Toxic-Baggage

How to identify & release toxic relationships

November 1, 2013|258Comments|


Hi Sweet Friends,

As wellness seekers, we’re constantly looking for ways to find harmony on our plates, in our bodies and throughout our lives. Yet sometimes that harmony comes from making tough decisions about our relationships. Some folks boost our energy reserves. Others drain us dry. In reality, we each have choices. We get to decide who we allow into our inner sanctum (the space where our spirits replenish, our hearts lower their walls, and our being renews). Not everyone deserves an all-access pass. That’s why today’s post is a meditation on moving on. Gracefully ending a challenging situation might just be what the doctor ordered.

Life has a much bigger plan for you. Happiness is part of that plan. Health is part of that plan. Stability is part of that plan. Constant struggle is not.

While I’m not a breakup expert, I’ve done it many times, and it’s been done to me. Friends, boyfriends, fiances (yes, I’ve had a few), work relationships, family members — you name it, it’s fallen apart. It’s often more comfortable to stay in the broken places rather than risk the glorious (and terrifying) unknown. There are countless rational excuses that keep us stuck. One of my favorites: Timing. “This is the worst time to make a change. I’m too busy, too tired, too broke, too needy, too not-enough.”

But there’s another side to this story, the one that takes your well-being into account. Is it ever a good time to stuff your feelings and soldier on? To exhaust yourself mentally and physically? Is it ever a good time to operate from a place of shame or guilt? Or continually repeat the same behavior that created the problems in the first place? Habitually attempting to fix the unfixable is crazy-making.

Let’s get brave and tell the truth.

Start by observing the thoughts running through your head. How do you honestly feel about the person in question? When I find myself in a pain cave, I crack open my journal for some good old scribble therapy. I write, uncover, release, write, cry, write, rage, write, sigh, write, nap … write. Try it. Ask yourself the following sample questions and then write freely. Do your best to stay open and receive. After you’ve gotten it all out, sit back and reflect on your words. Guess what? Your soul said that. Loud and clear. Really take it in. You may need to do this exercise for weeks or months before you’re ready to say sayonara.

Questions to ponder:

  • Is the pain too great to stay the same?
  • Do I constantly picture an alternate reality?
  • Do I need a translator to be heard?
  • Is it impossible to make boundaries?
  • Am I the only one that is willing to meet in the middle?
  • Is getting an apology (when it’s truly deserved) like pulling teeth?
  • Does this relationship take more energy than it gives?
  • Is blaming and complaining getting really old?
  • Am I completely fatigued when I’m with the person and energetic when they’re gone?
  • If it’s a romantic relationship, are the sparks dead, end of story?
  • Do I smile when I want to yell, and then yell at the wrong people?
  • Is the only thing holding me back my fear of newness?
  • Am I afraid of what people will think of me if this relationship fails?
  • Does this person make me feel like I’m lost without them?
  • Do I find myself missing the old me?
  • And so on …

How to say good-bye to toxic relationships

Deciding to end a relationship might not be the same as actually leaving. The more entangled you are, the more logistics might have to be worked out. It’s OK to take your time and plan the exit and the next phase. I’ve found that the hardest relationships to get out of are the ones that are the most dysfunctional. The stress definitely takes it’s toll. That’s why you might need some help. Seek guidance from a coach, therapist or a really grounded friend — the kind that loves you unconditionally and isn’t afraid to (metaphorically) slap you back to reality. If you fear for your safety in any way, definitely build a strong team to support you in the transition.

Whether I’ve had a breakup Pit Crew or gone solo, the best outcomes have always started from a place of honesty and humility. Zero BS. Zero finger pointing. Zero manipulation. And no last digs. I apologize when needed and try to recall what was once wonderful. There’s no need to force the other side to see my point. If they were going to see it, that would have happened long ago. It’s over. Finito.

Is it always this clean? Nope. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a red hot temper! In my 42 years there’s been a fist fight, busted stain glass (sorry, church window!), broken dishes, a lawsuit bluff, shattered hearts and some serious soul searching. In some cases I wish I had more compassion and better communication skills; in others, I wish I got out sooner. Clearly, it’s not always simple. But these days when my bones tell me to pack my bags, I listen.

 

Grief is good. Feel it. Heal it.

Will your life really fall apart when you move on? Maybe. Mine has several times. And maybe that’s exactly what it takes to build the life you were meant to live. For the most part, it’s rarely that dramatic.

Remember the real you beneath your fear. If you’ve forgotten, let me remind you. You are … Resilient. Awesome. Inspiring. Worth it. Spectacular. Creative. Funny. Kind. Resilient.

If this post resonates with you, but you’re not ready to change, just let these words swim around and wake up your consciousness. That’s more than enough.

What’s on the other side of change?

Relief, freedom, authenticity, true love, nourishing relationships (with yourself and others), fresh starts and smarter beginnings. Follow your true north. The coordinates on your internal compass read like this: Honor your uniqueness, listen to your heart, appreciate your rhythm, know and be loyal to yourself. When we follow those directions, it’s easy to understand if it’s time to take a turn in a new direction.

Your turn: How have you ended a difficult relationship?

Sometimes hearing about someone else’s courage helps us overcome our own fears. Let’s get rich in the comments below.

Peace & bag packing,

Kris Carr



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258 responses to How to identify & release toxic relationships
  1. I literally broke up with my boyfriend Saturday night and the the chronic stiff neck that I had for nearly 2 years, for which I went for weekly acupuncture and massage for, DISSOLVED within an hour and a half of the breakup. As sad as I am (we met under fairy tale-like circumstances and I believed (hoped?) he was the one), I am relieved beyond measure.
    Thanks Kris for a timely and well written (and insightful) post~
    Blessings to you!
    B

    • Isn’t it amazing how our body knows what is toxic for us?!

    • Nat said on June 18, 2013

      Good for you! I broke up with mine 2 Saturdays ago. Then I blamed myself for not leaving sooner and I promptly made myself sick and somehow manifested expensive computer problems. But I recognize that now and am giving myself permission to heal fully.

      We got back together last year under fairy tale-like circumstances too… but he broke his promises as if it were no big deal at all and as if it shouldn’t bother me. When he broke another one 2 Saturdays ago, I called it quits, no questions, no regrets. But it’s still so hard.

      I’m proud of you and me and everyone else who leaves toxic relationships.

    • Amazing how our body has a way of telling us how toxic stress is literally eating away at us. Sounds similar to my story Barbara. I learned to use my back and neck as my barometer. They literally tell me if the rhythm and relationship of my life is/is not serving me. Learning to listen to your body is an amazing tool that can be transformational!

    • You know… when I read this, I started to think about how much easier it is to breakup with someone who is not blood. I kept thinking: “Oh, that’s easy! The hard part is with blood family.”

      But it wasn’t until I read about Barbara’s stiff neck that I realized how much physical toxicity my body is under when it comes to both blood and non-blood relations. My body is sick for days after speaking to some people and I realize that I lack taking care of myself and just go into “survive” mode.

      Now I will start listening to my body as it’s the original “toxic meter”. That’s just brilliant! Thank you… to both Kris and Barbara! :)

    • I met my partner under fairy tale circumstances too. Thought he was the one. I ended it a couple weeks ago. I’m ready or some me nourishment time!

  2. Lee said on June 17, 2013

    Hi Kris, Perfect timing as usual with this post. I have recently decided that I want to end my marriage of 14 years. I am taking my time detangling our lives and it feels good and scary simultaneously. We haven’t been happy for a long time so I am hoping that this move is the right one. My only worry is the effect it will have on my two early teenage kids. Whenever I read advice about ending toxic relationships recently they never mention kids! My hope is that if I am calm and loving through the process it will keep damage to them to a minimum and we can all move forward in a more positive way. Thanks for being an inspiration, keep up the awesome job you are doing! Luv Lee

    • I want you to know I was a child who lived in a house where they stayed together for the kids. It is a better teaching to show children when things aren’t working…..you make changes and find something that does work. There is a lot of silent guilt when you know you are the reason the two people who brought you in to the world are miserable.

      • But there needs to be something said about learning to communicate and work things out, with the efforts made by both parties. If this is not possible at the moment than something needs to be said about examining one’s self and their role in the state of things. We are always to be quick to blame and point out the splinter in someone else’s eye and completely ignore the telephone in our own.

      • It’s never easy and when you add kids to the split it’s heart-wrenchingly difficult. I left my 1st marriage of 26 years. My son was 6 1/2 years old. Although there wasn’t a lot of fighting, my son told me two weeks after I filed for divorce, “I miss daddy living here but it’s so much calmer since he’s been gone.” Kids absorb the tension between their mom and dad. It keeps them in a perpetual state of unrest . . . I know, it’s how I lived my entire childhood.

        There is still a stigma about kids of divorce Marcia but if you look at reality, the criticism typically comes from either from strict religious beliefs or people who themselves are afraid to leave their unhappy marriages.

        In the end I left abruptly because of domestic violence. It was a horrendous, drawn-out divorce. It sounds like you’re doing things in an even-handed way Marcia. If you haven’t left yet I would not dally as it’s tougher on the kids playing the waiting game. All kids want to know is that they are going to be OK. If you’re strong and grounded they will feel taken care of. Make sure you take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Counseling with a good MFT is the best advice I could give. Don’t burden family and friends with the drama and upset as it will keep you in that place far too long. You’ll be OK and your kids will too. My son is now 17 years-old and he’s great. He lives with his dad and now understands why I left the marriage. Kids are far more resilient than we give them credit for being. Love your kids, stay grounded, get into counseling, get your kids therapy too so they have a safe outlet (schools provide free counseling), make sure you all laugh and play together, and keep a close eye on the kids. Remember to breathe through the stressful times and appreciate the good ones. Be strong and stay compassionate.

      • Marcia, I spent the last few years of my toxic marriage staying in it only for the kids. I had been taught that that was the noble and right thing to do, it’s what my parents did. I can tell you that after that scary first year of unraveling and re-defining, we are all happier people. My kids have a better relationship with both their father and I than they ever did during the marriage. Being true to yourself is always the answer. Looking back, I am so proud that I was able to model idea that for my children, they will need all their lives.
        Blessings and courage to you!

    • This is how i am feeling – everything I read about narcissists (i am married to one), and about toxic relationships seems to overlook how hard it is to let go when you have kids (and the no-contact rule can’t apply)! I think the impact of my marriage on my kids is negative overall. But somehow I am really struggling to let go. It’s like an addiction that I need to get over. And when I read stuff like this (thanks Kris!) I think it is time for me to acknowledge that MY authentic self and my feelings matter. But it’s really hard for me to maintain that belief when I’m in the toxic soup… Every time I pull back from him (and he ignores I’ve tried to end the relationship), I fall apart. Reading this kind of thing might help me do it… Fingers crossed and all the best to you all!!

      • Hi Faye, from what I have experienced and also learned from reading up on narcissism, it is particularly difficult to deal with the mixed emotions. You truly do feel like you are overcoming an addiction, because of the expert mind-game skills that comes from narcissistic behavior. You are emotionally addicted and spiritually bankrupt, from the overdose of madness that comes from this particular type of relationship. But it can be done. If you need support, I would definitely seek out a support system. One benefit from coming through on the other end, of a relationship like this, is that your spirit is listening–and after you make it through, you shine brighter than ever!

        Lee, I would like to commend you for the courage in what you are doing, as I know it is a difficult situation. I agree with Faye…you are showing your children compassionate life skills in knowing how to move through difficult situations. The worst thing would be to stay, and for everyone to remain unhappy, which also sends the message to the kids that this behavior is normal, which it isn’t. The sensitivity in which you are approaching and dealing with this situation will help equip your children with valuable life skills in the future. This will be a process that will continue on between all of you. I send you and your family blessings!

      • Read my reply to ‘Marcia’ Faye. Don’t stay too long . . . I did and it ended VERY badly. Everyday you stay makes it more difficult to leave. And you think it’s difficult for you? It’s twice as hard on the kids. The day I filed for a DVTRO (Domestic Violence Restraining Order) was the most frightening and most liberating day of my life. After 26 years I felt free. It wasn’t easy. It’s been 10 years and we can now speak civilly to one another (we communicated through a journal for years because he was so verbally abusive and angry).

        If you’re not seeing a therapist get to one ASAP. Interview them to make sure it’s a good fit. I went through several before I found someone that really had me do the work.

        Staying in a bad marriage is harming your kids. It’s not fair to your kids, you or your husband. It’s been 10 years and I would never change a thing. I am now remarried (at 58 years-old) to a wonderful, loving husband. My son is 17 years-old and doing well in life. You need to get grounded, get strong, be compassionate and move forward. You can do this. You’ll be OK. Breathe . . .

      • K said on June 17, 2013

        Hi Faye, just reading your post, I wish to direct you to a name to google. Melanie Tonia Evans . I think it will help x

      • Hi Faye,
        When I hear about people getting divorced, like it’s no big deal, I used to be floored. For me to make the decision that my happiness, my opinions, my needs were actually significant was a VERY terrifying process to go through. It took me a year of intense therapy to understand that I didn’t have to sacrifice myself for my marriage. The entire process was still terrifying, but once I realized that it was the best thing for everyone involved, I pushed past all my fears and did what I needed to do. Your husband won’t consciously understand why you are doing this, but his heart and soul will know. You can’t give to your children or anyone, including yourself or your husband from the state you’re in. You have incredible gifts to give that you will only be able to share if you’re taking good care of yourself and you’re not doing anyone any favors by enabling abusive behaviors to proliferate.
        I am still growing, of course, but am SO much happier now, have a wonderful life and my kids have a relationship with their Dad they didn’t have before.
        You could try a GOOD therapist that will empower you to grow, not one that will let you sit in your muck. Jon Gabriel promotes cellular release therapy: http://www.thegabrielmethod.com/emotional-release-therapy-2, and Psyche K is a great transformational method, too. There are many others that will present themselves to you if you ask the universe for help.
        Many prayers, love and peace! You know what you need to do. Just listen to your body and your heart.
        Anne

      • Hi Fay

        Just came across this website and I have to say that I was always wondering how to put it in worlds what I am going through adn you just did. I hope 8 months on, things are looking better. So much harder when you have children.

    • Lee,

      As a woman who got divorced after 23 years of marital unhappiness (a majority of the years we spent together were disconnected, angry, alone), I can tell you that divorcing my husband wasn’t simple, but it changed my life and the lives of my kids for the better. Like some of the other women commenting here, I also grew up in a family that was highly dysfunctional. My parents finally divorced when we were all out of the house. I was 28. They didn’t do us any favor by staying together.

      With my kids, who were 13, 16 and 19 at the time of the divorce, we had a continuing conversation over many years. Within an hour of telling them that we were divorcing, my oldest, who was 16, told me that she understood. She knew how unhappy I was. Through her tears, she sobbed, “I get why you can’t be with dad. I’m just being selfish right now, because it’s hard for me.” I knew they’d be okay if I kept an open dialogue with them, willing to hear them and all they were going through. We are very close, and they have good relationship skills. They know how to form healthy, dignified relationships. That’s the most important thing to me.

      Best of luck to you. Kids are resilient. Be there for them, and I think everything will be okay in the end.

      Sandy

      • Lea said on June 19, 2013

        All of the postings on ending toxic marriage is very timely for me as I’m currently been debating with myself whether I should go ahead and file for divorce after contemplating for the last three months since separation. I caved in several times to my husband… mostly about power and manipulation. To come back or to end the marriage. To him to come back is to do my duty as a wife by having sex with him. He doesn’t want to wait and give me the time and space I need to decide what to do. It will be 14 years of an unhappy marriage next month and the kids are the only reason why I’m stalling. I even had thoughts of staying for another 5 more years for them until they reach 16 and 13 years old. Now I’m thinking what good would it do to them if they are to know the pain I’m in and to live in that pain for several more years.
        Relationships are not so complicated unless we make it out to be and right now it’s the confusion and guilt that make me stuck and going in circles. I hope to get out of the spirals and be free but it’s not linear. I have to go back a few times unsuccessfully and tumble a few more times before I untangle myself. It’s a mess and the only torture is the one I’m giving myself with all the confusion running through my head. It’s nice to know that some are going through the same thing and to have support. Right now none of the people in my life are going through this, so it’s good to see what others are doing in similar circumstances. I learned from reading about what others are going through and agreed with the shared point of views. Yet when it comes to my situation, it seems like I’m in turmoil. I have to get out of my own head and just keep going knowing that it’s ok to fall back but I’m moving forward somehow and having the victory in the end….to be whole and free.

    • Hi Lee,
      I, too was a child whose parents stayed together for me and my sister. It didn’t help us. We both knew they were miserable together, and now I don’t have much trust of relationships. I have always wished my mom would have left my philandering father years earlier instead of staying out of fear. You sound very grounded and prepared to handle anything that happens. Show your kids what real self care is and they will be fine.

    • My 17 year marriage has also ended (I have a 12 year old) and I wanted to recommend the virtual course, “Conscious Uncoupling” by Katherine Woodward Thomas. I can’t recommend this highly enough!! She is a marriage and family therapist, wise woman and has been there (with kids). I have had a wonderful therapist for the past 3 years and this program has been incredible. There are segments that deal specifically with divorce and children. This program teaches how to truly heal and move through a breakup and beyond consciously, lovingly and learn how to manage and heal the “big” emotions of anger, pain, sadness, grief, and the core fracture at the root of our pain. This program is beautiful, profound, healing. I have found it immensely helpful. Google it….there is a youtube clip as well. :)

  3. I have just left a toxic 16 year marriage that I have tried to leave a few times with no success. It took everything out of me to leave and I even waited until he went away on a trip and moved out. I just kept falling into the I’m sorry I will change trap or the crazy person who thinks she can fix something that is not worth fixing. It has been two weeks and I cannot tell you how different life is. I am getting my joy back for life and wake up feeling amazing. Yes, I have some challenges to overcome, but I also have the possibility of amazing happiness. Much better than knowing that you are acting for the world when inside you are sad, lonely and wishing for tenderness. Thanks for this article…..it inspired me yet again.

  4. Dear Kris,

    Now this is a great subject, saying goodbye to circumstances and making the move into the new and unknown.

    As we unfold our true potent potential and open our thoughts and attitudes to life stepping into the unknown is perhaps “THE” challenge.

    Our occidental culture of desperately holding onto our homes, jobs, partners, and general stability just does not promote or provide for free willed and wild changes. But is this the fantastic opening in consciousness now available to us in our time? Stepping into oneself and the unknown.
    And then bang, comes seemingly the most unwanted obstacles of economic and environmental instability.

    This is to me one of the most important topics and challenges. I love my partner, living and working circumstances. I do not have pain or unpleasant things going on, but I do see or know I could walk out into the new and develop another life. At what point does one say ok lets bring on the new and take a new route??

    Much love, and thanks for raising the subject and the great advise, build and plan for the changes has got to be good, a swat support crew if needed, Fantastic.

    Thank you
    Dean

    • Take your love with you on the new journey!! She may be feeling the same way. Share your thoughts in a loving way with your partner and ask for what you want.

  5. I just spent four months building castles in the air around a relationship that I hoped would become something more, he would flirt with me and I kept getting triggered and releasing lots of old stuff but I was too much in denial to actually check on the reality of what was going on. When I finally did share what was happening for me I sat opposite a man who was completely cut off from his heart and obviously living in a delusional world of his own where he did not see the consequences of his behaviour. Even then it took a lot of writing and meditating and soul searching to finally let go of him, the truth is that it was a lucky escape! When it comes to romance I always seem to come up against the belief that there might never ever be another so I better hang on to what I’ve got, feels so much better when you honour yourself and let go of the toxicity whatever form it comes in! Thank you Kris, love and blissings, Kerry

    • I know how that feels. I spent 1 1/2 years building that castle. While we don’t talk anymore, it is still “painful” when I think about him.

