Toxic Relationship Termination

Two branches entangled and about to snap under pressure

   So, let’s say that you’ve come to the conclusion that the relationship you are in with your partner or your friend or you sister, or even your father is toxic.  Super toxic.  And I mean so toxic that every single time you engage with this person you walk away feeling dejected.  Or rejected.  Or worthless.   And yes, it may have taken you a while to come to this painful and sad realization, but here you are. Finally.  And you are ready to establish some new boundaries to keep yourself emotionally safe.  Good for you!!!!

   Ok, so now how on earth do you go about doing that? How do you transition from having someone involved in your life, maybe even deeply and consistently involved, to playing a smaller part or maybe even no part at all?

   The first thing that needs to happen is you need to decide what kind of role you want this person to play.   Perhaps you want to keep them at arm’s length and you would feel safe enough to text periodically.  Or perhaps you feel like you need to “appease them” a bit and decide that going out to eat every few months is a solution.  Or maybe even a weekly meal seems like something that will work.  Whatever new boundary you set is totally up to you.  However, you will also need to decide if the person can be respectful enough of said boundary to adhere to it.  And you also will need to decide what to do if they disrespect it.  That’s where the consequence piece comes in and that can often be a very difficult decision to make.  And that is something we will talk about in another discussion.

   For today, let’s look at what happens when you decide that you don’t want the person in your life at all.  You don’t want to see them.  Or talk to them.  Or read mail from them.  Or have any reminder that they are still around.   

   So first, I would just like to let you know that it is totally ok and totally acceptable and totally your right and privilege to completely remove someone from your life if you feel they are toxic to you.  I don’t care who the person is.  Toxic is toxic.  Even if the person swears up and down that they don’t mean it or that you are being too sensitive (sound familiar?), you, yes YOU have the right to just say no. 

   But just saying no can be more difficult than it sounds.  Because often times the person you have cut out doesn’t realize they have been cut out.  Because even if you tell them, they likely won’t stop.  Ever.  They will pursue and pursue and pursue and then tell all of their friends and family how you have wronged them and are a horrible friend, or sibling, or daughter.  They will spin the story in a way that makes them sound like the victim, when, at the end of the day, it truly has been you that was victimized.

   So what do you do?  How do you manage this?  The answer, although hard, is really quite simple.  You simply stop contact.  ALL contact.  You don’t respond to emails.  You stop answering calls.  You don’t reply to text messages.  You don’t even write “return to sender” on a package or letter.  You simply pretend like they don’t exist.  And while it may seem like this would get someone to stop trying, and it might, it also might not.  So even when you truly and totally ghost someone, it is entirely possible (and for some even probably) that they will stalk you.  They will send the letters.  Or the card without a return address.  They will seek you out on social media.  They can become relentless because if you have become the object of their thoughts and attention, any fuel is better than no fuel. 

   This makes it sound impossible to truly cut someone out.  And while it can be difficult, providing no contact back is the only way to manage it.   Because, ANY piece of information is more information than they previously had.  And that is often enough to keep it going.

So the bottom line here is three fold. 

  • It is ok to remove toxic people, regardless of their title and role in your life.
  • The only way to deal with stalkers is to simply not engage in any way.   Ignore.  Ignore.
  • AND…you, yes YOU are worth it.  You deserve to have only kind and

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