Saturday, December 2, 2006

Toxic Relationships

I have come to realize that for most people, toxic relationships are the precursors to poor self esteem. Let me first give you the definition of toxic.

Main Entry: tox·ic
Pronunciation: täk-sik
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin toxicus, from Latin toxicum poison, from Greek toxikon arrow poison, from neuter of toxikos of a bow, from toxon bow, arrow

1 : containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation

2 : exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis

3 : extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful
- tox·ic·i·ty /täk-'si-s&-tE/ noun

The last definition is the one that relates to relationships. I am sure anyone who reads this will find that they have been involved in or subject to a relationship that was or is somewhat toxic. Unfortunately a lot of these happen in childhood, where one either does not even recognize the toxin, or does not have the power to overcome it. The poison that is accumulated in the mind from this can last a lifetime. And a lot of the time the offending party is not consciously aware of what they are spewing forth.

As an adult, toxic relationships come in the form of parents, siblings, other family, friends, spouses, partners, bosses, co-workers. It can be anyone you are involved with who has the ability to impact your life or your thoughts. The toxins that are let forth poison your mind and soul. It eats away at your self esteem and slowly your mind starts to attack itself.

This is what I believe to be true in my case. I am not saying that those in my life ever meant to cause this irreparable harm. I believe that often things said and done were done so under the guise of caring and concern. But the fact remains, especially for someone who may have already been suffering from a weakened state, the attacks were swift and brutal.

A psychiatrist I was seeing for treatment during the worst period of my depression told me that I likely had been depressed since I was a young child. In examining the events in my life, I had to agree. This was not because of some horrid life-altering event, it was just from my physical brain chemistry. As I was sad to learn I had passed on to one of my own children. Since the start of the attacks on my self esteem started when I was very young as well, I have to ascertain that it was because of the weakened state of mind that I was not able to filter them and fight them off.

But now back to toxic relationships. When one finds them self in such a situation, decisions need to be made. For the most part, the poison and toxicity has probably already started to cause a bit of a breakdown in the victims mind and soul. One can either distance themselves, thus limiting exposure to the toxin, giving ample time to repair in between. Or one can choose to sever the ties with the toxic person in order to never be exposed again. The closeness of the relationship and other intertwining relationships may play a major role in how one deals with this situation. Severing those ties is difficult. But in some cases, that is exactly what needs to be done. And one cannot feel badly about that.

I have had toxic relationships in my life. Both of my ex-husbands were toxic to me. The first one I have now only begun to be able to tolerate in smaller doses. The second one, until last night, I hadn't even heard from since he left. Both were toxic to my self worth. In different ways. The first never wanted me to be anything that could be seen as better than himself. The second, felt so poorly about his own self esteem, that he systematically broke what little I had left, down to almost nothing. Last night was definitely the last straw. I had made the decision to sever that relationship the day I finally asked him to leave for good. That was almost 7 weeks ago. He never tried to contact me, until last night. Then, he wanted to come to my home, to talk. I told him no. It was late, I was in no mood to talk. He got angry. Accused me of many things that just were not true. This man had never gotten angry with me like that before. He never raised his voice or his hand to me. He would never have said the things he did last night. It was vile, and it cut me to the core. Even though he apologized, the damage was done. I realized in that instant, that I hadn't loved this man in a long long time. I told him I did, I told myself I did. I was hoping that it was just a passing phase, a feeling. All marriages go through bad patches, don't they? But this was different. This had been going on longer than I cared to admit. There were big red flags, but I chose to ignore them, not wanting to admit failing at another marriage. In that instant last night, when he was trying to get me to feel some old distant emotions, I knew it.......I knew I had fallen out of love with him a long time ago. I told him I didn't love him anymore. And I know that hurt him deeply, and in a way, it hurt me too. It hurt because I didn't want to hurt anyone. But it was the not wanting to hurt him that got us to that point. The pretending that I was still in love that caused the shock and dismay when I finally had had enough.