  6. I broke up with my boyfriend this past Thursday so this post really resonated with me. He was verbally abusive and really cut me down about my physical appearance (especially my body) but I had a hard time leaving because our good times really filled my soul. I’d been single for so long before meeting him that I relished being a couple and all that came with it.

    I knew I deserved better but I kept believing he would change as he promised and then suddenly, it was one insult too many. I no longer felt the same when I was around him. Instead of butterflies, I felt pangs of anger. Instead of wanting to cuddle, I wanted to put miles between us.

    When I finally ended things, I did so with the strength & support of my family, friends, and therapist. I wasn’t an island–far from it, I was a loved individual who knew, because of the amazing people that surrounded me, that any man I was with had to rise to their caliber.

    I learned so much from this relationship so to say it was a waste of time would be wrong. I learned: I have a deep capacity to love (the right person), I am incredibly strong, I have some of the best friends a girl could ask for, I have a rockin’ family, and I will be able to go back into the dating pool that much stronger.

    Thanks Kris,
    Sav

    • Sav, I have been in the situation before where I have stayed in relationship with someone because I’d been single for a long time before them, and didn’t want to be single again. Gradually it becomes more than you can bare. If it isn’t working, the pain of staying is worst than the pain of moving on. Bravo to you, for seeking the support you needed to move on! I wish you the best!

  7. D. said on June 17, 2013

    I’m divorcing my husband after 26 years of marriage. We’ve been separated for a year and I have to say that I was hopeful that things might work out…until I realized how happy I was to be alone! I had totally lost myself to a relationship that clearly was not working, but for some reason, I just couldn’t believe it. Last week, during a long discussion with my husband, we came to the realization that, due to childhood circumstances, he simply can not commit emotionally to anyone and he is unwilling to seek help to overcome this huge obstacle. That was enough for me to realize that it’s time to move on. I have a lot to give to the right guy! I have some work to do on myself… but then, I’m going to head out to find him!!!

    • I can relate to dating a man who, because of childhood abuses, had issues that made being in a relationship with him very toxic and he was unwilling to address them with a therapist. I was able to see the connection with his past because I myself had worked though my own issues in therapy, he continues to think he is managing just fine. The fault is with everyone else.
      I realized that you can make someone get help, es

      • (Continued from above) I realized you *can’t* make someone get help, especially with therapy, they have to want to get help and change. So much of what drew me to him was my ability to see the little boy inside who was in pain, and a part of me wanted to give him the love he never got but deserved….but woah boy. Not healthy.
        He is no longer that little boy, he is man who is responsible for his actions. It will be tragic if he doesn’t get help because there lies so much potential in him for love, but he must see and want it.

    • WOW! So great that you’ve both figured this out and you chose to face it and move on!!! I too left my 26 year marriage.

      I actually had a male friend/neighbor tell me that the odds of me finding someone at my age (I was 48) was practically nil. He was dead wrong. A year after filing for divorce I met my current husband. That was 9 1/2 years ago. I knew what I didn’t want but never focused on what I DID want. When I wrote out my list and then narrowed it down to my 5 ‘must haves’ my dream guy literally knocked on my door two weeks later. I not only met a dream of a man, he’s 3 years younger than me and thinks I’m the cutest thing since sliced bread ; )

      You go girl!

      • From above, “I realized you *can’t* make someone get help, especially with therapy, they have to want to get help and change. So much of what drew me to him was my ability to see the little boy inside who was in pain, and a part of me wanted to give him the love he never got but deserved….but woah boy. Not healthy.
        He is no longer that little boy, he is man who is responsible for his actions. It will be tragic if he doesn’t get help because there lies so much potential in him for love, but he must see and want it.”

        Hells Bells!!!! I am in a relationship right now because I saw an abused little boy who had missed so much in life, who had endured pain beyond my comprehension and I just wanted to fix him up and make him whole. Now I find myself living with a 43 year adolescent (emotionally) and I can’t handle it. He’s nice, he’s gentle, he loves me, and he loves the kids but he cannot be the man I need him to be. I am however doomed if he leaves because I don’t (at the moment) have the finances to pay my mortgage and stay there with no roommate. So, I am looking for a second job that will allow me to bring in the extra cash I need so I can say “good-bye” and not be terrified.

        On the other hand, he also recently started working again. (I was sudo-supporting him, and trust me, it sucked) So, I won’t have the guilt of sending him off when his only option is to take Welfare assistance. Yae!

        I still don’t know when I’ll do it, but it for sure will be done. I like him very much (how wierd to say that while contemplating breaking up with him) and he’s not violent at all, so this is where the problem lies. He thinks I want too much, I think he dosn’t give enough, etc. I know however that I’m far from satisfied and while I see his effort, I don’t see enough to make me satisfied either. :( (I have children, he dosn’t and he finds it hard to be the step father. I want to be with someone who wants that role, or to not be with anyone at all.)

        Thanks for letting me vent here. Happy Wednsday to you all.

  8. This resonated me with me so much. 2 weeks ago I ended a 11 year relationship, which should have ended 4 years ago. It was not easy to end it especially after all the time I had spent with this person. But I decided memories should not be a reason to stay with someone. It should be how you feel now. Walking away was the hardest thing I have done and I felt so much pain, guilt and sadness. The guilt was the worst, the idea of hurting someone I loved (even though I knew he wasn’t right for me) tore me apart. Now though I can’t believe I left it so long. I truly believe I have done us both a favour and I am ok. I felt hurt but I’m still here. Life seems just seems so easy now too. I’m finally listening to myself and my heart and living a life I love. The grief still comes in waves but the gaps between that and the good times are getting bigger and bigger. I remember only 3 weeks ago how I had felt so tied to this person almost out of duty and how unaware I had been of myself. If I can give any advice trust your instincts and go for it. I loved this person but deep inside I knew we weren’t right for each other. Believe me you really will be ok.
    Remember life will be there to catch you or make you fly. xx

    • From your username I gather you’re of Indian descent like me and I resonated with your sharing that you felt a lot of guilt for hurting your ex when you left. I think all women, regardless it ethnicity, feel guilt when leaving a relationship but I think our Indian culture specifically add an extra dollop. Our culture dictates that we take care of our men, both emotionally and physically; we are often portrayed as an extension of their mother’s in that we are in charge if feeding and caring for them. Even in these modern times where males and females, especially in the Western world, are largely equal and split in chores 50/50, I still find that guilt monster rearing its head as if my ex were a helpless child I had just abandoned.

      I may be reading too much into your entry and you may not relate to this at all, but I do think our Indian culture uses guilt a lot to shape our behavior so we are “good members of society”.

  9. Ms Chris Carr – Yr education has been an inspiration, BE free for U to choose a LIVE for yr own LIVE for UUU :)
    Thanking U for yr info over the years
    BE Safe
    Stay HEALTHY
    RDS

  10. When I first saw the title of this post, I got very frightened…..I thought you were getting ready to break up with us!!!!

    I recently had a devastating break-up with my husband of 20 years. We didn’t always get along, as a matter of fact, for the last 6 years or so, we both thought we would be better off without each other. I’m here to tell you now, we were wrong. What I learned during the time that my husband got sick and his process of dying, is that I was very selfish in just about all aspects of our lives. He was as well, but I can only take care of “my side of the street”. As I looked over our life together, I could see all the times I was so self concerned, and didn’t behave the way I should have. Love is an action word, not a description of a feeling. I got to learn so very much. We had the opportunity to talk about our failings right before he passed away, and I so very grateful for that opportunity and the courage it took for us to talk about those things. I was able to apologize…and mean it…and today, I wish like crazy that we had the chance to do it over. But we don’t. But, boy oh boy, did I ever learn alot!!!! During this process, I discovered that even though I kept thinking HE was the toxic one, I had a significant contribution to that toxicity!!!!! I was the toxic one, too……

    • Thanks for sharing this Connie. “Love is an action word” – I hope you are loving your self too now. Bless you and good luck in your future happiness :) xxx

      • Hi Connie, thanks for sharing your story and also how you got honest with yourself and what you were contributing to the relationship. It takes a lot of guts to admit this. I have no doubt that this was a learning and healing journey for you both. Peace and blessings!

    • This is awesome! You are taking responsibility for your actions! Power to you!

    • Wow, wow, wow, Connie . . . you are one courageous woman! AMAZING story and absolutely one for anyone wanting to leave a relationship to read.

      Even in my circumstances (domestic violence) I had to take a hard look at my responsibility in the dissolving of my marriage. Only when I realized that I was getting significance from being ‘the victim’ did I move to change. It took a while to make the shift but it was dramatic. My marriage was not salvageable but I was able to take responsibility for my part.

      What a gift you gave to your husband and to yourself. Thank you so much for sharing your story . . .

      • Thank you Connie for bringing me back to earth. I will be looking at me now, perhaps it’s not all him. Perhaps I do have unrealistic expectations, and I am human so it’s absolutely true that I do contribute to the feeling in the house. Thank you.

  11. Jeez.. exactly what I needed to read right now. I’ve been hanging onto issues around this topic for the last few days. Relationships + NYC = difficult. That’s all I can say.

  12. There are sunflowers waiting to be found, got find them!

    Life simply has a way of jolting us onto our new pathways. Embrace it, rejoice in it. The jolt is necessary and in the end, rewarding.

  13. It took me three months of writing and crying and writing again and asking those exact questions to finally make a decision to leave. I was so afraid to answer them honestly, but I did live in an alternative reality where my ex was not present. None of my dreams included him and that was difficult to ignore. And there was other stuff too, of course. I think I exhausted myself into leaving. Was the best decision of my life, although it took some serious healing afterwards.
    Thank you Kris for this inspiring post, I actually look back now and feel proud of myself!

  14. Almost 1,5 months ago I split with my business partner. Because my business experience is shorter than hers, I accepted many things she wanted to do, even though I knew deep inside they didn’t serve me right. Her power spread into the relationship like a cancer… I gained about 20 pounds, started having some weird allergies (my earring holes are closed now because I couldn’t wear ANYTHING in them that they’d bleed), retained plenty of liquids… every time I wanted to say my point of view, she had a quick and effective reply to shut me up.
    The decision to call it quits was made in my mind quite a while ago, but it took my parents and boyfriend to help me really saying it to her. She called me names. I couldn’t answer the phone without feeling sick. She didn’t pay my part of the society quotes (and I guess she never will, but my lawyer says it’s better not to mess with the situation).

    And yet, I still feel I’m the one in debt.

    Also, an ex dumped me a year ago by phone, claiming I had to “fix” myself before seeking him again. See, there was something weird about him not answering his cell in front of me, nor letting me share my relationship with a friend in common, and I knew it, and it let me torn apart. And yet, we stayed together for a year, in a short but exhausting distance relationship.
    I felt relief when he dumped me, and I now have an awesome guy by my side.
    BUT… still once in a while, even though my feelings for my ex aren’t love and I’m pretty sure about it, there is doubt in the air still.

    How can I deal with unanswered questions? How do you deal with them anyway?

  15. Wow Kris…
    This could not have come in a better time… Yesterday I had to face that situation with my marriage of 12 years…
    I know I’ll be a Phoenix but the transformation hurts.

  16. WOW Kris – soooooooo real, so poignant and so helpful. I never post comments, but this time, had to say “thank you for being so real.” But beyond that, your “real” resonates with me in a very personal way. Thank you for your amazing self awareness and courage in all that you do. It is truly refreshing in a world of folks that are so afraid; afraid to really look at themselves and even more afraid to let others see who they really are. I so wish the world had more brave souls. Ok, I know I’m a bit idealistic. But anyway, thank you for all your great work including this very timely article…

  17. Thank you, Kris, for this post. Unlike many who have commented I am in a happy marriage but your comments resonated with me concerning friendships. I have had a long-term friendship with someone who is very confrontational and sees life in black and white. She has strong opinions, is very articulate, and quick with a response. When we are together I feel as if I am constantly on my guard, being careful not to bring up topics that I know she feels passionately about (and is unable to see opposing viewpoints). It can be exhausting.

    On the other hand, this friend has many lovely qualities. She is loyal, compassionate, and creative. She was by my side throughout my cancer journey. She is a good listener.

    I sometimes think I need to cut my ties with her but then am reminded of what I have treasured about our relationship. I wish you had spoken more about how to deal specifically with how to deal with friendships that may have reached the end of their journey. What is the best way to let go?

    • Grace I have done just that – left a toxic friendship. It has been painful, nasty and protracted. Here is what I have learned and what I would do differently . I would speak my truth gently …. instead of keeping quiet and simmering about her hurtful comments, snide barbs etc. For so long she had no idea she upset me so regularly – if i had been able to speak that truth gently it may never have developed to the point where I had to end the friendship . Big lesson for me !

    • I can share what I did in a very similar situation. I started to distance myself from her–turning down invitations to do things together with the hope that things would automatically drift. When that proved too passive aggressive for our friendship I told her straight out that I needed space. It was hurtful to her but in the end it was the healthiest decision for me. It was also healthier for her–no one deserves a friend who doesn’t appreciate and love you. Cutting things with you friend opens a door for her growth as well.

    • Hi, Grace–

      You completely reflected my own thoughts! “Friend breakups” can be worse in some ways than “relationship breakups”. And the timing for this post is weird, as I just had a friend breakup yesterday and am looking at having a couple others.

      My approach is the “taking space” one. Perhaps it’s weak, but I’ve noticed that the friendship will slowly fade, without big drama and lots of “She said” “She said.” Sadly, women tend to be worse backbiters than men. This also leaves the room for reconnection, as people do grow and change. And sometimes, even if the character traits/opposing lifestyles/emotional draining which initially caused you “break up” with a friend has not changed; time/distance can teach us a new way of relating.

      Either which way, it’s painful.

      Growing often is.

      Hugs,
      Rachel

    • Peg said on June 17, 2013

      Grace, I had to end a similar relationship 18 years ago. It felt like our friendship had run its course, we were in each others lives when we both needed the support. Then we didn’t. I felt drained by her, screening her phone calls, she was confused and I wasn’t strong enough at first to tell her how I felt. I eventually did, though. She died unexpectedly 13 years ago. I see the friendship now as a chapter in our lives, it wasn’t meant to continue forever, it served its’ purpose at the time. People come in and out of our lives, hopefully we take away something valuable from each one. Good luck.

  18. I have had to do this throughout the years with friends and boyfriends. It is always something difficult to face because you keep thinking one more time, chance, but in the end you must create space for all the beauty and light you offer the world. Thank you for the reminder to keep yourself surrounded by those who uplift and support you, the rest can be like free radicals zapping your energy. Make a change for the better- don’t be a bag lady!
    XO

  19. Kris:
    Not so long ago, my relationship of 3 years ended with the woman I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. It was a fairy-tale(yes guys believe in that too!) beginning, love-at-first sight kind of relationship. Just the last few months she became distant and not wanting to be any kind of intimate, even kisses or holding hands. The finger pointing and arguments became more frequent, and she ended it before I had decided to. Now she still texts everyday, and wants to spend time together, but what I am afraid to say out loud is I feel like I’m being held hostage. She has gone on and is happy with her life, and here I am still silently holding onto something that is over with. Tied to that she still tells me she loves me. I am at a loss for words, because she still gives me that hope that maybe we can reconcile. This article definitely hit home, but I don’t know how to let go.

    • Your ex continues to be a toxic presence in your life and the only way for you to fully move on is to cut her out of your life. She may be still texting you but I’m assuming you’re responding to them. Remember–you deserve a relationship that is completely fulfilling, she is someone who is using you over text–not even in person. The longer you continue to entertain her texts by responding, the longer you will pine for a relationship that hurts you. Tell her that you can no longer communicate with her bc of your own need to move on from her. She will undoubtedly still text you (as she’s already shown to have questionable boundaries) so at this stage you must ignore her texts. It may feel “mean” to do so but you have already told her you need to stop exchanging texts, you are merely following through. Best of luck.

      • Mike,
        In my experience, when someone continues to contact you after a break up, especially if they ended it, it’s usually because they feel immensely guilty in a very selfish way. They can’t stand the thought that you might not think so well of them (read: worship) anymore and their ego can’t stand not being the most important thing in your life. Her texts are strictly HER EGO. She needs people to pine for her. You don’t have to be one of them:-)
        Focus on your peace of mind, spend time with animals, help children learn something cool, play a sport, let her project her needs on someone else. As L’Oreal says “(you’re) worth it”!!!

    • End all contact for 6 months. If it’s meant to be you both will make it happen. Allowing her to keep in touch has her feel secure that you’ll always be there for her, an anchor. An anchor that has you drowning. Relationships are about commitment. Everyone is mad about one another in the beginning. Typically this ‘honeymoon phase’ last for one to 3 years. If there is no commitment, there is no relationship. Read Susan Forwards book, ‘The 8 Essential Traits of Couples Who Thrive’, it’s one of the best books on relationships that I’ve ever read in my 58 years . . .

      It’s never easy moving on . . . you’re not alone Mike. Someone out there wants someone just like you.

      • The author is Susan Page not Susan Forward . . . but Susan Forward’s books are good too ; )

    • Mike, I had a very similar experience about 2 years ago. I was in love with a man I thought I was going to marry. We met in a fairy-tale like fashion, states and years apart we reconnected and fell in love again. Within a year he became distant, not answering my calls, being short with me, talking down to me and making me feel worthless. He finally ended it. I was devastated for months and months. It still hurts today, but after more than a year of him continuing to text me, call me, telling me he wanted me in his life, I never knew if I should move on. No, I never let myself heal and move on, because I held on to that hope that one day he would realize that we were supposed to be together. I tried numerous times to cut ties, but he would always tell me how much he cared about me, dragging out my hope for the future. When I would tell him I loved him still or asked if we could work things out he refused and grew distant again until a few weeks would go by and he would “miss me.” One day it finally clicked in my head that he was only keeping me around, popping in and out of my life to keep control of me and to know that I was still single and still missing him. For almost a year and a half afterwards if he would have called and asked me to be back together I would have in a heartbeat. I kept putting the few happy memories before all the bad times. This man and your ex are too concerned with their ownselves to care and commit to someone else. They are toxic! You have to let go, I finally did. I finally cut all contact and yes it still hurts now and then, but it was the only healthy thing for me to do. I was physically and emotionally broken for so long. I finally took control. (Only a few months ago) I’m still in the healing process and not ready to love again yet, but I have hope that someday the right man will come around. I hope you the same happiness and healing!

  20. This is great advice to apply to all types of relationships, romantic or otherwise. 10 months ago, I took the decision to end a friendship of 26 years standing. It was not an easy decision, and I felt horribly guilty about the potential hurt to the other person, but I had been feeling resentment and frustration around the friendship for a number of years and feeling utterly drained by the endless demands for emotional support that were never ever requited. By the end of the friendship, I was quite literally developing migraines every time I had contact with the person, from the stress of the internal conflict of guilt and not wanting to be unkind vs the irritation, frustration and stifling the overwhelming urge to shout, “It’s not all about you. Back off and let other people have the mental and emotional space to have their own feelings”. This friendship was quite literally doing my head in, physically and emotionally! My body was certainly providing guidance on the fact that it was time to let go. As humans we are in a constant state of change and growth, and this is reflected in our changing needs particularly from relationships. Sometimes we just have to accept the fact that certain relationships can no longer give us what we need, and that by holding onto relationships with toxic energy, we are continuing to attract that toxicity into our lives. Ending a toxic relationship of any kind is an open invitation to attract more constructive, supportive, joyful energy into our lives. It’s like the Feng Shui principle of friendship – clear out the negative energy to channel more positive energy into your life.
    To cut a long story short, the relationship did unfortunately come to a messy end full of bitter recriminations from the other side. It seems the other person was not ready for the relationship and its dysfunctional dynamics to change, and indeed, end. Perhaps in later years we will be able to have a calmer conversation about the wider picture of what went wrong. As stressful as the last contact was, all it did was to confirm that this was the right decision for me.
    In closing, I would just reiterate what many commenters have recommended – to be true to yourself and what you need (you have no obligation to house or take on another’s conflicting energy), and to remain calm, kind and clear by speaking your truth clearly but kindly. Once you step out of the quagmire of a toxic relationship of any kind, the sense of relief and possibility are the endless reward..

