One of the most critical aspects of addiction recovery is getting rid of all the toxins that once controlled you. However, this isn’t limited to the substances you once put in your body. Letting go of toxic people in your life is just as important. It’s not always easy; leaving any relationship, even toxic ones, can be difficult. Still, letting go of toxic people is essential to the recovery process. Otherwise, you risk putting your mental, emotional and even physical health in jeopardy.
What Is a Toxic Relationship?
A toxic relationship is a harmful one characterized by negative thoughts or behavioral patterns. Most of the time, toxic relationships can have a severe and sometimes irreparable impact on the people trapped in them. This is because most toxic people will use criticism, judgment, oppression, and other forms of manipulation to stay dominant over others.
How Do I Know If I’m in a Toxic Relationship?
Anyone can find themselves trapped in a relationship with toxic people. This is especially true for people undergoing a massive change or personal adjustment— like starting a new, sober life. If you’re regularly subjected to poor or even cruel treatment, your relationship with your oppressor is toxic.
Toxic People to Avoid in Recovery
Toxic relationships aren’t limited to romantic ones. In fact, toxicity can exist between friends, peers, or even family members. In any case, you should avoid the people who openly do not support your recovery at all costs. This includes toxic people that you may have bonded with during your active addiction. You should also avoid anyone who enabled you to continue using.
Toxic people usually take on one or more of the following roles:
- The bullies
- The abusers
- The blamers
- The false victim
- The manipulators
- The serial pessimists
Toxic people are typically very methodical in their words and actions. Moreover, toxic people take advantage of any opportunity to gain control over a situation or other people. The toxic people in your life can easily manipulate you because they know you intimately. The effects that they might have on you include poor self-image, uncertainty, and emotional dependency on them.
Unfortunately, you won’t be exempt from poor treatment just because you’re in recovery. If anything, your recovery and all the vulnerability that comes with it may attract the toxic people in your life. This is why it’s important to learn to recognize them and take action if necessary.
Reasons to Cut Ties for Your Recovery
If You Feel That Things Have Changed, But Not in a Good Way
Change is a natural and constant part of life. As time passes, situations change, relationships change, and people themselves change. So, the special connection you may have shared with someone for years may not be the same today as it once was. This is especially true for toxic people and toxic relationships.
Toxic people don’t always start off as such. Many of them adopt specific toxic behaviors after being exposed to it themselves. For example, a close friend might start acting like a bully as a way to cope with being bullied by someone else. If someone close to you has become a person that you no longer want to be around, it’s time to reevaluate the relationship and decide if holding on is worth it.
If You Feel Like You’re the Only One Trying to Make It Work
Any healthy relationship requires mutual trust, respect, and support. Love and friendship should exist in a constant loop. Both people in the relationship have to put in the effort to make it work. You should be getting what you give. If you’re spending time with someone who doesn’t seem to be putting in the same effort, if any, it could be a sign that your relationship has become toxic.
If You Feel Like You Give More Than You Get in Return
Toxic people are more likely to take more than they give, make every situation about them, and put themselves first. They will also take advantage of others who offer more time and attention in an attempt to stop these behaviors. In other words, toxic people take advantage of the people who put in the effort to maintain a bond with them. This is what gives toxic people control over people who have relationships with them.
Even worse, if what you get in return for your love is selfish intent disguised as love, it will most likely drain your confidence and motivation. This kind of impact on your emotional health could hinder your recovery, especially if the toxic people in your life make it clear that your progress so far doesn’t matter to them.
These and other ego-centric tendencies make it extremely difficult to maintain healthy relationships with toxic people, especially in recovery. There’s no point in including someone in your life if they only make it difficult. If someone close to you isn’t giving what they get, it might be time to move on.
If You Feel Unsure About What You Mean to Them
The people you turn to during your time in recovery should care about you, your health, and your future. They should appreciate you and the progress you’ve made to turn your life around. After all, friends and loved ones should give you encouragement and motivation. You’ll be more likely to succeed in your recovery if they do.
The toxic people in your life are much less likely to offer you any genuine support. This might leave you wondering if your relationship with them matters. Take the time to step back and observe the big picture objectively. If you’re spending your time with someone who doesn’t seem to care about you, then it’s best to move on and share that time with others who do.
