I’ve heard the phrase “toxic relationship” being thrown around for years, but never really knew what it meant. I certainly never thought it applied to me. I mean, I was happy in my relationship, so how could it?
In my eyes, the word “toxic” or rather, a toxin, is just another word for poison. An invisible and destructive substance that permeates through the body with little or no trace, wreaking havoc. This seemed a harsh label to place on any relationship that had once brought me joy.
But the thing about poison, is that it is often only identified when the damage is done. So maybe now is the perfect time to reflect on my past relationship, now it is over.
My relationship was toxic for many reasons.
This is not to say that my ex-partner was a bad individual, in fact he was very sweet, but he had his own issues that needed addressing; rather upon reflection the relationship itself was unhealthy, problematic and damaging to me.
I realised there were 3 key things I lost during my relationship:
1. I lost my friends: I am, and always have been a very sociable person. Hanging out with my friends and being there for them was a big part of my life. Friends are the family you chose after all. But due to insecurities in the relationship, my ex did not like me hanging out with some male friends and did not like me spending time with pals that had openly challenged him on being “controlling”. I was made to choose betweven my friendships and my relationship.
I should never have been made to feel guilty for spending time with friends or family.
2. I lost my independence: Do you ever see those relationships where both parties merge into one wierd entity that can’t ever have their own life? Those couples that are insperable and piss everyone off? I never wanted that. I enjoyed spending time on my own, or with my flatmates and family as an individual. But this was positioned as a negative- “why don’t you want me there?”. Even though there was no malicious intention, I was made to feel guilty for craving my independence.
3. I lost myself: reflecting back, I realised that I lost who I was. I never felt good enough; whether that be because my style wasn’t appreciated or the way I spoke wasnt eloquent enough. I spent 2 years trying to reinvent myself into a person that wouldn’t need to be critiqued and as a result I forgot who I was and what I liked. My sense of self-worth diminished as I tried to be what somebody else wanted me to be, rather than who I was…
This is not to vent or complain about my relationship. After all, it has been an gone. Rather, I want to use this reflection as a reminder moving forwards of what I need to hold on to in a partnership.
What I have realised is: Love doesn’t stop a relationship from being toxic.