real life

A letter to the person stuck in a toxic relationship. You're not alone.

You sit on your bed and stare into space while your mind races back and forth .  Should I leave? Can I leave? Can I even do this? I know you think you’re all alone in this, that you have to figure it out on your own.

You think you might go crazy, or perhaps you feel you’ve already gone there: making yourself mad trying to figure out how to do the right thing.

What is the right thing, anyway? There are too many variables. Too many opinions. You Google "Should I leave?" and don’t find the answers. You ask your closest friends, some give opinions, some just listen. But it doesn’t help make up your mind. No matter what, you feel stuck. 

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Perhaps it’s your financial situation holding you back from leaving. Not knowing how you’ll survive on your own. If you even can afford to live on your own.

It’s scary to lose all that you’ve built together. It’s scary to start again from scratch. To shove everything off the table and rebuild from the base up after all that time, all that effort to make it work. To make something work.  

Perhaps it’s your kids. No-one wants their kids to get hurt. No-one wants to have custody battles, or child-care arrangements, or days when you say goodbye at the door and watch them cry because they don’t want to leave you. Or worse, days when they don’t want to stay. You know that struggle already. You’ve seen it. It looks like heartbreak on repeat. Is it better to stay stuck than go through that? 

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Some days you decide you can make it work. You feel determined to push through, determined to see things improve. You suggest therapy, you read books, you have long talks and longer fights. You. Won’t. Give. Up.

On those days. 

Other days? You do. Other days you feel numb, desperate, hopeless. You know if you stay another month it will kill you. You can’t sleep, can’t eat, overeat, drag yourself around, stay out late, drink too much, flirt with someone. You try to escape mentally. You picture your escape, mentally. You think over and over, I just can’t do this One. Second. More. 

But that final blow. That final decision. That’s not so easy to escape. That takes action. You’re too tired to take action right now. So you stay stuck. 

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One day, it’ll happen. You’ll realise you aren’t alone after all. You’ll reach out, to a friend or to family. You’ll cry. You’ll tell them you feel stuck. And you won’t be all on your own. 

One day, you’ll find the courage to make the choice. To say, "I’m leaving" or "I’m staying." You’ll find strength you didn’t even know you had in you. You’ll feel calm, and scared, and relieved, and hopeful. You’ll take action to get unstuck. 

One day, you’ll feel freedom. It won’t be easy but you’ll feel life moving forward. You’ll eat well and lift your chin, and smile, and sleep peacefully. You’ll say, "I never imagined it could be this good."

You’ll feel like a new person. And the old you who felt stuck and alone? You’ll barely remember who that version of you was. One day you’ll find it hard to understand why you thought you were stuck and alone in the first place. 

Because you won’t be anymore. 

Feature Image: Getty. The feature image used is a stock image.