Find empowerment to leave a toxic relationship with dignity
I’m not lying when I say that when I stayed in a toxic relationship for 3.5 years, those were the darkest days of my life. And you would think I’m stupid when I say, I’m actually glad that I went through that experience. Not because of all the pain and suffering and crying myself to sleep almost every other day. Only because I found something so amazing and valuable that changed my life.
I found myself.
I found my love for all things creative.
In this blog I want to share how I did that and how I came to this self-awareness using the hidden empowerment and passion that was inside me.
Toxic relationship red flags
3 months in, I started seeing the red flags. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Or another chance. I’m somebody who always sees the good in people and so I did. At that time in my life I couldn’t even say no to anybody or cuss or be mean. So I ignored every red flag, until I wound up so deep in them that it became so hard to breathe.
Following are some of the ways my abuser treated me:
- He got me isolated from my family and friends. He did this very gradually. Every time I was angry at my friends or family he saw that as an opportunity to turn me away from them. It was his way to make me feel like he was the only one who cared about me. And of course, if I started talking to my friends about him, they would be able to point out how messed up this was.
- He manipulated me in doings things I didn’t want to, no matter how small it may be. He had his ways to convince me.
- He controlled me. My every action; online or in real life. He was it decide what I had to do, where I had to go and say to people. He was my social media manager and life manager. Everything had to go through him first.
- He noticed my love for certain things, like blogging, art and fashion. He tried to limit my exposure to the things I enjoyed. Because he couldn’t watch me be happy.
- He was jealous of me. My victories and happiness made him mad and he would fight with me whenever something good happened in my life. Even getting better grades than him would make him unhappy.
- Similarly, whenever I would be outdoors somewhere having fun, he would fight with me to bring me down. Especially when I was out with friends or with my family.
- He would throw tantrums a lot. Even if he had made a mistake, instead of apologizing to me, he would be mad at me. And that pushed me to apologize to him just to end the argument.
- He was a liar and attention-seeker. Every time he was at fault, he would either catch a fever, be hospitalized, get in a car accident, etc. And it took me a long time to realize they were all lies.
Basically, he was an emotional abuser and you can read more emotional abuse in this blog. It was leading up to physical abuse as well.
Escaping a toxic relationship
The first step is the most difficult. Because you have been manipulated to feel that this is love when it really isn’t. But once you break free I promise you it will be so liberating and all the hard work will pay off.
1. Create distance and a safe space
It became easier for me to process my own thoughts after I created a distance from him. I enrolled in an art school to study fashion. I would be too busy in projects to talk to him.
And when I was busy in my art and fashion projects, I realized how happy I felt. I realized I hadn’t felt that happiness and safety in so long. And I definitely didn’t feel that way in my relationship.
Why would I stay in a relationship that doesn’t even make me happy?
I created my safe haven where I could be myself and figure out what I wanted then, in life, in a relationship, within myself.
Always have a safe space. Share what you’re going through with your friends who understand so they can help you. It’s so important to do the things you love so you can find the confidence.
2. Figure out the reasons you are staying
With my physical distance from him and his toxicity, I started thinking about myself and my needs and what I actually wanted in life.
I realised I had low self-worth and I believed that nobody would love someone like me. And this is why I stayed.
I realized I was under pressure because most of my friends my age had boyfriends in university and they planned on getting married soon. So I thought I was running out of time and this was my only shot at happiness, at the age of 22 only! (That is what society does to you, my friend)
I encourage you to journal or take long walks and think about the reasons you are in that relationship and why you tolerate this behavior everyday. And where is this coming from.
3. Separate yourself from those reasons
It will be difficult to separate and change your beliefs and emotions, especially when they are so ingrained and been around for so long.
Affirmations work really work to help you change your beliefs. But this is along process and you might need help with this. Either with a friend or a life coach.
When I coach my clients, I help create empowering affirmations or audios, or use other mediums that are unique to them to help them work around their beliefs. Read about my coaching.
4. Doing the dirty deed
This is the hard part.
I know it feels horrible, dirty and unlike you to leave someone and give up on them, especially if you’ve loved them at some point in time. But you need to be mean now and do what you deserve. You need respect, freedom and control of your life back.
Just straight up ‘I can’t be with you anymore’. And if you can’t meet them to say it because you think they will manipulate you, just call or even leave a text. That’s what I did. And then
- Make sure to tell your family and friends about it. Because your ex will reach out to them, try to be the victim or make them convince you to change your mind
- Put your phone on silent for a few days. I actually had to put my phone on airplane mode for weeks! Because he wouldn’t stop calling me.
- Go on a mini vacation to be away from all that drama and not use your phone.
- Don’t go alone anywhere, or share your location on social media because he might start stalking you (that happened to me)
5. No going back
You need to do this very intentionally. Every time you want to text, call or meet your ex (and they will beg you to stay and come back, saying they have changed) you need to remind yourself that you don’t deserve that and that person is never going to change.
You need to love yourself enough to not go back.
Instead, look for other ways to distract your mind after the toxic relationship. I used that time to get back into art and fashion. I applied to illustration jobs even if they didn’t pay well, just to keep myself busy and creative. So, talk to other people, meet new people or discover new hobbies. Continue to be in your safe space and cultivate that.
If you’re interested in finding empowerment so you can overcome your toxic relationship, I’m actually speaking at an online summit, Simply Happy Summit, which is all about this. My session is called ‘creative expression is the way out’ and I will talk about my ‘Bad-ass Method’ which I use and help other people with find empowerment using creative expression.
The live event is free for 7 days, starting February 8th. If you want the recordings so you can watch again and again + free digital courses, workbooks from 34 experts and coaches, you can get the Simply Happy Power Pack for $97 till February 7th & $197 till February 22nd.
Sign up for Simply Happy Summit here.
Note: I will receive a small commission if you decide to get the Power Pack.
Final thoughts on escaping an abuser
You need a strong motivation from the inside to be able to push someone like that. Look for that motivation. I found that in my art. Where can you find it? There must have been something that made you feel passion and contentment before or in your childhood. Look for it. And that is your way out.
Whenever you’re having a hard time ponder over and be grateful for everything that you have learned about yourself in this abusive relationship. And make a promise to yourself that you won’t let yourself go through all that control, manipulation and suffering ever again.
Some blogs that can help you further
- What to do after a breakup to help with pain
- 20 self-care ideas to help create your safe space
- Art journal with me