There is a common misconception that happiness comes immediately after leaving a toxic/abusive partner. I concur that leaving a bad relationship will always be a positive choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s all roses after you walk away.
Everyone is different when it comes to timing in their healing journey, and although it can be easy to look at others and assume they have moved on quickly, that is not necessarily the case.
The beginning will not be easy, and there will be days, weeks, or even years afterward when you will experience different kinds of struggles. However, as time goes on, there will be a shift, and you will reach a point where you realize that the journey was all worth it.
This is how you will feel after you finally embrace growth after a toxic relationship.
You will be able to reflect clearly on how unhealthy the toxic person was for you
When I was in my early twenties, I was in a toxic relationship with an older, narcissistic man. While in the relationship, I knew that something was off, but denial can be powerful, and I told myself that I was fine and that being with him wasn’t changing me.
The reality is that every part of my life was affected by this man. My job performance worsened because I wasn’t sleeping due to the constant anxiety. My friendships suffered because he wanted to take up every moment of my time. My health also took a turn for the worst because of the constant partying that he wanted to do with his group of friends, and if I didn’t come with him, he would go into complete narcissistic rage.
When I look back now, years later, I am absolutely horrified that I ever tolerated such an unhealthy and toxic situation.
There was not one beneficial element that my ex contributed to my life. It took a long time, but with the experience in my past, I can recognize how much I downplayed the severity of his toxic/abusive actions.
You will identify what behaviors you will not tolerate in a future relationship
The other night some friends and I got together for a birthday party. Around 7:00 PM, we decided to continue the evening and head out to a wine bar down the street from the restaurant where we had dinner.
A phone rang and my friend, Lisa, got a worried look on her face. She answered, and her boyfriend started screaming at her so loudly that we could all hear it from across the table. Lisa kept apologizing and finally hung up the phone. When I asked what had made her boyfriend so upset, she said that she hadn’t texted him in a few hours and that he was “worried.”
Lisa began justifying her boyfriend’s behavior, and what she was experiencing sounded all too familiar. I had been in Lisa’s shoes before. I had tolerated control disguised as concern too many times in prior relationships.
My toxic relationships helped me learn how I would not and should not tolerate behaviors in the future.
You will evolve into someone who can have empathy and compassion alongside strong boundaries.
For as long as I can remember, there was a need deep within to help others, one that often got me in trouble.
There were times when my intuition would be screaming at me to run, but I would stay because I would excuse toxic behaviors and tell myself that kindness would trump everything else.
After leaving my toxic ex, I realized that I had let simply anyone walk into my life for as long as I could remember. As painful as it was, that experience was the final wake-up call that I needed to change how I navigated my relationships.
Cultivating boundaries does not mean that we love any less or that we no longer have empathy. In fact, with boundaries in place, we can take care of ourselves, which in turn means that we can give more fully to the important people in our lives.
Empathy and compassion are both amazing qualities, but they can be extremely dangerous to an individual if they aren’t partnered with strong boundaries.