By Mary Campbell
So, if you have found yourself on the other side of a toxic relationship, first of all: congratulations! The main thing to remember is you can only go up from here despite how low you might feel, so here are some tips to help you reach that light at the end of the tunnel. Feel The Emotions Many people are advised by their loved ones to distract themselves by any means necessary to avoid the feelings of sadness that follow a breakup. While it’s obviously never nice to feel this way, it is absolutely necessary to go through all the emotions of grief that come with the end of a relationship, especially a toxic one. Listen to the sad breakup songs, watch Bridget Jones’ Diary and the like, maybe go through all your old photos together. Yes, it will all hurt, but you need to feel that hurt to process the trauma you have experienced. Repressing the pain now will just lead to more turmoil in the future. With this being said, do not immerse yourself in the grief entirely; feel the emotions, and then let them go.
Make a List or Two
Sometimes it is easy to forget why a toxic relationship ended in the first place, so you need to take off the rose-tinted glasses and remind yourself of the things that were not working between you or the things your ex did wrong. While you’re going through the process of relationship grief, make a list of anything you can remember that made you miserable, things they said that upset you, notes on abusive behavior — absolutely anything that reminds you of why you should not be together. Of course, there will have been happy times, but merely focusing on those will only cause you further pain and longing for something that was unhealthy. Keep these notes, and if you experience another pang of relationship grief, reread them.
Be Around People
Whether it be close friends or family or reaching out to an old acquaintance to hang out, make an effort to be around people often. Being alone with your thoughts too much can be incredibly detrimental after the end of a toxic relationship, as you may resort to old, self-destructive patterns to cope. Bouncing your ideas off other people can help you rationalize your feelings and keep both feet on the ground. Even if it is just sitting and watching a film in comfortable silence with a friend or meeting for a quick coffee on your way home from work, making time for the important people in your life will give you some comfort and purpose.
Stop Online Stalking Your Ex
The old cliché of ‘curiosity killed the cat’ really applies here. It’s normal to feel nosy about what your ex is up to but plaguing your mind with questions like ‘Are they seeing anybody new?’, ‘They’re in the restaurant we used to go to, who are they with?’, ‘They look great, why aren’t they hurting too?’ after a thorough social-media stalking is incredibly harmful to your healing. This is especially tough if you were together for a long time; a breakup can feel like losing a limb. However, you need to resist the urge and remember why the relationship had to end and remember that the answers to your questions will only lead to pain, should you find them. If it makes it easier, block your ex on all your social media accounts.
Reconnect With Yourself
It can be challenging to remember what your life was like before you met your ex. Every relationship changes us and our lives somehow, and, in the case of a toxic relationship, for the worse. Perhaps there’s a hobby you stopped doing to spend more time with them, or you stopped seeing your loved ones as much as you used to. Now is the chance to do things for yourself because you want to; treat it as ‘dating yourself’. Dress up for yourself and go out for drinks with friends, or even alone. Follow a guided meditation on YouTube, order food from somewhere you’ve been meaning to try, or light some candles around your house. Get to know yourself and what you like —treat yourself!
Own Your Sexuality
Tuning into your sexuality is a fantastic – and fun — way to heal emotionally and spiritually. Frequent orgasms are proven to improve your mental health, so using different masturbation techniques to find what really works for you and your body will allow you to feel more comfortable in your skin after a toxic relationship, which can have your self-esteem at an all-time low. Investing in some new toys to enhance your pleasure, setting the mood for yourself, and really taking the time to explore your body will do wonders for your confidence and sexual liberation. At this point, sleeping with someone else might not be what you need (although that can work for some people!), so focus on your own pleasure. The road to recovery after a toxic relationship is certainly a bumpy one, and you will have days where you feel like you are back where you started but remember this: healing is not linear. Above all else, focus on yourself and your own goals with these tips in mind, and you will feel so at peace within your mind, body, and soul —you got this!