If You Feel the Relationship is Hurting You
Any good relationship, whether it’s a friendship or otherwise, should bring you joy and comfort. Loyal loved ones should be making your life better and happier, especially during a process as delicate as recovery. When your relationship with someone becomes a source of stress, torment, or pain, then it’s clear that you are dealing with a toxic person.
If a toxic person in your life is continually lying to you, manipulating you, or hurting you, you should cut ties immediately before the situation gets worse.
Can Toxic Relationships Become Healthy (Again)?
Even the most reasonable people are easily swayed by the glimmer of a chance that their toxic relationships can be salvaged. While it is possible for toxic people to change their behaviors to form healthier relationships with others, it is also incredibly unlikely. It’s far more likely that the toxic people in your life will do nothing to change, no matter what you do. So, the best thing you can do is shift your focus. As someone in recovery, your primary responsibility is to take care of yourself, not to save a broken relationship with a toxic person who doesn’t value you.
Confronting the Toxic People in Your Life
Staying in a relationship because you are used to it, are too afraid to leave, or are worried about feeling alone are all reasons that someone might excuse toxic behaviors. However, even if you share a relationship with someone who wasn’t always toxic, trying to preserve that bond will only justify the other person’s poor treatment of you. In the end, you’ll regret the decision to stay more than the decision to leave.
When you decide to confront the toxic people in your life, then be ready to expect the worst. Toxic people do not take confrontation well since it challenges their power. They will lie, make excuses, and try to manipulate you into thinking that cutting ties with them is a mistake— anything to make themselves look like the victim. Preparing for this will help you gain the upper hand during the confrontation. You mustn’t let toxic people trick you into doubting yourself.
Letting Go of Toxic People in Your Life
Identifying the things that make a relationship toxic and trying to change someone else’s behavior is not enough to help your recovery. You have to protect yourself and your hard-earned sobriety by removing toxic people from your life. There are a few ways you can do this, all of which are incredibly effective.
The first thing you can do is turn to trustworthy people in your life for help. Building your plan of action with your therapist is especially beneficial. Gaining insight from a mental health professional can help you prepare for the potential backlash of your confrontation.
Group counseling is also an effective way to prepare for letting go of toxic people. Your peers in recovery have more than likely faced similar situations and can share advice with you. If nothing else, you can recruit other loved ones to back you up when it’s time to confront the toxic people in your life.
Another method of preparing yourself for confrontation is finding more ways to get access to the resources you need for your recovery. By doing this, you can strengthen your independence and establish that you don’t have to rely on the toxic relationship for anything anymore. For example, if the toxic person you want to cut ties with usually takes care of your pet while you’re at treatment, one solution could be securing pet-sitting services with someone else. This same idea also applies to things like transportation, financial independence, or even living arrangements.
Saving Yourself by Saying Goodbye
Not every relationship can be repaired, and at such a transitional stage in your life, it’s not your responsibility to save anyone but yourself. Practicing self-love and self-care every day is essential to your recovery, but you won’t be able to do that successfully as long as there are toxic people in your life.
Ending any relationship is difficult, even toxic ones. At first, you might feel guilt, grief, or even anger. However, it’s important to remember that these feelings are temporary. For the sake of your health and your recovery, keep moving forward.
You can always leave the door open for the people who did once genuinely care about you. Once they’re ready to give you the same love, respect, and kindness that you offered them, you could potentially start over. Whether or not you want to take that chance is entirely up to you. However, the toxic people who did you harm should never be welcome back. Lock the door against them, no matter how hard it is. It may not feel like it at first, but letting go of toxic people in your life is the best possible choice you could make for yourself in recovery.
Let Go of Toxic Relationships with Help from TTC
Recovery goes beyond getting sober. It also means starting over and rebuilding your life, your relationships, and yourself. Choosing the kind of people you surround yourself with is a significant part of it. So, if someone only brings negativity to your life, it may be time to walk away. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
If you’re struggling with a toxic relationship that may be hindering your recovery process, contact the counselors at The Treatment Center. We can help you build your plan of action so you can get yourself back on track. Call us at (855) 889-5065. All calls are confidential.