    • Well said Kate and having gone through almost the exact same thing over two years ago I can attest that it was the best decision I made. Hard but good. I am finally able to be ME.
      Stay true!

  21. The death of my favorite parent – my grandfather, was a huge sound of gong inside of me. All the toxic stuff, that I hided for decades came up via panic attacks. I had no other choice than being honest with people surrounding me. This was new. It also increased the pain for a while. Because I lost good friends and stopped communicating with my brother. But on the other side I opened up for something new and found new friends. And there was suddenly a huge relief – just by being honest. Now I’m wondering where life might take me. I’m just longing to live my dream.

  22. Hi Kris,

    Thank you for this great post!

    I recently had to end my relationship with a close friend and completely redefine my relationship with another friend.

    Your advice on writing letters is on point. I wrote a series of letters that were so helpful for letting out my charge. This was also my road map to making my final decision, and the letters I sent out were my clear thoughts- not clouded by anger, regret or any other negative feelings I had felt.

    Toxic relationships are truly toxic to you! I remember feeling tight knots in my stomach whenever I thought about these situations, but after the letters were sent and the relationship ended, all I felt was relief and extreme pride in myself for staying true to my feelings and knowing when to let go.

    Thanks again for this great post!

  23. This resonated with me,Kris- been there,done that! Thank you for bringing clarity(and memory) about a relationship long past and the toxic reasons why it had to end! You’re awesome

  24. This is SO true. We often stay in relationships well past the time we know we should get out, whether out of guilt or some sense that we should ‘try harder’. I did this with my ex-husband and kept him in my life out of some screwed up need to make it work at all costs (mainly mine). I’ve done it with friendships, family and jobs as well. I always want to believe that people are who they say they are, and when they go back to being nice or act a certain way, I think “oh, maybe it’s going to change now”. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten sucked back in this way.

    I’ve learned, especially in these past couple of years, that if it happens once, okay. But I now have a hard & fast 3rd strike rule. If you choose the offending action 3 times, I’m done. I’m a big believer in second chances, but if you’re constantly doing the same thing after telling me you won’t anymore, you’re not really sorry, and definitely not as invested in the relationship as I am. At this point in my life, I don’t want to go out of my way for anyone who wouldn’t do the same for me. It’s made life much simpler.

  25. Hello Kris,

    I am so glad you posted this. The thorough examination of relationships is necessary to feel oneself as a whole. I hid from myself in relationship one after another and after watching your documentary I decided that if I was going to get well, I had to cut off the loose ends and go running into the light. That’s what I did and I am much happier for it. As my life changed, I became interested in helping others change their lives so I went to IIN and am building my site called DetoxandHeal.net where I offer my services and information to assist in supporting detoxification. I’d love to offer some of your insights from your website. May I please post a link to your artlce for my visitors?

  26. Lu said on June 17, 2013

    Thank you so much Kris!
    You just made this day wonderful. I was needy to listen/read something like this today. I’m starting a beautiful Monday :-))
    All my love,
    Lu

  27. I learned a long time ago to remove myself from people who diminish you. Great post!

  28. L said on June 17, 2013

    I never post comments but this one touches me deeply, thank you Kris.

    It took a series of health/body issues to finally wake me up to the toxicity in my family. We had been close and all my energy was devoted to caring for these narcissistic people and their every emotional demand. Migraines and exhaustion, then finally depression, led me to take a ‘break’ and start tending to my own self. It’s been almost ten years since I’ve seen any of them.. Definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

    Out of the struggle and darkness, guilt and worry, came my true self. I am now shining brightly, have become an artist, and am staggered by the loving and honest friendships I now enjoy. Stepping out of old patterns that don’t work anymore is so worth the considerable effort. The possibilities on the other side will blow your mind.

    • Hi L,

      I feel that I have a very dysfunctional family and many times I feel that they take most of my energy. Even when I temporarily distance myself and see them again, they continue to be destructive and emotionally abusive. I often feel manipulated and they really like to make me feel guilty for trying to live my life. Both my parents are alcoholics. My mom is also disabled and my father was recently diagnosed with cancer. I also have a very narcissistic sister who is verbally abusive towards me and she often neglects her children. I fear that she is also developing an addiction to alcohol. I also have two other siblings and right now, I am only getting along with one of them. There is so much drama. I often find that they will causes issues and problems, and then come to me to figure everything out. I am getting sick more often and find that attending to my mom’s needs and the demands of my family is overwhelming me and I am always stressed. Can I ask, how did you make the decision to cut family out of your life? How were you able to do it for 10 years? I am thinking that when I distance myself for 1 -2 months from my family, it doesn’t help…it usually makes things worse. I often think about how great it would feel to not have them in my life and often dream about moving far out of the country to live a peaceful life. Thanks for sharing L.

      • L said on June 17, 2013

        Barbara,
        Your story is very similar to mine. Both parents alcoholic, all siblings addicts, rehab, suicide, etc. so much drama and I was always the one to take care of everyone’s needs, with no thought to the cost to me.

        As for making the break, it started early in therapy when I said ‘I could really use a month away for them’ – never ever realizing this was an actual option. And so, my therapist encouraged me to open to the idea. I asked for no contact Ina letter, which infuriated and mystified. No concern for me, though.

        After of hard years in therapy and then spiritual work, the pain and guilt of the separation is easier. The little contact I’ve had since the break has only reinforced what I know in my heart. Must stay away.

        I can’t imagine how hard it is for you to continually ask for distance. For narcissists, this is an attack, and they will lash out each time. I wish you the very best in finding your peace and creating the space for your own self to flourish. It is a sad situation we’re in, but it is what it is. We do have choices, and I chose joy.

        Thanks for writing, Barbara.

      • Eve said on June 17, 2013

        Barbara – thanks for asking these really raw questions. The question of cutting ties is just so much more painful when it comes to family, but I can tell you I’ve done it and worked through what felt like unbearable waves of shame, blame, guilt, and loss to do it. This may or may not resonate for you, but what I’ve found is that my family is so entangled with my identity, it’s hard to “disown” the toxic elements of those relationships without letting go of something that feels essential to who I am.

        Most recently, I’ve (finally) told my abusive brother that I no longer want any contact with him, and when he blitzed my inbox with defensive and narcissistic attempts to “suck me back in,” I simply filtered my email so that he goes direct to trash. I did this without comment to him. This over all my internal objections that only a bad person rejects their own blood. The hardest things to realize for me were, 1) an abusive person is *never* entitled to have access to you, and 2) I was looking at it backwards – the truly bad person is the one who would abuse a family member and refuse to acknowledge or even see the pain they have caused.

        The painful fact is, there’s no way to go back and “fix” what went wrong there. The compulsion to try is part of the toxicity.

        Whether this speaks to you or not, I sincerely wish you strength and joy in your journey, and peace in the outcome.

    • Peg said on June 17, 2013

      L, you are so brave to have done that. There is such a stigma attached to “divorcing” your family. I am amazed that since I had to do it recently, how many friends have confessed to the same thing. In my case it was my two adult step-daughters. It just came like a revelation one day after some ridiculous slight, that I was THROUGH. I did my job quietly (for the most part, I am not a saint) for 25 years. I explained my feelings rationally to my husband and he got it. It was such a burden lifted. I wish them happiness, but leave me out of it. When my husband complains about them now, I don’t get sucked in and offer no opinions. Just smile and nod. It’s an EMOTIONAL divorce.

      • L said on June 17, 2013

        Eve, Peg, Barbara…
        Thank you so very much for your words, and for sharing your stories. Like I said, I’ve never commented on a website before and have always felt like the ‘bad one’ who hurt everyone. It is so helpful to share with others going through similar painful situations and we understand one another.

        Setting limits with family, especially divorcing the whole family, is a tough thing to do. I think about my mom every day (they all live within five miles of my house) yet I have to remind myself that our souls will work this out later. Surround yourself with love and that is what comes back. Truly amazing lesson that I never would have learned without the pain.

        All my best,
        L.

    • O said on June 17, 2013

      Dear L,

      I feel what you are going through as Im doing the same thing. It is not easy. Its a hero´s journey that takes a lot of courage. I SO salute you!

      • L said on June 17, 2013

        O, your encouragement and understanding means a lot to me – thank you. May you continue on your journey with grace and strength. You’re right, not an easy path, but knowing your own truth is the guide.

        Best wishes,
        L

  29. I love the idea of using questions and writing for change….It’s not my relationship with my husband I’m looking at, but my life as a sahm. I know there’s a change that needs to come, and it’s scary, but this approach could help me work through…thanks.

  30. I really believe in things happening for a reason, and getting this blog post today has got me crying rivers…

    I’ll be celebrating my 5th wedding anniversary on Friday, my 30th birthday at the end of the month, my son’s turning 2 months old tomorrow and I have a 3.5 year old daughter. I’ve been in a dead end with my husband for a while now and recently things have gotten worse and worse. I’m in a verbally abusive relationship and am so used to being a strong and independent woman yet in this situation I feel like there is no way out. My husband and I have started therapy, for the 2nd time, and it doesn’t seem to be helping. I know for a fact that the only reason I am sticking it out is because of my children. Even though my daughter is really starting to be affected by what is going on, even making comments like “daddy is naughty” or “daddy is mean” and telling him to stop being grumpy and to stop complaining all the time, which really worries me.

    As I read the questions to ponder on, there is not one I didn’t answer “yes” to, I’m exhausted (not even by my baby, but by my marriage), feel so belittled, frightened, lost…

    Thanks for this post Kris, I really hope it’s going to help me to get where I’m going, wherever that may be!

    Sarah

    • Please see my post. Do NOT “stay for the children”. I will not speak for you or judge you, but for me it was a very convenient copout and excuse so i wouldn’t have to make the tough decision to go out and be brave and conquer my fear of being alone. I made that decision (for the survival of my soul), finally, when my children were 16, 13 & 11. If your daughter is making comments then you are not only allowing yourself to be abused but your children too.

      In one example out of hundreds i will share that one we were driving to Florida and my ex husb had road rage and careened down the road at 110 mph and almost killed all 4 of us…my 3 children screaming in the car. I stayed with him another two years after that. The tragedy is not what he did but what i allowed and what i ALLOWED my children to witness and endure.

      Hoping you venture off to find your souls desire way faster than i did….it will be SO worth it.

      • Dearest Sarah!
        You are STILL a strong and independent woman. She’s not dead, she’s just been kicked around a bit. 30 is VERY young – you have a long happy life ahead of you with 2 beautiful children whom need you to show them the way. So show them the way to be strong and independent. Unfortunately this falls on women so often, but ask yourself why? Because we CAN DO IT. If you stay with him what have you taught your babies – that it’s perfectly honorable to let someone abuse you? It’s ok for her to say what she says about Daddy, she’s correct and, IMO, you have the right validate her feelings. Don’t tell her “it’s not nice” to say those things etc. Children KNOW the truth and you rob them of their power by trying to change their minds or cover-up their honesty.
        I know of a woman who has been through this same situation and she handled it with her children beautifully by explaining how Daddy needs to be by himself and that’s OK and that he is sad and angry for private reasons no one might ever understand but that you 3 would be healthier by not living with him anymore.
        It can also be explained that sometimes love is very, very confusing and that time helps people understand it. Your babies are wee ones, they will bounce back rapidly. As will you.
        YOU CAN DO IT! Don’t doubt your gut feelings. You know the truth and you have the answers. Find people to help you get out and stay out.
        We are all rooting for you and I’m very sorry you have to endure this chaos. It’s not fair. Very little ever is, but you can make life good for you & your children. They will “get it” if you blaze the trail.
        Be strong, chickadee:-)
        All the best,
        Cherie Marie

    • Read ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship’ AND ‘The 8 Essential Traits of Couples Who Thrive’ by Susan Page.

      Best of luck

    • I was in a similar relationship before I got married. I had a daughter. We went back and forth and he always said he would change, etc., etc., Finally one time after I had left for the hundreth time and he called asking to work on things for the hundreth time my daughter (8 at the time) came downstairs after I had gotten off the phone and said “Are you taking him back?” I said… “He’s nice to you.” She said “but he is not nice to you.” That floored me. How was I going to raise this child telling her she should only be with a good man when she was watching me let myself be torn up over and over. I was lying to myself that he would ever change. It’s been 13 years. I am happily married to a good man. He is also married. The last time my father saw him he announced to his wife at a birthday party in front of all of their family and friends that she was getting chunky and he didn’t like fat women. Apparently some people never do change. Good luck to you. You deserve better because we all do.

  31. Thank you, beautiful soul Kris. I really needed this today.

  32. Beauty-full article Kris.

    I decided to leave a 17 yr marriage at 46 yrs of age (to a person i had been with since i was 17) 4 years ago. It was riddled with emotional abuse and honestly just had evolved into two unhappy people going through the motions (SO painful)…and leaning on each miserable-other until the whole thing crashed. There was blame, unkindness, and misery. We did have 3 gorgeous children and I stayed far far too long because of them, to keep up a front, to pretend. Note to all of you: this never ever is a good idea. I know now (with that scrumptious gift of hindsight) that staying together for the kids is a terrible idea…its a lie…and lies don’t resonate well with the soul. The soul will fight you tooth and nail every single time when it knows you are lying. It is just a fact that children would rather come from a broken home than live in one. I thought it would be devastating for them when they were young….here is a secret….it was no less devastating when it did inevitably happen.
    I entered into a new relationship just weeks after leaving my ex husband (note to breakup pit crew….fine, you were right…BAD idea) and man alive was that a mistake. The person i attracted was exactly in line with how i was feeling at that time …crappy, low self esteem, sad, devastated, and scared to name a few. Imagine the person that would want to partner with someone like that. While it served a very real needy need it was extremely unhealthy and toxic in the long run…… and (no shocker here) the relationship was ultimately hellacious to get out of 2 1/2 years and 4 breakups later (yes it took him leaving me once and me leaving him three times to get it…..thank you for your patience universe.!). While i didn’t have broken church glass i did have to be talked down from hurling an uncooked 20 lb turkey at his front door the day before Thanksgiving (when yet another breakup had occurred). Were we 16 or 40 something???? File that under not such a proud moment. Sometimes in heartbreak there is humor to be found in snippets of the freak out exit blurs as two souls that were not meant to be try to part….my girlfriend saying to me on the phone….”put the turkey down…do you hear me? Get in the car, turn the car around an take the turkey home!!!! I am happy to report I listened.
    I think most notable to me in all of this is how both of my exes acted/reacted/behaved when i decided to leave. They were angry, miserable, mean, viscous, cruel, vindictive and weak. I used to cry and cry to my pit crew and ask WHY, WHY are they being so unkind…..and do you know what this genius tribe of people said time and time again. We are not surprised at all. This is how they acted when you were with them, why would they act any differently after? They also went on to wisely say if they (the exes) had acted kind, heartfelt, generous, empathetic and nurturing, even in a breakup, then these would not have been the kind of men you would have had to leave. GENIUS,,,,give that pit crew a breakup book deal!!!!! Ah the wise words of those you are sometimes not ready to hear but if lucky words you can one day digest and learn from.
    xoxo

  33. I had to end a relationship with a friend from high school. It was really hard to do but I was going through a tough pat h and this person was just kicking me when I was done so I had to let go.
    When it’s family that’s a different story. I learned with family to love some from a distance, don’t get dragged into their drama by keeping an open mind and limit my visits and phone conversations. After all you cannot choose family right?

  34. omg all your posts have to do with my life ! I broke up 10 days ago and even thought i’m sad I can answer yes yo many of the questions your wrote. I still want to get back together because i also remember the good moments… But lets hope, there is such thing as “true love” waiting for me in the future…..

  35. I was stuck in a toxic relationship years ago and had a coaching session by phone – just one! – that changed my life. The coach had me do an exercise where I was 3 entities: me, the person I couldn’t seem to end it with and the relationship. Then she asked each a question. (This could be done by journaling too.)
    Question to the relationship: “what is is like to be you”
    Question to the person I was stuck staying with: “what do you know that Lisa doesn’t?”
    Question to me (Lisa): “knowing these answers, what is your plan?”
    This seems so simple, but speaking for each of these gave me surprising insights, a profound breakthrough and a practical plan for ending the relationship.
    PS I did, met the man of my dreams 4 months later, got married and am living an amazing, fun, happy life.

  36. Easier said then done when it come to a sibling. If it were a friend I would have hit the road years ago. It is helpless when it is someone in your family. Your post definitely comes at a time when I am trying to make lifelong decisions. It has been 42 yrs you would think I would have some answers by now!

  37. After 3 failed marriages and 20 years of self loathing and destructive eating and drinking I have come to realize this simple fact. If I love me I won’t hurt me on purpose. If some one I love hurts me they are responsible. If I hurt some one I love I am responsible. Responsible people fix their mistakes. They search for answers that will change their future. I so appreciate this opportunity to be a part of a forum of others who also have, or are presently experiencing the devastating effects of a broken heart. Good health to you and me.

  38. I ended an 18 year marriage to an alcoholic that was so dysfunctional I almost went crazy. Having children made it harder but I finally knew nothing I could do would ever “fix” my ex or make him happy. I agree with Kris that keeping a journal can help–it did for me. It helped me see the dysfunctional patterns I kept repeating–I would cycle through the same pattern about every 3-6 months. This scared me because at the end of each cycle I would think ” Wow I am learning about myself, I will never do this again”, and 3-6 months later I’d be reading my journal crying on the beach with my Starbucks and saying “I did it again”. So a really cool therapy called “EMDR” and a really great therapist finally helped me to find and hit my internal “reset” button (along with a lot of exercise, healthy eating, and like Kris says just being kind and loyal to myself. I am now so happy and in the first healthy relationship that I have ever had. And it is scary as hell, but I would never go back.
    Thank you Kris! I just love this blog!!

  39. Thank you Kris for your bautiful words, and constant inspiration. I live in Ireland near Dublin (same timezone as London UK) am an independent music professional. Songwriter/singer/creative artist. May God bless you and yours always.
    Kindest regards,
    Peter Lawlor

  40. Thank you for the post, Kris. Unlike most other folks commenting, I broke off a relationship with a toxic family member, my mother, about two years ago, and it was honestly the best thing I could do for myself. It was difficult for me to do in many ways – I had many nights where I broke down and sobbed for hours, developed stomach issues as a result of it (which I later cured when I accepted my decision and made peace with it.) But then in other ways, it was so easy to do. I don’t tense up everytime the phone rings now. I am healthier and happier than I have ever been before. I am less anxious, less stressed, more optimistic and positive, and have more fulfilling relationships with other people in my life. I have found my true purpose in life and have taken action steps to pursue my goals and dreams, and it all feels so wonderful. It is amazing to see how much positive change I have encountered over the past two years, and I truly believe it wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t end the toxic relationship. A lot of people don’t understand how I could stop talking to my mother – some even think I’m a bad, selfish person – but I don’t let that effect me because I know in my heart, and in my mind, that I have made the best decision for my life and those who are close to me also recognize this. Thank you for posting this! It made me reflect a bit on my decision and changes over the past few years and now I’m feeling really good this Monday morning. Much love to you for all that you do and the truth that you speak! xoxo

    • I am in the process of ending my relationship with my mother, and so I can really relate to what you’ve shared here. How incredibly brave of you! I was wondering how you were able to get past the sobbing and stomach issues (which I can relate to!) to find the peace? I’m still in the early stages of wishing that things could be different and bracing myself for each correspondence but I long for the positivity and optimism that you speak of. I would appreciate any advice you could share. Thanks!

