We see so many quotes, lists and writings on toxic relationships. And, across every social media brand and platform that I have worked on, toxic relationship content is always the most popular. Why? Because it’s really freaking hard, when you’re in a toxic relationship, to figure out if you’re in a toxic relationship. That’s what makes it so certainly toxic, is the fact that you don’t know what’s real. Therefore, there are always people looking for information on toxic relationships because they are trying with every fiber of their being to figure out if they are in a toxic relationship.
“If someone says they love you but the way they treat you says they don’t, listen to what their actions are telling you. People who truly love you don’t just tell you, they show you.” — Bobby J Mattingly
It’s the constant battle between the head and the heart that makes you literally have no idea what is actually going on. You earnestly pray to know what is right. You search, but you are utterly confused. Then eventually, one day you figure out, without a doubt that you are indeed in a toxic and spirit crushing relationship. Maybe it was an article you read or something that happened. Maybe it was an epiphany. Maybe it was just a combination of everything. It doesn’t matter. You finally know. This is what I hope to help people move towards, who need to of course, through my writings on toxic relationships.
So let’s start with the first question. How do you know that you are in a toxic relationship? Well there are countless lists of information on what everyone thinks the signs of toxic relationships are, that any relationship would meet a few of these qualifications. I don’t think automatically labeling any relationship as toxic just because it matches a couple bullet points is healthy either. Looking for toxicity can itself become toxic.
So I’m just going to share what I found to be determining factors in my own relationships. My experiences with toxic relationships are completely subjective to the way I see them and limited by how I choose to interpret them. You have to decide for yourself what you want for yourself, what behavior you choose to participate in and what is harmful or toxic to you. Here are the three things that have been inherent in any toxic relationship I have ever had:
1. The Paradox of Your Reality
For me, the number one factor in knowing whether I was in a toxic relationship was the fact that I questioned my own reality. I have never had a time in my life, when I didn’t know what’s real, when I wasn’t in a relationship. Not once. Whether it be a parent, a spouse or a sibling, these harmful relationships always leave you questioning your own thoughts.
2. The Maze of Inferiority
Usually when I am in a toxic relationship, my self worth is so down that I’m always feeling insecure about something I did or didn’t do. I feel like I’m not enough. I find myself thinking about how I should have done this or that. I think thoughts like “I can’t do anything right.” This is yucky, co-dependent energy. But when I’m in it, I cannot see it. Then I act out on my fears of abandonment that result from my fear of inferiority. Then I do or say something that’s either seemingly insane or extremely unattractive. Then I’m mad at myself for doing exactly what I was afraid of. And I realize that I caused my own fears to manifest simply by having them. Then I feel unworthy again, and so continues the endless cycle of toxicity.
3. The Trap of Having No Voice
When I’m in a toxic relationship I cannot speak my truth. I am literally stunted in my ability to articulate my thoughts and feelings. When I try to explain how I really feel to my loved one, I find myself completely incapable. Then I go back to number one and question my reality. Then I question everything I said. Then I feel unworthy. And on and on it goes….
Written by Holly Kellums