It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was laying on my chaise-lounge reading a really good book in our new beachside apartment. The sun was coming through the window, along with a breeze.
Earlier that day, my boyfriend and I had gone to brunch and had mimosas along with a meal of fancy peaches and truffle fries. On the floor lay my two kittens, curled up side-by-side.
At that moment, all felt good in life. There were no fires to put out. Everything felt in its place.
At this realization, I was instantly overcome with emotion, and I felt a tear roll down my eye. I questioned myself, “How did I get here?”. It was a realization long overdue. My new life had not fully sunk in as I had been so used to the dark history of my past. I was always waiting for the shoe to drop even in my new life. But here I was.
I had been out of my codependent and emotionally abusive relationship for two years. We had been off and on a hundred times, maybe more. I never thought I would fully see the other side of it, and yet, at this moment, I was on the other side.
In April 2018, I decided it would be the last time and that I was never going to look back. I had chosen this 100 times before, but there were a few distinct decisions I made this time in particular that guaranteed I never looked back.
Without these decisions, I may never have had the life I now live: the healthy relationship, my dream job, those two kittens. And most significant of all — the peace inside of me that has come to feel normal. A peace that never existed when I was stuck in the vicious, toxic cycle that relationship was.
These are the decisions I made to stay out of the codependent relationship cycle I was in and never look back:
I educated myself.
Back when I was in the relationship, I would google my experiences with my ex to try to make sense of all the negative things I was feeling:
Are threats of suicide emotional abuse?
Should you get back with your boyfriend if he says he won’t treat you bad anymore?
What is gaslighting?
I would find the answers and have small revelations when I did. Still, my education on the topics of toxic relationships, abusive relationships, and codependency never went beyond that.
When I left for the last time, I dug more in-depth than I ever had before. I read books. I discovered blogs and influencers covering the topics I decided to follow. I began going to weekly support group meetings and got more educational material to read from there.
I became a sponge and absorbed everything I could on the topic because I wanted to understand not only my experience in the relationship but how to change it. How to end the cycle and never look back.
It is essential to understand you are not the only one going through the experience of a toxic relationship, nor getting out of it. Many people have walked that same hard path before you. Lean into their experiences, their knowledge. So much is out there to help you, you just have to find it and be open to absorb.
I took past, future, and present me into consideration.
Previously when I broke up with my ex, I had always focused on where I was in the relationship at that present moment. What my heart was telling me to do right then and there, even if it was wrong. Like sending that infamous, “I miss you” text at 1 in the morning or calling him from a blocked number just to hear his voice.
This time I thought beyond my momentary feelings. Thanks to all the education, I was reflecting on my past self a lot and how I felt like a victim of my circumstances. This time though I looked at what had I had to keep myself in the cycle. Was I proud of those decisions I had made? Did I want to repeat them again?
I talked to that past me. Tried to understand more what she was feeling. Why she did the things she did and how she kept finding herself in the exact same spot. I gave her empathy, love, and compassion, while also a small slap on the wrist to not do it again.
I also worked on manifesting the future me. Who I wanted to be and how I was going to achieve that. I dreamt up a life, that no longer had my toxic ex in it. One full of freedom and happiness.
Thinking about your past, and future when at a fork in the road, gives you a compass to choose the enlightened path. The path with foresight. Foresight that is going to get you out of the cycle. You have to think about all the versions of yourself to get there.
I held myself accountable — publicly.
This was done in two significant ways.
First, I opened up to family and friends about what was truly going on in my relationship. Previously, I had only given people bits and pieces. I was always trying to protect his image and what people thought of us together, just in case we got back together. Because I wanted them to be happy for me.
I threw this out the window. I needed to tell people the full extent of how toxic the relationship was as a way to hold myself accountable.
I needed to feel how disappointed everyone would be if I chose to get back together with him.
Secondly, I began writing about my experiences. I put pen to paper what was happening and had happened in our relationship. By writing it down, the history of our involvement no longer just resided in my head. I saw all the toxicity in words in front of me.
I took this a step further and made it public. I made statements like I wanted to help other girls get out of toxic relationships and thus, share my story. I no longer let false-hopes of us getting back together keep me silent. I laid it all out on the table because I knew I had to create real change.
There was no turning back from that. I now had something larger than myself to stay out of the relationship. I didn’t want to break my family's hearts. I had new readers looking up to my words. And most importantly, I wanted to be a person who stayed true to my word for myself.
So when those moments come (because they will come) and I find myself feeling the immense wave of emotion that comes with a new life free of the toxic relationship of my past… I will remember I chose this life.
I made action-oriented decisions to ensure that that last breakup was the final breakup.
People will tell you so many things to do, like keeping yourself busy or getting under a guy to get over one, when going through a breakup. Until you actively chose and make decisions to stay out of it, though, you won’t. On the flip side of that means you have the power to leave your toxic relationship and stay out of it too.
You just have to choose to do so.