    • It was helpful to read your post Andrea. I am in a simialr situation. It has been about 6 months since I finally stood up for myself, didn’t hold my tongue and honored myself with some self-respect.
      My dad died when I was five. My mom got pregnant and married (to the guy she was having an affair with before my dad died) within months of my dad dying. Her new husband was an alcoholic. He sexually and physically abused me, my sisters, cousins – who know who else. My mother was very controlling and verbally and emotionally abusive – even told me as a child that I should have died instead of my dad. Every time I tried to “tell”, the situation got worse. As soon as I was able, I left home, moving over 2000 miles away.
      Years later, while in therapy, I flew back to try to talk to both of them and try to heal the past. While he seemed to be apologetic for what he had done, my mom went ballistic calling me every four-letter word imaginable, telling me “I was a liar, but it if did happen, it was my fault.” Still amazes me how she could justify blaming a seven-year old.
      After that trip, I didn’t talk to them for years. Finally, feeling like I had an obligation, I got back in contact with them. For what I don’t know. The relationship consisted of her talking, talking, talking for hours and hours on the phone (mostly my dime of course) with me barely saying a word. My husband would often comment that he thought maybe no one was on the phone and I was just sitting there holding the phone. She seldom even acknowledged anything I said, just kept going on, mostly complaining about everyone and everything. I would say over and over – need to go, have to get up early for work in the morning, not feeling well; She would just keep on talking. This went on for years. My husband kept telling me to just hang up, but I couldn’t – that’s rude!
      Fast forward to 2011 – The day I returned home from having cancer surgery. She did call – she asked how I was feeling, not sure she heard me say how sick and in pain I was, but did keep talking – for five hours! Luckily I had a headset, pain pills and was in bed. I don’t think she even noticed that I was fading in and out.
      The last time I was on the phone with her, I just could not take anymore. When she called, I told her as soon as we got on the phone that my husband and I had plans for the night with friends. She didn’t acknowledge my comment, just started on how horrible the holidays were, what my sisters were doing wrong – on and on. FINALLY, the bomb exploded. I could not take anymore. I told her I was done, I was tired of listening to her tear apart and blaming everyone and everything and not taking responsibility for herself and I didn’t want to listen to her monologues anymore. I then hung up. For a few minutes there was total silence in the house. Then everyone came into the kitchen and cheered. They said they had been waiting for this moment to happen for years and they were so proud of me. I have not spoken to my mom since. It is sad that the relationship has ended, but after all these decades it is very liberating for the abuse to be in the past.

    • Dear Andrea,
      I am grateful to read your response today. I am divorced after a bad marriage, and finally learned that the marriage was familiar because of my parents. Geez. After finally realizing that, it has taken me almost a year to terminate that toxic relationship (and that with a sister as well). The break-up was hard – so many tribal beliefs to breakdown, and narcissism to boot. But the last three months of no ex, no parental or other space in my life (and that of my three kids) has been nothing short of miraculous. We (my kids and I) are all in a loving and peaceful relationship with each other and are communicating in clear and kind ways with each other. I understand the partner/spouse break-up’s, but the family of origin one is so different and in many ways harder. It is much harder to recognize dysfunction when you grow up in it. Many blessings to you. Namaste.

    • Ann said on July 16, 2013

      Thank you for your post Andrea. I am still trying to figure out how to separate myself from my mother. She lives alone and is heavily dependent on me and my family. I can literally feel the energy being drained away while in her presence. We live only a few minutes away, and I have a very difficult time setting boundaries. If I do not call her back in a timely manner, she continues to call or shows up at my house. I have gained 30 pounds and am experiencing depression. I feel that our relationship is actually benefiting her, as I am release for her negativity. I would really like to move and my husband and I are trying to make plans to do so. Since I have lived close to her, I have seen my fear and anxiety escalate and my physical health deteriorate. It is very difficult to think of leaving her alone, but I know this relationship is toxic and I am suffering. It also trickles down to my children and spills over to my husband who has to listen to me complain. Your post has inspired me to make some serious changes.

  41. Thank you for this. The timing of having stumbled upon this post is spectacular – there is no such thing as coincidence. I just broke up with my boyfriend this afternoon. It’s true what you say about how we’d rather stay in the broken places that move on to a terrifying unknown. I had wanted this one to work so much but it clearly wasn’t and there wasn’t any way to fix it anymore. It’s an extremely painful decision to make, but then you realise that if the other person isn’t putting in the same effort to make it work, then he/she is not worth it. When that’s the case, then eventually, you even realise that startling little truth that the other person has a lot more to lose than you do. It sounds arrogant perhaps to say this, but it isn’t meant to be – it’s about reclaiming back your power and realising that there’s something and something far more deserving of the wonderful you out there. It’s a terrifying unknown, but as Kris says, it can also be glorious.

    Thank you Kris for showing us “toxic” for what it really is and for sharing the courage to take that leap into something more glorious. Thank you for showing us that it’s not only okay but that it can be so much better xxx

  42. The subject of your email is really catchy!!
    Say goodbye to who!?
    Glad we’re not saying goodbye to you!

  43. I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years on Friday night and actually laughed and forwarded this to my friends when I received the email talking about break ups. Reading down through the questions to ponder, many of the answers are a definitive yes’! I have told my girlfriends that if I want to go back they need to help keep me grounded and centered so I stay strong and do what I know I need to do. When reading the blog, I felt that I could particularly relate the statement “There’s no need to force the other side to see my point. If they were going to see it, that would have happened long ago. It’s over. Finito.” I tried to do that for so long and I now realize it is futile. Thanks for your inspirational blog, documentary and books and sending me this email at the exact moment that I needed it. It gives me the strength to stick with my decision.

  44. About a month ago, out of the blue, I heard my inner voice say, “Do you know how hard it is to keep dead things alive?” As I pondered that statement, it stopped me dead in my tracks, and I began to feel what that meant for me personally in my own life. As I took inventory of all aspects of my life, I knew it was high time to do what I knew I needed to do. Phase one–was to end a toxic, draining, and empty relationship. I had to get over the fear of being single again. And I’ve done just that. As so many of you have shared, once you get your feet back on solid ground again, you re-connect with yourself in a magical way, and the weight begins to lift. So I ended the relationship….oh, and I cut my hair. LOL.
    This is an amazing journey.

    Peace and blessings to you all!

  45. I have been struggling for the past little while about this very topic. Opening my email this morning and seeing this posted, was meant to be. I will take full control of “MY” life. I will be responsible for my short comings and accept the blame for the situation I am in. BUT, I will not accept someone else taking control of my life ! It is time. That feels good just saying it :)

  46. Re: Staying together for the sake of the kids…..

    A couple of comments have touched upon this topic, so I thought I might share my experience….

    I have 3 wonderful kids, ages 10 – 15. The four of us are moving out – away from my husband- in less than 2 weeks. “Toxic” is a good way to describe our marriage for the past years. Last summer I decided that this is not how I want to spend the rest of my life, but that would “hold it out” until the kids are through school, meaning until they have moved out. I thought that having an angry/difficult father was better for them than having no father at all. During the fall the atmosphere at home got even worse, and I could see that the kids were suffering. In December THEY actually came up to ME and said that they couldn’t take things the way they were any more. They couldn’t stand to be around their father when he was acting so poorly all the time. I took this seriously and realised, now it is up to me. So after some difficult months of planning, I am now at the point where I will soon be FREE!
    The children are somewhat nervous about the move, but now that they know that things will change for the better they are much calmer now. They are really looking forward to our “new start”.
    For anyone planning a separation – DO find someone to support you ex. a coach, and make sure you get all the legal/health support you need. And don’t be afraid to rely on dear friends :-) I am so happy already, and reading this article as well as some of these comments just remind me that I am on the right path.
    Peace to all of you!

  47. what do you do when it is your daughter? she stopped speaking to me – it has been almost 2 years and the pain is unbearable… she is 35 and I fear she is not coming back…do I just ‘release the relationship’ for my own health?

    • How painful, I am so sorry. The first thing I would suggest is to a little internal reflection. Do you know why your daughter stopped communicating with you? Are her complaints legitimate? Any part of her complaint? Has her behavior been erratic?

      The point here is to figure out what part of this you must take responsibity for and what is hers. For the portion that is yours, think about what you will do differently if you were to reunite. Don’t simply say, “I won’t do x again”, write tangible changes you will make when in certain situations (e.g. When she raises her voice I take that as a cue to mentally step back and breathe so I don’t respond in kind).

      If you can see a therapist, I’d recommend it. I can’t promise you your daughter will come back but if you share that you have made growth through introspection, she may be curious to know more.

      • Thanks for your response, Savannah…. the story is long – but the short of it is, we had a very close and wonderful relationship for most of her life…I raised her and her brother by myself with very little financial support from their father and no emotional support from any family members. thank goodness for my friends! I have told her I take responsibility for any things that she is holding me accountable for – I did my best, they had what they needed, many times what they wanted, including my love and dedication….but the lose of her father at the age of 10 was difficult for her- I am being punished for…it seems like – now that she is an adult. He was not the man for me…met him at 15 and married him at 17 and had her at 19 – he was my escape from my insane asylum that I lived in…and he was not a responsible or grown up person…still really isn’t…there are so many other things that come into play…that I can’t and don’t want to share here – but bottom line… I have been there through thick and thin for my sweet girl – and will do anything to have her back – within that two years – we spoke, I thought mended so much…she got married and I was there for her and helped make her day special…and she went off the rails again within 7 mos of the wedding. She has forbid me to contact her until SHE is ready – and i hurt every day. So, Kris’ advice to let go of toxic relationships… or more so, pain in your life that is holding you back from living your best life… how can I do that? How can I walk away from this person that I love more than life itself? I have learned to ‘compartmentalize’ our connection and let it out when the pressure valve can’t take anymore…and then i put it away again until…. but, life does pass so quickly, and we never know what tomorrow can bring… there is no promise of tomorrow… I so want to be part of her life and she mine….

      • And yes, I have done so much internal reflection…have put my past to rest and forgiven those who trespassed against me… she lives 7 hours away – drive – or else i would love to seek therapy with her… but that is not happening…especially when she has cut me off totally. I have done a lot of work on myself… I think she had me on a pedestal and when she realized that I was fallible and human and a woman just like her who makes mistakes…it changed her…

  48. What about when your toxic relationship is with yourself? I am finding that the most destructive person in my life is me. The me that holds on to bad habits for dear life and has unkind thoughts about herself. I think that divorcing yourself from the “bad friend” inside yourself is the most healing path yet.

  49. Kim said on June 17, 2013

    Rings true. I am in a fifteen year relationship. This man took care of me during my chemo.(2004) Since then, he has cheated, lied and although I forgave him for me, I do not trust him. I see him differently. He never has the energy or the time to go anywhere or do anything for me. A short time ago, I was very ill and did not return his calls for two days. He told me I was very replaceable and had better watch my behavior. I still stay in the relationship. I get so mad at me.

    • Kim don’t be mad at yourself. I know all too well how hard that is, but I also know making yourself wrong will just keep you stuck with him. You are NOT replaceable! There is only one you in all of the universe. You can never be replaced. You are special beyond measure and the universe needs exactly who you are. When people need to keep you down to make themselves feel worthwhile, it would be sad if it wasn’t such a damn cliche! You deserve a man who loves you and thanks god every day that you came into his life. You survived chemo and everything that went along with it- you are strong and unmessable with! You deserve a happy life

  50. Jo said on June 17, 2013

    This is GREAT! I’ve had to be brave and walk away from a few things recently. It was scary and very out of character for me. But, it has been worth it to rid my life of that toxicity!

  51. Pam said on June 17, 2013

    Beautifully worded Kris. I’ve been saying these things for a few years….it’s very difficult for human beings to see beyond their fear but it is absolutely necessary to live a full life.

    Thank you for being the voice this new day.

    Pam

  52. This post could not have come at a better time. I am currently struggling to end an 11 year relationship (married for 6 years) with 2 children ages 3 and 5. Over the past 5-6 years I began to notice that I was not feeling “fulfilled” in our relationship so I figured it was time to have a family. I love my kids, but I realize today that was not the problem. The problem was we are just not compatible with each other on many levels and we were already drifting apart and not growing together and the signs were showing. The man I married is a good man, but we never communicated in any way, he would shut me out for days if he was upset about something and I was left trying to “figure it out” if it was me or something else, and I would try and talk to him only to get a “nothings wrong” response. We never did anything as a couple, especially when the kids came along. We are not at all intimate – no cuddling, hugs, kisses, sex, no I love you’s etc… I never received compliments and I generally felt taken for granted being a wife and mother doing everything to keep the household together. I began feeling very lonely. I even told him I was lonely only to get a “make some friends” response. He did his own thing, working in our home office most nights on his work until bedtime or puttering in the garage doing “projects”. I would cry a lot and would never be asked what was wrong. He just never listened to me and I honestly felt like he checked out of the relationship. i felt un-loved and unsatisfied for a long long time. Since having our kids especially I just feel like we are two people tolerating each other, living together raising kids. Any time he traveled for work I noticed a big change in my mood. I felt great and free and my mood would automatically be lifted. It was a big wake up call for me in noticing how I felt. He was gone for 14 days the beginning of 2013 and I felt great and relaxed. I fianlly drummed up the courage to tell him how I felt and that I did not feel like we had a relationship anymore. Of course this came as a complete shock to him and man do I feel guilty. My guilt for hurting him is holding me back right now. I am trying to drum up the strength to move on with my life. I need to. Now he is doing everything in his power to keep me. The problem is the way he is acting is making me feel even more guilty and I am getting angry and resentful. I am being smothered with kindness and he is doing everything for me and nothing for himself. He also tells me that I am destroying our family and it will affect the kids in a negative way if we split up. He cries in front of me, the kids and it is making my head spin. Everything he asks me to do for him is a “favour” like I owe him something. I hope to hear more stories like mine. This is the hardest thing I ever had to do and I am struggling to break free.

    • I can relate. I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man for 12 years (since I was 19). He loves me very much and treats me extremely well. He is thoughtful, kind, considerate, always tells me how beautiful he thinks I am and that I am the “love of his life.” The problem is, I don’t feel the same. I love him deeply in the way one loves a best friend or family member but I can’t shake the feeling that there is more. Over the years our values have changed and grown apart. I am a social worker and politically liberal. He is a carpenter who identifies as libertarian. This has begun to drive a wedge between us over the years. I am health conscious and desire to lead an active and adventurous lifestyle. He says he wants these things but getting him to do any activity is like pulling teeth. I also don’t feel we share the same dreams or vision for our future. He would be content to live in our home town forever and I dream of travel and living somewhere new. I am just not sure he is my “spiritual partner.” I am so scared and confused. My mother who just ended a truly toxic relationship and is single at age 57 is advising me to stay, saying “the grass is not always greener, he loves you, what more could you want?” My friends understand my concerns but still advise me to proceed with caution. I feel so scared and guilty. I want to be the last person on earth to hurt my sweet boyfriend. I cannot imagine my life without him but I cannot help but feel there is more to life and love. I am scared to stay and wonder “what if?” I feel like I am having a quarter-life crisis.

      • Before you leave read, ‘The 8 Essential Traits of Couples Who Thrive’ by Susan Page. Page also wrote, ‘Now That I’m Married, Why Isn’t Everything Perfect’, I’ve not read this title but if it’s anything close to ‘The 8 Essentials . . .’ it’s a winner!

        Because you are both with loving partners there may be hope for a renewal of love and commitment. I’ve been told that when you move on to another relationship that there will be 10 different things about that partner/relationship that are not ‘perfect’ either.

        Best of luck . . .

      • Thank you for the advice Darris. I really appreciate it.

      • Kim said on June 19, 2013

        Thank you for your comment Lindsey, I’m going through the exact same thing. I feel like I have the best man a girl could have, but yet I’m missing something. I find it very devastating, it makes me literally sick. That’s the only reason I would describe the situation as toxic, because he as a person isn’t toxic or abusive at all! I can’t imagine living without him either, the thought alone kills me, but living like this kills me too.
        I hope you find your truth about your relationship really soon now, and the courage and trust to act upon that truth, whatever it may be.
        Sending you lots of love x

  53. I broke up with a friend a while ago, who was really toxic to me. We both have illnesses that often make it hard to socialize, so we had established, when we became friends, that we could do things like cancel at the last minute or just plain say no to social events.

    Sadly, she rarely did, and I needed to, and eventually, she would lose it and blame me for not being there. She would ask for a ‘meeting’ so we could discuss our friendship and basically tell go on to tell me how bad I was as a friend. She would tell me that our relationship was one where I depended on her and she needed me to depend on her, but then would blame me for not showing up when I was really sick.

    She got pregnant and was in a very unstable relationship, and things just got worse. I did not want to be around them because it stressed me out so much. Their relationship was so stressful, and I couldn’t stand to know that that poor kid was stuck in the middle.

    So I saw her less and less, and eventually she called for one of those meetings and I told her that it was enough. I couldn’t go on like we had anymore. I told her why I thought the relationship was toxic to me, how it affected me, without blaming her. I just told her how I felt. She told me she never imagined I could be so mean and that it she would see if she still wanted to be my friend later on. For me it was over right then and there. I am not a mean person. I did feel the need to be honest, but there was no blame.

    Anyway, it’s been months now and I still wonder how she’s doing sometimes, but I’m glad I ended it, even if it was hard to do. Truth is, I had been thinking about it for a while before I did.

  54. Thanks Kris.

    Serendipitous this post came today – and from you. Many people in the last couple weeks have said you and I need to connect… but it seems I was too focused on the relationships that weren’t serving me… I realized that last night … and then I wake up to this….

    We need positives in our lives and things (people included) that serve our greater purpose.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Love + Light
    Jen

  55. JR said on June 17, 2013

    all i can say is…thank you

  56. Recently got out of a six year relationship that was very dysfunctional and toxic for me. I allowed this person to pour buckets of pain on me again and again and again & over the course of time, completely gave away my power. I’m now in the process of grieving the ned of the relationship (or the shattering of the illusion of the relationship) and, more importantly, doing the deep work of figuring out WHY I participated in such an unhealthy and imbalanced relationship; why I allowed myself to be so devalued. It’s hard stuff but necessary for moving on to a healthier life.

    Not sure if it is cool to reference other resources here, but Natalie Lue’s website http://www.baggagereclaim.com has been a lifeline through this process. She is very helpful in helping readers get very clear about identifying toxic relationships, evaluating how they work (or don’t) in our lives and ultimately leaving them. The advice that’s been most helpful is that of putting the focus back on me, my life and what I value. (As opposed to constantly ruminating about him.) I have a long way to do and much work to do but feel very optimistic that getting out of this toxic relationship is a life-changing act of love that is going to improve my life tremendously.

    I send love and best wishes to all readers here who are going through this difficult process. MANY THANKS for this wonderful post.

  57. Recently got out of a six year relationship that was very dysfunctional and toxic for me. I allowed this person to pour buckets of pain on me again and again and again & over the course of time, completely gave away my power. I’m now in the process of grieving the end of the relationship (or the shattering of the illusion of the relationship) and, more importantly, doing the deep work of figuring out WHY I participated in such an unhealthy and imbalanced relationship; why I allowed myself to be so devalued. It’s hard stuff but necessary for moving on to a healthier life.

    Not sure if it is cool to reference other resources here, but Natalie Lue’s website http://www.baggagereclaim.com has been a lifeline through this process. She is very helpful in helping readers get very clear about identifying toxic relationships, evaluating how they work (or don’t) in our lives and ultimately leaving them. The advice that’s been most helpful is that of putting the focus back on me, my life and what I value. (As opposed to constantly ruminating about him.) I have a long way to go and much work to do but feel very optimistic that getting out of this toxic relationship is a life-changing act of love that is going to improve my life tremendously.

