We don’t talk enough about our first relationship after ending a toxic relationship. Stepping into my first relationship after ending a toxic one was both daunting and liberating. Do talk enough about how those toxic traits we learn from a previous relationship hinder our ability to have a successful relationship after experiencing a toxic one?
Yes, I know it’s so much easier to think that the breakdown of a relationship was entirely someone else’s fault. It feels better to look at the other person and say, “It was you and it was all on you.” The reality is, this is not true. I know for a fact that when you are in a toxic relationship, no matter how healthy and whole you were when you entered it, you pick up some unhealthy traits. It happened to me. These are traits and techniques to survive and cope in that relationship.
If your feelings don’t matter, you learn to shut down and not express or show them anymore. If you are not allowed to leave a heated argument or forced to “talk about it now” you forget to be introspective and process the feelings you have because you are not given time to do that. If your old partner was quiet or silent, giving you the “silent treatment”, you may have learned that silence is associated with you doing something wrong.
If your new partner is quiet or silent it doesn’t mean that you did someone wrong. Sometimes that are just content being there quietly with you. One of the things that I have been learning to deal with in the past few months is the anxiety that creeps in with the absence of drama in the relationship because I was so used to drama that it felt like I needed to be waiting for the shoe to drop.
So much so that I told my friend, “It is so boring to be in a healthy relationship.” I want to make it clear that my relationship is in no way boring. It is as healthy, loving and I couldn't be happier. However, my system is having a hard time with how calm, and consistent it is. It feels safe, something I haven't felt in a long time. It is peaceful and I don’t have to manage it. I can think. I can write. I can dream! I can just be! When you are on an emotional roller coaster, the ups and downs become the norm.
They are your cues about where the relationships is. The lows teach us it’s bad and the highs tell you it could go bad at any second so you are on high alert. Experiencing a calm, consistent and loving relationship that doesn’t have the constant highs and lowest lows is beautiful…consistently. BUT…you are so anxious because you are expecting the other shoe to drop …
You might ask, “What about faith and trusting God?” and I do! I know directing my mind back to God always helps heal those triggers. No matter how much you love and trust God these feelings are still real. I have been learning through therapy, prayer, and talking through things with my partner that it’s ok to feel scared but what is even more important is if you recognize those triggers, work on healing them before they become self-fulfilling prophesies.
Remember the new person in your life is not the person you were with. My relationship has given me a newfound appreciation for genuine love and served as a reminder to prioritize my emotional well-being.
Through self-growth and the support of a loving partner, I am learning to trust again, communicate and build a healthy and fulfilling relationship that surpasses all my expectations. I am aware that there are thoughts that may come to cause feelings of anxiety and I will always capture them and put them in the box. Then I’ll ask myself, has this person done anything to me that justifies these feelings?