Feb. 14, 2023

My Toxic Relationship and How To Know If You Are In One

Discover the warning signs of a toxic relationship and learn how to protect yourself...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/my-toxic-relationship-and-how-to-know-if-you-are-in-one/#show-notes

Discover the warning signs of a toxic relationship and learn how to protect yourself. Join now, as I share personal story of my most toxic relationship and explore the red flags that indicate a harmful dynamic. With a focus on self-reflection and empowerment, this podcast will equip you with the tools you need to recognize toxic behaviors in your own relationships. Whether you're currently in a toxic relationship or want to protect yourself from one in the future, this podcast is a must-listen. Don't miss out on the opportunity to learn about the consequences of toxic relationships and how to break free from them for good.

Get ready to have your eyes opened and to walk away feeling empowered and inspired to make positive changes in your life! 

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So, in honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I would do something maybe a little bit off or different, I should say. And I wanna share a story with you that, to be honest with you, is not a fun story. This is not one of those stories where it's like, and then there was a happy ending, well, maybe it's subjective, but I wanna share this story about the most toxic relationship that I've ever had. And the reason that I want to do this is because my hope is that I can empower some people to walk away.

Valentine's Day is this really interesting day, right? Because it's about love and happiness and connection and companionship and having that special someone. And for a lot of us, there isn't a special someone or there hasn't been a special someone or that special, someone broke our heart or we broke that special someone's heart, there's always that thing, and I don't think any of us are immune to it, right? I mean, like when you really look at the nature of love and relationships, there's always something in them that goes awry. Now, some of us will walk away and some of us will stay, and there's many, many different answers to what you should do in your relationship, but specifically today, and the reason why I want to talk about the most toxic relationship I've ever had is so that hopefully you can make a little bit of meaning and perhaps pay a little bit closer attention to the relationship that you might be in right now than actually is not serving you, but you're staying in because it's comfortable, because it's known.

You know often, one of the things that we do as trauma survivors, and this is something that I absolutely did, was we date the people, hear me now. We date the people who are most like our parents. I'm gonna let that sink in for a moment, and that was me in my teens and in my twenties and in my twenties, I dated this woman obviously, I won't say her name, I won't say where we were, I won't give any specific details, but it was the most toxic relationship I've ever been into, it was the most volatile relationship mentally and emotionally, spiritually, but never physically, surprisingly, minus one time when she did smack the crap out of me. But in retrospect, like I totally, I'm like, yep, I earned that one. Right. It started off good, right? Like I think a lot of relationships do, it started off, we met at a concert and immediately, like I loved her energy, I loved her smile, I thought she was funny and I was attracted to her in a lot of ways and she had a boyfriend and I had a girlfriend. And so, a little bit of time goes by and I remember she had told me where she worked and I mean, gosh, this was 16 years ago, yeah, that's a long time ago, maybe 17, sometime in that window. And so, we didn't really have cell phones and like people had phones, but we weren't really texting each other and most people weren't really connecting on social media and all that stuff. And so, her and I get connected, I happen to give her a call and I was like, Hey, do you want to go grab a drink? Now, keep in mind we both are in a relationship at this point and she says yes, and I meet her. We go have a drink, and we sit there and we chain smoke cigarettes all night, having this conversation about life and everything. And she comes to tell me her boyfriends in another city, I tell her that me and my girlfriend are on the fritz, which wasn't a lie, was true, but we were still together and we said, all right, well let's just hang out we'll be friends, that's not a thing, just calling it what it is. So, I don't know, a week or two goes by, she invites me over to her house, one thing leads to another, you know how this story goes. Well, fast forward four years later, we are in a relationship. She left the guy she was seeing. I left the girl I was seeing while simultaneously looking at this in a very objective manner I understand we had set ourselves up for failure from the jump. And what do I mean by that? We both had cheated on our partners together, and we had built our relationship on drugs and alcohol and sex and cigarettes, and yelling at each other and screaming at each other and fighting and belittling each other and being mean to each other. And then going through that thing where you break up and you get back together 7,000 times, knocking on each other's doors in the middle of the night, yelling and screaming at each other through the doors, the whole thing, the terrible text messages, the voicemails that are so mean that they just cut to the deep, the depth of you. You know, it was even, I remember one time, I came home, we lived with each other for a moment. And I came home and she had taken this photo of us and thrown it in the trash can. And I remember being so absolutely angry like I was ready to freak out and I did and what I did was something really stupid and I like took her makeup and threw it in the toilet. Now, please remember I'm like f**** 23, I'm a moron. Right? Not saying that I'm less moronic now, just saying at 23, 24 years I was definitely a moron.