    I send love and best wishes to all readers here who are going through this difficult process. MANY THANKS for this wonderful post.

  58. This post really spoke to me. After years of struggling to build a healthy relationship with my mother, I finally decided to take a six month “break” away from her to try and discover if it is worth trying to pursue the relationship or not. I really like the questions you’ve posed, and after being honest with myself, I think I can finally see that the relationship is toxic. It never is easy walking away, but I agree that constant struggle is not part of a health-full life. Thank you for your words of wisdom!

  59. This is so true, but very difficult for me. I’m in a toxic relationship with my husband and it’s affecting our children. I’m so exhausted and although I know what to do, I do not have the courage to go through it. I’m scared and afraid in many levels. People will be shocked. They think he’s the greatest guy, friend, husband and father. He’s not, but I’m no angel either. I just want to be happy. Including our kids and him…And I can’t fake “happy” anymore.

  60. On one month of bedrest in Dec 2009 I prayed and prayed for clarity and received it. I’d survived over 3 years of chronic appendicitis, and years and years of unrelenting betrayal and stress with a severely emotionally disturbed husband. I knew I needed out but was stuck. I made plans to get independent, and took the leap of faith one year later. It’s been a brutal and oppressive 3-year court divorce I am still enduring (he’s wealthy and powerful) – but I’m happier and

    • healthier OUT. I would get out earlier if only I could go back – for my kids’ health and my own. Blessings, All.

  61. Thanks for starting this conversation Kris, and thanks to all who are sharing! Reading through the comments actually makes me feel human and better. So often we tend to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, and it’s rarely the case.

  62. Dear Kris,

    WOW! Did I ever need to hear your words this morning . . . I’ve felt so alone in this decision, and then I opened my mail . . . there you were “on my side.” The toxic relationship I am trying escape from is my church. Oh I know . . . Blasphemy! Sacrilege! Who dares to speak ill of one’s church.

    It’s no longer the church where I once thought I could find a sanctuary of love and acceptance . . . a spot of solace, peace. Not so. Today I find bigotry, empty platitudes, discord and rigid spinelessness. After 70+ years I find the reason for the empty pew is that the church is an empty shell of its former self.

    I finally feel strong enough to run away from its phony, saccharin atmosphere and return to my inner sanctum which is a 108-year-old farm where the work may be dusty and endless but is most satisfying and the solitude is sublime . . . it is also a place where I am surrounded by tranquility . . . sans a building topped by a cross.

    Thank you for all your support and yummy food ideas.

    • Dear Jean,
      I abandoned my church too! Good for you. The love and acceptance there was built on rgidity and too many rules to make any sense at all. I have come to believe that God is love, and God and love are in each one of us. Religion is not spirituality. It sounds like you have spirituality and that is the best essence to have. Namaste, Christina

  63. Hi Kris, I thank you for writing this. Reading it got me into sharing it to my Facebook friends and here’s what I wrote as introduction:

    “I am a follower of Kris Carr, who I came to know of through the cancer (LMS) mailing list I subscribe to. My discovery of juicing was enhanced through the emails I receive from her on a weekly basis. Here’s one which I received today and which really hit home. I have been through in the past of releasing a toxic relationship, as she terms it, and it was very difficult to go through, something, which I thought at first, to be impossible to accomplish. And yet I did it and am now enjoying the freedom and the happiness of living with someone who is near perfect a husband any woman could have ever asked for. I am again in the process of releasing another toxic relationship, after identifying it lately as the one adding too much a burden to my already over-burdened shoulder, and I am experiencing this “posing” mode at the moment. This is because of my stubborn attitude of not easily giving up! The same way I prolonged my agony in the past, thinking that the person I finally broke up a legal relationship with before, will change for the better. This very practical advice of Kris will surely help me get through this latest toxic relationship. But don’t get me wrong, it is not with someone romantically involved with me. It is with someone who I have been helping to stand on his own two feet, someone not related to me by blood, who has now become abusive of my kindness and benevolence. I hope, too, that Kris’ advice will help those who are now undergoing the process of getting rid of the “unwanteds” in their life . . .”

    And here’s an added post: “Habitually attempting to fix the unfixable is crazy-making.” – this is one part in the article which really hit home! I think the only way for me to get out from it is by accepting that I cannot FIX the person, and by so doing, I can do the rest of releasing him from my responsibilities. It is high time that I learn to accept that not all people are designed to be good – no matter how you try to make them good and productive. . .

    Freda

  64. Books that helped me clean house on the wrong relationships I was hoarding: Trapped in the Mirror, Stop Walking on Eggshells, and The Sociopath Next Door

  65. WOW – I am so this person – thank-you for the pep talk

  66. Hi Kris
    This post really resonated with me. I spend most of my waking hours trying to figure out how to get out of my marriage. Just reading your words and the comments is causing me anxiety.
    I knew 12 years ago that I no longer wanted to be with my husband. I initiated leaving twice but have never followed through. The whole thing overwhelms me and I panic but I’m not sure what scares me the most.

    I have a daughter and I worry about her but I also worry about what she is learning by observing my behaviour in the marriage. I have fibromyalgia and feel unwell most of the time. I believe the symptoms are from the stress but still I can’t leave. Makes me feel crazy.

    Thank you for the post and thank you to those making comments. Obviously I am not alone in finding this a very difficult thing to do.

  67. yOU ALWAYS FIND JUST THE PERFECT WORDS TO HELP OTHERS — if I WOULD HAVE READ THIS YEARS AGO, I’m SURE IT WOULD HAVE SAVED ME ALOT OF GREIF. thank you & gOD bLESS YOU!!!

  68. Great Qs to ponder & prompt us to do the right/self-loving thing. Which really means releasing all that is toxic.

    Powerful post Kris, thank you.

  69. But how do you get rid of toxic relationship when it involves your siblings? Anybody has any suggestions?

    • v said on June 17, 2013

      Depending on what’s going on, you may still just need to do it and deal with the repercussions from other family members (including your parents if they’re around).

      I have a close friend who cut off contact with her siblings after they refused to recognize her (same-sex) marriage. She’s had to face a lot of pressure from her parents to back down, but it’s overall been a very good thing for her.

  70. Peg said on June 17, 2013

    This “break up” can also happen with a family member. That can add an extra element of stress. It’s much harder to just walk away, like it would with a love interest. Not to mention the emotional baggage and guilt other family members put on you.

  71. I’m a mother whose only child, a daughter, has basically disowned me – and I do not really even know why. She refuses to discuss it with me; when I have tried, she goes on the defensive and screams at me and hangs up the phone. Because of my two darling grandchildren, there is still physical contact, maybe three times a year even though they live just 25 miles from me. I get to see my grandkids for their birthdays and for Christmas; this year we did not have Christmas together until February 1 because that was the first open date she had for a nothing/nobody like me. I so much enjoy seeing the children, but that’s only for a couple of hours and they really do not have a chance to get to know me and I am aware that I am not mentioned in their household. When my daughter is forced to have contact with me, she never greets me in any manner, just starts talking – never says goodbye, just leaves. I am not called Mom, that’s reserved for her mother-in-law – I just have no name at all unless I am referred to as Grandma with the kids. I am an old woman now, all alone, poor health yet I am never asked how I am doing/feeling, how things are, etc. My daughter has screamed and yelled at me via the phone and called me horrible things and told me that I am not her mother and that she is more adamant about that as she gets older – she’s in her early 40s now. She has always picked me up and put me down at her convenience; sometimes did not hear from her for long periods of time until she needed something from me. If I call her cell, I have been told not to leave a message because it uses up her minutes and she will call me back when she sees that I have called – but I might have to wait 12 or more days for her to get around to me. I can email, but may never get a response unless I ask about gift suggestions for the kids. I have tried to tell myself that I don’t need this aggravation at this point in my life, but it’s so hard to want to be loved and needed and just meet with indifference. My daughter posted a wall of family photos in her home and there are pictures of all types of relatives, but not one of me. If I ask that she take photos of me and the kids when we are together, she does not care if the photos are good or bad.
    I asked her once if she wanted to be called in case of emergency if anything ever happened to me and there was no response. I need help trying to survive this situation. I’m all alone, I’m depressed and medicine can’t fix me,and I don’t know how anyone can be treated so badly by someone who has only been loved and protected and provided for by a person who always loved her so dearly. I was loving but strict, tried to raise my daughter with good morals, faith and a work ethic. I have never deliberately hurt anyone in my life but when I leave this world, I will leave it alone and with nothing to show that I ever lived. My mother hated and verbally/mentally/emotionally abused me my entire life, my husband cheated on me, my daughter has disowned me – and I don’t have a clue why this is how my life has turned out. Very hard to live as an invisible person! Best regards to all of you, I hope you take positive steps forward in your lives as circumstances deem for each of you.

    • Hi Marie,
      I just wanted to say that I read your post here about your daughter and I know how awful you must feel. My mom often feels this way about her kids. Though I know we are much kinder to her than your daughter is. My mom often complains of feeling really alone and that if she died no one would know. I don’t live by her but my sister does and often my mom feels that my sister is ignoring her. My mom has been very hurt by several things my sister has said and done though my sister does feel she is doing her best to be apart of my moms life. I am busy with my kids and my career and I make time for my mom but not as much time as she would like so I know she often feels left out of my life. My sister is very alternative in her life style and doesn’t always feel like she can share her views with my mom. So a lot of the loneliness comes from these differences and the fact that both my sister and I are quite busy. We love our mom though but she feels we only call her when we need something. My sister gets really annoyed that my mom feels this way where as I can see how she would feel this way because she is a very sensitive and introverted person. My mom gets her feelings hurt very easily and often it seems to get in the way of her being out going and a little more resilient. But I see it as this is just how she is wired. But I think my point is that for what ever reason it feels irreconcilable because my mom will always be hyper sensitive and we may just always be a little insensitive. My mom gets really crunchy when her feelings get hurt and then with my sister that makes her defensive and they go in an endless loop. My sister suggested family therapy for everyone so these issues can be worked out but my mom felt my sister was saying she was crazy, so that just made the wedge worse. So it’s pretty hopeless, and though its not as bad as your intuition from my moms perspective it might as well be, it’s really awful and painful for her and I know it hurts her in a way that sucks out her energy and makes her feel worthless. I feel so sad for my mom but the truth is she often has a certain type of negativity because of this that makes it hard to be around her. She suffers from constant feelings of emptiness and being abandoned and before it was about other people like her mother or brother or past partners and now the focus has shifted to my sister. I am afraid to live to close to her because I know she would then feel I am responsible for her unhappiness. But at the same time I know my mom is lonely and being alone is very painful. I really feel for her and anyone else who is in this situation because what can you do? Often she will get to the point that he is going to cut my sister out of her life, but then my mom would be even more alone…. And at least in this situation though my sister is not very skillfull she does love my mom very much and does help her often. I think in your situation though you may need to make some boundaries with your daughter. I know she will think you are even more terrible and you may feel that way about making boundaries, but if her influence in your life is hurting you then I would go see a good therapist and discover the tools needed to protect yourself from a toxic relationship. A good therapist will help you find your voice and your dignity. It sounds like this situation robs you of your dignity and binds your voice. It’s ok to tell her you feel she treats you terribly and because its hurting you so much you can not be available right now…. And then see someone you feel can help you reclaim and heal those broken pieces because often after that happens a whole new relationship can develop, either with that person or instead of that person. But you can’t do the therapy hoping it will help the relationship, you have to do it to heal your pain. Some daughters are just not good daughters. Just like some parents are not good parents. It’s equally shocking. So you just have to find a way to heal yourself and therapy is a really good way to start that process. I hope this helps.

      • Opps Typos**
        “intuition” meant to read as “situation”. And any “he” is meant a “she”….

  72. This was perfect timing for me. My husband just told me yesterday he wants a divorce and there is no salvaging our marriage. I have been gutted, but the truth is that as much as we love each other, it hasn’t been a great time. I’ve been stressed and crazy since we moved in with each other. I see this manifested in a strange double vision issue I developed. I’m scared to move on with out him, but I am determined to find the strength to create a better life.

  73. Thank You So Much

  74. Wow, this really hit home for me. For me, the toxic relationship is with my mother. I probably would have released it a while back, but I am a mom myself and I’m not sure how to explain it to my daughter (she’s just 7). They are virtually strangers, but still … I am hung up on this aspect of it. Thank you, I will save this page and read it many times, I’m sure.

  75. I really like this blog post. It completely resonated with me. What if the person you need to break up with is your 13 yr old step-daughter? Obviously I can’t end the relationship, she is with us half the time. How can I take these principles and apply them to someone who will remain in my life?

  76. Thank you, thank you, Kris for posting this and sharing. It was timely.

  77. Hi, Kris!

    Lots of great advice for folks who are with someone who drains them, etc, but what do you do if you suspect YOU are the toxic one in the relationship? I have a very kind, very supportive boyfriend, but I feel like I am always sabotaging it – I’m cranky and mean for no real reason. I don’t know how to stop it, it seems totally automatic. I want to be the partner he deserves and the person I know I can be, but I just keep messing up.

    Thanks!
    heather

    • In case Kris doesn’t reply. I know for me finding a good therapist to talk to was key. She had shared experiences in life and was objective where my friends could not be. She helped me to see what my stuff was and what belonged to others (and not to hand others stuff back to them…ahem). It took a few years of hard work but I’m much more aware of where I was acting from fear. As Ellen says, be kind to yourself (but honest too). At least you are asking the questions, right? First step. Good luck.

      • Thank, Marie!

        I think that’s a really good idea. I know I need help, and family and friends won’t (and can’t) be as subjective and honest as I would need them to be!

        I’ll start looking into finding a good therapist :)

        Thanks again! I really appreciate your kindness and taking the time to help a stranger.

    • Heather, most likely you are not toxic if you are self aware enough to see your hurting your partner. Maybe your actions are because you are not happy there and need some time off to figure out what you want? I know that’s usually the case for me when grumpiness starts to take over…..

  78. I left my marriage to a man I had been with for nearly 20 years. Everything was so out of balance, it’s taken me nearly 18 months of work with a wonderful coach to find out how I even feel about some things – I was so numb and tuned out, ya know? It had gotten to the point where i needed to search around for something to grip onto to get me through the day; meanwhile my husband had me second guessing myself, questioning my own sanity (am I going crazy??) and when he wasn’t subliminally putting me or someone else I cared about down, he was combing through my garbage can and reading my texts, accusing me of being “up to something” because he “could smell it”. Well, he was right, I guess, I was up to something: I rented a beautiful house on a lake in another province 1400 km away and called the moving company. It’s taken me these 18 months of healing time to know me again, and man, am I awesome! Thanks xoxo

  79. Wow thank you SO much Kris for this deeply inspiring post!! I’ve also been in a very dysfunctionnal relationship for one year and half, and 7 months ago I found the energy to leave, even though I was madly in “love” with my ex. I must admit I had a terrible, desperatly sad winter, but now I feel so proud of myself for having the courage to let go. After several months of self-discipline (yoga every day, mantras, positive thinking and sticking to a fairly strict veggie diet), I’m noticing a rise in my creativity and my joy level is just exponential!! I know the road is long but I’m on my way back to happiness and that feels sooo good! Thanks again Kris for your beautiful weekly posts;-)

  80. j said on June 17, 2013

    Thank you so much for writing this.
    Going through breast cancer has taught me a great deal, especially that in addition to having a physical immune system, I also have a spiritual one. I ended a toxic friendship when I went through chemo and am very proud of myself for doing so. I learned that I need to surround myself with people who lift me up and make positive choices in my life.
    May we all continue to go from strength to strength!

    j

  81. Wow, well put Kris! I just ended a relationship with a someone who has NPD. (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) Although, I didn’t know until after I was out of the relationship, that there was a term for it. I felt like something was ‘off’ the entire time I was with him but I could quite pinpoint it at first. As time went on and his true colours started to show, that’s when I started to see the what I felt was justified. But I continued to stay because I was brainwashed into thinking he was so wonderful. Even tho I knew he was extremely selfish and un-empathetic. It was a year of hell because I didn’t realize I was being manipulated. Fighting with this man was gut wrenchingly awful…nothing was ever his fault. He had a magical way of turning things on me and making me doubt myself if I started to challenge his behaviours. By the end of the argument I was exhausted emotionally and physically and wondered if it really was all my fault. Yikes! If you feel like you are being manipulated and feel like something is off and you don’t feel healthy and always are drained – you should do further research on toxic relationships, manipulation, and narcissistic personality disorder. I was searching for toxic relationships and manipulation when I discovered NPD. When you end a relationship with someone who has this, it’s so much worse then ending something that wasn’t toxic. But YOU WILL SURVIVE!!! You just might need a little extra help from the wonderful resources on line, counsellors, books, and spiritual teachers. No one knows what it’s like to be with a narcissist until they have been there themselves. I just wanted to bring up this in hopes that it might help someone else. If your intuition is telling you something is wrong – get on line or go to the bookstore and the right information will come to you :) You will find great articles like this as well as a some amazing people on youtube who have great insight to help you understand what you are going through. The one thing I know about toxic relationships is that you will not feel yourself if you are romantically involved with someone who is not good for you. Your friends and family might even see it, making comments like “you don’t seem like yourself” . Take heart though, it will be tough but you will find the strength to leave a toxic relationship. You are not alone! So many others have found the courage to do it and you will too! Love to all.

  82. M said on June 17, 2013

    I just ended a toxic relationship of a different kind — a job of four years that I was too scared to abandon because of the comfortable pay. But when I say toxic, I mean it: manipulative bi-polar boss, unrealistic, unclear job description, no respect, no appreciation, and a work environment that was feeding some very negative habits. I’m free now, and that relief is far more present in my life than the stress of looking for a new job or transitioning into a new routine. I am so glad I did it. When you get through the hard part, you never regret looking out for #1.

  83. I’ve ended a few toxic connections…friends, family and lovers. What I learned in (finally) in my forties was that I was recreating my family and attracting those who were emotionally unavailable and or narcissistic too often and and didnt share my core values while i rejected those who were loving and loyal. Though I’m still with my partner of 16 yrs we’ve gone through very painful times. I can relate to Kris with broken glasses, smashed phones, and curled up in the shower sobbing trying to deal with an overload of pain, loss and confusion. What we know as of three yrs ago is he was struggling with undiagnosed ADHD and depression. He has stuck with his treatment and while its not perfect…who or what is…it’s so much better. We’ve adopted Dr Phil’s motto of progress not perfection. Will we make it? I’ve learned to just accept what is. What’s harder? Forgiveness. It will be my spiritual practice for a lifetime. Thank you to everyone who shared their story including Kris. At times I’ve been ashamed of my emotions and unsure of my choice to disconnect but you’ve all helped me a bit more today.

    Love, peace, healing and LAUGHTER for all of us, xox

  84. Bea said on June 17, 2013

    I wish I knew what to do about my toxic relationship, with my mother-in-law.
    If I ask myself the questions above, almost all the answers are yes. However, cutting her out entirely would be very difficult and potentially not worth the fallout. My husband is wonderful and supportive of my/our attempts to maintain healthy boundaries. However, I’m not ok with asking him to cut her off, and I know if he were to maintain that relationship alone, it would NOT be healthy for our marriage. (We’ve spoken with a counselor who agreed.)
    We also have kids, and while MIL is not stable or trustworthy, it has worked so far to supervise contact closely. Otherwise, they might never see their grandfather, aunts, uncles, or cousins on this side of the family either. While it makes perfect sense to end my relationship– we’ve already tried everything else!– it would take ending several other people’s relationships to truly excise the toxic person from my life. I’m still reeling from Father’s Day weekend. Also, since we live only a few miles apart in a small town, we’d have to sell our house and move, or get a restraining order, to end the constant encroachment.
    My biggest fear is that I will become sick and unable to keep things under control any longer. It takes so much work, and I’m willing to put in the effort for the benefit of my family, but I do resent that the relationship is most costly, and least beneficial, to me.

