It isn't like you asked to have these scars but the experience of being in a toxic relationship found a way to shatter you from the inside. But you're stronger than that. You walked away.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on March 12, 2021. It has since been updated.
Getting out of a toxic relationship may be the first step to taking back your life, but that doesn't mean you left unscathed. The pain, the humiliation and the utter disregard for you as a human being may nearly have broken you but you didn't let it take you down. Unfortunately, in that battle, you were left with more than a few scars, ones that make it difficult for you to be around the others without feeling like nothing more than a shell of yourself. And these are those scars, unseen by others but still bleeding for you:
With a toxic partner, you were constantly belittled and treated as if your opinion and emotions didn't matter. Whether it was in private or in public, you were treated as if you were inferior and if you ever tried to fight for yourself, they always hung the sword of abandoning you over your head. So over time, you stopped trying to stand up for yourself. And this carried over even after you managed to leave them. Now, even with others, you find it hard to voice your opinions, afraid that you might get shot down or left behind.
Fights were a constant with a toxic partner. For them, raising their voices and fighting with you was their way of stamping you down and making you heed to their commands. And if something ever went wrong, they always resorted to threats of verbal or in some cases, physical abuse. Though you aren't with them anymore, such loud noises make you flinch and the idea of confrontations makes you want to run.
It's as if a toxic partner's ultimate weapon was making you feel like you were never good enough. All the confidence you worked so hard to build was slowly and methodically broken down by them. And you might not have even noticed it as they may have covered their tracks with flowery words and "gifts." Even with those you love now, it's become a habit to think that you're not good at anything, even if others tell you otherwise.
A toxic partner knew how to gaslight you and completely mess up your own sense of right and wrong. Even if you knew a problem was caused by them or that they had done something wrong, they had a way to turn the tables on you and make you feel like you were misunderstanding the situation. Though you know leaving them was the best thing you did, their gaslighting certainly didn't get left behind. Now, the constant self-doubt is slowly drowning you.
Along with making you doubt yourself, a toxic partner made you believe that even their wrongdoings were your fault. If food wasn't kept on the table when they got back, it was your fault. If someone wasn't falling for their tricks, it's because you weren't supportive or convincing enough. Eventually, they led you to think that everything was your fault whether that was true or not. And now you feel like you have to apologize for the smallest things, even to loved ones.
A toxic partner made you trust them with everything in you. They hid their lies amongst the blame and made you think that they were actually being honest with you. At first, they might have painted a rosy picture of themselves to get you to trust them. And once they had you in their clutches, that's when the mask came off. The doubt, the blame, the self-flagellation — it was all their way of hooking you in. Now it frightens you to trust anyone again. What if they betray you the way a toxic partner did? Would you be able to survive a second time?
Amongst all that abuse they inflicted, they coated their insults and derision with the statement, "It's for your own good." They made you think that no one will love you the way you are except for them. Of course, you realized much later it was just one of their tactics to get you to stay but the pain of it never left. And you might still believe that there isn't anyone who would love you wholly, faults and all. They were the only ones who did.
But that's not true. You were strong enough to survive them and even stronger to be able to step back and say goodbye finally. Though it may take time and may need you to be constantly surrounded by those who love you, you will be able to find that part of yourself that was happy, cheerful and uniquely you before they came along. If you need to mourn the identity you lost when you were with them, do it. It's okay. Cry it all out and let it go. And then find that strength that rose up when you needed it and take your life back completely. And someday, you'll finally heal from those scars and find someone who genuinely loves all of you, scars and all. You deserve it.
Disclaimer: This article is based on insights from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by GizemBDR