Friday, October 26, 2012

Healing from a Toxic Relationship: Part 1 How They Impact You

Perhaps you've stumbled upon this blog looking for support or something out there to help you understand how you're feeling. I hope this helps you some.

I want to share some links I found that were most helpful in finding the strength to leave my own toxic relationship, set boundaries, and learn to love and respect myself again. And to see that there will always be another day, a brighter tomorrow, and that I will make it through this. For you will, too. I promise you that.

What is a toxic relationship?

via 30 Signs of a Toxic Relationship
"By definition, a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner. While a healthy relationship contributes to our self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy. 

"A healthy relationship involves mutual caring, respect, and compassion, an interest in our partner's welfare and growth, an ability to share control and decision-making, in short, a shared desire for each other's happiness. A healthy relationship is a safe relationship, a relationship where we can be ourselves without fear, a place where we feel comfortable and secure.

"A toxic relationship, on the other hand, is not a safe place. A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control. We risk our very being by staying in such a relationship. To say a toxic relationship is dysfunctional is, at best, an understatement." ― from Toxic Relationships

Signs of a toxic relationship

People in "toxic relationships use tactics such as:
  • Intimidation — Using implied or veiled threats about withholding their love or leaving.
  • Guilt-tripping — Implying the partner is not caring enough or is too self-centered. This works especially well with more conscientious people.
  • Shaming — Putting down, insulting and using sarcasm to make the other person feel inadequate. This way they stay in power as the other person weakens.
  • Charm — A good controller is always seductive and knows how to be flattering at times in order to reel in their partner and bind her more tightly to him.
  • Turning the tables — They will claim that they in fact are the victim and are being put upon, to deflect any blame or confrontation and further induce guilt in their partner.
"As you can see, these covert methods of undermining a person’s confidence and ability to see what is really going on can be very effective. So effective that signs you might see in yourself (if you are the one being controlled) are:
  • Who am I? — A feeling that you don't really know who you are anymore. You start to believe you are all these shameful, terrible things or are becoming someone you don't even recognize.
  • Chronic fear — For reasons you can't quite name, you feel afraid all the time. It is the fear that you are losing yourself and that you are powerless.
  • Fantasies of escape — Whether they are thoughts of fleeing the relationship or even thoughts that you or your partner will die so you will be free, these kinds of frightening thoughts will come to you.
  • Questioning reality — The controller is so busy changing the reality of what he is doing by denying, lying, rationalizing and beating up on you that you really no longer trust your sense of what's really happening anywhere and with everyone.
  • Isolation — Controllers work to isolate you from anyone else in your life who may support you and make their work more difficult. They may be intensely jealous and keep you from both friends and family. Eventually you find yourself isolated from everyone but him.
  • Lying — You will start lying to others in order to collude with him that nothing is going on. You will defend him despite your own panic and this will require distorting the truth to anyone that asks." ― Find Your Way Out of a Toxic Relationship

Helpful links:

 

Toxic Relationship with People with Mental Illness

 

Bipolar Disorder

I was in an off- and on-again relationship with someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He chose not to seek professional help and instead self-medicated using drugs and alcohol. I did not observe any of the manic episodes, although I did experience the dark depressed stage. Here are some links that maybe will help you.

Helpful links:

 

Borderline Personality Disorder

Through reflecting on my own professional experience working with the mentally ill, as well as extensive research on my own on mental disorders, and my own consultations with a therapist, I've concluded that my former partner had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Personally, I found the links provided below more helpful than those that focus on bipolar disorder. People with BPD are often misdiagnosed, or co-diagnosed, as bipolar because many of the signs are similar, but the BPD takes it to another level. Perhaps these will help if you're looking for specific information.

Helpful links:

I found the last article the most helpful, which meant I also found it the hardest to read and accept. But now that time has passed and I have done a lot of healing, I can read it and see clearly that all the statements are true.

"In some important way this relationship saved or rejuvenated you. The way your BPD partner hung on to your every word, looked at you with admiring eyes and wanted you, filled an empty void deep inside of you.

Your BPD partner may have been insecure and needy and their problems inspired your sympathy and determination to resolve and feel exceptional, heroic, valuable.

As a result, you were willing to tolerate behavior beyond what you've known to be acceptable. You’ve felt certain that BPD partner depended on you and that they would never leave. However challenging, you were committed to see it through.

Unknown to you, your BPD partner was also on a complex journey that started long before the relationship began. You were their “knight in shining armor”, you were their hope and the answer to disappointments that they have struggled with most of their life.

Together, this made for an incredibly “loaded” relationship bond between the two of you.

Ten Beliefs That Can Get You Stuck

Breaking up with a “BPD” partner is often difficult because we do not have a valid understanding of the disorder or our part in the “loaded” relationship bond. As a result we often misinterpret or partners actions and some of our own. Many of us struggle with some of the following false beliefs.
  1. Belief that this person holds the key to your happiness
  2. Belief that your BPD partner feels the same way that you feel
  3. Belief that the relationship problems are caused by some circumstance or by you
  4. Belief that love can prevail
  5. Belief that things will return to 'the way they used to be'
  6. Clinging to the words that were said
  7. Belief that if you say it louder you will be heard
  8. Belief that absence makes the heart grow fonder
  9. Belief that you need to stay to help them.  
  10. Belief that they have seen the light" ― from Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder
The blog BPD Relationship Recovery -- Project Me offers a great deal of advice on getting over a toxic relationship with someone with BPD. At times it astounded me, I felt as if I was reading my own story but 4500 miles away in another country. It was really amazing. Maybe it's your story, too.


Tomorrow I'll share my own story of a toxic relationship with someone with serious mental health issues.

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