Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough. Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation. But it doesn’t have to be a five year process either. Millions of other survivors around the worlds entires lives have been impacted by their narcissist. Yours doesn’t have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.
Happy New Year! And welcome to the totally refreshed and revitalized, Healing From Emotional Abuse! Overcoming narcissism and healing from emotional abuse are so important to your mental health and to living a life of freedom, confidence and peace.
First, what is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship can range across various types of relationships, to include romantic, platonic and familial. Toxic relationships are generally recognized as romantic relationships, but these are not the only ones. You can also have toxic friendships and toxic familial relationships. “Toxic” means that the person is controlling, manipulative, abusive and narcissistic. Someone who is harmful or damaging to you physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually.
What makes a toxic relationship is a person who uses tactics like gaslighting and manipulation to make you feel insecure, belittled, demeaned and upset. A toxic person wants you to feel as uncomfortable as possible so they can maintain control over you, your friendships and relationships and your surroundings.
Toxic people, toxic friends and toxic partners do whatever they have to, to isolate you from other people who might have influence over you. They make it difficult for you to trust anyone else, including yourself. They work to make you feel alone, so they are the only people that you rely on. They teach you how to damage yourself emotionally and damage outside relationships, giving them full power over you.
What does a toxic relationship look like?
Like I said, toxic relationships come in different packages, and they play mind games so you don’t see it.
For example, a friend who is overly clingy, doesn’t like it when you spend time with other people, or makes you feel guilty for spending time with other people. Manipulates you into spending time with them. They might even go as far as to pretend to be suicidal or upset to get you to spend time with them. They are exhausting, but you feel like you’re the only person that they can count on or trust, usually because they tell you that as a means to manipulate you. Being around them doesn’t make you feel good. They are energy draining, but you are the person that they depend on.
Do you have a friend that does this to you? Think about the people you hang out with. Do you feel refreshed and alive when you’re with them, or do you feel drained and exhausted? They might be toxic.
An example of a toxic family member is someone who was raised being forced to meet unrealistic expectations. Toxic parents will generally force their children to cook, clean, do laundry and handle situations that you are not mentally or physically capable of. Sometimes, these chores and activities would interfere with school work or sleep. Toxic parents also force their children to provide emotional support to them, as if they were the parent, and the parents were the children. A lot of times, toxic parents will harshly criticize their children, as opposed to constructively redirecting behavior, or having the punishment match the crime. The punishments would be outrageous in comparison to the behavior or action that was committed. They are always right, and will harshly judge other people that you bring into your life, in order to maintain control over your surrounding and influence. And, children of toxic parents will feel that their needs aren’t being met. That can mean not being hugged or shown love and affection. It can be not providing the necessities like food, clean clothes and education. And it could be not setting or creating boundaries, which in turn, influences the way the child interacts and creates boundaries in future relationships.
Outside of the immediate family, toxic people can be in the extended family. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins. These toxic people will be more likely to use passive aggressive narcissism to make you look and feel bad in front of other family members. They will usually compare you to other family members who aren’t comparable to you. They’ll get jealous and try and compete with you, regardless of age gap or difference in personality. They overreact to things you do or say, creating a toxic situation and uncomfortable family environment. They are the people that will always play the victim. If they start and argument or a scene, somehow, they’ll make it seem and feel like it’s your fault. Like it’s something you did to create the problem. They will always be right, no matter what and will often use ultimatums in order to secure their control around you. They might use other family members to hold against you. For example, if you have a toxic aunt, she could use her children as pawns to influence you to behave a certain way or do something for her, or you won’t get to spend time with your cousins.
Do you ever feel drained leaving a family event? Why? Think of the people in the room. Who is it that makes you feel insecure, or always seems to have a problem with you? They might be toxic.
Toxic partners are awful. We as humans are so drawn to connection and love that we can overlook a lot of abusive and narcissistic behavior because we want to be loved. Toxic partners use the love you have for them against you. They use it to create distance between you and other people, including friends and family. They use it to make you feel guilty for making them upset, even when it really isn’t your fault. And they use it to keep control of you. They show it in a lot of ways, some more covert than others. Sometimes, it’ll be in the form of being clingy and over-affectionate. Other times it will be gaslighting you, and telling you that their anger and issues were caused by something you did or said. They will instill you with self-doubt and demean what you say, in an effort to keep you where they want you. And they will continue to push boundaries and isolate you until you leave, or worse.
So let’s get you to a safe and healthy place. Last, how to get out of a toxic relationship. Leaving is the most dangerous part of being with toxic people. They don’t like when we take away their control, so be prepared for backlash and a lot of negative energy and verbal attacks, unfortunately. Parents and partners especially can be really mean when you’re trying to leave. They will reaffirm how much you need them, that you’ll come crawling back. That they need you and you’re letting them down. And it can waiver from loving and apologetic to hatred and nastiness really quickly. The point is to keep you confused and coming back. Be strong, and know that these are all just mind games.
If you are feeling unsafe and need help figuring out a safe way to leave, follow this link for a safety planning guide. Leaving is the strongest and boldest thing you can do for yourself, but it is also the most vulnerable. The best way to leave any toxic situations is to leave with a plan. Make arrangements, find a place to stay, whether it be a shelter, with someone you know, or your own place. Be sneaky. Don’t let them know you’re planning to leave because there will most likely be backlash.
With toxic friends, the best thing to do is start limiting time with them. Start setting boundaries. They will try even harder to get you over there, but be prepared. If they are the type of person who feigns suicide when you aren’t available, then know that a call to the police for a wellness check is a way to stop that kind of behavior. If they are suicidal, the police will bring them for a psychological evaluation and keep them safe. If they aren’t, and are using that as a way to draw you back in, it will show them that you’re not falling for it anymore.
Have a plan. Be ready for the backlash, and most importantly, trust your instincts. Although you’ve probably learned to doubt yourself, I’m telling you to trust yourself on this one. Leaving a toxic person behind is the best way to start your own healing.
Hey! If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!