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Toxic Relationships by Aisha
Posted by SANE
24th Aug 2017

I know more than I'd like to about toxic relationships. Having grown up, as an only child, with parents who argued constantly & had many negative issues, it wasn't long before their toxicity affected me. I have learnt, through counselling, that we often repeat the mistakes of our parents/caregivers because, to us, that is normal. I therefore have been in two serious relationships that were very negative. They most certainly all contributed, if not caused then later exacerbated, my mental illness battles. 

My parents were never stable for the entirety of my growing up; there were arguments, Mum & I being sent packing to my Nanny's house, periods of horribly awkward silence, heated arguments, tension,' proxy wars' over meaningless things because they'd never deal with the nitty gritty of their issues.....it was all pretty negative to be honest. Evidently both my parents became very unhappy in themselves but believed it was better to stay together for my benefit. I really hope this, some what old school, good intention is discarded because it does far much more harm than good.

My first direct experience of a toxic relationship was when I was 18 & was with a very controlling partner. It started small, so discreet it actually felt like he was being caring, like 'oh please let me know where u are so I know you're safe'  or calling me on the landline to check I was at home 'safely' when really it was to ensure I was being truthful about my whereabouts. The comments about my appearance were what really began to break my confidence; little things like saying I had too much make up on or that I looked too tarty etc. Then it became more sinister & I'd notice him following me or being parked outside the house. He became increasingly hostile with me over tiny things even if I seemed to look about too much when I crossed the road accusing me of checking out other guys! I found myself becoming more on edge & always ready with an explanation for every move I made. I'd always been a reserved person but I was becoming even more cocooned. I even stopped attending college to avoid him. To condense a long story, it became emotionally &, at times, physically abusive which brought me loads of issues.  The irony is you feel more scared to leave this sort of harmful relationship through fear of repercussions. Consequently I fell into the trap of ending things but going back when he'd constantly hassle me & throw vulgar insults at me incessantly.

My second experience arose from what I considered a wonderful friendship gradually turning into a very harmful relationship. We got on so well & had all these things in common which, naively, I thought illustrated how 'right' we were for each other. It turned out he, whiles helping me, had hacked my laptop so went thru all of my personal info. This primed him to know all the right things to say & what he knew would make me trust him. It was all very manipulative but sadly it was too late once I realised that. He managed to get deeply into my head & cost me so much. He'd mastered being able to bug me so much when I wasn't with him that I decided it was just easier to be by his side 24/7. Even my relationship with my Mum began to crumble & we were always the best of friends. The threats stopped me from leaving. He'd say he'd 'get me' when I was least expecting it & in the worst way possible. 

Hard to recall the memories in all honesty so please forgive my somewhat disjointed account. 

It's very hard to strike the balance between keeping your guard up without coming across as distrusting & being cautious when getting to know someone without them feeling ur a closed book. Think the main protection is to be really in tune with yourself that way you will know if ur changing or being influenced. People they seek to manipulate others are clever so it's hard to spot but we need the confidence to speak up if we feel uneasy. Also, with self reflection & time out we are able to get distance from things & therefore evaluate our present; is it doing us good or harm. Vulnerable people are far nor likely to be in toxic relationships coz they lack self esteem & tend to be quite isolated. 

I really hope those who are aware they're in dangerous relationship can slowly attain the power to walk away. It takes time but you do realise that being alone but safe is far better than being 'loved' & having someone with you. 

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