I had a friend from high school who hung around way longer than she should have.
She was someone who was always great in a crisis. Yet her cutting remarks and gossiping always made me feel awful for days after we hung out. Ultimately, we had a falling out, and that falling out was the straw that finally broke the camel's back. But, in looking back, I know I could have cut the friendship off sooner and saved myself from feeling bad at so many points throughout our friendship.
Fast forward about ten years in my life as a coach where I now help my clients live their best lives — part of that is cutting out people who are bringing them down. When I first met Jenna, an incredible client of mine, she struggled with a romantic relationship that she knew she shouldn't be in anymore. The person was completely unavailable to her, but she'd kept him around for ten (yes, ten!) years. So now, even though he was unavailable, she was comfortable, and in her mind, being with him was better than being alone.
At the beginning of our coaching, we firmly decided together that she was ready to move on. Even so, it took many months (and a few false starts) for this to become a reality. But all good things (including allowing yourself to move on) take time. What are some of the steps that I took, Jenna took, and you can take?
Below are six steps to help you step away from a toxic relationship.
Accept that you need to move on. This might be the hardest step of all, but you can really begin to heal when you're finally there. Remember that you are worth so much more than what you're able to be with this person holding you back, and your dream life is much closer than you think.
Tell the other person you need to move on. Be as direct as you can — either in person, over the phone, or even in writing. Doing this will provide clarity for both of you. Also, if needed, delete that number from your phone afterward!
Forgive slip-ups in your boundaries, but hold true to yourself. Don't beat yourself up if you send a late-night text, and permit yourself to start over the next day. Remind yourself of your end goal, which is ultimately a better version of YOU.
Let yourself grieve over the loss of the relationship. It's sad to lose someone you really cared about, even if you knew it was right to leave in your heart of hearts. Give yourself grace for the grief that you're feeling. It's completely normal (and necessary to feel).
Ask friends and family for support. It might feel shameful to share this particular struggle, but trying to muscle through it alone might make it harder. In telling a few close family members what she was going through, my client was able to get the extra TLC she needed to get through the most challenging weeks.
Engage in lots and lots of self-care. Take hikes, take naps, take baths, or enjoy time with friends. During non-pandemic times, some of my favorite self-care activities were an afternoon at the spa or going to the movies by myself!
Lastly, there's a reward for putting yourself first — it's clearer energy, an abundance of confidence, and the sweet freedom away from toxicity. There can be a tangible reward, too. A while after Jenna's break up, I got an email from her with a picture of a sparkly ring on her right hand — celebrating her true and newfound freedom.