By: Carrie Baker

It isn’t supposed to be like this.

I know that you’re hurting. I know that you are confused and afraid, but most of all I know that you are in denial. You can’t reconcile with the idea that this person whom you would give your whole heart to, whom you’ve invested so much time and love into, isn’t giving you the love you deserve. It doesn’t have to be a significant other. Maybe it’s a friend, an acquaintance, or someone you’ve looked up to for as long as you can remember. The problem with toxic relationships is that you probably don’t know you’re in one, and by the time you realize it, the damage has already been done. You can never really prepare for the emotional hell that they will put you through.

I know this because I’ve been there and I’ve felt all of the things you’re feeling. One thing I’ve noticed during this phase of my journey is that I’ve encountered too many people who are trapped in toxic relationships. So, if you’re there right now or you know somebody who is, let me be very transparent with you. If I could go back in time, these are the things I would tell myself, and these are the things I want you to hear.

It isn’t supposed to be like this.
This never-ending roller coaster that you feel like you’re on is meant to be the biggest thrill of your life. Your friends and loved ones are supposed to make you smile and cry because you’re laughing so hard. You shouldn’t be fighting back tears because you’re terrified or sick to your stomach because you can’t anticipate what is coming next. The truth is, relationships are a lot of work, but they aren’t supposed to drain you. Stop making excuses for them, because the ones you hold close are supposed to build you up, not tear you down.

You are not the problem.
I know you’re sitting here trying to cope with the physical and mental pains of heartbreak, while at the same time, blaming yourself because they keep telling you it’s your fault. If you would have tried harder, been a better friend, listened more, looked or loved differently, then you wouldn’t be struggling to keep this friendship or fighting for this relationship. But let me tell you something. You can’t be everything to everyone. You are who you are and you shouldn’t have to change because it’s inconvenient for someone else.

Manipulation looks a lot like charisma.
They’re buying you gifts and showering you with compliments. Everything is going great and then it’s not…again. They start keeping score, they’re passive aggressive, they’re blaming you for their actions, they let their jealousy get the better of them, or they play mind games. They push you away, threatening to leave you alone, but then reel you back in—slowly but surely. Don’t let them fool you. Your heart isn’t something to be played with.

You are not alone.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that toxic relationships don’t discriminate. If you ask the person next to you right now, they’ve probably been in one. The point is, you’re not the first to go through this experience, and unfortunately you won’t be the last. But what is more important than knowing you aren’t alone in experiencing toxicity is knowing that you aren’t alone in proximity.

The pain is temporary.
Don’t be afraid to let go. If they’re threatening to walk away, let them. If you need to cut ties, snip away. You are surrounded by other people who will love you like you deserve and can treat you better than you’re being treated right now. I’m not saying it won’t be hard. It will hurt. Every part of your body will physically ache. But the people who cherish you won’t let you hurt for long.

Hours, days and years will pass and you’ll find out how to be happy again. I promise.

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