response to my email. However, I was so deep in my crush that I made up an excuse. I thought, "Oh, he just doesn't want to chat on Facebook. He probably prefers to talk in person. If I send him letters via email, maybe that would be more his style."

I knew Mike had a show coming up, but I wasn't sure if I should go. Even though I wanted to believe his email was to be taken literally, a part of me knew what he really meant. I asked a friend for advice and she encouraged me to go. She said, "He might be friendlier in person. Who knows?" So, I took her advice and went to three of his shows.

All three shows were great. We didn't get to say much more than "Hi" to each other at the first show since he was so busy. However, I did notice that he was standing close to a particular girl most of the night. I soon realized this was his girlfriend. Surprisingly, I wasn't that disappointed. It didn't discourage me from trying to pursue a friendship with him.

I never wanted to come in between the two of them. But I still wanted to give friendship a try. A part of me thought that maybe they would break up for reasons unrelated to me and I would have a chance with him. However, a stronger part of me was more realistic. After all, who knows what could've happened? We could've gotten so close as friends, that viewing him in a romantic way may have felt weird. He could've revealed himself to be a totally different person than what I envisioned and my feelings may have deteriorated. Maybe I would've been turned off from being around him completely.

Of course, I'm also aware that my feelings could've grown stronger and it would've been too painful. If that was the case, I would've come clean about my feelings and ended the friendship. But I never had a past experience to compare it to. Friendship with a straight crush was never an opportunity that presented itself to me. Hence why I at least wanted to give it a chance. But I would never get that chance.

We talked a bit more at the second show, but it amounted to no more than small talk. His friends and fellow performers soon arrived. They commanded his attention more than I did. Still, he was very friendly and introduced me to some people. After the show, I felt like I was on cloud nine. Now that he spent some (albeit brief) time with me and seemed very welcoming, it felt like we reached a new level. It seemed like we got past the awkwardness of only communicating online.

At the third show, however, things felt very different. I purposefully arrived an hour early so we could actually talk. However, Mike didn't arrive until a mere 15 minutes before showtime. He immediately got out his instrument and started practicing. I realized this wasn't the time to talk. I didn't want to disturb him. So, I sat and watched the show. He did a great job and I enjoyed it. But whenever he had breaks in between sets, he would talk to his girlfriend. Again, I didn't feel it would be appropriate to interrupt.

I didn't get to talk to him the entire night. I left feeling defeated and disappointed. I planned on asking him if he wanted to hang out sometime. Since I didn't mean for it to sound like a date, I was going to include my friend in the plans. I dreaded the thought of asking him via email since it was clear to me that our online interactions were abysmal. Looking back, I can see that fact alone should've convinced me to back off. But I was so lost in my infatuation that I didn't listen. I sent the email and awaited a response.

For months to come, there was no response. I eventually sent him the same letter via Facebook. Again, months passed and I received no response. In retrospect, I see that you can't expect much from people. If someone doesn't respond the first time, you cut your losses and move on. Yes, it's incredibly rude and insulting. In fact, I feel ignoring people is even more insulting than being mean to them. However, you must hold onto a shred of dignity. But I wasn't ready to do that.

Mike had another show later that year. For whatever reason, I saw this as an opportunity to reach out again. I sent him a short letter on Facebook telling him that I wish I could make the show, even though I couldn't be there. I also wished him good luck. It was shortly afterward that he blocked me on his Facebook. He also blocked me on his Instagram.

Now, I realize that reaching out again was a dumb move on my part. However, it was incredibly frustrating to me that he handled it the way he did. He could've sent me a response at any time making it clear that he wasn't interested in my friendship. I'm sick of people ignoring others because they're afraid to hurt their feelings. Believe it or not, there is a nice way to reject someone. Instead, he chose to block me rather than answer me.

A couple of months passed and we entered a new year. I couldn't stop thinking about Mike and how things went down. I didn't want to leave things the way they were. It was clear to me now that there was no chance at friendship. But I at least wanted closure, so we could leave things on good terms. I decided to send him a lengthy email apologizing for not taking the hint sooner and clearing up my intentions. I didn't mention my crush, because I felt it was unnecessary. I went to sleep that night with no expectations of a response. Either way, I said my peace and knew that my attempt at closure was all I could control. If he didn't respond and things were left with him blocking me, oh well. At least I tried.

I woke up the next morning and saw a response from Mike. I was surprised, to say the least. I opened the email and read what he wrote. It was just one sentence thanking me for the kind note and for respecting his desire to keep to himself. I felt a sense of relief that he gave me the closure that I needed. Regardless of whether it was done out of pity or if it came from a genuine place, I was happy.

But that doesn't mean it has been easy for me to move on. I still think about Mike all the time. I don't really understand why, since I barely know him and he didn't exactly treat me very nicely. I guess sometimes people just get under our skin and there's nothing we can do about it. I'm sure I'll meet someone else down the line and move on. A fulfilling relationship has to be more powerful than an unrequited crush.

When I sent the email looking for closure, I promised Mike it would be the last time he heard from me. I wish I could say I kept that promise. However, two years after sending that email, I came across an article that said someone in his family was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. I felt terrible for Mike and wanted to reach out. I sent him an email acknowledging that I've broken my promise. However, I said I felt it would be remiss of me to not reach out after hearing the news. I wished him and his family well. I said I would be praying for a recovery. I also told him that I wasn't looking for a response from him. Which is a good thing, because I have yet to receive one.

I'm not sure if he's angry that I contacted him again or just doesn't care. Either way, I know my heart was in the right place. I know a lot of those reading this can relate to my story. One of the things I learned from my experience is to not let your heart overpower your head. It can be hard to let go and move on when someone isn't even giving us a chance at friendship. When that happens, it allows you to hold onto a version of them you've imagined in your head. This makes it even more difficult to move on.

But as I said, a fulfilling relationship has to be more powerful. I remain optimistic that when I'm ready, love will find me and I'll move on. For those of you who are in similar situations, please learn from my experience. Don't make the same mistakes I made. Look out for the clues in the beginning, because you can't expect people to be clear with you. If someone doesn't respond the first time, take the hint and move on. Know that you don't deserve to be treated that way and that person doesn't deserve your time. Know that you will eventually meet somebody else and move on. Falling for straight guys is inevitable and it happens to the best of us.

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