You do not need other people’s permission to end a toxic relationship.

Feeling the freedom on the summit of Whernside, Yorkshire Dales.

As I look back over my relationships throughout my adult life, I realise I am finally at that place where I can be proud of myself for where I am today – especially when it comes to my love life.

Relationships are complex and whether it’s family, friendships or personal partnerships, a lot of our trials that we go through with these connections can be painful. We cannot go through life avoiding this pain; our relationship ties are so closely interwoven with our heartstrings, when it comes to unpicking them apart it’s difficult to do without some sort of damage to our emotions; we leave ourselves wide open and vulnerable to hurt.

For the past few years, I have been the most settled and comfortable I have ever been with my personal life. I have found someone who brings stability, someone who I can rely on to build up on my skills and my values in trust (like many females in their 30’s, when it comes to dating and relationships my trust has been broken many times), but most importantly; I have found someone that I can let my guard down and practice being my true self around. This includes the act of saying ‘no’, without guilt, without the fear of it not being welcomed or accepted, without being punished for it.

As a person who is working closely on their personal relationship with ‘the co-dependent me’, having this structure and reassurance in my life is extremely helpful and provides a solid foundation to build upon my ‘saying no’ skills. If you don’t have that support in your home life, you are most likely going to struggle with trying to develop this outside in other areas of your life with other people. Why? Because your intimate relationship with someone else is the closest thing you will find which mirrors the relationship with yourself. We put so much of ourselves in our partner, a lot of couples who are co-dependent will seem to blend into each other and feel like they are one person. If you are close with your partner as I am with mine, you will probably strongly resonate with this. If you think about how vulnerable you are with your person, you share your day, your life, your dreams, you share your mealtimes, your bed with them. Behind closed doors, when your days with your family, your friends and your colleagues end, this is the person who sees you when the daytime mask slips and the You – the true You – comes out to. Therefore…

If you are invalidated in your relationship, you will feel invalidated in yourself.

(it’s true)

It wasn’t always this way, where I was comfortable in my home life.

A few years ago, I found myself trapped in a relationship which I had become so damaged in that I had to go to counselling to validate my need to break off from them.  I was so far off the scale from being comfortably able to say no, that it took months’ worth of therapy to find my voice again. This was my personal life, MY home life. Someone else had to okay me to do it, to quit my relationship (FYI – she never did give me the direct ‘permission’ I was looking for, counsellors don’t do that. They don’t give you the easy answer you often first sought when you start therapy. Instead, she aided me to build myself up enough for me to give myself my own permission).

Can we just take a moment to really think about what I’m saying here…

I needed to go to therapy because I wanted THEM to tell me it was okay to break up with MY relationship.

Bloody. Bonkers.

That’s how deep this external validation thing runs in me. My relationship was clearly emotionally and mentally abusive. Not physical. In my opinion, and on a different plane, it can be viewed as worse in some ways because physical signs of emotional abuse are not apparent. It’s not always black and white, it is subjective. There is no hard evidence of emotional and mental torture, the evidence seeps into your life and drains the colours from it over time until you are too far in it to see it for what it actually is. Looking back, as clear as it is now to me, I was really struggling to put their actions and this concept of abuse together. I knew there was something wrong, deeply wrong, but even when telling the counsellor everything that had happened over the year, and even with a bullet point list of things in front of me (it was a good few pages long), I still could not see it for what it was. Even when I asked the question;

“Did you do that to punish me?”

And they said;

“Yes.”

Even after they then proceeded to tell me every reason why it was my fault that they needed to punish me in the first place. I still could not put the two together.

I then became fixated on : the why.

Why would they do that? Why does it give them joy to make me suffer? I mean, what makes a person do that? Why me? Why now?

I thought if I had found the answer to why, then I would come to accept it (Spoiler alert: knowing why did not and would have not ever made a difference to the situation).

