For the person deep in the throes of a toxic relationship, that familiarity of all that discomfort can be seductive. Simply put, we choose to stay in the horror we know, rather than pursue the unknown path away from the pain.
But sometimes there's a shift, a snap of sorts.
Whether it's an abusive act, an important conversation with a friend or trusted therapist, or just some epiphany that strikes like a bolt, a single moment can turn the tide and finally push us out of the loveless pairing.
Some Redditors took a moment to share the times they finally pulled themselves out of something that was hurting them.
A warning that a few of these stories contain discussions of physical and emotional abuse.
For some, the time to change struck them after a long, erosive process. As the time wore on and on, and their spirits never lifted, they finally made the move to get out.
These anecdotes illustrated that, many times, there are no tricks to this. Only the right circumstances where you feel ready to leap.
No More Wasting
"I just thought about how I didn't wanna keep wasting my time being unhappy. You love them so you want to stick by them and give em chances, but there's a point where enough is enough and you have to value your happiness and peace of mind."
"I knew leaving would be hard to do, but staying in a toxic situation is a lot harder. You have to realize your worth and sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to see it."
Straw that Broke the Camel's Back
"8 year relationship. Not abusive, but definitely toxic due to several instances of catching him lying, messaging other women, manipulating my emotions after I'd confront him, gaslighting, etc."
"Year 7 I decided to focus more on myself, increasing my self confidence, advancing my own career/education. The next time one of those situations occurred, I felt good enough about myself and my position to leave him."
A Sudden Break
"I never did find the courage, just anger."
"Over time the feelings of fear, sadness, and that desperate desire to just make everything okay and happy turned into resentment, contempt, disgust, and anger. I found him repulsive. Just the thought of him touching me made my skin crawl."
"One day he started in on his sh** and I guess the scales finally tipped. I didn't plan it, it just happened. The love was long gone, but now there wasn't even an ounce of affection or caring left. All I felt was hate and rage."
"I remember telling him we were done and to get the fu** out, I remember the look of surprise on his face, and I remember the hate that I felt, but that's about it. Mostly I remember the hate."
"Honestly I hope I never feel that way again, because I scared myself way more than he ever did. I was just barely in control and I think if there'd been any indication that he was about to get physical (and I'm surprised it didn't go that way) I would've ended up in a blind rage and either gotten myself hurt/killed or done something awful."
"Took me years of therapy to sort myself out after that one."
The Days of Disappearing
"I just sort of had an epiphany where I realized I look forward to my alone time, and dread time with her. She liked to throw around crap like 'If you really loved me you'd ____' to get me to pay for everything, or 'If you leave I'll just kill myself.' And suddenly I found myself thinking...good. Fu**ing do it. Please."
"And one day while she was out I packed up all my crap and left. I put most of my stuff in a storage unit and lived out of my car/tent for a month while I saved up for my own place. This was before everyone had cell phones and there was no social media so by just disappearing like that she couldn't do jack."
"Noticed how draining it was & how dangerous even a slight mistake would be before everything explodes again."
"Tired of walking on egg shells. Tired of having to be interested & part of every interest of hers. Tired of not having opinions lest they be the wrong ones."
"Found myself preparing for & thinking, 'what if I slipped up,' since I was physically exhausted - then realized if that would be all it would take for world war 3, it isn't really worth the time & effort."
"By then, I didn't enjoy the relationship. If it was so simple to kick off another fight, it was gonna kick off no matter what I did or didn't do anyway."
"I figured it was gonna be painful, but rather than 'live in fear,' sheer exhaustion drove me to bite the bullet & break up."
"To be fair, the explosion & fury followed, but it wasn't my 'job' to care anymore. Got more important things to do than walk on eggshells & be smothered simultaneously."
A Professional Push
"Therapy. I had to hold myself accountable to someone else, and speak of my own behaviors and dependencies in order to finally end them."
"I was very good at hiding the fact that I was seeing this toxic person from my family and friends, all the while pretending to myself that having the toxic person was worth all of the pain."
