Recovery happens in all sorts of ways from all sorts of things

When there is a need to recover from a toxic relationship AND it is necessary to recover from a toxic relationship which can be friends, co-workers, family, sexual, etc. Below there are stages to consider during the recovery process.  Take the time to take care of yourself to reset and recover.

The 6 Stages of Recovery From Toxic Relationships 

… and what to do to help during the process.

  1. Self-doubt. This is sometimes called the “Am I crazy?” stage. It means realizing that something doesn’t make sense, but not knowing how, what, or why. This stage can sometimes happen during the relationship, or it can happen during the breakup when you start to realize something feels off. While few breakups are fun or pain-free, ending a toxic relationship has the added cognitive dissonance of feeling freeing, yet confusing and disorienting. Sometimes survivors wonder if leaving is the right choice, or if they are imagining or exaggerating all of the bizarre events that do not make sense. Many survivors struggle during the stage, asking, “Was it my fault? Did I bring these behaviors out of them?”
  2. Learning and researching. This is the stage when you research all. of. the. things. You know something is off with the person’s behavior, but researching everything and anything about it gives you the terminology to understand your experiences. This is often when clients will come in with words or phrases like narcissistic abuse,” “psychological abuse,” “personality disorder,” or other terms that come from their research. When something does not feel right, our human instinct is to try to make sense of it, to try to understand. This behavior serves to gain clarity and understanding, but can also have the added benefit of being self-soothing. Sometimes survivors find that they become obsessive about researching and understanding as a way to heal.
  3. Clarity. This is when the research starts to slow down, and the survivor starts to make sense of their experiences—even if there is still residual pain, grief, and resentment. This initial surge of understanding can be freeing and calming, as it feels empowering to bring clarity to a situation that feels muddled and confusing. The key element of this stage is the clarity that there was something beyond your control, you were powerless to stop or change it, and it is not your fault.
  4. Breaking free. This is when you take steps to distance yourself from them, physically and emotionally. For some, this stage comes at the beginning, sometimes before they even realize the type of person they were dealing with, especially if they were discarded. For others, breaking free happens after they realize that they need to leave in order to stay safe and healthy. This is the stage where people begin grey rockingno contact, and when I urge my clients to use the N.E.B. techniques that I developed for survivors who must communicate with their abuser (Necessary, Emotionless, and Brief).
  5. Doing the work of healing. Usually, this stage takes the form of developing an understanding of yourself because you realize that this is the only way to fully heal. This is usually the stage when people reach back out to family and friends who had been pushed away during the relationship, and otherwise try to piece together the broken pieces from the chaos that has taken place over the past few months or even years. During this stage, it is important to understand and acknowledge that it is okay to admit that you were human and imperfect during a relationship, that you inevitably made mistakes, but you are not to blame for any malicious cruelty that unfolded.
  6. Accepting and making meaning. Many well-known psychological abuse experts report that finding meaning from your experience is an essential part of the healing process, as it helps you understand how to avoid these people in the future. Many people who have had toxic and abusive relationships repeat these patterns again and again. They come to therapy hopeless and exasperated, saying, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong to attract these people!” It is usually during this time that we discover that they did not take the time needed to fully heal—not only from the experience but also to develop understanding and meaning of their experiences in order to recognize red flags in the future and attract people who they want to be with.

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