I had always believed that you had to still love someone in order for them to still inhabit parts of your mind. Yet it had been over eight months and memories of my toxic still keep popping into my mind uninvited and unwanted. There were still dreams and images of the violent events that had transpired prior to my leaving.
When I told my therapist she asked me if I could describe what the dreams were.
“It’s basically the same dream every single night. I’m in the room with some friends and … he’s there. He doesn’t say anything and we don’t talk but he knows I see him and we lock eyes. Then I wake up.”
My therapist leaned back with a thoughtful look on her face. After a minute or two of silence, she spoke.
“It is interesting that he takes up space in the corner. He isn’t interacting with you or your friends but he is still there. What do you think that means?”
I knew exactly what it meant. He was still haunting me and inhabiting a corner of my mind even though I wanted nothing more than to move on. There had been plenty of break-ups prior to our relationship… how was this one any different?
It took me a lot of self-reflection to learn that moving on from a toxic relationship is different because there are so many layers.
Here is what I did to start the healing process and eventually I stopped obsessing over my ex.
#1. Surround yourself by people that are were not his/her friends
When I initially broke up with my toxic ex, I believed that I could remain friends with the girls that I had met through him.
However “innocent” my intentions were, being with them was a constant reminder of him and a gateway for us to communicate/see each other again. There was one night when we went out and they invited him and his friends to meet us and we ended up spending the night together, resulting in another month of us being whatever it is we were.
Some people are a reminder of what we are trying to move on from, even if they have nothing but good intentions.
When I began spending time with people who didn’t know my ex, it kept me from talking about him and that kept me from thinking about him.
#2. Seek out a support network
Over the years I have connected with numerous other men and women that have gone through a toxic relationship that is hauntingly close to my own.
By means of various social media platforms, or even with people I’ve met in my day to day… somehow we end up connecting about our shared experiences.
There is an incredible bond between individuals who have dated a toxic/similar partner in the past. Sharing our stories can help validate our own experiences, but most importantly, it can help us move on.
If you are struggling to find others who can relate to what you’ve gone through, I strongly recommend finding a network of people who can help you grow and heal.
#3. Cut all contact/all means of communication
If you leave the door open/any breadcrumbs for your toxic ex, they will most likely try to follow your trail at some point in order to sneak their way back into your life.
For example, I have an ex who messaged me through Yelp because I had blocked him on absolutely every other platform.
Don’t underestimate the means someone will go through when they know they can most likely still get something from you. If someone had a negative influence on your life and mental health, they do not deserve to contact you by any medium.
#4. Accept that you don’t need closure from them to move on
When it comes to a toxic person, closure isn’t always part of the equation. In fact, closure is a courtesy and you can’t assume that it’s going to be given to you… but that honestly doesn’t matter.
You don’t need an apology from someone who gave up on you. You don’t need permission from someone else to move on with life. If you don’t get the closure you wanted from someone then find that closure within yourself.
I have witnessed victims of toxic/abusive relationships who have spent months, or even years of their life obsessing over closure that is never going to come. When you wait for closure you are leaving the control in someone else’s hands and you are not going to be able to move on.
Grieve the loss of the relationship, write down your thoughts and feelings, and give it time. Moving on won’t happen instantly but I promise, in time you will be able to give yourself closure.
It took me two years to fully move on from my toxic relationship. At times I hesitate to share this information as I don’t want to discourage anyone that is beginning their healing journey.
However, those two years weren’t just me trying to move on and “get over” someone I dated. They were two years full of self-development, figuring out what I wanted, and working through the trauma of my past. Although extremely painful, those years helped me morph into the woman I am today and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
You may not be able to stop obsessing over your ex tomorrow, but you can take the steps to start moving on with your life.
Remember, every single person heals at their own pace and you can’t put a timeline on matters of the heart.