  85. Thank you soooooo much Kris for this blog… You are awesome and the timing is remarkable!

  86. oh yes, just what the doctor ordered. Done yelling, moaning, complaining and wishing my husband would change! Done planning, excuse making, searching for the crystal ball and worrying about my almost grown children (they will bounce back, but my soul will shrivel up and die if I stay with their father) Taking the plunge after 25 years of marriage. Ready or not, here I come …. To be continued in my next chapter :)
    I love you posts by the way!

  87. Truly powerful. I’m going to have to read this again! Helpful reminder when your down and out for leaving from somewhere you stayed to long at -when its had its dramatic effects on you! Great reminder to remain in guilt, but to unveil that splendid you underneath it all -still there!

  88. Thank-you Kris!

    It’s too funny or just karmic timing, But I was having an appointment with my Dr/friend today (who now lives far, far away, but was seeing patients today only, while here in Sonoma County for a few days.) We were speaking about my 14 year dysfunctional/unhealthy relationship and he said;
    “Sasha, you know what to do to heal yourself,literally & metaphorically. You have know intuitively & consciously for years…It’s time to really do your work and allow yourself the freedom to let your body (spirit) heal.”
    So, GGGRrrlll-friend~ I thank-you for your inspiration and lil’road map, as i have tried to do this many times and always fail myself…No longer!!!
    IT’S TIME!
    Positive thoughts my way and blessings, love and light your way~
    Thank-you once again.
    Warmest regards, Sasha.

  89. Loved your post. It resonated with me in a most profound way. Could answer yes to almost all the questions. BUT… nearly over 45 years relationship and mental health of partner, emotional entanglement, interdependence… it all feels unsurmountable at this stage of life. May be the reason for the ache in my left breast and arm? You young ones listen to your friend Kris and take heed… you deserved fulfilment and happiness now and you are the architect of your own destiny. Just as I have been mine. I have been told it took courage to stay… BUT I feel that it was just lack of courage that kept me in place, and perhaps that addiction that Faye spoke of re the narcissistic behaviours. Expert manipulation is hard to pull away from especially if you are not particularly clever at manipulation yourself and you care and you are trying to consider the effects on your family and your partner is unable to see the effect of his/her behaviour. BUT… it does take 2 to Tango… it’s a shame we just keep treading on each others toes!! I know I’m not lost… just stuck (in a quagmire)… weighed down by all the BUT’s. Now I just have to figure out how to start unloading the BUT’s so I can step up onto dry land and see the “new” that’s out there…before I get dementia and forget what I’m trying to achieve!

  90. Having just gotten out of a 13 year marriage that had fallen apart the last two years (my husband got pretty abusive at the end), I connected with another man I’d been attracted to for years who has turned out to have narcissistic tendencies and a really negative worldview. Ahhh! I guess it’s time for me to let go of men for a while and figure out why I’m into the sorts of men I’m into and trust my intuition. I’m exhausted. Anyway, this post came at a perfect time-I’ve been doing energy work and meditation to try to let go-as well as cut the last guy out completely. As you said, no need to talk anymore, it’s finito.

  91. Oooooh wow- this post really got to me today, thank you darling Kris.

    After returning from a trip abroad, the overwhelming feeling I came home with that I had to be ‘me’ now more than ever and not resist the changes that my gut was telling me had to happen for my health, happiness and wellbeing. I’ve read about people taking big leaps in their lives and finally letting change happen, but it’s another thing to feel it yourself.

    Thank you so much Kris for continuing to inspire us Kris- have a beautiful day!
    Katie x

    • definitely agree – it took a trip abroad for my eyes to be opened too…..and i havent looked back!!

  92. I am leaving a toxic relationship now, and this post really gave me a boost. It has been way to lohg to let myself be so unhappy, I have known for years. Now I want to release mine and his wasted energy. I look forward to finding happiness.

  93. 4 years together. 10 months travelling, said goodbye at an international airport (with the intention of flying home separately and meeting up back at home)……got home, fell to bits, decided to end the relationship and havent seen him since. Of course there has been lots of phone contact in between, but we live on different sides of the country so no ‘bumping into’ one another. Grief is good. I’ve spent the 12 months since then not turning away from the gut-wrenching-ness of the situation and trying to focus my energies into whats best for me. I have had an AH-MAZING support crew, incredibly blessed for their unconditional love + ways of being. Its not enough to say the process was huge – its been life changing. I carried a lot of guilt for the way of ending it; but I know that I did the best I could at the time with the resources available to me (I was a bit of a toxic mess, poor spirit completely zapped)…and I keep learning. I havent been on any dates or had any flings, it just doesn’t feel right just yet. The biggest gift to come from this has been increased trust and faith in my ability to make decisions that are best for me.

  94. Thankyou thank you thank you for the words we all know but never have the courage to use for ourselves
    I so needed this reminded to me of the soul sucking friend that emotionally bashed me when things didn’t go his way

  95. Today I had a pretty perfect day. While I was relishing the moments on the train home, I thought about a few people that had to exit stage left for me to reach this point. The award speech thanks all those that provide support. Yet, this moment is brought to you by the “Life Lessons Learned” and those we’ve left at the fork in the road to find their own way.
    Thanks Kris, timely as ever.

  96. What a hot topic! I had a friend for over 40 years, and we broke up recently. We were spending inordinate amounts of time discussing and analyzing our relationship—-and soon we wrung out all the fun. That’s right—the toxicity was apparent–because we no longer laughed or created mischief together! And what is the point if there is no longer any humor or playfulness? I finally learned she was ashamed of her heavy drinking, and I wondered why we even held on to the friendship when our values and lifestyles were so different—given I rarely drink. Now I make sure I surround myself with friends with common values and who love to laugh and celebrate life!

  97. I’m in one, which answers most of the above with yes. It’s been 22 years, we have a daughter and a lot of debt. Plus I want to stay here, I don’t want to move. So there’s a lot to figure out and solve before I can end it.

    • My heart goes out to you. I’ve been there in different ways. It’s been a journey but there is light, i promise. It seems so many of us women have to make it through some well, kick a** soul searching and tests but if you can hang in there I know you’ll figure it out. A good friend once told me, “you’re always on the right path FOR YOU, just figure out the lessons”. God I was POd at the time but they were right. I’m not religious but the serenity prayer got me through alot and reading others stories and support.

      Marie. xx

  98. Excellent article. I just ended a 20 year marriage. 15 of it was arguing with myself about how I should be able to keep it together (for the kids). I lost myself in the process. When I was forced to decide to end the relationship (a betrayal involving our kids), I feel like a new person! I did not realize how much of my spirit and self esteem was drained by that relationship. The best advice is to tell yourself the truth (and stop having a fantasy relationship). I highly recommend http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/ to help with that.
    Thanks Kris!
    Jo

  99. Thank you Chris. So WELL SAID! I am trying, while encountering all types of new relationships. I’ve been, three years in a new town, about to move into my own home and add roots to my fresh start. It hasn’t been easy but my wings are stronger. I’m so happy that I have persevered and been truer to myself then ever before. Yes, your Post resonated with me!

  100. I left a toxic job of 7 years this last December. It was heart wrenching. I worked for my church and Pastor. Talk about guilt. My trust in anyone was shattered. It was a long winter this year but now I am healing and joyous beyond relief. I noticed that after I left, I kept beating myself up. I finally realized that I continued where he had left off. With each step of healing and the freedom to grow there has been joy. Thank you for this article. It was just confirmation to keep moving forward and don’t look back. It is great to be me again!

  101. It took me 10 years to finally leave. I have 4 children with a man that never loved me! Why did it take so long? I held on to the idea of our family, of growing old together, of our problems coming from cultural differences, of his insecurities, I was the one with recognition and paying the bills.
    I finally left when the emotional abuse escalated to threats of physical violence. My children and I moved back to the states, I had been living abroad for 20 years. No money, no child support, but no anxiety daily abuse. Then I found out, of course- I mean it’s text book trite isn’t it, about all the cheating. Then after a couple years I was diagnosed with cancer from hpv viruses.
    I have never once doubted my decision, but I can not say that I have moved on. Emotional abuse takes it’s toll. Therapy, friends, knowledge, it all helps but there is still that voice inside my head that keeps me from
    holding my head up high and marching forward.
    I’m so happy to have found this website, and in my case as I am sure in many others my health was directly affected by my toxic relationship. It’s amazing to me how many people go through this, I know that finding these stories helped me tremendously at the time to come to the realization that it would never change.
    Chris, as an artist, I have to tell you I admire your courage in being so personal. I’m sure you never imagined in a million years that this would be your life’s work, look how many people you have inspired and helped. Thanks.

  102. This also applies to other relationships in your life such as friendships. Honestly, that’s what first came to mind when you said toxic relationships. It can be very hard to let a friend go whom you love and care about but does nothing for you. As of last week, I let a very good friend (also somewhat ex) go because everything he represented to me was toxic even though we love each other so much. He was never supportive of my new boyfriend but I always brushed it off. Jealousy is not something you should surround yourself by. It was very hard and still is to know I won’t see him again in any regard but it has uplifted me.

  103. I am living with cancer for the last four years. I am on the gorgeous spirit filled island of Kauai with one of two sons for a week of healing and relationship as I write this. Letting go and holding on. My relationship with cancer is the hardest relationship because I need the few healthy people I know to support and be here now as I navigate choices. Anyway aloha and thanks for your article. Love your stuff. Sometimes I just want to move somewhere like this and forget about all this cancer stuff….

  104. The last romantic relationship I was in before my husband was so toxic even now I cannot figure out why I stayed. I decided I wanted to end it but I didn’t feel strong enough. For months I decided to spend my time and attention on my other healthy relationships with family and friends. Finally I realized I had no need to continue in the bad relationship and I just let it go. No drama, no threats, no anything, I just said… you know this doesn’t work for me anymore. I really wish you the best.

    My current toxic relationships are friends that just suck the life out of people… they want, they need, they complain, they are just negative negative negative and never seem to give anything…. to anyone at all. For those I decided finding the boundaries that would keep me sane worked best. Funny but when you don’t want to spend all day getting worked up about their every little problem they tend to find someone else to complain to.

  105. Such a great post Kris

    I agree with leaving a toxic relationship, yet I’m wondering what to do when the toxic relationship is a parent-in-laws, what do I do to support my partner with her parents and I still keep my own sanity.

    We are unfortunately living with them (just moved countries) at the moment and won’t be moving out for at least 6 weeks, any suggestions on, living in a emotionally stressful environment without alienating the Out-laws?

    Thanks Donna

  106. Hi Kris, thanks for being a mentor of mine. When I read this post, I had just finished (belatedly) putting up some workplace boundaries. I found the process to be so difficult! Over the course of about a year and a half at the job, I experienced more negativity than I had ever encountered in my entire life. My employer said it was because I was finally “swimming with the sharks”, i.e. “in the real world now”….but honestly, it just felt like a really really dysfunctional workplace. One that has been built and reinforced that way for 3 decades. While working, I would find myself daydreaming about a life where I did not dread reading emails, attending meetings or interacting with other members of my “team”. There were definitely times when I was very close to walking away, and then my employer or other colleagues in the field would say things that made me feel guilty for even entertaining the idea of leaving. It is a field with very good objectives, and laudable goals. In fact, they would make it seem like I had a “duty” to be there, that I now had this kind of sacred responsibility to do this work at any cost to myself, my family or my community. I am now on a “break” from that workplace, and in the process of reflecting on what my next step will be. I just want to make as positive a contribution as possible in the world, but am seriously doubting whether this is the field where I will do that. At any rate, your words came to be just in time to shore me up against yet another scenario where my willpower crumbled and I acquiesced yet again to their positioning. Thanks so much.

  107. How do you all feel about breaking it off with your own father? I am 26 and he has been so detrimental to my health and well being since I was a teenager. Our relationship is so dysfunctional and it makes me so sad inside that our relationship continues to be totally draining on me. My mom says that its important for me to have my dad in my life, because he’s my dad, but at every try to make a go of it, I end up crying and upset for his lack of understanding. By the way, my mom and dad are divorced. We’ve been to counseling, and ended up more frustrated. I even had the opportunity to tape an argument we had and brought that into one of my solo counseling sessions. My counselor has helped with trying to “handle” my dad in certain situations, but it doesn’t last very long. I have asked my dad to give me space and not see or call me for a while. He has honored that and I feel so free and a weight is off my shoulders. I feel happier, because I’m around people who I can be happy with, and my dad is not one of them. So, back to my original question, what do you think about breaking it off with my dad?

    • I just did that after 50 years. There comes a point in your life while in the dysfunctional relationship that you have to do what you feel is right for YOU – your health and your emotional well-being depend on you !! No one can live your life for you and it is YOURS alone. You need to take care of YOUR needs first! You can do it. It might be hard to do, but there comes a time when you just have to e-x-h-a-l-e, release the negative and be done!

  108. One and a bit years on, lots of soul searching and researching and the help from family, friends and Speakers including yourself from Hay House. I finally feel I am on the right road from a very toxic relationship if not narcissistic in its nature. Having experienced many traumas during a 11 year period I could never understand why I kept going back for more. Now I am dealing the things within me and doing trauma grounding and lots of meditation. To think once I stood in the middle of the road waiting for a car to hit me, pleading for him to listen when I had a light bulb moment.
    I have started to feel the old me coming back slowly as I heal but I have lost a lot of memory due to shut down, although some is return during meditation.
    At 61 I feel I can at last live my life without fear of what is to come and the emotional hold he had has started to dissipate if not completely gone although it saddens me that I fooled myself for so long. But dealing with emotions is never easy and much harder as you get older. Especially when you are normally a very rational person in other areas of your life.
    So I hope this helps others when I say ” there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can forgive them but most of all you can forgive yourself!”
    Thank you all but this doesn’t seem enough.
    Terry, Coventry, England

  109. Wow I was just about in tears reading this article. It took me so many years of pain and struggle and confusion and finally some healthy people in my life to see how toxic my marriage was (and many of my other relationships, I later found out). I just didn’t see it until some good people in my life started asking questions.

    Now, looking back, I would have done things so differently. The last few years, I coped with alcohol (it just keeps you stuck even longer). That awful black-hole feeling inside of me was just too much. I felt like I was living someone else’s life. I had no self esteem left and yes, I definitely felt crazy.

    I decided I didn’t want to set such an unhappy marriage as an example for our children. I wanted them to see two people who love each other and work together. I got sober, reached out and found a healthy support network, something I’d never had before. And I finally broke free of that awful relationship.

    It wasn’t easy. I couldn’t trust my own bizarre thinking most of the time. The patterns of smoothing things over and keeping the calm are something I still have to work on. As we went through the divorce, my 6 year old baby girl had brain surgery with serious complications. She and I were in the hospital away from home for a month. We came home to the end of the divorce and him finally moving out a few weeks later (an indescribable relief).

    Change is scary and that was a BIG change. I still see him several times a week to pick up or drop off the kids. He is still …him. But I don’t get sucked in by his negativity anymore. I am my own person now. Today, I don’t have anger toward him. I don’t blame him. I hope that someday he finds peace and happiness. It just wasn’t good for me. At all. And I have enough self-confidence and esteem to not fall into his traps anymore. His problems are his now. His negativity is his choice. It’s not how I want to live my life.

    Now I have a home that I feel emotionally safe in. I can go home at night and breathe. I’ve been able to work on myself. I’ve learned the importance of being true to myself – and doing the right thing. I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t making him happy either. Now I’m more content. I feel like I’m living my life, not someone else’s. And even more than that – I feel like I’m part of life again. I don’t feel stuck anymore. I’m financially broke beyond broke, a job with no advancement, no time off… and I’m happy. It’s just normal life stuff that can work itself out now. That feeling of constant struggle isn’t there anymore. Now it’s working toward things instead of fighting against them. I’m in a happy, healthy, loving relationship and wow what a difference. My children are more calm, are in activities now and excelling and growing and happy. It’s just a whole new life. It’s not perfect for sure. But it’s a good life and I’m grateful for it.

  110. Lovely article

  111. Yes! It’s hard to get to that decision point, but once there, it’s easy, and it feels sooo much better to rid oneself of a friendship or relationship which has become unbearable. Often, the change is so gradual that it is imperceptible, and sometimes we can’t really put a finger on exactly what’s wrong. Once the decision is made to move on, it’s amazing how wonderful it feels to shed the relationship which has run its course.

  112. I am going to simply say with a tear in my eye, “THANK YOU!!!” and leave it at that.

  113. When I found out I had stage 3 breast cancer I left my abusive (physically and emotionally) husband of 34 years and moved to a different island. I had to sneak out. Actually, my daughter insisted on it..great kid.
    Going through chemo, radiation, surgeries, caring for an elderly woman for a place to live…I was in heaven! I would wake up in the middle of the night smiling, not wanting to go back to sleep because I wanted to cherish each moment being away from him.
    If only I had done it sooner.

  114. Boy oh boy did this article resonate with me….after spending the majority of my adult life in a relationship with someone totally not for me (good guy but not the right one for me) and waiting until we had the house, the marriage and a beautiful child to figure it all out, it took so much for me to get over the idea that I couldn’t even recognize how unhappy I was in my relationship. I tried changing everything else until I realized that it was something inside of me that needed to change-I needed to admit to my own wants, needs and desires. I blamed him for holding me back but on the deepest level, I was holding myself back. I was the one who made all of the choices but looking back they were the best decisions I thought at the time. I just kick for myself for not listening to my inner voice. The one that told me I probably shouldn’t go through with everything.

    After finalizing our divorce 1 year ago, I am proud to say I have now learned to acknowledge the whisper of my inner voice. Jumping right back into a relationship (unintentionally) which seemed like a fairy tale, I found myself going right back down the same road of feeling stuck. It took a big fight and my 3 year old daughter verbalizing exactly what I needed to hear but I did it. I left. It’s time for me. Time to be self-full. Falling in love with myself had a heck of a lot to do with giving me the strength.

  115. I have been battling a break-up for months now. I think I have too many fears of lonliness and emptiness. I have been listening to my inner self, but just cant seem to move forward. i am stuck in the broken promises, the dreams of a future and the positive things from our relationship. I refuse to dwell on the negative and will not stoop to a negative level to get past it. I am just stuck and lonely.
    Ugggghhhh…….I have survived cancer, so I KNOW I can survive this!!

  116. You all are so wonderful to each other. It’s very inspiring. x

  117. 5 years ago I met what some had called my “winning lottery ticket” (he’s a multimillionaire), and my “prince charming” (a good talker). Our relationship was ‘complicated’ as he lives and owns a business in the USA (I’m in Canada). 6 months after we met, he proposed, and 6 months after that we were married. Our 1st year was magical on the surface, yet I had a knot in my stomach over how the relationship seemed ‘one-sided’. What he wanted he got, what I wanted was brushed aside; he would tell me “you don’t really want that (go there, do that). Here, I have a better idea”. Nothing that mattered to me ever seemed to matter to him.
    Disrespect of my boundaries was a common theme, disappointment, and let-downs, un-kept promises, phone calls that didn’t come, days would go by past the day he was to come up to spend time with me/us with not even a phone call or email to say “geez I know I said I’d be there Friday, and now it’s Monday and I’m still not there—sorry” .
    At times it got physical between him and my other child, verbal and emotional abuse was occurring daily, to the point that I had to ignore emails and phone calls that DID come because they were nasty.
    I now find myself 7 months pregnant with our second child, and I had to make the ultimate choice to leave him.
    ME……no money, no job (I quit my amazing career when we had our son), no vehicle (it’s in his name), and the prospect of my future is bleak, and I’ve chosen to go up against a multimillionaire!! Why? Because the unknown of my future is more comforting than the abusive, controlling life I was living. Why? Because my teenage daughter (from a previous marriage) deserves me to show her that no matter what, if someone isn’t treating you properly, you need to dig deep, find your strength and get out. Why? because I was losing myself; my inner shining light was being dulled by the mud he threw at me.
    I’m scared, I feel lost. Sometimes I doubt my decision, but I know that’s just fear trying to pull me back to familiarity—I can’t stay. Taking steps in the darkness of ‘what’s next’ is the scariest thing I can do, but the monster I can see behind me has sharp teeth, no soul and is hungry for blood.

