The Dangers of Toxic Relationships

A reflection of personal tragedy by Ellen Callen

Suicide.  How does a person of any age reach the point of deciding the only relief is to force an ending?  I’ve had a few weeks to contemplate.  At first, I thought I’d write about the pain of loss and the road to recovery.  But after situation(s) circled around me, I realized at the center of such tragedy was abusive relationships.

Not all abusive relationship couplings end in a suicide, but that does not make such relationships any less damaging.  And in today’s toxic political environment iced with the COVID-19 pandemic, toxicity has spread as fast as the virus itself.

How do we know if toxicity has infected our own relationships?  Ask yourself the following:

Do I feel better, worse, or no change in my emotional state after contact with the person
in question?

Does the person in question speak in positive or negative languages?

Do I feel I have to compete in order to be valued?

Do I feel I can trust the person in question with my well-being?

Do I feel the person in question cares about me?

Would the person in question adjust if they knew they were hurting you?

Does the person say “I’m sorry.” and make changes to keep from hurting you?

Can you, off the top of your head, remember a time shared where you felt loved recently?

Do you feel the relationship is a constant battel?

If you took account of your answers what would it tell you?  I suspect we all know innately when we are being treated in such a way that we feel bad.  The question is, “What to do about it?”

The answer to that question is not so easy as it often depends on how closely tied we are to the toxic person.  If it is a husband or wife, perhaps counseling can help.  To do nothing and to continue absorbing the toxicity is unhealthy and will lead to an outcome that is unpredictable, but surely damaging to your ability to have a healthy state of mind.  If the relationship is with siblings where family counseling is not probable or possible, boundaries need to be set.  No one has the right to abuse you—not even family.  In some cases, we may need to distance ourselves from toxic family relationships until each can find a way to interact in a way that adds value and increases healthy bonds.

Perhaps it is friend, a co-worker, a boss?  Most assuredly I can tell you a toxic friend is no friend at all.  Friendship is defined as:  “a state of mutual trust and support.”  Don’t mistake a person who spends time with you to be the same as a friend.  If the person is toxic, let them go.  What about a co-worker or boss that you can’t avoid?  The first step is to realize the environment is toxic.  The second step is to plan your escape.  See if there is another department you can transfer to, or look outside the company for a new place of employment.  In the meantime, speak to your Human Resources department or health line for support.  Don’t be afraid to protect yourself from toxic people.  We are our own best protection plan.  But you have to be willing to take action.

But what about the children?  It was because of children that I created Via E.  In the hope that one of the Dollfriends®, and now Brothers Adventures™, would find its way to the arms of a child in need of a safe friend.  That the activities would help develop confidence, and the community would result in a support system.

Humm…but my thinking was flawed.  The children in greatest need are buried by the command of their abusers.  What do I mean?  Our system in society too often fails the at-risk children.  They bounce back and forth from abuse to help to abuse.  This cycle of abuse to help to abuse leaves the child felling there is no escape from the abuse…each time hope is restored it is taken away.  Until the point the child puts an end to it on their own.

How can we stop this cycle?  How can we save our at-risk children from toxic situations that seem to never end?  Never end…sounds like I am using words to over state the situation.  BUT, in a child’s mind the idea, the belief that someday they will be free from their pain is outside of their mental development.  Today, the now, is everything to a child.

My grandson, at the age of 14, decided two weeks ago that his best escape from a toxic situation was to end his life.

Was he loved…yes.  To the moon and back.  But he was caught in a custody battel with one parent deep in toxicity, perhaps unknowingly stripping her son of his will to live.

This blog post does not claim to have any answers.  It is a reflection. It is a call to action for all who read it.  Toxic relationships kill.  They kill our spirit, our joy, our self-concept, and yes can even lead to loss of life.

What can we do?  We can pray.  But God calls for action as well.  First, we have to clean our own house of toxic situations.  Set boundaries where appropriate to allow our healthy minds and hearts to become strong.  Only then will we be able to see toxic situations in others and be able to support others toward finding a path to detox and selflove.  The children, we must dare to get dirty if the call to support crosses our path.  If we are whole, we are in a position to lend our heart to those in need.  Learn about support organizations and be willing to build up a child’s sense of self whenever possible.

My grandson’s name is Marques.  I won’t say “was.”  Marques lives on in our hearts, our memories, and in God’s kingdom.  Those that knew him will miss him.  We all wish we were there at the moment he felt he could not escape his pain, to hold his hand and assure him that we were on his team.  Life is fragile.  If nothing else, let’s remember to love one another, be kind and tender-hearted, acting to others as we would wish to be treated.

I finish this long post with a thank you for reading.  With a hope that each will work to remove toxic things and people from your life so you may reach your highest dreams and have the energy to lift others up along your path.

Sending all my love, Ellen