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6 Secrets to Ending a Toxic Relationship (aka How Oprah Helped Save My Life)

"When we are in a toxic relationship, we are 'attached' to each other at the solar plexus level through unseen chords, because the solar plexus is our centre of power. When we are the 'victim' of a toxic relationship, we give away our power to our abuser, and there is a line of energy which attaches us to them from the solar plexus, as well as the sacral chakra (sexual centre). These chords need to be broken so that we can take our power back..."
On understanding 'Jekyll and Hyde', and on trusting oneself...
 
In my 20's I unconsciously attracted myself into an abusive (aka narcissistic) relationship.
At the time, I was desperately lonely and unhappy, and he was so charming and attentive. For the first time in my life I felt like someone was actually paying attention to me, and it felt so GOOD. I had never truly felt loved in my life, and I was parched for it.
 
However, even though I was enjoying the positive attention, I could also feel somewhere inside of me that 'something didn't feel quite right'. I couldn't put my finger on it but my body knew, because I could never sleep well when he was around.
 
Later, many years later, when I pieced everything together and understood how the 'body intelligence' works to protect us, I learned how my nervous system was always on 'high alert' because it KNEW it didn't feel comfortable with him. But I didn't know that at the time - all I knew was that I couldn't get a good night's sleep when I was with him.
 
Fast-forward 6 months and I had just returned from a trip we took together to New Zealand, his home country. I returned to London to find my job had been canned, and he was still in NZ. He told me I should come back to New Zealand because after all 'no-body in my family cared about me'. I believed him, and didn't realize until many years later that one of the signature traits of an abuser is to ISOLATE their victim. I was too mentally and emotionally weak and ignorant to know better, and still craving his love, so I upped and left the UK within 2 weeks. Looking back I saw how much of a shock this must have been for my parents, but I didn't see it at the time.
 
As soon as I arrived in New Zealand to live, everything changed. The side of himself he had cleverly hidden from me for the previous 6 months since we had known each other started to surface. The 'dark' side.
 
One minute he would be 'Mr Nice' and then for no apparent reason he became 'Mr Nasty'. The negative comments would slice through me, ripping my heart and gut open. I couldn't understand what was happening, and my brain couldn't make sense of it. Constant put-downs and criticisms, nothing I did was ever good enough... I didn't drive well, I wasn't slim enough, pretty enough... his whole demeanour changed and it felt like I was living with the devil. It was actually really scary, and he scared me. He was big and strong, and I was legitimally scared for my life sometimes. My sleep got even worse and I was a wreck - my body was constantly stuck in the 'fight-flight' response because I was always waiting for the next criticism or threat to come. It was hell.
 
I had so much DOUBT AND CONFUSION inside of me, because on the one hand it didn't 'feel' right to be treated this way, but on the other I kept on thinking it was my fault, and believing he was right. My head kept coming up with reasons and excuses as to why he was speaking to me this way ("he's tired, he's got a lot on his plate, he's building a new business...") - there was always a reason I would come up with to rationlize away his behaviour. It was only later that I came to understand this is a classic behaviour of the victim - to rationalize ('rational lies') away the abuser's behaviour.
 
This went on for months. I was slowly being worn down, and I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. I couldn't do my job properly because I was experiencing so much BRAIN FOG, and I was fired. It was a fantastic job of my dreams, and I lost it. I was gutted, and yet too exhausted to deal with things. 
 
Then SIX things happened which allowed me to start seeing the truth and eventually get out of the relationship (aka, save myself):

LIFESAVER #1:

I was in the library one day with him, waiting while he got some books, and I randomly wandered down an aisle. I looked at a row of books and one just 'popped out' at me from the shelf. I took it off the shelf - it was called 'Men who hate women, and the women who love them'. I opened it up, and the chapter heading said 'JEKYLL AND HYDING'. I couldn't believe it. This was exactly what was happening to me, and someone had put it into words! How many times had I said to myself "it's like living with Jekyll and Hyde"?
 
I snuck the book out of the library and read it cover to cover. It was like I was reading about me in the book, my whole life, it was amazing. All of a sudden I started to understand WHAT was happening, and that I was living with a narcissist, and that it wasn't OK to put up with this abusive behaviour. For the first time ever I had an understanding of what was happening - what a RELIEF! I wasn't going mad, I wasn't bad, it wasn't me... it was him!
 
However, despite starting to get an understanding of what was happening, I still couldn't extricate myself from the relationship. I still kept making excuses for his behaviour, kept on 'giving him one more chance', because every time he was mean and nasty, he would sooner or later turn around and be 'Mr Nice' again, and I would forgive him... again. Despite the number of times I had said to myself "I've had enough, I"m going to leave him", I still hadn't managed to.  
 

