Looking back on the time I spent in a toxic relationship, I feel like I don’t even know the girl I was then. Even now that it’s over, I’ve felt a little lost, as if a part of who I am is missing. As I continue to heal and take care of myself post-breakup, I’ve learned that although time is necessary to start feeling like yourself again, there are also things that you can do to help the process.
Be honest about who this person was to yourself (and eventually to your friends and family). This goes for the good and bad elements of your ex. There were obviously things you loved about them and reasons you stayed in the relationship despite the toxicity. However, especially be honest about the bad. Write it down if you need to because as time passes, memories get lost or tarnished. Remember the truth about what happened, how horrible it was at the time, and don’t let yourself forget it. You need to be crystal clear with yourself about what happened in the relationship that was toxic if you want to avoid falling into the same traps in future.
Block and delete your ex’s number and unfriend them on every social media outlet. When you break up with a toxic person, their reaction most likely will be filled with anger. If they post statuses on Facebook or tweet about you, ignore it. Don’t even read it. Also, don’t give them the chance to reach out to you or try to convince you they’ve changed. They haven’t changed and they probably never will.
Get back to the hobbies and passions you neglected while with them. In toxic relationships especially (but also in relationships in general), sometimes you stop doing things you love because you love spending time with your partner more. Sometimes your partner demands a good chunk of your time and it feels impossible to fit other things into your schedule. Whatever the case, if you stopped doing things you love while coupled up, start doing them again.
Try something new that you’re interested in. When you get out of a toxic relationship, you’ll find you have a lot more free time than you even remembered because a characteristic of these kinds of relationships is that they’re super demanding, restricting, and draining. Use this time to your advantage to not only reconnect with the things you neglected but to discover new passions.
Spend time with your friends and family. It’s likely that you’ve been neglecting the other important people in your life while in this relationship. Now is the perfect time to reconnect with your friends and family. It will remind you of who you were before the relationship and make you start to feel like that person again.
Take time to be alone (but not too much). You should spend some time by yourself after a toxic relationship to regain your independence and freedom. You may feel tempted to disconnect from the people who love you, but be aware that too much time alone can lead to overthinking and loneliness. Balance is probably something you’ve been lacking (because toxic relationships tend to ignore boundaries) but now is the time to change that.
Talk to a therapist—or if that’s not your thing, talk to someone you trust and respect. While talking to a therapist is super beneficial and can be really great for healing, if you don’t feel like it’s the right thing for you, that’s OK too. However, you definitely should find someone that you can talk to about what happened because sometimes you need to let bad experiences out in order to let them go.
Identify your self-destructive behaviors so you can avoid using them to cope. We all have unhealthy habits to an extent, but you’re not going to feel better by adding to your destruction. Whether you eat too little or too much, binge drink, or make poor financial decisions, try and identify any harmful patterns so that you can put a stop them now.
Accept that you may never be the same person you were before the relationship and that’s OK. It may even be better. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger, it just makes you hurt. However, sometimes it does make you stronger, more confident, more empathetic, and more honest. You may never be the same after a toxic relationship, but remember that the reason it happened is to teach you what kind of love you deserve and what kind of love to give.
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