Here’s How To Overcome Your Addiction To Toxic Relationships

A guide to setting yourself free.

Do you ever feel like the only people you are ever sexually attracted to are deeply screwed up, wildly manipulative, unpredictable, narcissistic entities who live to emotionally torture you? Do your friends constantly ask you why the hell you’re always going after these egotistical maniacs, and you don’t know how to answer this question because it’s too daunting and deep to examine, so you just lower your eyes and order a round of drinks to avoid confronting the ugly reality that is your love life?

Do you describe your tempestuous, melodramatic relationships as “passionate” but secretly fear they might actually be toxic? Have you been riding on an emotional rollercoaster for several years now? Do words like “consistency” and “kindness” make you cringe? Do words like “self-obsessed headcase” turn you on? Oh, they do? Well, hey there babes. Welcome to the club. I’ve been exactly where you are right now. I used to be magnetically drawn to toxic relationships. I was an absolute toxic relationship junkie for years and didn’t even realize it because I was so used to running around that hampster wheel of addiction, I forgot what real movement felt like.

When you’re caught up in a cycle, you get so used to letting yourself get twirled and whirled around the washing machine you actually forget that you’re like a free human being who has control over her life. You feel stuck in a destructive pattern and have come to accept that these hurtful relationships are likely your fate. Before you click out of this article and fall into a dark depression, I need you to hang in there for just a minute! I have some good news. This doesn’t have to be your fate, girl. You can crawl out of this goddamn mess and live the life you actually deserve to live.

You probably don’t realize it, but these toxic people you’re allowing into your life are taking up a f*ck ton of space. We only have so much space in our lives, and toxic energies are like manspreaders on the subway! They selfishly lounge in your orbit and stretch their limbs out as far as possible, leaving no room for any authenically caring people to take a seat. Once you kick them out of the train of your brain, you’ll see that all of these fantastic people and opportunities and feelings finally have room to hop into your life and take a ride.

But how do you even begin? Well, as a lesbian with an honorary doctorate from Harvard in navigating the art of toxic relationships (i.e. life experience and a shit ton of therapy) I’m going to guide you into the freaking light, babe. And that starts here.

1. Take a long hard look in the mirror.

Before you get hyper-defensive or begin to spiral into the bottomless rabbit hole of self-doubt, I need you to take a long, hard look in your bathroom mirror. The one with the unflattering-yet-super-honest lighting.

Get rid of the pretty blue filters and gaze into the unedited truth of your life. Ask yourself the hard questions you usually prefer to run away from. “Am I not moving forward in my life?” “Am I constantly dating people who suck the nutrients out of my blood?” “Am I physically and emotionally exhausted from never knowing where I stand with the people I date?” “If a friend were to tell me they were dating someone who treats them like my partner treats me, what would I say to them?” “What kind of love do I, at the end of the day, feel I deserve?” “Why do I get off on being treated like garbage from the people who are supposed to make me feel like a gorgeous queen?”

These questions aren’t easy to answer, but you must sit with them as uncomfortable as they render your heart. You must confront the reality of your situation before you do anything else. That is the hardest yet most vitally important step in the overall healing process. The answers might make you want to squirm into a vat of vodka, but I encourage you to ~breathe~ your way through it. Because brushing it off will get you absolutely nowhere.


Ignoring the issue is exactly what’s exacerbating the issue. You got this.

2. Break it off.

Now that you’ve accepted that you are in a toxic relationship that isn’t serving your growth as a human being, it’s time to cut the cord. I know this sounds drastic and terrifying, but you have to do just do it. I know it is one the hardest things in the world, but, I mean, what are you waiting for, babe? Haven’t you wasted enough of your precious time on Planet Earth pouring your energy into someone who doesn’t appreciate you? Here’s the truth: As long as you still linked to this person in any way, you’ll remain a prisoner.

The second step in getting free is purchasing a fierce pair of bolt cutters and snapping yourself from that which is keeping you stuck. If you want to change your life you need to do more than sweetly meditate and journal; you need to get off your ass and make active changes. Pick up the phone and say, “I can’t see you anymore, I’m sorry.” Delete their number. Block their number.

It will be painful, and you’re likely going to sob your eyes out for a few days because you’re codependent as f*ck and not used to having to deal with your own raw emotions, but that’s totally ok. Crying won’t kill you—crying is actually good for you. It’s a sign that things are moving around, emotionally.

Have you ever done the Master Cleanse, the torturous three-day fast that was all the rage in the early 2000s? Well, basically you drink this disgusting elixir for several days, and it tastes like poison, and you’re starving and shitting your brains out and cursing whatever friend recommended this hell to you. By the end of the second day, you feel a shift. And by the third day, your body has rid itself of most of the toxins that were lurking beneath the surface of your flesh, and you feel this sense of newness. You emerge into the world, a beautiful butterfly who has purged herself of the chemicals she’d thought she needed but now realizes were making her sick. That’s what a breakup is. That’s what crying and allowing sadness to wash over you is. It’s a Master Cleanse for your life. It won’t be easy, but it’s the first step in flushing the addiction to your toxic ex down the toilet.