"Actually, on World Mental Health Day, I made a choice to be unavailable to the toxic person for the first time in a few years, and that one decision changed the whole course of things. I eventually sat them down and explained that our story had come to an end...walked away that day and blocked them on everything."
"Two months later, I started dating the love of my life."
"Sometimes, you have to clear the road for the good things to arrive."
An Illuminating Trip
"I didn't even realize how toxic it was until she went away for a while, and I just felt like such a weight was lifted. I started meeting people, making friends, etc ... suddenly, I was a happy person, excited to wake up in the morning."
"So, I called her and told her I packed her shit up and she should come get it."
A Non-Collaborative Partnership
"My husband kept making financial decisions without me, and I decided I was done when he bought a $51,000 truck without mentioning it to me first. It feels good."
"The divorce papers get filed next week. Therapy helped me find the courage."
For others, the decision to leave was extremely clear. After all, a history of physical abuse can make leaving extremely urgent, for the sake of safety and an obvious desire to avoid trauma.
Putting Their Foot Down
"She hit me pretty regularly, so I talked with my therapist about it to plan a way out. We came to the conclusion that saying 'you need to stop that or I'm leaving' would be the best thing. So, I did."
"She said 'I could ease up' and I said 'no, it needs to stop entirely. It's not playful. You punch me in the ribs forcefully and have said that you hope it bruises. That needs to stop entirely, or I will leave.' She didn't budge past her previous point, so I left."
"I regret none of it."
No More Accepting
"When I was working out how to handle the next time he hit me, I realised that I was accepting the fact that there would be a next time."
"As soon as I could walk I packed up my kids and left."
Calling in Backup
"After he threatened my life, I had my dad kick him out. I made sure not to talk to him at ALL afterwards. Blocked him on everything. I also got an Apple Watch for emergency reasons bc even though it's been like 6 years since we broke up he still mails letters to my parents house saying he's going to find me."
"Anyway, I was actually scared into leaving him, didn't necessarily take time to muster up courage or anything. It all happened very fast and was quite impulsive."
"The hardest part that took the most bravery was not actually talking to him or letting him call me to 'apologize.' Also it helps to have a good friend you can stay with or talk to for extra comfort and protection."
Can't Risk That
"He shoved me and I fell to the ground. That was after he dropped me onto a couch 'playfully.' "
"I knew it would be a matter of time before he hit me. And I was significantly smaller (5'1" 90lbs)."
"Happy to say I'm now happily married to someone wonderful."
A Tea Too Many
"I was in my early 20s, she hit me one day with a mug full of tea on my back reasonably hard and I twigged I was being abused/in a toxic relationship then."
"I went home, came back the next day and told her that was it. The courage was a simple light switch in my head, I just didn't realise everything was going dark."
"Good luck to everyone out there x"
For some, they never actually did make the bold decision to go through with the breakup. Instead, their partner actually did it on their own.
But the freedom felt after the end was sudden and palpable.
A Rush of Relief
"I didn't. Eventually she broke up with me. It was the most painful relief I've ever felt. I learned a lot, and now I know the signs."
"Would that I could've learned them another way."
It Only Takes a Couple Week to See
"He broke up with me and I cut him off completely. Gave him a month alone thinking that I would annoy him and he wouldn't want me back (dumb) then after about 2 weeks realized how much happier I actually was."
"Never went out of my way to contact him again. He, if course, flipped out and threw a year long hissy fit about it."
"I didn't. The toxic a**hole left me. What she did after that I appreciate to this day: she didn't cut me off but she never contacted me first."
"Eventually I got her out of my system and I rarely think about her now."
"She started seeing the guy she was cheating on me with, and I got forced out. She didn't formally break up with me, just basically let me know she had been cheating on me, again, and that she was seeing him now."
"She threatened to leave me a couple of times before then, but I begged her to stay because she had engrained in my mind that I couldn't live without her, rather than using it as an out. She left me no choice in the end"
To all those out there struggling in something that they feel might be toxic or hurting them in some way, know that it's okay to be confused, it's okay to not know if you're right about how good or bad things are.
But, if it's possible, tell someone. Get out of the echo chamber.
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