a calm sea never made a skilful sailor
if you survive a toxic relationship you will be stronger for it
Most relationships are deals, they arise out necessity, they arise out of wants, needs, and desires. In these relationships, be they business related, friendships, sexual, or romantic, each person has needs, demands, requests, and expectations. They want what they want and they want to give just enough in return to keep the relationship alive ~ if not always healthy. These relationships are usually one-sided with one person giving much more than they receive in return. They are about what you can get, and not at all about what you can give. Some call these transactional relationships ~ and that’s buying and selling.
Most self-help and self-development books, podcasts, and seminars are all about how to win in a one-sided transactional relationship.
In a relationship, no amount of extra effort on your part can make up for the lack of effort on theirs. ~ John Mark Green.
No wonder so many ‘romantic’ relationships and marriages end on the rocks.
In the average transactional relationship there are conditions around everything ~ it’s all an ‘I’ll do this if you do that…..’ And the weight of each thing that each party brings to the relationship is carefully weighed and measured.
The very sad thing is that many people don’t know any better, because they themselves are the result of this kind of dysfunctional deal making relationship. The chances are that their parents did exactly the same kind of things that they are doing now.
Each of us has a set of hard-wired programs in our subconscious mind, and these programs dictate how we think, feel, react, and act in any given situation. Mostly these programs are created within us before we are seven years of age, and guess who inculcates most of this stuff into our innocent subconsciousness ~ our parents.
People who come from dysfunctional families are destined for a dysfunctional life. ~ Bo Bennet.
The tendency towards living in a dysfunctional / transactional / toxic relationship is a family illness, in the same way that a tendency towards alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, promiscuity, and violence are family illnesses. And you know what? All of the above go together and can be often be found in one or both parties in most toxic relationships.
The other side of the coin to a dysfunctional / transactional / toxic relationship can only come about through both parties giving unconditional affection, acceptance, friendship, support, respect, understanding and love to themselves and each other. And, my friends, that is very rare indeed. Some call this a transformational relationship, and if you are lucky enough to be in that kind of situation then you have indeed found your soul-mate.
Some say that they wouldn’t trust their lying partner out of their sight for an instant. And that their husband / wife is a controlling asshole. All I know is that a healthy relationship is based on unconditional trust.
happiness comes in waves
follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness
Most people, women especially, spend most of their lives being someone else. They play multiple roles, mostly to please other people. Deep down they know that they should be who they are and say what they feel, because those who will object don’t matter, and those who really matter will not object. All the world is a stage and we are but players, and we play the role that seems to fit the situation we are in and pleases the people we are with.
Doing that is incredibly debilitating, causes destructive anxieties, and creates enervating stress deep within your psyche. To begin with there is always the nagging but unheeded thought; why isn’t the real me good enough for him? And, you will get so good at playing the wife, partner, girlfriend, mistress, lover….. that you will lose your true self, that you will forget who you are.
To escape from the self-imposed prison of always being someone and something that, when it comes right down to it you aren’t and never were or wanted to be, you must first of all win back your self-confidence and self awareness. Develop a fuck him, fuck them, fuck the whole world attitude of mind. Be yourself.
It’s better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for what you are not. ~ André Gide
Some people are not going to like that. If you’ve been going to football games / baseball / ice hockey / casinos / to see horse racing and betting on it with your guy just because he likes that, and suddenly you tell him that you hate all that shit, well, he might not be happy. He will be shocked that his perfect woman suddenly has a mind of her own.
Some women have it much worse than that; their partner may encourage them to drink and use drugs, take them to very shady bars, get them into BDSM, subject them to mental and physical abuse, share them with other men….. You know something, if that’s you, then stop it now, before he kills you.
Be yourself, don’t take anything from anyone, and never let them take you alive. ~ Gerard way
It’s good to be you, and it’s hip to be square.
If you have to then get out, escape, leave, find a new home and a new life, and if you must with a much better guy. However, I would caution you most sincerely, it might be a bad idea to leave one relationship and walk right into another. What could be worse is to start a new romance while you are still in your dysfunctional relationship. That’s unless the new man you have found is a very special individual indeed, and encourages you to be you.
