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Welcome to the second season of Time to Feel. In case you don’t know who I my name is Holly Soulié. I am an emotional health mentor and owner of the Emotional Health Shop on Etsy. So I want to say thank you all so much for your support with this podcast. I’ve gotten a lot of really beautiful notes about it and it’s been highly requested even though I haven’t recorded a new episode in a long time. So I really, really appreciate that and thank you so much for your support.
In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about three reasons why grieving a toxic person is so hard. And I want to talk about this because, to be super honest, the number one Google search consistently since 2020 that has brought people to my website is why it’s so hard to let go of someone who treats you bad.
I’ve got a couple of blog posts on it, I also have a workbook on it that I’ll talk more about later. But that is the number one thing that people come to my website for. And I have been there, I have had to grieve toxic people as well.
And if you are listening to this, then chances are that you’ve been there, too. So, before we dive into why it’s so hard to move on from toxic people, let’s first define what toxic actually means. This is a really popular word that we all use, quite a bit nowadays. But what does it actually mean to be toxic?
to me, there is a huge range of what you could call toxic behavior, or even toxic people. On the lower end of the spectrum, the lighter version, there are the people who unintentionally treat you badly.
Maybe they lack boundaries, maybe they invade your space with intrusive questions, unsolicited advice, that type of thing. It’s behavior that can be seen as toxic. But most likely, it’s unintentional. In fact, they might have good intentions behind that.
But it’s still toxic behavior because it’s unwanted, it doesn’t feel good, and it’s intrusive. on the other end of the spectrum, like way, way, way on the other end of the spectrum, Are the people who intentionally hurt others. this is the type of person like narcissistic abusers, sociopaths, people who are generally abusive and are actively hurting and abusing people for their own gain.
Whatever that gain is, it’s for their own gain. Then in the middle of the spectrum are the people who do a little bit of both. They might be hurtful, they might be controlling, they might be manipulative. Sometimes it’s intentional and sometimes they’re unaware of how their actions affect you.
That’s how I define toxicity, which is a range of hurtful behaviors, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that drain your energy, violates your boundaries, and deteriorates trust with that person.
Why is it so hard to grieve someone who’s toxic? the first reason is because toxic people tend to be very charming and very lovable. They literally give you reasons to love them. My dad, who has since passed away, was a narcissistic abuser, and he was so charming. He could make anyone laugh, he could work a crowd, he was super funny, in general, you wanted to have a good time with him.
This is how a lot of toxic people are. They charm you, and they pull you in with their amazing personalities. If they’re extra toxic, they might even, at the beginning of the relationship, shower you with a ton of love and attention. They make you feel like the center of the entire world,
It makes you feel like, wow, this special person who everybody loves is giving me their attention. So I must be special too. they just make you feel really amazing especially in the beginning of these relationships With toxic people that’s when they’re peacocking, you know, they’re showing the best of themselves.
There tends to be really high highs with toxic people, which is the second reason it’s so hard to move on. The first reason is because they’re super lovable and it’s hard to walk away from a lovable person. the second reason, is because of the intensity of that contrast between the highs and the lows.
Because you go from having these amazing moments to having super low moments. Maybe they randomly drop you, or they get fickle and start playing games. When this happens, it’s super devastating and also extremely confusing maybe you reach out to them with your heart, which is big and open and wide, and you’re just like ready for more love from them.
And then they respond with something like, Oh, sorry, I’m busy tonight. Can I call you later? They don’t give you any info. They don’t reciprocate, and you’re kind of like, What just happened a minute ago, we couldn’t get away from each other, we’re having like love fest, and now you’re acting like I don’t exist.
It can go back and forth a lot like that.
This is actually something called an intermittent schedule of rewards. So what that means is that when you don’t know when the love or the reward is coming, when it’s unpredictable, you get way more dopamine. than if it’s scheduled and predictable. It’s the exact way that a lot of gamblers get hooked on slot machines.
It’s more exciting and pleasurable when you don’t know when you’re going to win. And the more you play, the more you strengthen those neural pathways that compel you to engage with that source of pleasure. Again and again. So, there’s actually a neurological reason why it’s hard to move on from toxic people.
this is especially true with narcissistic abusers
Because they will even give you a lot of love in the beginning and then they will slowly, slowly decrease that love with putting in moments of really sweet love and so it’s again that gambling effect of Is this gonna get their love?
Is this gonna get their love? And you don’t know what behavior or what thing you could possibly say or do that will give you back that love. And so it really messes with your mind, literally. So whether the person that you’re trying to let go of is a narcissistic abuser or not. When you don’t know when or how that love is coming, it keeps you on your toes and for that reason It’s super hard to let go of toxic people.
the third reason that it’s hard to let go of toxic people is because a lot of times They actually represent something that you think that you lack. for example Maybe that’s confidence. Maybe when you’re with that person They make you feel really confident really strong like you feel really good about yourself around them And they make you forget that actually In general, you don’t feel super great about yourself.
