Breaking the Cycle of Toxic Relationships

I followed the cycle of my parents and married into an unhealthy relationship. I remember the anger, yelling, fear, and eggshells. Trust was constantly questioned and life was in upheaval. This was no way to live, but what was worse, I was showing my son how to treat women and my daughter how to be treated by men.

I don’t blame my ex for this. We both were apart of setting up these toxic roles. We both had to accept the roles in order for the relationship to last as long as it did. I found myself treating him in ways I would never treat my partner now. I was just as much a contributor to the toxicity. It is never one-sided. I did it differently then he did, but if I was healthier than he was, I wouldn’t be in the relationship. I know this part may be hard to read, at least it was for me when the concept came into my life. So much so, that I didn’t even realize the seed was given to me over and over, said in different ways, in different arenas, and with different purposes. It was never spoken directly to me about my situation. It was something that would take a lot of time to digest. 

If I didn’t play the part assigned there would have been no relationship.In order to break free of the cycle, I had to find peace inside me and know that change was possible. I saw examples in my relationships with my mom and dad. They both did a lot of healing, and their lives both changed for the better. They both developed healthy relationships with themselves and their new partners. I knew, I had to be strong enough to apply it to my relationship with my significant other. 

When I was ready, things started to change. It was as simple as that. The changes didn’t happen as quick as I would have liked while I was in it, but looking back the timing was perfect. I learned everything I needed to learn in order to grow.

As I am preparing to layout my first book, so many memories of my process of recovery are coming to the surface. I have been reading my past writings and all I want to to is share my path to freedom from my own personal prison. Realizing that I had the key all along is what set me free. 

I used to be scared to leave. What would happen to me? What would happen to my kids? I would be completely alone. No one was going to want a single woman with two small children. I was a pre-school teacher who worked part-time. I didn’t have the means of supporting two kids on my own. I was a failure in my mind; trapped! 

I lived that way for too long. I didn’t even realize how long I was in my own prison until years after I was out of it. Being able to look back, I see how the process went. I see the seeds that were given to me and the ones I planted. 

One of the seeds came from reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Mastery of Love. I’m actually re-reading the book now for the second part of my series “Learning from Don Miguel Ruiz”. 

“You are no longer a child, and if you have an abusive relationship, it is because you accept that abuse, because you believe you deserve it.”

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love p. 41

In order to stop the abuse, I had to know from the core of my being that I deserved better. Not better of him, better of me. I started taking actions to find peace within me. I found friends, Al-Anon, and a spiritual base. When I started doing the next right thing to take care of me, the Universe opened up and miracles started happening all over the place. Some of them were disguised in struggle, but I get tears in my eyes thinking about how it all worked out so much better than I could have ever imagined. 

The trick was not to focus on the fear. When I focused on the fears it kept leading me to take more fearful actions. When I focused on self-care and love…

My life changed! 

  • My living situation presented itself in a way I would not have considered before. 
  • The time to leave revealed itself without me trying to force it. 
  • I went to college and got my degree. 
  • My kids are in a safe and positive environment. 
  • We go on lots of adventures.
  • We have an amazing community of support around us.
  • I am mentally,spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthier than I have ever been.
  • My kids are surrounded by examples of what true love all around them. People communicating without name-calling, be-littling, or shaming. People who support each other’s dreams and don’t tear each other down. 

I was lucky enough to see early on change is possible. That seed has helped me in so many situations. When I chose to water it and let it grow, it became like the Ficus tree; forever growing and changing. Sometimes the branches need to be thinned out so it has the energy to spread and lay down more roots.

I’m getting excited to see what the Universe has in store for me now. I hope you come on the journey with me! 

With Love and Graitude, 

Rachael Wolff

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Photo credit: Rachael Wolff

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