Now, this blogpost is not based on research, clearly. It is more personal and comes from my experience. I think everyone goes through hard events and deals with toxic relationship differently in their life, however it doesn't mean we should not share our stories in order to maybe help those who's situation is similar to ours.
First and foremost, I think if I didn't struggle with some issues myself, I would not have made it to being in the toxic relationship. I don't think. It is not to put the blame on myself, but to simply take responsibility, as of course we rarely can blame others for our own poor decisions and maybe even actions. Many times, those same people who you were in "toxic relationship" with, are perfectly fine with someone else. So, whatever happens in relationship is a result of two people not being able to make it work, and it's ok.
In every given situation I found it extremely important to look at myself, and at least try to be objective. When it comes down to romantic relationship it's hard to be, as ego gets in the way. Ego isn't a bad guy, it's just something that separates us from other people reminding us that we are alone and in order to "survive" we should protect ourselves. A lot of times ego makes us see a current situation as a threat, even though in reality it is not.
While in toxic relationship another person constantly sees you as a threat, they also may perceive other people or things you do (your job, hobbies) as a threat, because it's something that they have no control over. I am simply speaking from my own experience here.
Being in toxic relationship I was dealing with my own insecurities and fears in a non-healthy way, meaning I self-sabotaged myself by just listening to that person and doing whatever they said was right. I lost my identity, because the only desire I had was to convince them that I was good enough. As I have shared before, I have always struggled with self-love and self-esteem, so to me it was important to "prove" I was worthy of love coming from someone else.
Our inner conflicts
If you struggle with loving yourself, like me, you might eventually believe everything people say about you, as if they know you better than you know yourself. That's a trap #1 that you should pay attention to. In ideal world I know myself perfectly well, and I can recognize when other people use my insecurities in order to manipulate me. However, in reality, I used to struggle (still do to a certain extent) with low self-esteem and many times let others define me.
Letting someone define me as “good” or “bad” aka deciding whether I am worthy of love or not effected my mental health a lot, because on some deeper level we already know who we are. However, it is covered by many layers or masks that we acquire during our life. Deep inside we are one person, but we usually play a certain role depending on the environment we are in and people we surround ourselves with. It is a survival mechanism, as from a very young age we learn that in order to be a functioning member of society, we should adapt to the changing circumstances. This itself can cause an inner conflict, that very often feels like anxiety.
If we let other people define who we are we may end up being lost and constantly afraid to be "the wrong person". A major part of work should be within yourself, as nobody can help you to overcome your insecurities, however some people can make it easier to really love yourself by recognizing who you truly are and constantly reminding you that you are good enough. In toxic relationship, they can recognize who you are and use it against you.
Not being good enough
Constant anxiety turned into a big problem for me, as I became very weak, physically and emotionally. I woke up every morning being extremely nervous as I didn't know what to expect. Uncertainty is always hard to live with. Healthy relationship brings you comfort, and when everything goes nice and smooth, it can have a calming and healing effect on our body and soul. Of course, there are always ups and downs, but in toxic relationship downs outnumber ups. Why hold on to it, you ask? Well, if you don't know who you are and like I said, the other person is trying to convince you are constantly wrong, you start believing them, therefore stick to the relationship trying to be "better". But here is the trap #2: you can't be better for someone who doesn't see worth in the person you are now, no matter how hard you try. By trying hard to be someone else you give these people control over yourself - something that they feed off. Deep inside most likely they do know your worth for them, as they don't want to lose you and will do anything it takes to bring you back if you attempt to leave, but they might never tell you that or will tell you rarely so you won't realize you have a somewhat control over them. They don't want to empower you, so you will stop being their sheeple.
Now, it doesn't mean that anyone who criticizes you is wrong; therefore, you do everything right. It might be that you are easily offended but perhaps feel like the whole world, including your partner, is against you. That's why it was so hard for me to leave that relationship: being as self-aware as I am, I questioned myself a lot. But the more I did that, the more anxious I became.
Scared of loneliness
So, the trap #3 is being stuck in fear “What if nobody will ever love me”. Honestly, this one is probably the most dangerous one, as that is why we end up staying in the toxic relationship for way too long (or forever). Everything that I was talking about leads to this fear. It doesn’t happen overnight but comes with months or years of mental abuse. I have been there and most definitely experienced this fear. I also thought that if I stick around for long enough, things will get better, and I will be magically “rewarded”. Well, you know what, time does teach us a lot, but if it takes months or years of your life as you constantly feel miserable, it’s not worth it.
Many times, in life we know what’s bad for us, however we stick to it because of many reasons, until we finally break free and start to live again. I always say that our well-being and mental health should be our main priority. If we see something isn’t good for our long-term health, we should learn to recognize what it is that affects us and start taking proactive actions in order to change the situation.