Toxic Relationship Recovery

Recovering from Toxic Relationships

Toxic relationship recovery is always challenging and often complicated. Sometimes, the process takes years. And sadly, some folks never fully recover. There are many reasons for this. So, it’s worth exploring some of the more common and important ones.

The aftermath of a toxic relationship can be just as challenging as the relationship itself. Many survivors experience significant losses. Some lose their sense of identity. Others, lose money or a clear means of self-support. Still others lose their sense of trust and faith in people, including themselves! Such things can devastate one’s self-esteem and lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. That’s why finding proper help and support is so important.

Getting the Right Help

Toxic relationship recovery is a difficult enough process when the survivor has little help or support. But survivors can experience even further trauma if they’re unfortunate enough to receive the wrong help. Most survivors want support from a counselor who truly understands what they’ve been through. That means a counselor properly versed in the nature of character disturbance and trauma disturbed characters inflict. And while survivors often understand that they probably have some things to learn to better protect themselves in the future, they certainly don’t need to feel unduly guilty or self-critical as a result of their counseling. Some therapists don’t understand this well enough.

Finding Adequate Support

Picking up the pieces and moving can require a heroic effort. And virtually no one can undertake this endeavor well in the absence of proper support. Of course, there’s no substitute for an understanding and loving family. But not every survivor has that luxury. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, there’s simply no one to turn to. And other times there’s no one who really understands, empathizes, and has the proper support resources to offer. But perhaps the most disheartening situation is one in which potential supporters, whether they be family, friends, children, etc., have been poisoned and/or manipulated by the toxic relationship partner. That’s when survivors escaping abuse can feel abused all over again. And that’s just one more thing that makes toxic relationship recovery so challenging.

Character Matters

Some big announcements are coming regarding Character Matters podcasts. And I’ll have an announcement in a week or two about an upcoming live program, where I can take questions in real time.

8 thoughts on “Toxic Relationship Recovery

  1. This hits the mark for me.

    My family is toxic and I finally stopped trying to help them and realized they just take and take and never give back. They expect to me to be the one always taking one for the team, like I’m less important and don’t matter. They don’t care.

    This set me up for my ex. It was always about him and he was cruel when I didn’t submit. Of course it didn’t start out that way. But there were red flags that I didn’t recognize as they were normalized in childhood.

    What kills me is our daughter ingesting that poison too.

    When they successfully act (perform) like normal, kind people for the most part, and bamboozle others, it’s painful and makes one reluctant to reach out for help because each time it fails.

    Today is my daughters wedding. No doubt her father is there and hundreds of supporters. I can only imagine what the story is about me. It’s heartbreaking. The love and support all those years. Doing my best to protect her from the worst of her alcoholic father and to have a healthy childhood/adulthood and she turns out to be abusive and demanding.

    It is an amazing skill they have, a very destructive and spirit killing skill.

    1. Healing, speaking from experience, it might possibly have been more painful if you had been in attendance at your daughters wedding. The misrepresentation of our character from our DIL to her family and her guests and the enabling behaviour of our son was so hurtful on their wedding day that many guests didn’t recognize us as the grooms parents. The exclusion was obvious. Their wedding day is a dark memory and it’s grew over time to a predictable estrangement. DIL was relentless in alienating our son, and he went along with it. We can never get those sleepless nights back or the hours of wondering what we did wrong. We didn’t recognize him anymore, his words were her words, his character was skewed, he wasn’t our son anymore.

      We have peace and quiet in our daily lives now, no what ifs. We have moved on with two other adult children and friends who validate us. It’s been over 5 years now, imagine 5 years and no contact. In the best interest of our health we had to let go. It’s unthinkable for many people to go this route but for us we have no regrets.

      1. D.

        I’m sure you’re right.

        My being there would have part of a performance. I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t put not put myself through that. It’s still painful. Getting through the different levels of grief and acceptance. I have no regrets about protecting myself.

        Isn’t it amazing how it happens? It still blows my mind.

        Perhaps it would be easier if I had a supportive spouse/and/or children. As it is, I really lack support and I feel it. It’s risky conversation to have as many folks do not understand how bad these folks are for ones welfare. I don’t need or want to deal with their judgement and shame in addition to everything else.

        Still working on trying to build that support system.

        I’m glad you are in a place of peace and support and have no regrets. It really is a parental nightmare.

        1. Healing, I understand not being able to talk openly about an estrangement or anything you’re going through. The lack of support would be isolating. My H and I seldom bring it up anymore not because it’s painful but because it’s been talked about to death. I have friends who don’t know about our estrangement as I don’t want to answer questions that encourage me to defend myself. I do have another friend who is estranged from two adult children and then the fallout out of not seeing her grandchildren, and we’ve talked it to death too. We are reconciled to not seeing these children again, but it took me a long time to get here. Our self respect was at stake and that was the last straw. No matter what we would have done we couldn’t have done it good enough or given enough. I wish you and everyone going through this a light leading you to a path of peace.

          They lie about us, but we know the truth about them.

          1. D.

            It is isolating as well as frustrating. I will take my time and keep trying and risk it when it seems wise.

            Yes, don’t want to have to defend myself and my decisions. I feel like I’ve spent my life explaining myself, often to my detriment.

            Yes, they make you choose between yourself and them….constantly. My nature was easily exploited. That’s on me. The abuse and exploitation is on them. Like you said, never enough.

            You know how health issues require you to really focus on yourself and what’s important? That’s where I am and doing what is best for me.

            Thank you for your kind wish. Your lips to Gods ears.

            I believe the truth reveals itself eventually.

          2. D,
            This is the sad truth, as you say they lie about us and we know the truth about them.
            After everything I’ve researched about narcissistic behavior, I’d like to stop at sad for a description but some behavior by loved ones is truly despicable and disgusting as well.
            Going about learning to heal and try to help comfort and empathize with others who’ve been hurt is my goal.
            Praying for your healing as you live!!

    2. Healing,
      I have been in the exact place as well. In attending my son’s wedding finally saw him for who he has always been behind my back. He did everything he could to show his evil side to me as he was basically trying to say he no longer needed to be nice to me, he had found his “new” family.
      He is still up to no good despite us trying to have a relationship with him. I only try as it is affecting my grandkids. If it weren’t for them I’d go no contact. He slanders me at every turn. Sad part is, he actually thinks I still care what lies he tells. This only causes us to turn away from him. Pretty soon he won’t ever need us to babysit and we will move out of state.
      He is doing everything he can to turn them against us as well.
      Do everything you can to heal, you are loved, maybe not by who you want to love you, but YOU ARE LOVED!!!
      Blessings and prayers friend!

      1. Priscilla,

        They show you exactly how much they don’t value you. What was useful is less useful now that they have replaced you (me). Have to denigrate us when we resist their control/exploitation or they run the risk of being found out for what they really are.

        It so sad because the grandkids lose out on their relationship with you. And using them as pawns is awful.

        The stroke recovery is my focus. That and thinking of ways to protect myself in the future as I age on my own.

        Thank you, Priscila.
        Blessings and prayers to you as well!

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