Navigating a Healthy Relationship in Toxic World
Raise your hand if you are an abuse survivor who has been through extensive therapy and healing and STILL have an issue identifying if a new person you meet is genuine or toxic in disguise. Yeah, me too. After surviving multiple emotional abuse relationships, I have to admit, it is truly challenging to decipher my own intuition sometimes.
Every little word is analyzed. Every little action is dissected. Every verbal and emotional nuance is assessed.
Are his compliments genuine or am I being groomed again? Was that little tease truly a joke or a red flag? What did he mean by that? Wait…my ex said that once…is that the sign I have been looking for to validate my assumption that this perfectly healthy man is finally unveiling his true colors?
Ladies (and gentlemen, of course), welcome to my current world. I have been off the grid for a few months while I navigated a surgical procedure and then found myself caught up in a new romantic relationship. One that checks every box of what I am looking for in a man. And yet, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I am more wounded than I thought; I find myself projecting my past relationships onto this poor, seemingly amazing man.
I have searched for the red flags every time something he says doesn’t sit well with me, but it’s simply a matter of learning each other’s means of communication. I have continued research on narcissistic behavior in the initial stages to make sure I’m not missing anything, and all those typical warning signs are not there—he has way too much sincere empathy, compassion, and honesty.
I have questioned the affection I am receiving and measured it against typical lovebombing techniques and cannot find the connection. There is a give and receive, and it is not over the top. This man is actually the real deal.
And yet, I still question myself. I still question if I am blind to those potential warnings because he “seems” so great.
But I’m not. I don’t have him up on a pedestal like I did with those toxic, “magical” men I’ve encountered in my past who lured my vulnerable self into an abusive prison. I see his humanness; his flaws, and he sees mine. We have already had hard conversations about our relationships, and we worked through them like mature adults. It blows my mind, actually, to be able to say how I feel and be listened to.
And guess what—not once has he ever said I was crazy; or that I was imagining things; or that I’m being oversensitive, not even when I questioned something he said. He simply either explained without shifting the blame and takes responsibility for his words and actions, as do I.
I don’t know where this relationship will take me, but I am moving slowly. I am learning to build trust again, but also learning how to give someone the benefit of the doubt. And it’s fucking hard, y’all. I so easily want to fall into doubt or find a reason to say, “Aha! I knew it!” and prove that there can’t possibly be any good men out there.
But I’m learning that they do exist, and not even in just a romantic capacity. As I meet more people and discern even among friends who is healthy to keep in my circle, I’m becoming more comfortable every day with my ability to judge someone’s character. So, this experience isn’t any different. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.
And the fact that this will always be a process.
Healing is continuous. Discernment is a skill. Patience is definitely a virtue in getting to know someone. Trust can be given. People can be believed. Healthy relationships do exist. And it is possible to find love again, even after trauma. All we need to do is keep the faith and keep moving forward. There is a rainbow waiting for us on the other side of our pain. We just need to be open and willing to see it.
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