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surviving a bad breakup

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Breakups are never easy, but the breakup that comes after a rather toxic and truly unhealthy relationship can be particularly painful. If you think about your breakups in your life, they probably haven’t all felt the same. Some felt you leaving as if the ground had been pulled out beneath you and you couldn’t breathe, while others were…not so bad. Perhaps some were surprisingly eventless and emotionless, like when you pull off a Band-Aid, expecting it to sting, and, instead, it’s one of those nice Band-Aids that come off with ease. No breakup feels the same because no relationship that caused it is the same.


There are, however, similarities you’ll always finds when leaving a toxic relationship. That breakup is its own brand of hurt. And that’s because toxic, manipulative, unhealthy relationships mess you up. They change you. They almost feel like they change the chemistry of your brain. They get their claws in you, and so ending those relationships feels like ripping claws out of you. You probably cringed just thinking about that. If you want to get over a toxic relationship, you have to be prepared for the fact that the breakup will feel like the worst one of your life.


Don’t see the absolutely devastating pain that comes from the breakup as evidence you should have stayed in the relationship. Nuh-uh. That’s not what’s going on. That can’t-breathe, nauseating pain you feel when leaving a toxic relationship is evidence you needed to get out. All of those symptoms—that’s what that relationship did to you. It’s like detoxing from a drug: all of the terrible symptoms that come from getting clean are just proof of how absolutely nasty that substance was for your body. Now, your body is cleansing itself. Here is why leaving a toxic relationship is very much like detoxing from a drug.


You’ll feel unparalleled depression

Just the way someone feels after quitting a drug, you can feel depression like you didn’t know was possible after leaving a toxic relationship. You can feel so down and so dark, that you may believe you’ll never be happy again. That’s because that relationship triggered certain reactions in your brain that made it feel…not exactly happy, because you weren’t happy in that relationship, but…ultra alive. That was mostly anxiety. Now those are gone.


You may lose your appetite

You might be so consumed with the depression that you don’t even pay attention to physical signals your body sends you, like hunger. You might feel completely detached from your physicality, and forget to eat for days. All your body feels is the pain of detoxing from this relationship, the way someone detoxing from a drug only feels that pain and nothing else for days.


You’ll feel dizzy and disoriented

You may wake up in the middle of the night thinking you can’t breathe. You might have moments you feel disoriented, and like you can’t stand up straight. Toxic relationships get under your skin, and manipulate you into believe you cannot live without them (not unlike certain illicit substances), and once they’re gone, you’ll have some thoughts of I can’t breathe without that.


You may need a lesser evil

The way those in drug or alcohol recovery turn to cigarettes, coffee, or Krav Maga, you may need some lesser evil to wean you off the truly bad one. So while you’re blocking and avoiding that manipulative, toxic ex, you may go have a short fling with a sort of airhead, harmless douchebag that you’d never get serious with. He’s your cigarette.


Though equal evils will call out

Of course, like when someone quits one terrible drug, other, equal evils will call out to you. And you might find yourself drawn to men very similar to your ex, who would pull you into the same all-consuming, toxic, manipulative type of relationship. But you have to be very careful to identify if that’s happening, otherwise you’ll be right back in it. Same drug: different packaging.


But a total detox is total

You will try to cheat and get around the rules. You’ll toy with the idea of getting involved in a relationship very similar to the last one, under the excuse, “It’s a different guy!” But a total detox must be total. Unfortunately, you have to feel the pain and nausea and awful symptoms if you’re going to get better. You can’t run from them, into the arms of somebody else.


You’d do anything to make the pain stop

You feel like you’d give anything to not feel this devastation. You’d make a deal with the devil. You’d pay anyone any amount of money. That’s how those coming down from drugs feel. But, unfortunately, the only thing that truly makes it go away is time.


The thought of going back is complicated

When you think of returning to the guy—and you think about it often—the feelings surrounding that are complicated. You know that it would, at first, provide relief from this terrible pain. But quickly, it would bring all the problems that relationship brings. You know you’d be doing the wrong thing by going back, and that the relief would be short-lived, and followed by something much worse.


You just have to get over the hump

Unfortunately, the only way through the pain is through it. The nausea. The depression. The lack of appetite. You have to get over the hump, and only on the other side of that—only after experiencing the detox symptoms—can you get to a place where you may not ever want to go back to that addictive substance aka relationship again. Because you’re familiar with the consequences, now, and you’d never want to go through that again.


You have secret compulsions

You have compulsions that you don’t share with your friends. You want to call the ex. You want to see him. You want to look at his social media. You lie to your friends, and tell them you don’t miss him, and don’t want these things. It’s very much the way someone in drug or alcohol recovery tells friends they haven’t been thinking about the substance, when sometimes it’s all they think about.


You need a support group

Whether it’s a real, official support group—like a love and sex addicts anonymous group—or a more unofficial one, with a group of friends, you need a good support group right now. You need to be able to tell someone everything you’re going through, and hear from others that they’ve been through the same thing.


You have to be very strong

You will need to pull out an inner strength that you didn’t know you had in you. You will have moments when you’ll just say, “This hurts so incredibly much but…I’ll survive. I just will because I have to.” Any moment of weakness you give into could make all of your hard work of detoxing go away.


Your poison is your antidote

Your poison is your antidote and your antidote is your poison. Returning to the guy would make the symptoms go away, just the way doing the drug makes the detoxer’s symptom’s go away. And then, should they try to detox again, the symptoms would be ten times as bad.


At times, you won’t know if you can

You’ll have days when you say, “I can’t do it.” You’ll be certain that you are destined for a life stuck in a manipulative, toxic, controlling, brutally unhealthy relationship because you’re too weak to get out of it. Hey, the symptoms of the detox are terrible, and most people wouldn’t think they could get through it.


Going back wouldn’t even feel good

Returning wouldn’t even feel good anymore. You know how, when someone is addicted to a terrible drug, there comes a point when she no longer feels the good effects of the drug anymore: all it does is relieve bad symptoms. That’s how that toxic relationship becomes. You never feel anything good in it: all it does is keep awful detoxing symptoms at bay. But good feelings? No. Never.

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