How to Break Free from Toxic Relationships

If someone is breaking your heart and treating you badly, eventually, you are going to have to walk away. It sucks and it’s brutal, and sometimes it feels like the absolute hardest thing in the world to do, but you have to dig deep and get it done. Love will not require that you allow yourself to be abused, mistreated, betrayed, disrespected or demeaned. Apologies do not make up for that. Yes, there is no doubt when a person treats you badly it’s because they’re in pain, and they are not loving themselves well, either. You can have all the love, understanding, compassion and forgiveness in the world when you’re in love with someone who hurts you, but you can’t stay because eventually there will be nothing left of you.

I wouldn’t say this to you so strongly if I hadn’t been there myself, and more than once. I fully understand relationships like these can be intoxicating and consuming, and that the passion doesn’t wear off. You want to know why it doesn’t wear off? Because you’re addicted to the interaction. You’re hooked on trying to change the person and get yourself that happy ending. And since you can never satisfy that desire, you’re never done. It never slows down or cools off to that place where you can love your heart out and also live your life. Where it’s still hot, but sustainable. Instead, you’re in that crazy, can’t-get-enough-phase way past the point of hormones and those first few months. You have heart dis-ease. You wait for that fix, for that payoff, for that resolution and understanding and appreciation, but you’ll never get it from this particular source. You. Will. Not. Get. It.

What you will get is pain and suffering. You may think to yourself, “This is the love of my life. It must be because I’m so consumed. I’d do anything for this person, give anything, be anything. No matter what they do, I still love them.” You may love them. You may see them clearly, with all their pain and all their wounds and all their potential, but if a person abuses you, leaves you without explanation, cheats on you and comes back with an “I’m sorry, I love you,” they don’t understand what that really means. They might conceptually, but practically speaking, behaviorally speaking, they do not. Because let me explain this if it’s unclear to you. Someone who understands how to love is not going to go behind your back when you’re in a monogamous relationship, and sleep with someone else, or say or do things that are cruel and bring you to your knees. That is not loving. And if you hold on because you see someone’s potential and you have this beautiful vision of how it could be, if only…you are really setting yourself up for heartache that”s going to grow larger and larger. The longer you stay, the more your partner will believe you’ll always stay. No matter what they do or say, no matter how bad it gets and somewhere inside, they’ll direct some rage at you for that. Some contempt. Because they don’t love themselves yet, and they’ll think you’re weak because you do love them. They’ll know that you’re hooked and they’ll push you to your breaking point. You’ll be along for a very heartbreaking ride, and you won’t even help them that way, if that’s what you’re after. You won’t change them or save them. You won’t change your own past, either. You won’t get your happy ending and you won’t give yourself an opportunity to heal. Because whatever it is that’s got you hooked, that has you so convinced it’s them, is almost definitely something out of your distant past. Examine the interaction, and see if there’s something deeply familiar about it. That’s the real source of your addiction. That’s the place in you crying out for attention and love. But you won’t get it this way.

How do you leave? I wish I could say something great to you. Give you a path. The truth is, you will not leave a moment before you’re ready to, not a second before you open your mouth, and right from the center of your heart, the word, “Enough” comes pouring out. When that happens, and even before that happens, get yourself some help. Find some support. You don’t need people yelling at you to leave. You already know you have to do that. Find someone who will help you figure out why you feel so badly about yourself you’d participate in your own crushing. Find someone who can help you remember you’re strong and innately lovable and capable of taking hold of your life. If you leave, there’s a possibility that will be the catalyst for real change and growth for your partner, and that also might not happen. But the longer you stay, the longer you prolong your suffering and allow your light to be dimmed. Having said that, be kind to yourself while you muster the strength to go. Because it isn’t easy to break an addiction, it isn’t easy to walk away from people we love, and it isn’t easy to recognize the source of our healing lies somewhere else.

Sending you a hug,

Ally Hamilton

4 thoughts on “How to Break Free from Toxic Relationships”

  1. Thank you. This is the most helpful thing I have read and heard and found. And I needed it. Right now. More than you can ever know.

  2. This is wonderfully written and has illuminated somethings I have been afraid to look at for far too long now. Much like Jenna before me I needed this very badly, its almost embarrassing to say just how badly but you have given me the gentle nudge forward I know I needed to finally break free from this pattern. Thank you, you have an amazing mind and I hope others find their way here as I have no doubt this can and will help a lot of people. Thank you so much.

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