It can be tough to pick up pieces of your life after a toxic relationship.
We so often find ourselves in situations where we assume things will never get better. That’s when people are at their most vulnerable. So little do they know that what they thought was impossible can become possible with the proper support. Instead of living with feelings of regret, it’s time to start moving forward and take complete control of your life.
The ten steps outlined in this post will allow you to start recovering by helping you cope with the pain, move on and improve your life.
1. Reflect and Process the Relationship
Recovering from a toxic relationship could make us vulnerable.
It could damage your mental health. You want to avoid the abusive person, but you don’t want to sever all ties with that person. You may also feel lost and confused about what happened. Toxic relationships can be hard to identify at first because they start well. So, the first step in getting past this experience is to process* what happened to you.
*Processing in this context means to feel your emotions surrounding the trauma.*
Be gentle with yourself, especially if this person repeatedly hurt you. It takes time to heal from abuse of any kind; give yourself the space and time you need to do that healing work. Snap out of the victim mentality. A victim mindset blames the self for anything that goes wrong in their life, even when the blame is not entirely theirs.
Peace will come when you have done this work thoroughly and completely.
2. Let Your Emotions Surface
We must not ignore emotions.
Let it surface. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. On the contrary, it makes them come back in a more deadly form. There are nine steps to feeling your emotions:
1. See what is there.
2. Acknowledge it and let go of the resistance that arises in response to it.
3. Feel the emotions without judgment.
4. Focus on your bodily reactions.
5. Use these emotions to create a deeper understanding of yourself.
6. Express it as fully as possible in a way that does not harm yourself or others.
7. Accept all emotions as they are, even the ones you consider harmful or undesirable.
8. Commit to doing this (Steps 1 to 7) with all emotions you encounter, even the hardest ones to feel like anger and grief.
9. Let go of the emotion completely, and move on with your day.
3. Accepting the Fact, As It Is
Once you realize that the relationship was toxic, you can begin to accept that it wasn’t your fault.
It’s always easy to blame yourself for a bad relationship, but you have to understand that only unhealthy relationships are toxic. The association was wrong! Plain and simple. Once you understand this, you can begin to feel compassion for your ex. Not pity, mind you, but compassion. Compassion understands the difficulty of a situation. It allows you to let go of resentment and move forward. Pity says, “Oh, poor thing”, and keeps you stuck in the drama.
Forgiving the Person is Optional, But Compassion is a Necessity for Your Peace of Mind.
4. Know Yourself
The most important realization in the journey of self-love and self-discovery is that you are not your past.
You made mistakes, just like everyone else. You took wrong turns, just like everyone else. But now, you are a better version of yourself. Toxic relationships are like poison — they invade your thoughts, your feelings, your psyche, and your sense of self-worth. They ruin you in so many ways. The first step to healing yourself after such an experience is by realizing that you are not the person you were before.
You have changed, evolved and grown into a stronger individual than the one suffering from toxic abuse.
5. Don’t Be Too Harsh on Yourself. Forgive
Forgiving yourself is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.
You need to let go of the shame and guilt of putting up with bad behaviour for so long. The abuse was not your fault, so don’t beat yourself up over anything you did or didn’t do while in the relationship or after leaving it. Forgive yourself for staying as long as you did in a toxic relationship.
Forgive yourself for not realizing what was going on sooner.
6. Practice Self-Care
It’s hard to love yourself when you’ve been treated so poorly by a toxic partner.
Self-care is an essential part of the healing process. When you start to care for and love yourself, you feel better about your life. You can start practising self-love by pampering yourself. Now that your toxic partner is gone, it’s time for you to take care of yourself! For example, take a long hot bath with some nice smelling lotion or visit a spa for a massage. Just remember that this isn’t an excuse to spend money on things that aren’t necessities — you don’t want debit or credit card bills piling up. Getting out of the house and going for a long stroll, breathing some fresh air is maybe all you need.
Realize the abundance and be grateful that you’re alive.
7. Surround Yourself with Positive People
At the end of a toxic relationship, you’re going to need some time to heal.
You may need to seek counselling, support from friends, or even medical attention. Regardless, surround yourself with supportive people you can trust so that you can begin the process of healing and move on. You can turn to online forums and social media groups for support. You can also find support from therapists or life coaches who specialize in helping people deal with toxic relationships.
You will learn different coping strategies to help you feel better.
8. It Is Okay To Not Have Closure
Closure is when you feel that everything has been said and completed, and there’s a clear ending. But, yep, that’s not going to happen.
You can’t force someone to love you or treat you well. You can’t force them to accept your help or how you view things. You can’t make them see how hurtful and damaging their actions are. We tell ourselves that closure is a must. So, we find ways not to move on. It’s a false sense of security that we’re going to get whatever answers we need, and everything will be resolved precisely the way we want it to be. In reality, though, nothing will ever change.
There is no magic moment where everything will make sense and your questions answered, but eventually, the pain will begin to fade away with enough time and distance between yourself and the situation.
9. Focus on Yourself. No “Check-Ins”, Please!
If you are trying to move on after a toxic relationship, it is tempting to try and contact them to check in on how they are doing.
This might be due to some lingering feelings of guilt or because you are still concerned about them. You need to understand that this is not your job anymore, though. Your partner will get over you in time, just like you will get over your bad relationship. You need to accept that and move on with your own life.
Even if there were no bad feelings between the two of you, contacting them may only cause harm for both of you in the long run. It can make things awkward after the fact and even lead to resentment if they feel like they were being forced into something by your actions. Remember that it was ultimately their choice and not yours which led them down this path. You cannot take responsibility for that choice any longer.
They need to learn from their mistakes and become better people on their own before finding happiness again.
10. Take It Slow and Steady The Next Round.
Before starting a new relationship, knowing what the other person is like is essential.
If you want to start dating again after breaking up or divorce, be careful not to jump from one relationship straight into another too soon. It would be best if you had time to heal from your previous relationship before going out again. This can prevent you from becoming discouraged if things don’t work out again right away.
In addition, it can help build your confidence when starting over and give you the time you need before being in another relationship.
A Final Thought
Sometimes it takes reaching the lowest of lows to pick up the pieces and start healing.
Sometimes we have to be abandoned, betrayed or lied to realize that someone else is not our saviour. It may take multiple failed relationships until we finally see what’s right. The key is not to give up hope. Instead, find support in your friends, family and perhaps a coach that can help you move forward to start a new life free from emotional abuse.
If you take that leap of faith and decide to move on, you will learn to find peace within.
Download the Finding Peace After a Toxic Relationship poster here. Stick this at a visible spot where you can view it regularly. It will help keep your thoughts in check.