3. Get a hobby (that isn’t drinking or drugs).

I believe that part of the reason we are so drawn to toxic relationships is that they give us something to do. Who has time to train for a marathon or start a business or take a dance class when all of your free time is spent fighting? In a way, toxic relationships are a crutch. They give us a reason to not do what we really want to do but are maybe sort of afraid to do.

Without this person in your life, you are going to have a shit ton of free time on your hands, and it’s going to be really difficult. If you’re anything like me, boredom is your mortal enemy. When I’m bored, I actively seek out destructive things to do to occupy my idle brain. I’ll get blackout drunk and call another toxic ex and have sex with them. Once I have sex with them, my hormones get all linked back up with them—and the next thing I know, we’re dating again, and the cycle repeats itself.

The only way I’ve avoided falling back into the darkness is through finding a hobby that stimulates me in the same way sex does. For me, it was starting a blog. I said screw it, and began to write my heart out and self-publish stories and it felt so… good. I poured myself into this blog (which is now defunct so don’t go looking for it, trolls) and people on the internet truly took to my work. Before I knew it I was offered my dream job as a staff writer at a huge publication in New York City because the editor had seen my blog and loved it.

My entire life flipped upside down, and it all started with cutting ties with my ex and needing an outlet. So for the love of Lana Del Rey, find the thing that makes you tick, and just do it. Wonderful opportunities and people will organically appear before your beautiful eyes if you channel your energy into something positive. Positive shit attracts more positive shit. It’s practically science, duh.

4. Stay clean.

You might not like what I’m going to say, but holy shit it’s hugely important, and I had to learn this one the hard way: When you’re trying to break free from an addiction to toxic relationships, you need to take a break from booze or whatever other “feel good” chemicals you enjoy. Incessant drinking stops you from progressing. Trust me, I know this from heaps of personal experience. When I was in the thick of post-breakup pain, I would drink like I was going to the electric chair and cry mascara tears to random bartenders and wake up feeling vulnerable, alone, and anxious in a time when I needed my strength the most.

You need clarity right now. You need to be able to track your emotional progress, and there’s no tracking anything when you’re blinded by the booze haze. Also, you’re at high-risk of substituting one addiction for another at this moment in your life. Now that you don’t have toxic bae, you might crave toxic cocaine. But toxic cocaine will lead to a bevy of toxic baes and vice versa.

So get clean, girl. Instead of going to the club tonight, work on something that lights you the f*ck up. Go for a run. Stare at the stars. Look at all the successful people out there in the world who are slaying in business and personal happiness, and you’ll find that they don’t waste their time being hungover and sad. They value their energy and don’t let assholes suck the spirit out of them. They are up in the morning walking their dogs, grabbing a coffee, feeling healthy and ready to dive into their exciting creative projects. They have real friends, not just nighttime friends. They do things like take yoga classes and save up money for fabulous international trips and read books. When was the last time you read a book?

When you get clean from toxic people and toxic substances, you start to realize how much life you’ve missed out on. You realize how lonely it is to spend all of your time with your head tucked beneath the sheets, obsessing over a person who will never be what you want them to be. You realize how sad it is to wake up with a head so sore it hurts to step into the sun.

Once you’ve been clean for a little bit, you’ll start to remember what it’s like to authentically enjoy things like books and songs and pets and art. It sounds corny, but you’ll remember how good the sunshine feels. You’ll find yourself again. And you’ll start to like yourself, babe. And pretty soon you’ll start to love yourself! And when you love yourself—like really, truly, love yourself—you begin to value yourself. You don’t let motherf*ckers take you down.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I’m not just alive, but wildly in love, and I want to scream how wildly in love of I am from the rooftops of all the small town gay bars in the country. I want so much glitter to be at my wedding that it ascends into the air and drops right on to the hateful heads of every homophobe to ever exist in the world. I want pictures of me kissing my bride (with tongue!) to make their way on to the Facebook feeds of every hater on the vast expanse of the Internet. I want the boys who taunted me in high school — after they found out I kissed a girl (gasp) at that stupid house party — to know they didn’t win. I won.  A gay wedding, I realize, is more than a wedding; it’s a political statement. It’s a bold display of unabashed encouragement to all the queer kids out there who fear (like I feared) that they will never be happy, that they will always be on the outside, sitting on the sidelines of life. I want my unapologetically BIG wedding, to let them know that they can not only play in the game of life, but they can shine in goddamn that game, too. (New article alert! Live on @ravishly!) 🖤🖤🖤

A post shared by Zara Barrie (@zarabarrie) on

So start today. It’s that goddamn simple. Confront the demon, cut the cord, do something that makes you feel like a gazillion cruelty-free diamonds glimmering in the moonlight, and be kind to the temple that is your beautiful body. Peel off that soggy Band-aid, sit with the pain for a while, and actively work to heal your wounded soul, for real.