SECRET / LESSON #1 = Inform yourself and learn about what is really happening. We need to recognize what is happening so we can see the truth of what is happening, because we can't change what we don't acknowledge or understand.

LIFESAVER #2:

Then one day I picked up the local paper. I very rarely read papers but I felt drawn to do so that day. I opened it up, and noticed a small advertisement for a women's support group for abused women. Something drew me to go to the group. I only went a few times, as it was a long way to drive into town from where I lived, but we used to do 'role-playing' of how our partners treated us: one person would role-play the partner, and another person us, and we would sit and watch the interaction. It brought it home to me even more that I was not being treated well, and that I was not happy in the relationship. 
 

SECRET / LESSON #2 = Get help. We can't see our own stuff. We need professional help of some kind, or at least some help from people who understand things better than we do, and ideally someone who has been through something similar, because no-one who has not been through an abusive relationship will understand what it is like, or know what to do. 

LIFESAVER #3:

Then not long after the third thing happened:
 
I came home on a Friday afternoon after a long week at work. At the time I was the main 'breadwinner' while he was home setting up a business. I walked in the door looking forward to a nice meal together, and noticed he was just washing his dishes after cooking and eating his own meal. I couldn't believe it. The selfishness! It was such a small thing, but it became the 'last straw' thing. That was it. I'd had enough. Silently inside me I decided that I had had enough and I was going to leave. The next day, I secretly looked through the flat ads in the paper, got in the car to go see one of them, and took the room on the spot. I returned home to tell him I was moving out, and his response was "so you've had enough then"? What?! So he knew all along what he was doing?!
 
I moved out and started to get on with my life without him, but getting out of dysfunctional relationships is a sticky business. We were still talking on the phone, he still wanted to be with me, and I still wanted love. Occasionally I would visit his place, but I never allowed him to visit my new home. Somehow we were still intricately woven together, even though technically we were no longer an item. Whilst he was behaving better (because my boundaries had got stronger) he was still the same person and hadn't really changed. He kept promising to change, but never really did.
 

 SECRET / LESSON #3 = There will usually be a 'last-straw moment' where something inside of us says 'that's it, I've had enough'. This is a good thing. It gives us the courage and determination to finally take the action we need to take. 

LIFESAVER #4:

After asking me multiple times to get back together, I told him that if he sought professional help, and made positive changes, I would consider it. So he booked to see a counsellor. On his return from the first appointment, he declared the counsellor had told him he had no problems at all, and he didn't need to go back. A red flag went up immediately in my mind. By now I was pretty sure he had major childhood issues which needed sorting. Something inside me told me this was b**s and that he was trying to pull the wool over my eyes, and I didn't buy it. Something inside me told me this was no OK, and that I needed to TRUST my instincts, and stick to my guns. Instead of believing him, and giving in, I chose to believe me and trust me. This was not OK, and I was not going to move back in with him unless and until he started to work on himself.
 
Despite this newfound strength and belief in myself, we were still seeing each other occasionally. But at least I had my independence, and was creating better boundaries, and as  a result, he was treating me better, because I learned from Dr Phil "we teach people how to treat us". But I knew that it wasn't healthy to be with him, and yet I couldn't fully let myself leave him. 
 

SECRET / LESSON #4 = Listen to your gut and trust your instincts. You must learn to believe and trust in yourself! Watch for the red flags. 

 
Then the final clincher happened, which enabled me to fully see why I couldn't let him go.

LIFESAVER #5:

Oprah Winfrey! 
 
One day, I was at his work studio watching Oprah Winfrey on TV while he was working in another room, and the topic was a man who had kept his wife hostage for 3 years after making her watch him kill a stranger they invited into their home. Oprah was interviewing the woman, who had finally escaped and run to the police to get help. The husband had been jailed and she was now free to get on with her life.
 
Oprah asked the woman "why is it you took 3 years before going to the police"? Someone in the audience scoffed as she asked the question, but in my gut I KNEW why this woman had not been able to get away.
 
FEAR.
 
When you are with an abusive person, who behaves like Jekyll and Hyde, you are TERRIFIED of what they will do to you. You literally fear for your life. I knew that fear. My partner was big and strong, and could easily harm me. I was afraid of him and what he might do to me. He had actually hit me once or twice, but mostly it was emotionally abuse, but I was still terrified of him. And that was why I had been unable to fully leave (along with the unconscious need for love) and this was why the woman on the show had not been able to go to the police. 
 
In that moment, I knew it was time to fully leave the relationship. It was time to go. For good.
 

