Let me start by saying that I’ve had my fair share of toxic relationships. Starting with family members that normalized that behavior for me to the point that I didn’t realize that the patterns I had been subjected to weren’t normal until I was on my own and had distanced myself. Toxic household carried into friendships where I didn’t feel free to be myself, and later on, romantic relationships that would take more wrong turns than right.

There was a time when I would be embarrassed to write this. But there was also a time only a few years ago when no one was writing articles about the warning signs of abuse. Knowing that people have so many more resources and places even online to seek help comforts me more than I can say. Now that we have the warning signs, we need to talk about the aftermath of leaving the truly toxic relationships.

  1. You Will Want To Go Back

    It’s inevitable. Whether you were in this relationship months or years, you were conditioned to believe you were worth less than what you are. That you are a branch of sub-human that was born only to give and give. Fight this urge. It will pass.

  2. They Will Make Promises

    Tying in with the previous bullet, this plays with your conditioning to forgive. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, but there’s a thin line between seeking forgiveness and taking advantage. Take it from me, nothing will change. At least not long-term. Maybe for a short while these people will try to “make an effort” but eventually, they all realize that bad habits are the hardest to break. So they don’t.

  3. You Realize What Happened

    Like I said before, I didn’t realize I was in a bad situation until I was out of it. You’ll start reading articles like this and replaying conversations you had with them over and over and realize that something wasn’t quite right. Maybe it was their tone. Or the way you never wanted to tell them bad news. Or having to text them within a certain time frame. Or things you won’t tell anyone for a long time, if ever. But you realize that your kindness was taken advantage of, and that’s not okay.

  4. They Will Manipulate Those Around You

    When you refuse to go back to your old patterns with them and become increasingly vocal about why you left the relationship and what they did, they will become frustrated. From this frustration, they will attempt to manipulate the people around you and their perceptions of you. The key here is to rise above it. No matter your actions, they will continue down this path. By reacting in as minimal as possible, you don’t allow them to have the same control over you despite not having a relationship with them anymore. Don’t worry though, because those who truly know you will be wise enough to keep their true views of you.

  5. You Survive

    You get angry. You learn the warning signs. You inform your friends and family so no one has to go through what you did. You want to key their car, but don’t, because they’re not worth the trouble or time. You don’t forgive or forget, but rather, you grow from the experience. You’re a different person now. Less naive, stronger, smarter. That’s not to say you don’t still have heart, though. If you let that happen, they win. And they don’t get to win this. So you walk taller, laugh louder, love harder. Because the best revenge is being better, even if you’re still a little bitter.