  118. I, too, identify with this. The toxicity shows up in my body as IBS since my early 20’s. Trying to leave a 16 year relationship and the biggest fear for me is losing my health care benefits which will happen if I divorce and I’m 62. I have tried every modality out there for this IBS problem and for me it comes down to stress which equals toxicity… Frustrated and afraid to make the leap, but heading that way.

  119. HI Kris!

    I ended my engagement with my fiancé about a year ago. It was super tough. We had been engaged for 5 years, but I just couldn’t walk down the isle. I knew for a while that it wasn’t totally right and I did everything I could to try and make it “right”, but it just never changed in my heart. My head had a LOT to say, but my heart and body finally got to the place where I just couldn’t continue and honestly, my health was starting to suffer. So, with my big girl panties on – I made the change. I am sooooo super happy I did it! The best part is that once I was free from the stress of the situation, I felt like I came back “home” to me and then met an amazing man. And I know I can walk down the isle for this one! The lesson – listen, honour and love yourself. You are worth it! Somehow, even if we can’t see it at the start there is something great waiting for us on the other side. We always land on our feet and when we land, we can take off running with new energy, life and hope!

    Dawn

  120. I can relate so much to this because I broke up with my (so called) best friend two years ago and I’m still struggling with “did I do the right thing?” and “maybe I should call her”.
    It was a great relationship for years and she was always so overly helpful in my life which made me feel guilty when things started falling apart. Our relationship turned to where I felt she thought that our lives were one and the same. I couldn’t do anything without her either being there or controlling what I was doing somehow.
    It was when I started voicing my own opinions more and pulling away from her control that she began being mean and nasty to me.
    Never once did she sincerely ask me “what’s wrong? Is there something I need to know about? This is hurting me and I want to know what’s going on” NEVER. It was all about how mean I was being to her.
    I finally, in a fit of anger (very unlike me) told her it was over.
    It was hard and I do still feel guilt but I stop and relive some of the bad stuff in my head and I get over the guilt.

  121. Thanks so much for sharing! I have had considerable trouble with my relationship with my parents over the past few years and this post gave me a few things to think about. It also brought to mind a romantic relationship that I recently ended – and I’m so glad I ended it!

  122. Wise advice. I’ve had trouble with letting go of a toxic relationship–because the toxic person is my biological mother. Kris, do yo uyhave any thoughts on when family is toxic for you?

  123. Might I suggest a great book for caribg for and completing the emotions after such a loss? The Grief Recovery Handbook is life changing. Read it and do the exercises with a friend. It helps so much!!!!!

  124. My partner and his ex were in a toxic relationship – and holding onto it for the kids. But after they split, slowly slowly a new relationship emerged and they are now better friends than they have been in years. Their absolute determination to do the right thing by their kids has meant that the children are happy, feel safe, seem unscathed and they now have two loving families instead of just one. So even after pain, there can be fabulous happy endings.

  125. Kriss,
    This is so powerful. We get so comfortable with keeping the status quo and forget that we deserve to be happy, and we have the power to walk away from what doesn’t serve us. We need to become more introspective and start asking ourselves the hard questions. The toxicity in our lives builds up to the point where it manifests itself as physical symptoms – and we need to prevent that. This is a great start.

  126. What if the toxic relationship is a sibling? How do you walk away from a sister that has such high expectations for you, that you could never meet them? Or never hears a word you say and sucks the life out of you? She calls me disrespectful if I dont answer a email. Let me mention that she is 10 years older than me, not married, retired, and has no children. I have 3 kids, a husband and 2 businesses I own and work out daily.

  127. Thank you Thank you Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Kris I find you a real inspiration! :) authentic, real, down to earth.
    You inspire me to be a better person and when I read about your struggles and admit to those non perfect aspects of yourself. I feel an ok human and its ok not to be perfect. I have a deep seated belief that I am inadequate Oh I know rationally I am as good as the next woman, artist, mother etc……… But this self harming belief raises its ugly head whenever I feel a little overwhelmed, tired, rejected! So when I see Kriss Car struggles, gets angry, frustrated and drinks coffee on occasions, I’m happy to be imperfect too! Katrina England

  128. Hello. Please help me. I have been in a relationship for 10 years and to make a long story short, I have financially and emotionally supported it. The man I am with does not have any money and that is no Word of a lie. Sincé I am doing okay l financially, I have jumped in to rescue him everytime. I pay everything. Over the ten years, he has managed to put his two children through university but that is with me paying everything else. MY QUESTION IS, how do you leave someone with NOTHING? I feel I have helped so much to créate this toxic situation. I hope someone will read this and respond with their thoughts. I am now going to go back and read all the comments. Thank you so much.

  129. This article is perfect timing for me, however the relationship that I need to release is not with a person but one with my job. I am the primary breadwinner in my family and it will be financially devastating for me to quit my job. However, I feel I cannot continue to be employed by a company whom I believe to be unethical. I have decided to quit and take what little retirement I have and live on that while I pursue health and happiness. I recently have developed extreme anxiety and have gained 100 pounds, gall bladder disease along with numerous aches and pains. Although there are some emotional issues that I have to deal with from childhood, I feel the primary problem is my job which makes me feel that I am betraying my soul. It is time for me to break free and trust my soul to guide me in the right direction for financial security, health and happiness. Many thanks to Kris for this article.

    • Susan,

      Congrats to you for being brave… hoping to get there soon… I too am the breadwinner and have been here 15 years… scared of failing, scared of the unknown, scared scared scared… but my health is failing me my thyroid is SHOT…there is so many toxins it’s unbelievable. I have tried looking elsewhere but haven’t had much luck… hoping to be as brave as you real soon!!!!

  130. Hi, Kris,
    Thank you for sharing this amazing post. I found sometimes the aftermath of leaving is sometimes harder than leaving itself. I left my wife— and she was, and still is, one of the most beautiful and biggest gifts in my life. She will always be my big love. But after 6 years, she helped me learn to love myself enough that I needed to stand up completely and found myself struggling to do it within the context of our marriage. We came together for a reason. And only for a season. Learning to embrace the relationship as complete instead of feeling guilt over leaving has been difficult. But I’m learning!
    One amazing resource has been Erika Schwenk, an intuitive healer who has helped me to identify and release old beliefs that no longer serve me. I’d encourage anyone who needs help with that to look her up. She’s absolutely in line with your message. Thanks again,
    Niki

  131. OMG!!! Thank you so much for this timely post! I may have a sick sense of humour but I loved the part of about your red hot temper! This last one really knew how to push my buttons so I thank him for the lessons he taught me. It’s over and done and I am moving on!! All the best to you !!

    • Thank you Kris for this amazing article. It’s like you’re in my life. I’ve read it everyday since it came last week and today I put my husband out and claimed my power! I have 3 kids (3, 5, and 7) and an UNWAVERING FAITH IN GOD!

      Reading everyone’s post has also been very powerful and mind changing, especially while drinking a very tasty Green Goddess! At 41 years awesome, this is the beginning of the best time of my life, and the PERFECT time to “Honor MY uniqueness, listen to MY heart, and appreciate MY own rhythm, while knowing and being loyal to myself.”

      And so it is!

      Erica

  132. I haven’t read through all the comments, but enough to know I’m in good company! ;) I too, happened upon this article at a time where I’ve decided to break off an engagement. It’s been so difficult because there is no hard and fast reason to end it! But alas, it is all the little things and my intuition keeps whispering “let go”. A friend reminded me to write my 5 must haves down and I realized I’m struggling with that! Talk about losing me!! I’m going to sit downs with myself for a heart to heart discussion tonight. Envisioning life without my fiancé, what does it look like? I asked for space a few days back and have felt invigorated! That alone is the confirmation I need – but the serendipity of your article (read at 11:11) was the final nail in the casket… ;) THANK YOU ALL!!

  133. I just had to break off a very one-sided toxic relationship with someone who I had considered a friend. It was very tricky because we live in a small town, our kids are very close and we live about a two minuets walk from one another. She was someone who was always taking from me energetically, with no return back. Its amazing to me that in my late thirties I have to de-friend someone but I am proud that I had the strength to do it. I truly believe that the people in our lives should be comprised of those that allow us to feel upheld, supported and loved. There is a huge sense of relief now that I have officially decided to end the relationship with an energy vacuum!

  134. You want “rich in the comments?” Here it is …

    I’ve left-and-been-left-by numerous boyfriends in my youth, ended an engagement with a fiance, and ended a marriage with a husband … but … worse relationship-end ever? my soul-matey best-est friend of 25 years!

    I was at a point in my life where I was extremely struggling … with my health, my emotions, my marriage. And, just at the point of the death of a family member that I’d cared-for for years, she just … stopped!! contacting me and won’t answer my phone calls or e-mails. On the couple of occasions when she answered the phone at work without knowing it was me, she brushed me off very quickly, no love-for-me left in her voice, told me to call back … each time, she never took my call-back.

    This woman, my best-friend-of-decades, was my sister and I was hers, our families were each others’ families, our homes were each others’ homes, we vacationed together, we together went through marriages, divorces, deaths of our loved ones … all we needed was a call for help and we were there!

    This abandonment brought me to my knees! and the emergency room with heart trouble … and the doctors soon after that. It has been over a year-and-a-half now. My life will never be the same. Apparently she is happier without me, although I do not know why.

    I understand that things change … people change, lives change. Everyone has the right and the freedom to make new choices. What I will never do – and the reason I am writing this and am encouraging you all to also never do – is to be unkind, especially if the innocent person has never intended any harm towards you. Don’t ever be disrespectful, or untruthful, or hurtful, or … a coward. Was it easier for this tremendous friend of mine to just disappear with no explanation? You bet it was! Was it dysfunctional and ill? Also true.

    We are all children of the same light, accompanying each other on our journeys. Be grateful for those who have been good to you, who have loved you … imperfections, flaws and all. And, first and foremost … do no harm. Thanks for listening.

  135. When I saw this message in my inbox I felt a lump in my stomach. I’d been dancing around issues with my partner of 2.5 years for some time now, we’d had one break-up already and he’s never been fulling able to commit and be in love, but I kept loving him anyway. I read this blog that day and although many of these things struck a cord with me I insisted that this was different, that it would happen, things would change, and I was happy – and yet I was afraid because I knew the truth, and this was a big sign.

    Last night my boyfriend and I were having a wonderful evening playing frisbee in the park when I jokingly tossed his pack of cigarettes into a bush (I hate that he smokes) he wasn’t please, picked up my shoes and went home. I walked home alone in the dark in bare feet (not the end of the world) but was furious that he seemed to always get a hall pass on being an asshole to me and never breaking it up with any kind of real sincere appreciation. I turned what was a fun-filled night into a break up, right then and there.

    He was afraid to love me, and trust me, and after 2.5 years he still couldn’t fully commit – and I don’t know what I was waiting around for. I loved this man with all my heart, but that doesn’t mean he has to reciprocate or can.

    Here’s to a new journey, one I’m diving into with an open heart full of love.

    Gratitude to all the other people who posted here with similar experiences xo

  136. Hi Kriss,

    Thanks for sharing how important happiness is to our health ~ i feel we completely underestimate how vital healthy relationships are to our wellbeing. Everything is energy and yours is wonderful. I feel we often forget that our emotions manifest in our bodies… keep sharing your light <3

  137. Hello everyone,
    Allowing our feelings to surface can be a key to our emotional and physical health.
    Emotions, whether they are happy, sad or angry are simply energy that needs to move. If you would like to know more, visit http://www.opentherapy.se

    Love,

    Jivan

  138. Thank you. I need to bookmark this to refer to. Perfect timing for me.

  139. WOW!! Thank you so much Kris for this post…it could not have come at a better time for me. I am about to end a 2 year live together relationship with my boyfirned. I love him dearly, but the relationship is toxic. Walking away from someone you love is next to impossible…I am so scared. But reading this post really helps, THANK YOU!

  140. Kris! Thank you so much for your candid honesty! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you for this amazing and beautiful quality :) Seriously, you rock girlfriend!
    I’m a holistic health coach, with the primary focus on relationship with self. The reason my practice serves in this fashion is because it’s the development of my relationship with Self, that I was able to completely heal and change the quality of my life and attract the most healthiest, beautiful relationship I have ever experienced in my life!
    What led me to this point was falling into a gnarly rock bottom after 7years of a seriously unhealthy and abusive relationship and at the same time losing my Dad quite unexpectedly. The combination of these two whirled me into a seriously dark and ugly place. Leaving the unhealthy relationship took 2 of those 7 years. It took baby steps because I was unknowingly so co-dependent with absolutely no self-esteem or self-worth. This unhealthy relationship slowly came to an end by sleeping in separate rooms, which eventually turned into separate places, to eventually not hanging around the same group of friends, to eventually having zero contact – and not because I asked for it, the other person did! Talk about doing me the biggest favor of my life. If someone like the person I am today were around, I probably would have left a whole lot sooner! At the time that this other person shouted they wanted nothing to do with me, didn’t love me, etc., I thought my life was completely over. I honestly thought, “if this a**hole doesn’t love me, who will?”
    After hitting rock bottom I scraped myself off the ground, created clear boundaries with all unhealthy relationships, and took a major time out to start working on the relationship with mySelf. My life depended on this and I didn’t want to give up.
    2.5 years later and I’m recognizable. Completely transformed and am now working with others in creating healthier lives in every aspect, but most importantly with their self.
    Leaving a relationship is never easy, but if you know it’ll change the quality of your life for the better, then look at needing to leave a relationship as needing air to breathe. Hope this all makes sense!
    Health, Love, Happiness to All! xo

  141. Thanks Kris. Beautiful insight. Am currently struggling with this very issue. Have been in a relationship with an alcoholic for 9 years! Totally emotionally unavailable to me. I answered yes to all of the questions above if that gives you any indication of how toxic this relationship has become. I have been going to alanon for about 5 months which has saved my life really, but mostly taught me I have choices. It’s still so difficult for me to let go! He has such a hold on me. I wish I could let go of my fea more. I am ttrying!

  142. I really needed this post, and all your comments. Thank you. I am feeling like i’m struggling to overcome an addiction and I’m spiritually bankrupt, just like someone mentioned here, from all the madness I’ve endured. The only difference is that this person ended things with me. About 10 days ago after a ton of sweet messages, I found out he was cheating and when I confronted him, he accused me of cheating, said thats why he did it, and basically ended things and never called again. I found out yesterday he’s had another girlfriend for the past 5 months. I knew I should have ended things with him 7 months ago, and I ignored every sign, every instinct, and rationalized my wisdom away. Now I am left with such conflicting emotions I feel like the crazy one! I’m relieved because I feel like I dodged a deadly bullet, but I also feel so sad and small. I beat myself up for not leaving him and allowing him to do this to me.
    But I guess in the end, it doesn’t matter who left who. It needed to be done and I couldn’t do it.
    Thank you all for your support and wisdom and I really admire every single one of you for being so brave, strong, and committed to your own happiness and well being.

  143. I have a great relationship with my husband, but I wanted to write about one of his toxic relationships…that with his daughter’s mother. My husband is a recovering alcoholic and for that reason was restricted to visiting with his daughter only under the supervision of his parents (obviously, her grandparents). Two years into his sobriety his relationship with his ex remained terrible, with her still mistrusting him and constantly deriding and belittling him for his addiction and complaining about him as a parent, and him loathing even the sound of her voice. She is a very negative person that makes you feel terrible in their presence, never praises and always scolds, and sucks all your energy and well being dry, exactly the kind of toxic person you would want to cut out of your life under any other circumstances. But of course, they have a daughter together. Then one day almost two years ago, everything changed. My husband’s mom had a blow-out fight with his daughter’s mom, and after that she cut off visitation with the grandparents and decided that my husband would only visit in her presence (all of this was done legally as her father-in-law is a lawyer and my husband never sought legal counsel). Well, my husband refused to visit with her under those conditions, and because of this he no longer sees his daughter. In fact, threatened with court again and having to pay her lawyer’s fees, he signed his daughter over for adoption to her stepfather almost a year ago.

    It has been very, very hard for me to accept what happened. I want to say that my husband should have stayed and done whatever was necessary for his child and just ignored her mom to whatever extent possible. But, I can also understand that for his healing and full recovery he really needed to free himself from her negativity and constant dragging him back into his past. I have found that I cannot decide what is right and wrong. My husband is now 3 1/2 years sober and although we miss his daughter terribly, we are also happy in our own relationship and I know he feels liberated now having removed that presence from his life. I just wish it could have worked out differently and that we could still have a relationship with his daughter.

  144. Gracias de verdad, actualmente estoy pasando por un momento de ruptura con mi marido y tus palabras me han ayudado mucho, sobre todo al comprobar que no soy la única que tira platos o rompe cosas….
    Gracias de nuevo y sigue siendo como eres, es decir, tan fantástica y maravillosa luz en nuestro camino,.
    Muchos besos, Ana

  145. I was 16 years old when I got with my first and now my ex boyfriend and I stayed with him till I was 21. I knew that our relationship was going to stay stagnant and I would picture myself at 26 still being with him and realizing that if I stay with him for the next five years that I would rot away my soul with his. So I made the conscious effort to break up with him once and for all….after about twenty times. No joke.. -_- and I never looked back. It was the best thing I could have done for myself. I’m 25 years old now and I really do believe that somewhere deep inside everyone of us we all have the courage to pull our selves out of any toxic relationship. Remember we create our own destiny. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and take responsibility for when YOU don’t feel good. No relationship will ever be a fairy tale. Also every relationship with a significant other will bring things out in you you didn’t know you were capable of but that’s what relationships are for. They teach you something about yourself.

  146. <3 very wisely, Kris

  147. Liebe Kris,
    es ist wunderbar, wie ehrlich und demütig Du Deine Lebensweisheit mit wildfremden Menschen wie mir teilst.
    Ich glaube fest daran, dass Dein mutiger Rat bei vielen Menschen eine Entwicklung auslösen wird. Zum Besseren in unserer Welt.
    Dafür möchte ich Dir ganz herzlich danken.
    Mit warmen, herzlichen Grüßen
    Matthias

  148. It has taken me 29 years and beautiful lite girl to trust my heart and follow it. The healing process is like giving birth, pain yes…. Suffering no more. Just unconditional love for yourself and that spreads to all.

  149. My boyfriend abuses me, calls me names like whore, bitch, etc. he even abuses me using my mothers name. he has slapped me as well sometimes when he loses his temper. but i had a past, and sometimes i used to visit his facebook page. my boyfriend says that he acted bad because i kept visiting my ex boyfriends facebook profile. And he has made me happy many times when we used to be together.
    Now i have decided to get married to someone else because of all this, chosen by my family. So I broke up with him. But now he is saying that he will change, has realized his mistake, will never mistreat me again, will always keep me happy. I am not able to decide because of all this. What is the right thing to do?
    Please help me.