I have a feeling he may be reading this. I can say I am sorry, and I am. I am sorry for causing pain, for giving false hope, for lying to myself and to you for all this time. I am not sorry that I have finally stopped being that doormat you accused me of being. I am not sorry for deciding I deserved more in my life, something you had been telling me from the first day you came into this house. I am not sorry for having our son, I love him to death, and I hope we can at least share in parenting him some day. I am not sorry for bringing you to the realization that you need to fix yourself in order to ever hope to find happiness with someone else. I am sorry that I couldn't do that for you before our relationship died. I tried, I really tried, but you didn't want to hear it then. And the fact remains, the relationship is gone, it is over, it was dealt some very fatal blows, there was no real need to call me to finish it off the way you did. It was already gone. I wish you well. I hope you learn to see the goodness in yourself....the goodness I told you was there for so long. I hope you find happiness and love someday. I hope you find someone who is your soul mate. It isn't me. I know that now. A soul mate does not tear the other down. Does not say hurtful, demeaning things. Does not use the others love and generosity without returning something. Even if that something is only a kind gesture. You are a good man, just not good for me. And I am not good for you either.


Anonymous said...



Jean-Luc Picard said...

Toxic relationships are to be avoided.

Domestic Slackstress said...

Big props to you for having the courage to write this. I appreciate your bravery and candidness.

I have a friend in a toxic relationship right now (verbally). It's as if she has ebola virus. It's flesh (soul and heart too) eating.

Remember, we are all works in progress. Just because we are as we are today doesn't mean that is who we will be in ten years. Being alive is to be constantly evolving, changing. Hopefully for the better. Keep on keepin on.

Iris said...

jla - WOW back at ya! Not sure what you are wowing about though

JLP - yes, they should be avoided, but you can't always do that. Especially as a child.

Iris said...

DS - thank you for your praise. The whole purpose of this writing is for me to evolve. I don't just write these things and forget them, I write them, and re-read them, over and over and over. I try to see them from someone else's point of view and work on those things which make me feel uncomfortable while I read.

I suggest you point your friend to this article, if you think it may spark some encouragement for her. That is the other reason I write here, to maybe help someone realize that they are not alone and that you can change your life.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck with your situation..
It sometimes baffles me that people will tell a woman in a bad relationship to stay with her husband, and tough it out...even though the husband has been abusive..It seems the Marriage vow is the formost thing in their mind..
If someone is abusive, verbally or physically, I think they should leave..

Anonymous said...

Wow was for the fact that I see how much progress you've made over the past months. I've known you for a long time and I'm quite proud of you. You recognized a big problem in your life. Many people don't have the courage to admit than do somethign about it.


Halena Hezan Shah said...

I was feeling pretty bad today, cant even have the strength to focus anything in my life. But after reading your article,it makes me feel better knowing I am not alone. It like reading about me, and what I needed to realised. I still cant bring myself to leave him, though everyday over the past 5 years feels like walking on broken glass. The constant worrying of doing, saying and deciding that might hurt his feeling and ego, sometimes is over-whelming. The feeling of wanting and having more, seems to trigger guilt in myself, of how it might affect who he feels about himself. I hope I will have the courage like yours one day. Only right now, I dont know how to do this, without creating too much damage to other parties. Maybe I am not there yet.

fire girl said...

I know first hand what a toxic relationship does... Its slowy eats away at ur self esteem and even your physical health ... Its as if ur entire system is slowy being poisoned ... And being away from this person, feels like I'v been taken off a drug ... Hearing about other peoples stories helps, as I realise I'm not alone ...

fire girl said...

What I didn't mention in my last blogg is that iv been out of this toxic relationship for a month now, and as much as I deaply miss the good times ... I am actually ironically feeling better than I did when I was with this person ... I mean I have a lot more energy than I had a month ago ... Obviously my self-esteem is effected , I mean I'v starting to worry about my every move and if things I do is good enough ... But all in all I know in my heart that I'm better off without toxic affiliations ... It is tough in the begining to loose something that was precious ... However the loss is a lot smaller than what I am gaining every minute away from the situation I was in ... I look forward to reading more stories ... Its a real eye opener and a great help to see other stories and how people are coping ... The only coping mechanism I am doing at the moment is by trying to do all the things that I enjoy ... And I delete this persons phone number off my phone, it may seem childish but that's the only way I can stop myself from calling and getting myself hooked again ... Kind regards ,Me