Catch phrases for relationship types are plentiful these days. One type in particular that’s been on my mind is toxic relationships and the impact they have on my recovery.
I think about my mental health a lot; most people with bipolar disorder do. It’s a key piece when trying to assemble life in a way that gives us the best shot at winning our daily battles with the disorder.
So what does it mean to be in a toxic relationship and how do we avoid being consumed by them?
I believe the first step is identifying the problem. I’ve been able to quickly pinpoint relationships that are turning toxic by a few key elements. First, and most important, is realizing when these relationships begin to drain you. By draining I mean emotionally, sometimes even physically.
There’s one relationship in particular that often leaves me sick to my stomach. My goal here is not to call anyone out or go into specifics, so I will keep the details vague. I will just say a feeling of dread washes over me when I hear my phone ring and look down to see their name.
Before answering I ready myself for battle and the emotional strain I know awaits me on the other end of the line. This isn’t a relationship I can just cut off, otherwise it would be a dot in my rear view mirror.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it’s toxic because there is no trust. That bridge has been burned too many times. Of course there are many other indicators of toxicity. The conversation is always laced with anger and judgement. I find myself feeling attacked from all sides. I’m bombarded with constant attempts to control each decision I make – big or small. Any interaction leaves me feeling unworthy, unwanted and constantly disrespected.
My blog entries have been used against me as a tool to paint me as unstable. I still struggle to understand that part. My blog has been a major tool in healing and understanding the beast I coexist with. Only a toxic person and/or relationship would seek to destroy that.
I’ve continued to play my part in this vicious cycle for decades. I’ve had an epiphany though. I’m taking my toys and leaving the sandbox. When things turn nasty, I’m turning off.
I’ve allowed this relationship to touch me at my core and it’s caused major setbacks in my recovery, sometimes even causing episodes of hypomania or depression when there were no other triggers present. The grief and anguish is indescribable.
Like I mentioned earlier this is not a relationship I can just bow out of, but I can refuse to play the game. I can go gray rock. I can promise myself that I will refuse to play my part. I’ve begun to recover but over 30 years of drama and wounds will take a longtime to heal.
I’ve finally decided that my well being is worth more than my failed attempts at pleasing this person. I am good enough in my eyes, and as I get older it’s becoming less important to me that I am in the eyes of others.
I think this mindset is key in ending or lessening the impact of a toxic relationship.
Perhaps it’s foolish of me but I hope this approach can help to remove some of the toxicity between us.
An illustration was once offered to me in regards to healing a toxic relationship:
Take a bottle of water and examine it. The water is clean and clear. Now take one drop of black food coloring and drop it inside the bottle. The black taints the water entirely. No matter how much you pour out, the water that remains is murky. In order to clear it up again, a massive amount of new water must be poured inside. It must be enough to replace every original drop.
I have begun to pour the new water and hope it will start to appear clean again.