About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them. and some won’t like you at all. ~ Rita Mae Brown.
Some say they will do anything for a quiet life. And that you cannot change who you have become. All I know is that you should always be a first rate version of yourself, and not a second rate version of someone else.
don’t find yourself drinking at a bar
alone and hoping for a date
be it good or bad
you can start with nothing,
and out of nothing and nowhere, you will find a way
if you sink low enough you could live in a building like this
Although I have been putting them on this blog for ages, I never understood quotations like the one at the top of this page, probably because I didn’t read them properly, and never took the time to think about them carefully enough. The little bit I thought I understood about self-help, self-development, self-denial, and spirituality I found to be rather twee, overly religious, and happy clappy churchy. How pretentious of me.
The modern church is producing passionate people with empty heads who love the Jesus they don’t know very well. ~ Voddie Baucham.
The same dismissive attitude applied if ever I attended a self-help group, but in all honesty I put that down to the fact that I dislike intensely all clubs, groups, associations….. In fact I don’t much like being any place with a bunch of weirdos who have a committee and a ‘chair’ because I very quickly get totally unimpressed.
And yet, I always felt that I was drifting through my dysfunctional life, with just the occasional passage of being; a very cool guy, living a really great life to keep me sane and interested. I was a mess, and the worst part was that I knew I had it in me to be a far, far better man than I had ever been before. Some things I had already accomplished, I still have a cool roof over my head living in the garret, I have money in the bank, and generally speaking I’m pretty fit, strong and healthy. (Admittedly I only just got of hospital, where they said I looked like a bad advertisement for death.) But, generally, as my school reports and annual reviews at work usually read; He could do better if he tried.
As you’ve sought out my blog, then maybe you think there are some parts of your life that aren’t looking so good either. And, that you could do a whole lot better if you tried.
The place to start is to stop doing all those things that completely fuck up your life.
- stop lurching from one disastrous relationship after another
- stop all that promiscuous casual sex that makes everyone with even an ounce of morality think you’re a cheap slut
- stop the drunkeness, drug taking, smoking, smoking pot
- give up the gambling, the impulsive buying of things you don’t need or want, spending and wasting a shit load of money you don’t have
- stop driving that junker of a car that gets you a ticket every time a cop can be bothered to pull you over
- stop getting yourself fired, or walking out on jobs you can’t afford to lose
- stop alienating your family and true friends, just because they might tell you the brutal truth about yourself
- stop being a total fucked-up jerk
Some say that there is a little good in all of us. And, that if you dig deep enough you will always find a treasure. All I know is that when I stopped being a total fucked-up jerk my life suddenly got much better.
selling yourself and your self-respect isn’t a good way to escape your fucked-up life
the easiest person to deceive is one’s own self
patience is not always a virtue
Who are you? Wife, partner, girl-friend, mother, daughter, homemaker, servant, doctor, nurse, lover, whore….. None of that is you, they are just descriptions, they are just roles you play, for all your world is a stage and in your life you will play a myriad roles. And none of them are you, all of them are false and but masks you wear.
From the moment we are born we start to lose our identity, we are imprinted with the thoughts, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours of those around us, particularly those of our parents, teachers, and other care-givers. We are taught the first roles we are expected to play, and none of them are truly who we are.
When was the last time you sat quietly and thought about yourself, were brutally honest with yourself, looked at your own behaviours, traits, style, beliefs, attitudes, where you are in life, and what you sacrifice of yourself to satisfy others? When did you last know who you truly are?
Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is to be himself. ~ Erich Fromm
We need to make a big effort understand ourselves better, and once we understand ourselves we will be able to improve by optimising our strengths and working on our weaknesses. We need to learn to be be ourselves, and not the actor that others want and expect us to be.
Decide who you are and who you want to be. Forget other people’s priorities, ignore their wants, needs, desires, and unrealistic expectations of you, and think about yourself for a change. Unless your world is populated by saints and angels, then everyone you know has expectations of you, and those expectations are not always in your best interest.