  150. I left one and jumped into another ( which i still am in). Its a disaster. I know its not working, i know its a horrible idea.
    I don’t want to leave, okay i do , but i think of all the things il lose and how much i have worked and i’m just paralyzed. He has done it all! and i am still rooted to the ground.
    Hoping for some divine intervention

  151. About a year and a half ago, I left a toxic relationship (it took me telling the guy like 5 times over 5-6 months to break up with him). We haven’t talked to each other really since then. I remember trying to put him off gently, but it didn’t work. The relationship was long-distance and there was some (ok, a lot) of bdsm type stuff and I just wasn’t as into it the way he was. But I finally was able to leave him. However, I have a dilema. I’m in a new relationship (started about 2 months after my last (first) relationship) and its been just over a year. However, I don’t feel like it’s the right relationship anymore. There’s nothing wrong really with him, but I don’t feel like we click as a couple anymore. So how do you know when to end a relationship even if it’s not really toxic? Especially when the guy is super nice?

  152. Perfect timing for this article to come into my life. Thank you Kris for being so honest and relatable. My ex fiancé and father of my unborn child was that guy that I have had the most dysfunctional relationship with and am having the hardest time letting go. His indecisiveness and hot and coldness spikes up anxiety in me I’ve never experienced before and is my only reason I fear my future sometimes because of our daughter on the way. I literally hit rock bottom having him in my life. I tried to escape a few times but always went back to him. We partied together, I trusted him more than I trusted myself and the day he told me I didn’t know how to be loved changed my life. It’s been almost a year now since I’ve gone inward and began facing my demons, cleansing the toxins (drugs, alcohol, and negative thoughts, people, places and habits) and for the first time in my life I finally feel like I’m alive and conscious and the creator of my reality. My daughter inspired me speed up this process of healing and is ultimately the reason I left my ex for good. He threatens me with court because I’ve asked him to clean up his act if he wants to be in her life. I don’t want to hold the baby over his head but I fought to keep her even after he asked me to abort twice, even after he verbally and emotionally abused me, and threatened to physically hurt me, even after he kicked me out on the streets numerous times, even after he got the whole world to listen to his side and caused people to dislike me, even after all the sleepless nights I had having to pick him up in the middle of the night because he was too drunk and high to safely guide himself home…goodness the grief I put me and my baby through. We’re home now with my family, away from him, with less than 2 months left of pregnancy to go. She is my light and my joy. I know I’m on track and on the right path. There is no way God would’ve blessed me with this baby if I hadn’t started my journey to healing. I want to be a strong role model for her and although the light in me sees the light in me, past all his insecurities and fear, I have yet to figure out how to have him in our life, as he is. I just continue to pray and send him love and light, focus on me and my baby girl, and read up on loving, inspiring stories on sites such as yours. Thank you for being you. Thank you for sharing your love and light with the rest of us. Aloha.

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  154. I am in a marriage that I know is failing. But I love this man with all my heart.
    Day after day I am accused of Cheating when I have tried over and over to figure out how I can prove it to him that I am not! I have showed him that there is no way that I’d want to cheat let alone even had the time to do it!
    It all started when I began working again after being unemployed for for 3 years. My husband is disabled and cannot work so he is at home every day all day. I have begged him over and over to tell me how I can prove it to him that he is the only one that I want to be with and that my loyalty is with him. I have excommunicated every male in my life some I have known since child hood and have never had more than a friend ship with. I have even suggested quitting my job and then figuring out how to survive off of the small check that he gets every month. But I am at the end of my rope and have had some un nerving thoughts that I would just be better off dead! I have my own issues with mental health and severe anxiety issues which have only gotten worse since this daily barrage of accusations has occured. he is not physically abusive but I know that it is mental. How do I cope? How can I fix this with out walking away? He constantly tells me that he wants a divorce but I cant do it! I believe in Hope, Faith help meLove and Honor and now I am starting to wonder if it means anything any more!
    Please give me some advice! Desperate

  155. I love thus article, I wish I had come across about 6 months ago because that was a time of self destruction & this is definitely insight I would’ve needed to hear, I’m in such a different place now than I was then but it would have been so much more helpful. Thank you for this and I look forward to read more of your wonderful insight.

  156. I divorced my husband, father of my child, after having a similar conversation with myself at the beginning of last year. It’s amazing how much happier all three of us are now. We forget that a 4 year old is so intuitive and all of the tension she picked up. She’s more confident now, and I know I am too. My ex is happily living with his third “the one”, and I’m happily living a single, independent, empowered life. Being able to show my daughter what a strong woman can be is the best gift ever.

  157. What an engaging post , Kris Carr.

    I am first time visitor (and commenting for first time as well) to your blog and find your blog an excellent resource on wellness and personal development.

  158. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve felt comfortable identifying and eliminating toxic relationships from my life. In the past, I was too accommodating not wanting to hurt the feelings of others; however, not being true to yourself is no way to live. People change and so do friendships.

  159. Everything you said resonates deeply within me. I have been with my husband for 17 years now. We’ve been through the fire together. But I have come out on the other side a very different person. I’ve had brain surgery and now have fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue. My husband suffered a heart attack in 2005. Some just grow more that others and simply put, I’ve outgrown “us” and I cannot keep trying to drag him along, it’s exhausting. The saddest thing of all is how much we deeply love each other. But I feel as though I cannot breath! I also feel somewhat hopeless. You see, the twist in all this is that I am disabled and cannot work. Therefore I cannot support myself. Therefore I am trapped. I would have walked away a long time ago if I could have found a way. I know that being in this constant state is so damaging to me. I don’t know to reconcile the yearnings in my heart for the life I dream of and my current reality. I wish it were as simple as having the courage to do what’s right for me, unfortunately it’s so much more complicated. Thank you Kris. You are in inspiration to me.

  160. great article! thank you. I left a 19 year marriage (which was damaged),,,,and took a gamble on a 46 year old who waved soooo many red flags, but who was my catalyst into this new life. I said no thanks to my husbands attemps to work on our marriage, and took a leap into the arms of new-guy. he had me on a pedestal for about four months, I ignored some of his odd bahaviours, addressed some others, and blindly continued to trust that he would be solid and genuine for the LONG HAUL. The exact same month that moved out on my own (which was month # 6 of our dalliance), he started to flake out, and his actions no longer matched his words. The more I tried to address his unavailability, and to set my own boundaries, the more he pulled away. My neediness kicked into over drive, but my self-esteem was also high enough that I broke up with him. It took a few times, but now, in what would have been Day One of month # nine, I am 100% sure that I would not take him back. I still love him, and I believe he also loves me, but we would both need to face our own flaws and accept each other through the challenges of mutual growth – but I sadly know that that possibility is not in him. His character I snot strong, and it’s easier for him to run and lick his wounds/ Now begins the healing process for me, cherishing the good times we had, and grieving the loss of two relationships. Mind you, the relationship with my (ex) husband is now way more amicable than it was during our last 2 – 3 years of marriage.

  161. This resonates; thank you for posting it.

    I’m at the point, after four years, of struggling to accept that that I am in a toxic relationship with my girlfriend. That’s despite the fact that every single website/discussion I view, reinforces the undeniable fact: it is toxic. Why can’t I accept this?!

    I can answer yes to almost every question. There is still some spark there, the sex (love-making) is amazing, she can be ultra sweet and loving (when it suits her). Unfortunately I am tired of the arguments, tired of always apologising for minor transgressions but never getting an apology for a major transgression from her, tired of being controlled, tired of having no freedom (to even see my parents who live abroad for just one weekend or go to a concert to hear a musician I like), tired of criticism (for really silly things like the way I make cheese toasties!), tired of emotional bullying (threats of leaving me when things don’t go her way).

    We’ve already had about three breaks in this relationship. Each time, she apologised and took responsibility and sounded like she wanted to make it work; she even started therapy for the jealousy/insecurity/controlling. But, every time I have gone back. Every time, after a few months it’s still the same and all the blame is on me for “running away” even though she asked me to leave and packed my stuff. The therapy has been going for 9 months. I never forced her to go, she initiated it herself after I suggested couples counselling, but now she claims I demanded she go to therapy and uses that against me. I don’t believe she’s honest enough in the therapy either which is perhaps why it is not helping.

    I’ve got a storage unit and have started to form an escape plan. I think I need to escape and get out of it while I still can get out of it. But I’m resisting it. She can be nasty. But she can also be really nice, loving, amazing. In those moments “oh… it can get better”, “ah, this is why i am here, why i love her”. God, this is so damn hard to know what to do.

    I hope I can find the strength to do what is right for my happiness. And also for hers because I don’t see how she can be happy living like this either.

    Anyway… thanks for the post. I will try the journalling and see where that leads me.
    Love, and light. Mark.

  162. Hi Kris, I have an awful relationship with my parents obviously I can’t just walk away.they put me down don’t listen to anything I say and think that my food allergies are false ( I’m a celiac that’s milk intolerant and have really bad psoriasis) I hope that one day I can sit down and belive I’m all of the above and as awful as it sound I feel I will only be free when they die. Thank you for your amazing self you are an amazing role model xx

  163. This is really empowering at a fragile time so thank you. I’ve been struggling with my health (MS-related) and it is a scary time to break up with someone who I’m many ways is a support. But at the same time my inner voice was speaking so loudly I could not ignore it. It’s so hard to gage sometimes if it is the person that drains you or if it’s a dip in your energy and thus an inability to prioritize relationship. But there is a pattern that I detected. And the voice was loud and clear. He loves me too. It’s very hard and scary. Sometimes I think I shut people out when my health dips but if the support comes with subtle pressure is it truly support? Does anyone else struggle in this way – with health-related relationship issues?

  164. This post is just wonderful and is helping me. I had a VERY toxic relationship for a year. She was a friend prior to and we tried to remain friends after, but I couldn’t deal with how we were literally trying to destroy each other. My heart was out of the picture shortly before the breakup. It’s been about 7 months after and I thought I was fine. The thing about toxic relationships are sometimes they go to places you didn’t think they would. I’m also in the process of coming to terms with and getting out of my co-dependency problems. My heart had let her go, but my mind was still holding on to the good of our relationship and friendship. Knowing her and that she is the kind of person that doesn’t like to be alone, I knew she’d begin looking for others(quite quickly after). She moved …literally 2 minutes away from me/about 4 blocks from my place and her brand new boyfriend works pretty much around the corner. I became paranoid that I’d see her and it began to make me very unstable

    I was torturing myself with thoughts I shouldn’t have. I’m a very hard worker and I put my all into everything I do. I was still angry that I put a lot of work into trying to better myself and I was upset that it seems like she doesn’t do anything and she has someone new. I’ve been trying to work through not letting thoughts of other people occupy my mind, but some toxicity still lingers even months or years after exiting. Sometimes, it’s not a “one time” process… it can take a very, very long time. I’m only in the beginning stages of letting go of those extra problems, but I noticed a difference in my health right away.

    Sorry this is a long (and late) post, but sharing makes it a little easier in addition to reading

  165. I was getting ready to end a toxic relationship when I was diagnosed. With two kids and cancer it was impractical to leave, I am stage 4. I can see the effort in him to start fresh and has been as supportive as he knows how. Im hoping that instead of feeling stuck that this experience will transform him as he has promised. Still very much a work in progress. should I believe people can truly change. cancer can break or define you and the people around you. I wish I get a good definition in the end, that cancer can heal our relationship for the sake of the children.thank you for the post.very enlightening as always.

  166. Lily said on May 23, 2014

    I am in a toxic relationship and not strong enough to get out. I have adrenal fatigue and it’s getting worse. He has so many amazing qualities but then he is also a blamer and has anger problems – emotionally abusive but then the good times will come and last weeks. He is generous, chivalrous, hilarious, amazing with my health condition – supporting/helping, the chemistry is amazing, the intimacy is off the charts and then yet if I interrupt him, he will scream at me or if I call him during work hours, he will scream how disrespectful I am. He is like a Jeckly & Hyde…however you spell it. I am so drained.

  167. Emma said on June 4, 2014

    I just found this, and I wanted to say thank you for writing it. Long story, very short, I have been friends with a wonderful girl for 16 years. It’s my 30th birthday this weekend, so I’ve literally known her longer than I haven’t. I got married a couple of years ago and just had my first baby… During this time she has been in two horribly abusive relationship (usually with her as the abuser) and tried to commit suicide a couple of months ago. I’m happy, she’s not, and she takes her anger out on me now. I’m actually afraid for my family at this point… I just don’t know how to get her out of my life safely for her and me… How do I make a clean break when our lives are so intertwined? Do I tell her parents who I have a close relationship with? Do I just erase her pictures and try to get it out of my life? I know what I have to do, and I’m comfortable with it, I just don’t know how to.

  168. This post was a God-send! I am getting married and two of your bridesmaids are being very negative, destructive, and even downright vindictive towards me. It occurred to me that we were best of friends when they were first married with beautiful new houses and I was recently divorced working two jobs and living in a cruddy apartment. Now, I have the love of my life, a nice house, and a very successful career. Every time I achieved a milestone, they made nasty comments about it to make me feel bad, or pointed out something that was not going as well and rubbed my nose in it. It was never constructive, it was always just picking the scab.

    I decided that when the wedding is over, I will mourn long-dead “friendships” and move on. It is hard in the meantime not to worry, but I know I need to just keep my eye on the end goal, which is starting a new chapter of my life with the love of my life and a fresh start in the friend department.

    Thanks again for the perspective.

  169. Just out of a 3 year relationship with a gentleman 14 years my senior I thought it was “forever” until I discovered that my beautifl man had been talking with his ex-girlfriend for six months (or more)? I am crushed and have not been graceful. He came into my life when I needed him most and it was wonderful. Your blog came at a perfect time… toxic is not healthy. Back to being my wonderful awesome self that he helped to bring back to life. I wish him love and happiness forever.

  170. I was in a really exhausting friendship for about five years – she bashed almost everything I was interested in, was constantly telling me how to live my life, flipped out at me for imagined slights, and was a total pain in the butt whenever I invited her anywhere. She was also a terrible listener, and a gossip. Finally, when she betrayed my confidence to someone I had JUST INTRODUCED HER TO, I decided that was that. Even though she apologized, this was only one of many offences and I was DONE. I accepted her apology but never spoke to her again. My life is so much more peaceful as a result.

  171. Kris, I can’t tell you how encouraging this has been. I broke up with a friend a while ago (for various reasons, but mostly that she just drained me in every capacity). I am still struggling 6 months down the line. She can’t seem to let the relationship go, and has sent my husband and myself numerous emails in a desperate attempt to reconnect. But I remember that no matter how guilty those messages may attempt to make me feel, I can not put myself in a position again to be used, drained, and emotionally abused and manipulated. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve experienced in a friendship, but I know I did the right thing for myself (and my marriage!). Thank you so much for your encouragement, positivity, and glowing beauty, inside and out! X

  172. Hi Kris,

    I did and it was the most amazing thing that happened in my life! For the first time, I felt free! Free from the bs, the hypocrisy, the world’s judgements, etc.

    I love to write-really write the honest truth. It may be a hard pill to swallow yet it is liberating. Cathartic. I am not free of pain, not at all but I am so happy to find myself again. All these years, I’ve been wearing crazy masks just to keep the charade going. While I tried to save it and plug the holes, fix the broken holes, my body on the other hand is screaming loud telling me otherwise. Only then, I got the message. That I allowed this toxicity to poison my psyche, my being, my soul and spiritual growth. Whoa! What a relief to say my truth and never be afraid for any judgement or ridicule. I am happy and soaring like an eagle that despite the storms, I can soar high above and feel awesome and courageous. Thank you for being a virtual friend. Now, I used my story to help others heal and get out from the mess they have created.

    What a wonderful article! Story shared.

    Love ya,

    Hazel <3

  173. Thank you! Kris! Read my mind! So needed this today, actually, every day for the past several years. I’m exhausted. Trying soo hard to get out of a very toxic relationship. Taking a plant-based culinary certification course, almost done; tripped a few times based on the problematic Homefront. Trying to “listen” to the Universe to find my path from here. I guess you were part of that Universe today. Had my Morning Glorious, going for my 4-mile walk, and then back to the kitchen to “get it done.” Thank you! again! :)

  174. From my experience: I have let go of toxic relationships only to attract another one – the key for me is to raise my own vibration by growing so you I stop attracting toxic relationships – they are only a reflection of myself. This is hard to swallow, but I always found an area in my own self that was toxic.

  175. They say when you are in it you don’t see. It was only after my friends were horrified with the couple of light things my boyfriend said to me that I realized I was putting up with a lot more than I deserved. I realized that if they only knew the daily criticism and selfishness. I wrote a laundry list of these things to get them out of my system. Then I asked him to come over. I told him that I wanted to break up. I told him that I wanted to be with someone who treated me better. I said that I didn’t feel that I needed to rehash anything. I said we had so much fun, but that I was sad more than I was happy, and that’s not how it should be. I also told him that for the next time he meets someone he should never treat her like he treated me. He apologized and acknowledged he had a problem and it was wrong. Then left. I have not regretted it. This was three weeks ago.

  176. I ended a 3 year relationship last week. I lost my husband, to whom I was married for 20 years, in a tragic accident 4 years ago and reconnected with an old friend (10 years younger, never married, no kids) within the first year, which led to this 3 year relationship. As most can relate, the beginning was great; I was happy, and it felt so good. But, as the months and years went on, I realized more and more how negative this person was and it was sucking the life out of me and becoming toxic to me, my children and our whole family dynamic. The situation became very complicated when he relocated his drug-addicted, mentally ill sister and her 2 small children to his house to help her, which I supported and so greatly admired him for. This past summer, she was arrested and lost her children. They went into foster care, and after 2 months, my boyfriend decided he wanted to foster them. Initially, I said I would do it with him and tried to imagine what our family would now look like and how we would all operate under one roof. Just as this image was becoming a reality, I was overwhelmed at the prospect, so I spoke up at a widows’ group I attend. They gave me the best advice — to seriously consider the fork in the road. I spent the next couple of days doing so, and I decided to end my relationship and not proceed with the fostering of his niece and nephew. I know it was shocking to him, but I explained that our relationship would have to be the foundation for the whole program, and that foundation was very unsteady. While I feel badly about him now being a single foster parent, I feel better about making a decision that I firmly believe was the right one for everyone involved. So, now I move forward, focus on my family, work on my grief and my new single life. I am very blessed with two wonderful children, so I want to refocus on them and enjoy life together.

  177. I feel like I should not be posting on here after reading all the posts but I would like advice myself.
    I have been married for 24 years and my husband is a good man. He is a great dad to our 13 year old, good provider, hard worker, helps around the house and really cares for me. But I have not been happy for years because we have become “roommates” and have our own circle of friends and what we do is always separate. I have been unfaithful and he has forgiven me for that. I feel like I have no reason to be unhappy with my life yet I am. I have wanted to leave for a long time but life has always just gone on and I have always done what I have wanted to and it has seemed to work out. He loves to be at home watching sports and I love to be out doing things. I feel like I would rather do things without him then with him in public. I have lost all intimacy for him but care for him so much. I don’t feel the relationship is “toxic” but again I am not happy in it. Most people would love to have what I have and I have always wanted this place in life. Why now do I not want it and where do I go from here. He has moved out 5 weeks ago to give me time to figure out what I want and we speak daily. Our son sees him each day and they spend lots of time together. I enjoy the time at home alone and with my son and think that life would be ok if I decided to file for divorce. BUT we are still paying the bills together and things have not changed except that he is sleeping and spending his time else where. I wonder if on my salary if we would struggle to live and would my son miss out on the things he is used to. My husband is in so much pain because he truly believes that we have a good marriage and misses it desperately. How do I decide to move on either with or without him when I am so sorry for hurting him? I feel like I am the toxic one and he does not deserve anything like the hurt I am putting him through. I do feel that I should be able to feel happy or something more than my obligation as a wife and mother but then I wonder if this is all there is. Am I selfish for wanting to feel passion and have fun. Is a life alone better then a stable, comfortable, reliable life alone in the house with a man by my side???? I am so lost and confused.