Get out while you can.
“He’s definitely seeing other women behind my back. I know he’s bad for me. I know he won’t change. There are times I’m so sick of him, I don’t ever want to see his face again! Then why is it that the thought of leaving him makes me feel like my world will end?”
A client I’ll call Georgia wants out of her toxic relationship like gangbusters. Yet she can’t seem to pull the trigger.
She lives across the country from family and lifelong friends. She hasn’t developed meaningful friendships with co-workers and her life seems to circle around her guy, despite her best efforts to detach.
Even if we understand that our relationship is similar to the toxic relationships we saw growing up; even if we know our guy is exactly like our emotionally abusive stepfather or our neglectful birth father; even if we intellectually understand each and every reason we picked this person, it still won’t help us leave.
Here's why we are attracted to toxic men and how to end a toxic relationship.
1. Because we’re addicted.
And just like an alcoholic, quitting our addiction isn’t as simple as mind-over-matter. In my book, I go into much greater detail about the steps you can take to quit your addiction to toxic people and the emotional cycle of abuse, but one of the very first steps you can take is to get yourself out of isolation.
2. Isolation keeps you stuck.
When addicts abuse their drug of choice, they’re ashamed. And when we’re ashamed we hide, we isolate, we try to become invisible. We don’t want our friends and family to know what’s going on in our lives because we don’t want them to judge us. We already judge ourselves and we just can’t add more to our burden.
3. However, the more we isolate with our addiction, the more impossible it is to break free.
Even though it feels counter-intuitive to go out in the world when we feel we’re at our worst, that’s exactly what we have to do to climb out of our pit of hell and back into the light. This doesn’t mean running to friends and family who may indeed judge us. But rather, finding people who know exactly what we’re going through because they’re going through it themselves.
I specifically recommended that Georgia start attending a 12-step group. In her case, Al-Anon would be a great fit because her man has substance issues which fuel his skirt chasing.
“Al-Anon is a worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics. Whether or not the alcoholic recognizes the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help.”
Getting into rooms with people who are struggling with the same issues we’re grappling with can be a salve to our wounds. It helps bring us out of isolation and into the realm of the living.
I also recommend outreach phone calls to fellow members. These can be instrumental in helping when we feel weak and are tempted to relapse, leaping right back on the Crazy Train with our toxic love. Picking up the phone and talking to a fellow sufferer who is working the same recovery program can actually cut off the impulse to relapse at the knees.
So if you find yourself isolating, reach out.
And if you feel guilty about asking for help (and many of us dyed-in-the-wool feel guilty about it), know that reaching out to others helps them as much as it helps you. When I accept 12-step outreach calls I often gain more benefit than the caller.
You don't have to do this alone. There are many other people isolated by their embarrassing, toxic relationship. Reach out and connect. That’s your first step to healing and living your life.
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This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.