It was becoming clear to me that I was in denial, and for some reason it was taking me a very long time to come to terms with their actions. I was still seeking this validation from another person to break off this relationship which was so damaging to me that I used to scream at the top of my lungs in a teary rage on the way home at night after work because I could not bare the thought of what was waiting for me when I got there. I needed permission for that. Other people started coming into it then. What will their family think? It’s not fair on them. What about the person themselves? I can’t do it right now because {insert excuse here} which usually boiled down to one thing; it’s not fair on them.

I was willing to put up with the pain and the agony in MY life because if I didn’t it would be disruptive on THEIR life.

The thing is, nobody deserves to suffer or be punished or blamed or made to feel frightened in their own home. Nobody. It does not matter how many times you have been blamed or if you ‘deserved’ it or its ‘your fault’ they are acting that way. It’s bullshit. People are in control of their own actions and words. Nobody should have to put up with that. Not even me. Not even you.

You do not need permission to leave or put an end to a situation that is not serving you. It doesn’t matter if no one else agrees with it. You do not need external permission to do that. You do not need to know the why, as I tried to find out so desperately. The why does not give you the permission. The what does not give you the permission. You and you alone have the permission to change your life and adapt your situation and make decisions big or small about your life. It is nothing to do with other people. You do not need an explanation.

Throughout the sessions, we started to take a different approach and we took the attention away from what was happening at home and instead we worked on my self-esteem and my self-love for a few months. One day, just like that, I disconnected from the domestic emotional turbulence. I started to ask myself questions such as ‘what if I did this for myself instead?’ and ‘don’t I deserve this?’ and ‘why am I still doing this for them?’ (do you see how there’s now a theme of the word ‘I’ in those sentences?). I remember the moment when I got home and I decided to retreat to my bed for the night, to have some comfort to myself, some ‘me’ time instead of catering to a situation where I was getting nowhere. The result wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t greeted very well. But it felt good, like I had regained some power back. After that, detaching was easy, and I did it more and more easily until one day I had built that much self-love, I finally gave myself that permission that I had been looking for in everyone else.

And that was the end of that. I just let go.

You see, if you do not love yourself, and always seek that external validation, you will never be able to move forward. You will always be stuck in that place in time, and if that place and time is particularly painful like mine was, you are choosing to deny yourself your life. It might seem like the hardest thing you ever have to do, but it really is as simple as putting your foot down, saying ‘no’ to them, saying ‘yes’ to yourself and allowing yourself that control to your life that was yours all along. What do we do instead? We over complicate our situations, overthink the outcomes and make all the excuses under the sun to convince ourselves it is difficult. We put a mask over our own eyes and pretend that our lives are in the control of others, and it has nothing to do with us. We can’t blame ourselves when things ago wrong then can we? So we chicken out and pass the responsibility over. But that’s another post for another time…

How many opportunities have we blocked ourselves from in our lifetimes because we were trying to seek that validation from other people when all that we had to do was permit ourselves?

I remember walking to work that week after the break-up and being very aware of the pain and strain in my neck and shoulders. After agonising over it for a moment, I then stopped and laughed because I realised, I didn’t need to walk around all hunched up and stiff anymore. I will never forget the feeling of relief I felt on my body and the power I felt in my chest when I also gave myself the permission to drop my shoulders too!

Self-love is a battle when you are co-dependent on others for validating your worth, but it is possible. Just keep in mind how this journey begins at home, it is always worth checking in with your relationships in your personal life and whether these will restrict you from giving yourself that permission you need to move forward in all the other areas of your life too.

I would like to dedicate this post to a special woman, my counsellor and teacher, who reminded me that a better life is always out there and it’s mine to claim if I let myself.

3 thoughts on “You do not need other people’s permission to end a toxic relationship.

Add yours

  1. Just thought I would let you know, I shared your post on my blogging site! I can relate to it on all levels and you should give yourself a lot of credit because it is a very important and educational read. Thank you for writing, and sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

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