SECRET / LESSON #5 = Understand what it is that is keeping you tied in the relationship. There may be many issues, but we need to identify them so we can move on. 

LIFESAVER #6:

As it so happened, the universe provided what I needed to finally cut the chords. And this is literally what has to happen when we leave a toxic relationship. We have to cut chords. These chords are sticky, and they are a literal unseen phenomenon. When we are in a toxic relationship, we are 'attached' to each other at the solar plexus level through unseen chords, because the solar plexus is our centre of power. When we are the 'victim' of a toxic relationship, we give away our power to our abuser, and there is a line of energy which attaches us to them from the solar plexus, as well as the sacral chakra (sexual centre). These chords need to be broken so that we can take our power back.
 
So the universe provided me with an opportunity to finally break these chords, in the form of an invitation back to the UK for a wedding. I decided to go, because I knew I needed to get that far away - to the other side of the world - to be able to have the WILL POWER and COURAGE and STRENGTH to stay away from him and say no to his constant requests of coming back to the relationship. 
 
OMG. Was it hard. He would phone me from New Zealand, begging me to come back, telling me he would change, all the old stories... My heart strings would be pulled and want to give in, but my new-found gut strength said NO! It took every ounce of will power to say no, because I was still craving the love he promised me and which no-one else in my life seemed to be able to give me. 
 
I stayed away for a month, and was resolute in my decision that it was finally over. Even though it was painful on the one hand, it was a massive relief, and finally I was sleeping better now that my nervous system was no longer stuck on 'fight-flight'.
 
On my return to New Zealand I dreaded bumping into him, because I was worried that if I did, I would give in and go back to him. I did bump into him 6 months later, and was proud of myself for staying strong and independent inside, with strong boundaries. I didn't let him 'energetically' in. I had been tested and won the test. 
 
After that I never saw him again for 20 years until I bumped into him one day in a shop. He didn't recognize me but it was a shock. But I knew I had done the right thing in leaving. There is no way one can live a happy life in a toxic, dysfunctional relationship. It will never work unless both parties are willing to do the work on themselves to heal the past and heal the wounds. 
 
But one thing I will say is this. I am ever grateful for this experience. It was one of the best learning experiences in my life. Without it, I would not have learned about this topic and therefore been able to help many clients deal with their own toxic relationships. Without this experience I would not have been able to dig deeper to find the root of the problem which began in childhood. I would not have done the healing I have done to let go of the past and move on into a better future. So this was one of the best experiences life could have given me, although at the time it was hell. I am forever grateful for this life lesson. 
 
SECRET / LESSON #6 = Getting out of a dysfunctional relationship is not an easy task but it can be done with perseverance, faith, courage and trust. 
 

What is needed

If you need help exiting a toxic relationship, there are many lessons we have to learn on our road back from finding ourselves disempowered or taken advantage of, but if I could sum a few up, here they are:
  1. You must learn how to create CLEAR BOUNDARIES and stop tolerating unfair or unkind treatment
  2. You must learn it's OK to MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY and put yourself first without feeling guilty
  3. You must learn HOW to not feel guilty for putting yourself first (which is easy once you understand the difference between 'real' and 'false' guilt)
  4. You must learn how to COMMUNICATE YOUR FEELINGS HONESTLY instead of holding and stuffing everything inside
  5. You must learn to act and speak your AUTHENTIC SELF even though it feels scary at first, because the universe supports us when we live in harmony with the laws of life and live authentically
  6. You must learn to tune into your HEART AND GUT BRAINS and listen to them instead of letting the head brain RATIONALIZE (RATIONAL LIES) away what is right for you - in other words you need to learn to TRUST yourself over and above anyone else
  7. You must identify and heal the original pain which has caused you to attract a narcissistic person into your life because NOTHING happens randomly and EVERYTHING is a lesson
  8. You must learn to take better care of yourself and prioritize your needs, and give yourself the love and attention you never got as a child
  9. You must decide that you are WORTH saving and understand that ultimately you are the one who will save yourself

Further Resources

Emotional Empowerment Program

ALL of the above you will learn in my 'Emotional Empowerment' program, which is centred around my signature 'Authentic Me' technique - learning to say yes to you, create healthy boundaries, re-learn to love yourself and give yourself the love you keep wanting from others, but which ultimately you have to give to you. 

Understanding Narcissism Summit

You might also like to look at the 'Understanding Narcissism Summit'
 

MCT Manage Clear Transform Toxic Emotions

The MCT program will show you how to clear the 7 most toxic emotions from your body-mind. Knowing how to self-manage emotions is essential for health and wellbeing.

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