Another example is, maybe they bring a lot of excitement and adventure into your life. They take you to do fun things that you’d never do on your own. They make you feel super spontaneous, like you can do anything, and they show you a different flavor of life. So when this person is no longer in your life, you feel like you not only lost them, but that you also lost a part of yourself, too.
And that’s actually the saddest part about it. Is that you believe that you’ll never feel the same way that you felt when you were with that person ever again. And so, when you’re grieving them and trying to move on and everything, you’re also grieving loss of yourself or what you see as a loss of that version of yourself and what you feel like you’ll never experience again.
So, I remember when I was grieving my toxic ex back when I was in college. We were together off and on for a couple of years. honestly, he was like a carbon copy of my dad. They were so similar. And one of the reasons it was so hard for me to move on from him was because he made me feel powerful. He gave me this sense that I was really special, and he helped connect me to my power.
at that time, I thought it was all coming from him. Like, he was the one with the power, and that I could only access that feeling when I was around him. But what I know now is that he was just facilitating that connection for me. I thought that I lacked power, but what I lacked was believing in the power that I already had.
This is the thing with toxic people. They really do connect you to parts of yourself. That maybe you’ve never accessed before. And so, a lot of the pain comes when you keep thinking that that part of you only exists outside of yourself when you’re with that person. The beautiful news is that however that person made you feel about yourself, whatever qualities they brought into your life that were so sweet and amazing in that moment, You can totally work strengthening -that on your own.
if they made you feel confident, see how you can, strengthen your own self confidence and start believing in yourself more. if they made you feel lovable in a way that nobody else has ever made you feel. Go inside of it with yourself and take a deep dive and look and see, like, they made me feel lovable in this, this, this, this way.
How can I strengthen those qualities in myself and really, emphasize them so that I can live into those parts of myself that I enjoyed embodying when I was with them? It’s good to take stock of what this person brought to you and how they made you feel so that you can first of all grieve the relationship properly but then also reconnect with the parts of yourself that you’re longing to reconnect with.
what’s really cool about that is that when you do strengthen those parts of yourself that you feel like that toxic person connected you with, then you’re not going to be seeking that outside of yourself in future relationships, and you’re going to be less and less likely to be repeating the same relationships over and over again.
So, that is such an important thing to do in the grieving process with a toxic person is, To see what they brought you So grieving a toxic person is really difficult and complicated. Especially depending on how long you were with them, what the relationship was, toxic this person was. If they’re more toxic, then grieving them is even more complicated. But you have to make sure that you take time to unpack all of the different emotions you feel as you’re healing from the relationship.
And you have to give yourself permission to feel all of it. every emotion that you feel about this person, you have to remind yourself, whatever you feel, whatever comes up. It is valid, how you feel is valid, the anger, the sadness, the loss, the abandonment, the sorrow, the confusion, the betrayal, whatever it is, it’s all valid and so you get to experience those emotions without judging yourself for them or without making yourself wrong or bad for having these emotions.
Because when you resist the grief, or when you judge the grief, then you’re not really processing it, you’re just pushing it back into your conscious. so instead, even if you don’t really understand an emotion, even if you’re not happy that you’re feeling a certain emotion as you grieve them, Allow yourself to feel it anyway, and allow yourself to validate the emotion.
So, maybe one day you’re like, I am so mad that they did this to me. And I’m mad at myself for even caring. So, even that is valid. Even that second level of I’m mad that I care about this. that’s also valid. wherever you’re at, whatever comes up. Just remind yourself, Okay, I’m feeling super sad about today.
I’m really missing those beautiful moments and memories that I had with them. Okay, that’s valid. This is valid. My heart is valid. What I experience is valid. Just remember to keep doing that. Over and over again, and that will help you move through the grief so much faster, honestly, that is such a beautiful way to more ice skate through the grief, rather than feeling like you just get pulled underneath it, because that’s when grief gets super heavy, and when you’re not moving forward anymore, is when you don’t allow yourself to experience certain emotions.
even though it’s really painful, it can be ugly, it can break your heart open, but you have to let yourself feel it because that’s the only way to get through it and to have the relief from that emotion. You absolutely have to go through the feeling.
And it’s really beautiful because as you heal from toxic relationships, you reclaim who you truly are. And you reconnect to the version of yourself that is not broken from this relationship, but that is whole and put back together and even stronger and more wise, having gone through it and learned from it.
So, my Toxic Relationship Detox Workbook helps take you through this process. inside you’re going to explore the relationship from every different angle so that you can figure out why it affected you so much and how you can heal your heart and move forward. It also helps you explore what role you might have played in the toxicity and what you can learn.
For yourself going forward so that you don’t keep repeating the same patterns you can get a copy of it in my Etsy shop all you do is go to Etsy.com and you search for the emotional health shop that’s my shop on Etsy or You can search for the toxic relationship detox workbook. So That is all for today’s episode.
If you enjoyed it, make sure to subscribe or leave a comment, which will help more people discover this episode as well. thank you so much for taking time to feel with me today, and I will see you in a couple of weeks from now. Bye everyone!