Ending a Toxic Relationship For Good: 3 Ways to Get Out
Ending a toxic relationship for good is a healthy thing to do, yet many people have a hard time walking away. Sadly, once you are hooked emotionally and even physically, it seems better to stay than leave.
We even lie to ourselves and say it really isn’t that bad. Or that there is no one better out there. Perhaps that it is even our fault; we just need to try harder.
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I have a friend who was caught in a toxic relationship, and it did not end well.
I don’t think she would mind me sharing with you some of her mistakes. Knowing her, she would want people to learn what not to do.
This is the true story of my friend, Shannon. Unfortunately, she didn’t know that ending a toxic relationship for good would be a better choice than staying.
What is a Toxic Relationship?
A toxic relationship is one that is draining you more than it is giving you life. Many times you feel like you have been sucked dry with nothing left to give. Furthermore, your relationship is eroding your self-esteem and your outlook on life. You feel you can never do anything right.
The book Toxic People defines a toxic relationship as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”
In a nutshell, you are not thriving, and you don’t see a way out because your partner will not listen or consider changing. If you are dating, this is a good time to consider walking away. If you are married, it is a little more complicated. If you have kids, that is a big problem.
Sadly, that is what happened to my friend. She had kids and thought ending a toxic relationship for good would mean never seeing them again.
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The Beginning of a Toxic Pattern
Shannon was a childhood friend. I met her when I was eight. We went to junior high and high school together. We also went to the same college. We weren’t always close as we had different friends. However, in our sophomore year at college, we did Young Life together.
That is when we became close. One night she opened up and told me about something that had happened to her over the summer.
She had an abortion.
Shannon never told him she was pregnant or about the abortion. She was absolutely devastated that it happened but didn’t see any other way out. Frankly, she was relieved it was over, and her family didn’t know.
I still feel sad that I never had the chance to talk her out of the abortion, but we didn’t talk at all that summer. My heart broke for her and the baby, but I loved her through it.
Shannon did know that ending a toxic relationship for good was the best thing for her. That time she did walk away. Sadly, it was only the beginning of a toxic pattern.
More Bad Choices
Fast forward ten years later. Shannon married and entangled herself in another toxic relationship. By then, she had a consistent pattern of bad choices in men. Soon after marriage, she started having kids. And that is when the nightmares started. She dreamed about the child she never had.
She kept dreaming she was drowning her baby. It would be the same dream every time. I remember her complaining about not being able to sleep because of the nightmares.
Over the next year, I started noticing small changes. She would talk really fast when we were on the phone. I could hardly understand a word she said. Other times, she would be slurring her words.
Looking back, I realize she started abusing prescription drugs. At first, it was for the nightmares. I think she was desperate to sleep. Later, it was for pain.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
There are many signs of a toxic relationship, but the biggest one is physical abuse. Sadly, this is happening to a lot of women and no one knows. Shannon was no exception.
She started having all sorts of “accidents.” Her foot was broken, her tooth was chipped, her back was hurt, etc. It was then she really started becoming addicted to pain medication.
One day she called me and asked me to keep some pictures for her. She said if something happened to her, that I needed to give them to the police. I didn’t understand what she meant until I opened the file.
She was beaten to a pulp. It had been going on for at least a year. I never knew until the pictures.
Her face, her body–everything. She had a black eye. It was swollen halfway shut. And she had cuts and large bruises on her torso. Her back was all cut up too. It was horrific.
I cried in disbelief. I couldn’t process what I saw. The pictures burned a hole in my computer.
I would keep going back to look at them over and over again. It was sickening. Words cannot express how I still feel about what I saw. It is beyond me how a man could do that to a woman.
I begged Shannon not to go back to her husband, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She had three children, and she said she would never leave them.
I think she knew she would never get custody if she left.
She was dealing with a prescription drug addiction, and she had no real way to support her kids financially on her own. I think she knew she was trapped. She said she was going back even if it killed her.
The End of a Toxic Relationship
That is exactly what happened to Shannon.
At the age of 42, my friend, Shannon, died. She was caught in a toxic relationship, and it killed her.
I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame. I felt I had not done enough. For the last year, I had been ignoring her calls some of the time because they were becoming more and more bizarre.
I had little kids and my own family problems. I couldn’t deal with her.
Thankfully, Shannon also left the pictures with a cop friend.
He contacted me and together we worked to try to get her justice. The authorities did hold her body over for several extra days so they could do a complete autopsy.
The official report said she died of a heart attack. There were no visible bruises or wounds at the time of death. I don’t know what really happened, but it still haunts me.
Ending the toxic relationship for good would have saved her life, but she wouldn’t walk away.
Why Are You In a Toxic Relationship?
Why are you in a toxic relationship?
Shannon never thought she deserved anything good. She didn’t know her worth as a person or that she could really accomplish something with her life.
I think she would still be alive today if she had the skills to support her kids. The problem was that Shannon got trapped. One day she woke up and couldn’t leave. It was an accumulation of her choices over a long period of time.
If I could go back in time, I would do things differently. I would tell how ending a toxic relationship for good was the best choice, unless he was willing to get help.
Ending a Toxic Relationship For Good
Here are three suggestions for ending a toxic relationship for good:
1. Change Your Thinking
Start looking at your choices today. What you do today affects tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after that.
Look at where you want to be in six months, two years, and five years. Start making the decisions that will get you there. And then visualize yourself doing it and succeeding. You have to change your thinking.
If you just live life for today and have no thought about tomorrow, then you will wake up one day and be trapped. Get out now if you are dating. That means untangling yourself in every way. And don’t stalk the person on social media. Detox completely.
You are opening the doors to hell if you stay in the relationship. This is your chance of ending a toxic relationship for good. Believe you deserve better because you do.
2. Get Help
If you are already married and trapped in a toxic relationship, get help. Most of all, remove yourself and your kids if you are in danger.
If there is a pattern of abuse, it will not stop until you and your spouse get help. Your spouse may apologize and be very sorry, but the cycle will continue if it has happened before.
You will never jump through enough hoops, say the perfect thing, or act exactly how he wants all the time. You are an individual, uniquely special, and different. Not to be controlled, threatened, or manipulated.
By staying in a toxic relationship, you are enabling your spouse to continue in his behavior. Letting him treat you this way is not real love. Love cherishes. Read I Corinthians 13 and compare it to what you are experiencing.
If you conclude you are in a toxic relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Furthermore, there are counselors, local shelters, and church ministries that deal with this kind of situation as well. Find a way out. Don’t be like Shannon.
Ending a toxic relationship for good means having the courage to do what you know is right, if even it is scary.
3. Pray For Your Spouse
It is never too late to start praying for your spouse or partner. I have a prayer written out that you can use if you don’t know how to start. Click on the link below.
My hope is that Shannon’s story will inspire you to live your life in a way that will make you think twice about your friends and your choice in a spouse.
Shannon isn’t just another statistic out there. She was my friend. I saw her slowly dwindle away right before my eyes. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.
Are you ending a toxic relationship for good? What did you do?
Do You Have Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
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