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Signs of Toxic Relationships in Recovery

When in recovery, we’d like to think we’re out of the woods so to speak, that we’ve done enough work to be able to enjoy peace, calm and balance, especially in our relationships. Unfortunately, the people in our lives and new people we meet haven’t necessarily done as much work on their own recovery to be able to meet us halfway. We might still be struggling with our own limiting beliefs around relationships and healing. We might not love ourselves fully or understand that our internal feelings of self-hatred are creating dysfunction in our relationships. We may be attracting relationships that mirror back to us the unhealed wounds within us that we have yet to address. For many of us, we haven’t learned much about toxic relationships. We might have experienced them already without being consciously aware of all the negativity and toxicity being exchanged. The signs of toxicity might be covert and hard to pinpoint, or buried under layers of issues that hide and conceal them. For example, we might be dealing with people who manage to convince us we’re not being abused when we are. There are a few clear signs of toxicity in relationships that we can use in order to prioritize wellness as we’re working to recover.

A lack of healthy communication is a sign we have some toxic dynamics at play in our relationships. Sometimes we don’t feel safe being ourselves and speaking our truth because we feel silenced, controlled or manipulated. Sometimes dishonesty, deceit, and betrayal have corrupted our ability to communicate with one another. Without healthy communication between us, we don’t create the environment necessary for us to be able to feel comfortable, secure and at peace. Our recovery is therefore impacted. We might be focusing more on the problems in our relationship than we are on our healing. We might be spending considerably more time trying to work out the relationship issues than we are on maintaining our sobriety. We’re stressed out, anxious and depressed when we’re at odds with the other person. Sometimes our communication is tense, strained and difficult. Sometimes it’s volatile, unpredictable and constantly changing, just as our fluctuating moods can be in recovery. Sometimes we shut down completely and aren’t speaking with one another at all. When we’re experiencing unhealthy communication in our relationships, we don’t have the clarity and openness we need for each of us to be able to focus on our well-being as we recover.

Another sign of a toxic relationship is our codependence. We rely so heavily on the other person for our self-identification, our sense of self and our feelings of worthiness that we don’t feel we can stand alone. We don’t feel good enough on our own. We don’t feel whole and balanced within ourselves. We prioritize the relationship over everything else in our lives, including our mental and emotional health, and very importantly, our sobriety. We place more emphasis on the success and health of the relationship than we do on our own. We aren’t able to focus on ourselves and give ourselves the self-love and nurturing we need because so much of our time and energy are going to appeasing and placating the other person. Sometimes codependence brings along patterns of enabling. We’re so desperate to keep this person in our lives that we enable their drug use and other addictive behaviors lest we push them away by standing firm and establishing boundaries with them. We let them walk all over us, making their addictions their top priority. We might be engaging in these same patterns as well, creating vicious cycles of enabling each other’s destructive habits and keeping each other from being honest with ourselves and getting the help we need. Codependence is a toxic relationship pattern that can totally impede our progress in recovery and thwart our healing.

Sometimes when we’re in a toxic relationship we haven’t yet identified the reasons for the disharmony. We don’t know why the relationship is as troubling as it is. We may not have even verbalized or thought to ourselves yet that the relationship is unhealthy because subconsciously we don’t want to admit it to ourselves. We can be afraid of facing the truth. What we do know, however, is how we feel. Our feelings are some of the strongest indicators we have that we’re in a toxic relationship. When we feel consumed by confusion and overwhelm about the relationship, it very likely isn’t healthy for us. We may be feeling as though our relationship and our recovery goals are working against each other, that the relationship is keeping us from being able to heal, and that it isn’t in alignment with the healing we desperately want and need for ourselves. We might become resentful of the other person. We might be angry, bitter and frustrated. We might be impatient when we feel their effort doesn’t match ours, or when we feel as though we’re working hard to heal the relationship and they’re not, or when we feel they’re not giving us as much as we’re giving them. We might grow increasingly agitated, restless and uneasy, especially when we’re being confronted on the issues in the relationship. We might feel totally disconnected and emotionally estranged from one another. This can cause us to feel even more alone and more isolated than we might feel if we were not in this kind of relationship-  if we were giving ourselves the time, space and solitude we need to work on our recovery on our own.

Toxic relationships aren’t just stressful, they can be huge catalysts for relapse. When we’re panicked or deeply unhappy about our relationship, we might take comfort in our drug of choice. We might find ourselves running back to our addictions to escape the pain of the relationship. Learning more about some of the signs of relationship toxicity can help us to identify when we’re in this kind of situation and when we might have to make important changes in our lives, including the possibility of letting go of the relationship altogether, in order to prioritize our sobriety.

The Guest House is a welcoming and supportive recovery home where you will be met with open arms, wherever where you are on your journey, without judgment or expectation. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.