Recently, I have experienced first hand what the meaning of a toxic relationship is. There was pain, deception, heartbreak and even when the blindfold is finally lifted, and you see that person for who they truly are, there's still a self-destructive part of you that is desperate to win them back. Admittedly, I still cry over photographs, or that song we used to listen to; pining over our memories and wondering what new ones we could have made together. But I can now see what the people around me saw, and that's the problem. Love is blind.
The first step to recovering from a toxic relationship is admitting to yourself what you knew, deep down, all along. Friends warned me, I saw red flags; the signs were there, but I was naive enough to ignore them. Because when you are with someone that you start to fall in love with, the only thing that matters at the time is the two of you.
Like most relationships, the beginning was new and exciting. There is something so special about the honeymoon period where all you want to do is spend every minute of every day with them ... Where you can't keep your hands off each other for a second, and where you revert back to your old, giggly, high school self, who can't help but imagine spending the rest of your life with this person. But as amazing as the honeymoon period is, it is also cruel. Because when everything starts to turn sour, and when the relationship eventually comes to an end, your brain starts playing a mean game where all your happy memories start playing in your mind over and over again ... Like a torturous film reel.
Possibly the worst part of a toxic relationship, for me personally, is when the truth starts to come out and when this person (who you spent so long defending, and denying all the claims that he was bad news) shows their true colours. In my experience, he was a complete narcissist who would manipulate other people's emotions to get what he wanted, and did I see this? Yes. But did I cut him out of my life knowing that I was inevitably going to get hurt? No. Because, like most cases, I truly believed I could change him, and I really thought I was, but the harsh reality is people like him will never change.
When you fall in love with a toxic person, they are very talented in manipulating you into thinking that you can't function without them. It's embarrassing and degrading to admit it, but I can honestly say I fell into this trap. The weaker part of me still wants to send him a text or to have him admit he was in the wrong. I started to lose myself, becoming this person who by the end, I didn't even recognise. I was being manipulated and made to look like a complete mug, and no one, I repeat no one, should ever treat you like that.
So what changed? Truthfully, he ghosted me, then ended things and he moved on to someone new within the day. As you could imagine I was heartbroken and thus occurred even more self-destructive and degrading actions—angry texts, aplogising straight away, constantly seeing where he was or who he was with. But finally, I turned this heartbreak into anger and finally saw the light. I stopped messaging him and started focusing on myself. They say one of the best ways to get revenge back over an ex is to focus on yourself and show him that you're perfectly fine without him. Everything bad that happens in life, happens for a reason and, even though it may not seem like it at the time, good will always follow. It's painful to admit but I often believe that, had he not ended it, I would still be caught up in this toxic, vicious cycle of a relationship.
All I can do now is move on from it all, and see this whole experience as a learning curve. My heartbreak and anger has now been converted into a sense of release, and although I may never truly recover (because I honestly don't think people ever fully get over anyone they've been in love with), I can finally focus on myself and make sure that I never make this mistake again.
For anyone in a toxic relationship, I urge you to end it now. I know you think they love you, and that things will change, but believe me, if someone truly loves you, they would treat you with the respect that you deserve. And anyone who is beginning to see red flags, I encourage you to research all possible sings of toxic relationships before you let it go any further. If they make you feel guilty, never stick up for you, constantly argue and are never fully open with you, end it. Take it from someone who should have left a long time ago.
Remember that boyfriends and girlfriends, and even friends in general, come and go. So, if you suspect at any point that a person is toxic, cut them out of your life immediately, because the only person who is important is you. Don't let anyone change you or make you feel worthless, because at the end of the day, your happiness is what really matters, and remember ... Karma is a bitch.