There’s a reason why toxic relationships are called ‘toxic’: being in one can impact a person’s life in many ways and cause substantial, long-term damage.
In my previous post, I shared Anna’s story of being trapped in a toxic marriage. When I heard from her, a year after she had turned down that attractive job offer, she was struggling. For someone who had always loved teaching, she was experiencing crippling anxiety and feelings of inadequacy at work.
She’d been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was on antidepressants. While the medication helped her get out of bed every morning, she was considering quitting her job. At home, managing the household and children felt overwhelming. She was no longer meeting friends and had stopped going to her weekly yoga class–which had always been the highlight of her week.
Her relationship with her husband was tense most of the time, often erupting into big fights. He blamed the state of their marriage to her being tired and irritable all the time, and she was starting to think that he might be right.
Maybe it was all her fault.
Anna’s experience is an example of the significant and lasting impact a toxic relationship can have. Here are some examples of what that impact can look like:
- The mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, or burnout resulting from toxic relationships can affect a person’s ability to function in daily life, perform tasks, make decisions, maintain relationships, or stay motivated and positive. In extreme cases, toxic partners may use manipulation to make their victims feel like they are the problem or that they are losing their mind.
- Mental health challenges and low self-esteem (which also results from toxic relationships) negatively affect a person’s professional life: their career aspirations, confidence in their abilities, motivation, productivity, and ability to concentrate.
- People involved in toxic relationships often suffer physical/psychosomatic symptoms, which can be debilitating, such as headaches and migraines, backaches and other muscle pains, digestive issues, and chronic fatigue.
- Toxic relationships can impact a person’s sense of self and identity, leading to self-doubt, negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy that can persist long after the relationship ends.
- Toxic relationships can have financial implications as well. A person may be unable to continue being professionally active and therefore potentially lose their financial independence (as could happen to Anna if she decided to quit her job). This makes them feel even less in control of their life.
- Finally, when it comes to future relationships, the emotional distress and trust issues resulting from a toxic relationship can make it difficult to form healthy connections.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If this is happening to you, it’s important to remember that, even if the situation seems hopeless, you are strong and resilient enough to break free and choose a different life.
Breaking free starts with loving yourself enough to know that what you’re dealing with is neither normal nor your fault; and that you are worthy of a healthy, loving and respectful relationship.
It continues with building support around you and reaching out to people you trust, who see you for who you truly are and validate your experience and perspective, whether that’s a friend, family member, or professional.
And through this process, it’s crucial to keep taking care of yourself as much as possible by sticking to the non-negotiables: sufficient sleep, healthy nutrition, and daily movement.
Self-love, support, non-negotiable self-care. How are you doing on these three basics?
If you are in a toxic relationship (or know someone who is), don’t hesitate toreach out.
Thank you for being here! If you want to understand where you feel trapped in your life and how you can break free, take my free Break Free Quiz !
And if you are new to the Breaking Free blog, read my introduction here for more information about what it’s about and what topics I tackle in my posts. This is my second article on toxic relationships. Read the first one here.