Recovery From Toxic Relationships
Recovery from Toxic Relationships aims to support and guide you through the process of recovering from a toxic relationship. The toxic relationship could be in the workplace, with a family member, friend, or partner, but healing starts with an awakening when you are completely broken and vulnerable.
You realize your life will never change unless you do things differently and understand that no one deserves abuse. You will then be able to put the pieces of your life together, day by day, and rebuild the mosaic of the new you.
We are here to support you through this journey of healing from toxic relationships.
I was stuck in a toxic marriage for 20 years, but one day I awoke broken, vulnerable, and a fraction of my former self, and I knew that things had to change.
The change needed for a better life was in my hands, and I had to have the courage to take the first step. Recovery from toxic relationships is not an easy process, and so often I wish that I had someone to support me who completely understood what I was going through.
It is for this reason that, with my personal experience and as a life coach, I would like to support you through your journey of recovery from a toxic relationship.
A toxic relationship is filled with emotional, financial, or physical abuse or a combination of all three.
These are, namely:
A supercritical partner: this is where you feel that you can never do anything right and are on the receiving end of snide and belittling remarks that are brushed off as only a joke. You feel intimidated or bullied.
Emotional manipulation: this is where your partner gets you to do things by making you feel guilty. You end up saying yes when you actually want to say no. You contribute your time and energy to someone else at the expense of yourself.
Gaslighting: Your partner rewrites history with their own version of events, leaving you doubting your own reality.
Financial abuse: this is where your access to money is limited and you have no input into the financial running of the home.
Physical violence: this is a component of toxic relationships that needs no explanation.
Domestic violence does not only include physical violence.
The emotional and financial abuse doesn’t leave physical scars. Instead, the wounds are deep within you and hidden from the world, but the toll they unleash on your mental and physical health is immense.
Toxic relationships are everywhere. They know no boundaries and have no concerns for race, religion, education, or social standing.
I am not a psychologist, but in my experience, you are targeted by toxic partners due to a lack of self-esteem, a lack of boundaries, and people-pleasing behaviors, and these are learned behaviors that need to be changed.
People become trapped in this toxic love due to a number of factors, including financial dependence, raging hormonal imbalances that result from the high levels of adrenalin that are constantly running through your system, and being completely isolated from any form of support network.
This toxic love cycle moves from a stage when your partner idolizes you to the stage of abuse and then back to the idolizing stage.
We then live in the hope that if we try harder and do better, we will be rewarded with kindness and love.
This is the trap, and this is why so many women, including myself, take so long and find it difficult to leave these toxic relationships.
Personally, I grew up believing in the Disney story that a prince was going to arrive on his white horse, and there would be a house, children, a dog, and a white picket fence.
I didn’t know what a toxic relationship was, and could not identify the red flags or how to manage this kind of relationship.
When I was 8 years old, a book called “Not Without My Daughter” was published. I remember discussing this book with a friend on the way to school one day. My comment to her was that I would never put myself in this situation and would never allow anyone to treat me like this.
Little did I know what life had in store for me and what lessons I needed to learn. I believe that we all have a journey in life that is meant to ultimately allow us to be the best versions of ourselves.
Over the Easter weekend of 1997, I met Mr X at a rugby game. A year later, we were married.
He was the love of my life; we had so many dreams and aspirations and planned to take on the world together. He was everything to me, made me feel like his queen, and we were soulmates.
A year into the marriage, things changed. I no longer knew the person I was married to. He was moody, started arguments over nothing, and became very controlling.
I began to feel that I was not living up to being “the good wife” and took on the responsibility for his behavior. I tried harder to please him, assuming his rage was my fault.
It was shortly after that, in an argument, that Mr x picked me up and threw me across the lounge. I was shocked into disbelief but silenced by fear.
I betrayed that 8-year-old little girl. I was ashamed, blamed myself for his behavior, tried harder to be a better wife, and kept a dark secret for 18 years.
You may be thinking Lisa why didn’t you just leave?
It’s not as simple as that. Toxic relationships run in cycles. So for example, for a week or two, Mr x was amazing, and we had peace and fun in the home, but then his mood would just change again, and we lived in fear.
I was socially isolated, my life revolved around him and the children; I was financially dependent; I had given up my power; and I felt I could not manage without him.
I was constantly trying to live up to his unachievable expectations.
A memory that stands out was the day my fourth son was born at 38 weeks. I did the month’s grocery shopping and unpacked the car myself, I was busy renovating a house and wanted to check on the concrete slab that had been poured the day before, so I climbed up the scaffold and onto the roof, and then I drove myself to the hospital and gave birth. Crazy right?
Our family was the vision of a happy family from the outside. But when the front door closed, it turned into hell.
One day, my 15-year-old son came to me and said, I think dad is a narcissist. Well, to be honest, I didn’t even know what that was, but I promised to do some research on the topic.
I think that was the turning point in my life. I spent hours on the internet, discovering the meaning of the word narcissist, learning about toxic relationships, what they were, how to spot the red flags, and how to manage the situation.
With my understanding of a narcissist and an incident where I faced death in the face, I woke up and realized that I needed to find a way to leave the nightmare I was living.
In January of 2018, Mr x decided that he was going away for a few days. He asked me to go with him, then said I couldn’t go.
He left on a Friday, and I was terrified because I knew that this was my chance to leave.
My mind was spinning. Would I manage the travel with three young children? We had to make international flights.
Would I manage to cross all the border posts?
Would we be allowed back into my home country?
How would I explain this to the children?
Who would I tell that I was leaving?
What would happen if I got caught? What would he do to me?
With all these thoughts flashing through my mind, I would have expected to be frozen in fear.
But I started to get out the suitcases and pack only the essentials.
On Tuesday, I had five suitcases ready and flights booked for that day.
To say I was numb with fear was an understatement. But I knew that my stars had aligned, that I had asked for a way, and that this was the only way. I had to have faith that we would be okay.
The moment the plane lifted off the ground, I felt this amazing sense of relief.
With one immigration success, I had a chance to make it through the other two.
It has been 5 years since the day we returned, and I’m not going to say that they have been easy.
With toxic relationships, your reality slowly changes, and soon your normal is considered abnormal by other people.
I realized the impact of the abuse and just how abnormal my normal had become.
It revealed to me the extent of my betrayal of the 8-year-old little girl on her way to school, and I knew that I had to rest, regain my health, and rebuild my life to honor me, the 8-year-old girl on her way to school.
As difficult as it has been, especially in the beginning, we no longer live in fear. I’m so grateful for having the courage to choose me.
I realized that I needed to heal and started learning about TRE.
Every day that I was a victim of my situation was a day that he continued to control and abuse me from a distance.
Being a mom and dad and sole provider for five children has taught me to believe in myself, to set boundaries, to live by my values, and to work very hard.
I have learned to say yes only when I mean it, and I’m not concerned about what other people think of me.
My aim is to write about toxic relationships in the hope that my experience can help someone because my escape was against all odds.
I hope that my story highlights a few take-home points:
Toxic relationships know no boundaries
Abuse is not your fault – do not take responsibility for someone else’s behavior
Belief in yourself and your self-worth
Determine and set your boundaries and how you expect to be treated.
Find the silver lining in every situation
With a positive mindset and never giving up you will succeed against all the odds.
Reach out for help to friends and family and don’t be ashamed if you too are carrying a secret.
We all deserve love and respect.