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  • Laura

Toxic Relationships

The first thing about toxic relationships is that everybody has them – people who say they don't are pretty much in denial. Why would somebody be in denial, you ask? At least, more often than not, people who are in denial have a serious relationship with a toxic person.

A toxic relationship is often a person who makes you question your very worth, or worse yet, causes you to battle the Beast that is suicidality. When a toxic relationship causes you to question your existence, you need to double down and say – yell – at it until you beat it back into its place, locked away where it can't hurt you or damage your very core (and even if it does, you can repair your being by reinforcing your self-worth and putting distance between you and the toxic relationship).

I have had my share of toxic relationships, for sure. I have had romantic relationships that have gone south due to a partner not being able to roll with the punches (and having a mental illness, to be honest, can be a lot of punches for someone to deal with - I get it). It took a long time in all of these relationships for me to see that they were not in my best interest (hindsight, as they say, is 20/20).

I've also endured, and in some cases still endure, non-romantic relationships that are chock-full of toxicity. The worst is one that I resisted ending entirely because I wanted to maintain the connection (it was that important to me). I didn't end the relationship – even though I recognized the toxicity.

Note: if you consciously decide to maintain a toxic relationship, you must be "Tefton," where the negativity rolls off you. Please note that even if you can bounce almost all of the toxic person's BS, you will be vulnerable to at least some toxicity. This means you must make a concerted effort to refuse to engage or react (the Beast loves it when you engage or react, significantly raising the risk of increased suicidality).

Now, as for the person I struggle with who I consider toxic, they are a complete narcissistic @#%& from hell. That said, I consciously decided to keep them in my life because it's an important relationship I want to preserve. But, I am a realist: it may never improve. That said, I try to remind myself: Teflon. (I'm mostly successful, though I will admit I get hurt occasionally – however, I don't let this person define me, which is key.)

I just walked away from a relationship that had become toxic to my complete and utter shock. We had traveled together and referred to ourselves as "forever friends." I even convinced her to go to the hospital when she overdosed; her husband later told me I saved her life. The hardest thing about losing her as a friend is that I feel somehow responsible for her – once you save someone, you just do (or at least I feel like I do). I held onto the relationship much longer than I should have, long after she ghosted me (right after she said that we still had a friendship); I tried my best, but it wasn't good enough. I am very sorry that she walked away, and it was only at the behest of my friends and therapists that I finally wrote her a message addressing my feelings and perceptions. It was a relationship that wound up toxic, and I didn't practice what I preached above; I didn't – couldn't – be Teflon. This is my way of saying that even if you arm yourself against the Beast, the Beast will come looking for you.

Whether you choose to maintain a toxic relationship is up to you – I just want you to go into such a relationship with open eyes and as much Teflon as you can muster because such relationships are intrinsically difficult, and the Beast will come looking for you if you aren't careful. So, dear reader, tread carefully when you decide to maintain a toxic relationship and ask yourself: is it worth it?

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