Particularly if you are married or in a relationship you will almost never be yourself, mostly you will be who your partner needs, wants, desires, and expects you to be. If you are in a dysfunctional and toxic relationship you will diminish and sacrifice yourself for the sake of peace, to avoid being shouted at, to avoid being mentally abused, to avoid being physically abused.
I might suggest that if you are in a dysfunctional relationship, and you don’t want to lose yourself completely, then you should find a way to get out ~ very soon.
Spend time to discover all the ways in which you play different roles to satisfy the expectations of others, and then decide to chuck all of that stuff in the trash. Decide to be yourself, even if you don’t yet know who that is.
Some say that you can get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. And that if they make a wish then things will be safe in the morning. All I know is that the most liberating decision of my life was to be myself.
meeting the expectations of others leaves our true self tied up in knots
a healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice yourself
everyone in this picture is part of a toxic relationship
Extreme stress will kill you, but before that it will make you ill, take away your dignity and self-respect, take away your friends, maybe your career, maybe your children, and everything else you care for. One of the principal causes of stress, especially among women, is to be in a dysfunctional relationship. I say especially among women because thick-skinned, insensitive men have an uncanny ability to be utterly oblivious to things that are going badly wrong in a relationship, ignore how stressed and distressed their partner is, and if they were aware something isn’t right couldn’t care less about trying to make things better. Add to that, in many cases it is the guy, and the way he acts, that makes any relationship utterly dysfunctional in the first place.
Dysfunctional and toxic relationships range in severity from; two people just not being in love anymore, and not really getting along, maybe mostly ignoring one another, leading separate lives….. through mental abuse, verbal abuse….. and finally severe physical abuse, beatings, rape, and in the end murder. All of that is incredibly stressful and distressing.
Dysfunctional Relationships do not perform their appropriate function; that is, they do not emotionally support the participants, foster communication between them, appropriately challenge them, or prepare to fortify them for life in the larger world. ~ Tina B. Tessina Ph.D.
There are 7 key signs of a toxic and dysfunctional relationship;
- Tedium. The partners are bored sick with each other, do nothing together, have the same argument over and over again, never have sex…..
- Blaming. Everything is his / her / your fault, no matter what.
- Guilt. You’re constantly apologising for everything, even things that aren’t your fault at all. You do it mostly to keep the peace.
- Tension. You are always waiting for the explosion, dreading what he’s going to scream at you about next.
- Uncertainty. Where is he / she, what are they doing, when are they going to get home? One minute your partner is sweet and kind, the next you can do no right.
- Frustration. Doing even the simplest of things is hugely complicated and time-consuming. If you try to lead and take charge yo will be attacked, if you are passive you will be attacked for that instead.
- Hopelessness. The dark cloud hanging over your life will never go away, there’s nothing you can do, you are doomed and trapped forever.
I would add to that, a relationship is completely toxic if either or both of the partners indulges in; alcoholism, casual sex, drug abuse, gambling, promiscuity, extreme pornography, on-line dating, prostitutes / prostitution….. Just how stressful do you want me to get? If you’re in that kind of a relationship you are slowly dying.
The very sad thing is that toxic and dysfunctional relationships are a multi-generational sickness ~ if your parents were in a toxic relationship, then in all likelihood so are you.
Some say that their relationship is their sanctuary, no matter how toxic it is. And that he may be an alcoholic but we love each other, really, honestly….. All I know is that if you are suffering from severe distress all you can do is walk away, and never once look back.
Mental abuse is incredibly stressful
Mental abuse is torture
All of us have to accept some anxieties.
Back in the day, when I was working all the hours God sends, I suffered terribly from the effects of stress. Everyone around me suffered too because I was bad-tempered, impatient, irritable and moody.
We all experience stress, to a greater or lesser degree. In fact without some stress we couldn’t function ~ our minds and bodies need a little stress to feel alive. However, too much stress is bad, and far too much stress can kill you.
Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. ~ Hans Selve
The proximate causes of stress and distress vary from person to person, but the usual suspects are: Bad News, City Life, Too Many People, Mindless Bureaucracy, Being Discriminated Against, Bullying, Work, The Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, Dysfunctional Relationships, Failed Relationships, Sex, Sexual Dysfunction, and the Death of Someone Close to You. And then you might have your own particular reason to feel that you’re under intolerable stress. Of course, there is also a chance that you are seriously mentally ill with something like Borderline Personality Disorder.
People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement. ~ Marsha M. Linehan.
The warning signs that stress is adversely affecting your mental and physical health are;
- Apathy and Depression
- Chest pains
- Drinking too much
- Inability to relax
- Intolerance of and over-reacting to noise and disturbance
- Irritability and a bad temper
- Lack of concentration / brain fog / poor memory
- Palpitations (oh Gods, did I suffer from heart palpitations!)
- Tiredness and an inability to get things done
The symptoms associated with stress are in themselves so distressing that they are likely to make you even more stressed.
Many of us will approach our doctor if we feel under intolerable stress and are suffering from one or more of the very serious symptoms listed above. What your doctor is most likely to do is prescribe you some powerful psychoactive drugs; Celexa, Cymbalta, Klonopin, Lexapro, Librium, Paxil, Prozac, Tofranil Valium, Viibyrd, Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zoloft… to name but a few of the very powerful chemicals your doctor could give you.
All of these drugs come with a load of side-effects, from tiredness, to sexual dysfunction, to feelings of dread, to wanting to commit suicide… Reading the leaflets that come with these drugs can be a very sobering experience. In my experience these drugs will either detach you from reality so you don’t worry about anything at all, or they will have an adverse effect.
If you’re lucky, then your doctor will also / instead refer you to some ‘talking therapy’ such as; Cognitive Analytic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Counselling, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Gestalt, Group Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness, and Psychoanalysis. Alternatively you could take yourself off to a 12-step group like Alcoholics Anonymous.
I love going to my AA meetings and I don’t think I will ever stop. ~ Davina McCall
Drugs act fast, but all they do is mask the symptoms and make you ill from the nasty side-effects. Talking therapies and 12-step meetings will eventually make you well again ~ but the key word there is ‘eventually.
So what can you do to help yourself overcome stress?
Breathing is good. I mean slow deliberate breathing with serene and peaceful visualisations is good.
When I was under extreme stress I would take myself off to somewhere quiet, maybe into a church or public garden or down to the beach, stand or sit, or lie down comfortably, and really slow down my breathing, and at the same time I would breathe very deeply. Concentrating on my breathing I would listen to the sound of each breath, imagining it was the gentle sound of soft surf washing in and out on a white sandy beach under a blue sky. My breathing in and out exactly matched the sea gently washing in and out. After just a few minutes of this breathing exercise I always felt immeasurably more peaceful, and ready to face the next thing the day was going to throw at me.
Learning how to relax is the cornerstone of helping yourself to overcome stress.
‘Ha!’ You say; ‘If I knew how to relax I wouldn’t be so stressed…’
Breathing exercises are recommended by doctors and psychiatrists everywhere as a method of relaxation to overcome stress and anxiety.
Being better organised also helps alleviate stress. The best way to begin being better organised is to start writing things down, keep a journal, keep your diary and day-planner up to date, make lists, always have a to-do list, never go shopping without a shopping list… If you think of something you need to do, write it all down and then stop worrying about it.
Break big tasks into a number of smaller parts, and write a list of those smaller tasks with the date and time they need to be completes ~ then stop worrying about it all.
Learn how to say NO. Being at everyone else’s beck and call all the time is a sure-fire way to put yourself under extreme stress.
Stop using social media first thing in the morning, or late at night, and especially don’t look at crap like Twitter and Facebook when you are pressed for time.
Get plenty of good quality sleep. It’s hard to sleep when you’re under stress. If you really have insomnia, then it may be worth asking your doctor for something to help you sleep. But only rely on sleeping medication for a couple of weeks ~ these drugs are addictive.
Make reducing the stress in your life your #1 project, something you practice all the time, every single damn day.
Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not. ~ Valerie Bertinelli.
And please, please don’t resort to booze or recreational drugs, they make things worse very fast, and you can trust me on that one.
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