There are trials in life that can challenge us to the point where we want to give up.
One such experience that can cause us to question the very reality in which we live, is when we reach the bitter end of a toxic relationship.
After going through a painful break-up with a narcissistic and abusive man, my mental health was in the gutter, and I was exhausted, frustrated, and angry. Questions that often came into my mind were as follows:
Why do I have to work on myself?
Why does the toxic person get to just “walk away”?
What did I do to deserve this?
Maybe I’m just a horrible person and this is what I get…
Then it dawned on me that the more energy I put into trying to figure out what had transpiredand the reasons behind why it happened was completely futile. It was time to start focusing on the healing process.
Healing looks different for every single person, but this is what I did immediately after leaving the most toxic relationship of my entire life.
I started doing exactly what I wanted before it was too late
For the first couple of decades of my life, I let other people’s decisions sway my own. My college degree was influenced by my father even though it wasn’t what I wanted and ended up being a mistake. My friends influenced who I dated and what I wore, and for far too long I walked on eggshells and tried to appease everyone else.
One day shortly after my break-up with my toxic ex, I was sitting at work and it dawned on me that if I didn’t start doing what I wanted, it would never happen and life was simply going to pass me by.
I quit my job shortly after, took a vacation to Europe with my best friend, and then we moved to a new state which ended up being the best decision I had ever made.
Every day I wake up and look at my amazing partner and the life that I’ve built and I think that if I hadn’t taken a chance that seemed “crazy” to the outside world, it never would have happened.
I faced what needed to change at my very core
The terror that I experienced in my abuse and toxic relationship woke me out of a “fog” and revealed a reality that I didn’t want to face but knew that it was necessary.
By jumping from relationship to relationship in hope that I would finally be happy, I was avoiding the work that I needed to do by secretly hoping someone else would be my savior.
Because of this deep-rooted belief, I was a prime target for a narcissistic abuser to love-bomb and manipulate. He knew that his words would fall upon ears that desperately needed to hear them.
When the fantasy eroded and the mask fell, I realized that I had been completely fooled.
After leaving the relationship I was ready to face what was at the root of my pain… which was a whole slew of trauma and codependency. I started exploring why I felt and acted the way I did and found an amazing therapist. The healing journey began at that point, and it has been continuous and ever-evolving.
I reminded myself, “you are not going to be lost forever.”
The reason that I have continually told my story for years is with the intention of providing hope for others going through the same experience.
I’m not going to sugar-coat anything… healing took a very long time. There isn’t a specific moment when I felt entirely “healed” as I believe some scars stay with us, we simply learn to work through them.
That being said, one important thing that I did throughout my healing process was very simple. On the days when the pain was overwhelming and the anger and frustration came crashing down, I would whisper one simple reminder to myself.
“This is temporary. You will not be this lost forever.”
There is no magic formula for healing. Every single experience is going to be unique to that individual and what worked for me may not work for someone else.
If you reach a point where you feel comfortable doing so, I highly recommend sharing your story in places like this where it is a community of survivors.
It has been life-altering being able to forge relationships with others who have had similar experiences like mine, as not necessary for validation that I was not going insane, but as a reminder that there is strength in numbers.