And so, this was the back and forth for years, the yelling, the screaming, the fighting, the cheating, and this is how bad it was. And some of you are going through this and you need to take a pause and look at your life and ask yourself this question, what the h*** am I doing? what am I doing in this relationship? Why am I with this person who hurts me, who yells at me, who screams at me, who belittles me, who talks down to me, who steals from me, who pushes and pulls me, and prods me and pokes me? Who may actually hit me? Who is in control of me? All of these, like you have to understand something right now. If you are in a relationship, anything like what I just described, the relationship I was in 13, 14 years ago, you need to understand that it's never going to change. And you have got to hit the eject button and you have to leave for you, for them. Right? Which is a crazy thing, I know that doesn't make sense, but trust me, it does for them. And if you have kids, especially for the kids, right? I don't want to coach your kids in 15 years, in 20 years, in 30 years because of the choices that you're making today, right? I know that you don't want that either, that's not me being mean to you, I promise, it's just me trying to plant a seed in your head.

And so her and I were in this crazy relationship. I leave her, she leaves me. We go get drunk. We get back together. I leave her, she leaves me. We go to our concert; we get back together. She leaves me. I leave her. Our friends go, you guys are so insane, stay away from each other. Don't be together when we're around you like literally, our friends we're like, you guys need to stay away from each other, or you cannot hang around us together, that's how bad it had gotten because all right, it's like if you put salt on all of your plants, they are going to die. We salted everything. We were literally salting the earth. We were destroying everything that we touched both individually and together, and yet we just kept doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it for years.

And then I think we both kind of realized like it was either going to be this or we need to remove ourselves from each other, and I will give her props. She did something really incredible. She left me after, I don't know if I've ever shared the story. I proposed to her as a last-ditch effort to save the relationship, the dumbest thing anyone could possibly do. I highly recommend you do not do this. And she said no, thank God. Literally the greatest no I would not be here with you had she not done this. And you know what's really messed up about that too is just a couple of days before she introduced me to the guy that she was cheating on me.

Think about this guys, I want you to really hear what I'm saying, how insane this was in my twenties, that I would propose to a woman who introduced me to the guy she was cheating on me with when I was cheating on her the whole time, too like, are you high? The answer is yes. So, I do not recommend zero score on Rotten Tomatoes, this is a very, very terrible idea. And fast forward a little bit, it turns out this was a great decision. She actually got married on my freaking birthday, which is a whole another conversation to be had, but I had stopped talking to her for years and she had stopped talking to me and I'm so happy. Like when I reflect on that, we had both just hit the breaking point and sometimes it takes one person to be the brave, to have the courage between the two to finally put their foot down and say, no more, this isn't for me. And again, there were people even around us who looked at our relationship and they're like, yep, that's normal. Okay, great. You guys are just like your parents. We were literally dating each other just like our parents. If I go look at the way my stepdad and my mom treated each other, if I look the way her mom and her dad treated each other, we were literally dating our own freaking parents. And we were allowing ourselves to suffer in the same way that they watched, really in the same way that we watched them suffer as in our parents, and in the same way that our parents made each other suffer. Languages are learned. Love is a language. Relationships are language that is learned. And so, here we are, we are learning how to be in a relationship from people who should not be teaching us and what did you think was going to happen? And so, she walks away. I walk away. And what's crazy is I was seeing somebody else at the same time and I had to like pull myself out of that too and it was just chaos; absolute chaos. And here's why. I'm gonna give you the crux of all this here. I know this is the most unvalentine's conversation ever.

And I mean, no one is ever going to make you respect yourself. No one is ever going to make you have boundaries for yourself. No one is ever going to make you love yourself. You are the only person who is going to give yourself respect, love, admiration, boundaries, and create the life that you want. Now look, here's what's interesting, a long enough timeline, you'll intersect with people who have done the same thing and the dynamics of the relationships will be very different, that doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs, that doesn't mean there won't be hard times, but that does, like, and this has been my experience, having relationships since I was 23, 24 years old.

As I look at the relationships I've had now and they're vastly different, they've been loving, they've been caring, they've been kind not that they haven't had their ups and downs on their mistakes ‘cause I assure you they have, you are always learning in this journey. I know I certainly am.

And so, when you go on this journey, and you go into what's next, because you've chosen yourself first, not for any other reason than it's the right thing to do, then what will happen is you'll learn that it's okay to be alone. It's okay to not be in a relationship. It's okay to not be co-dependent, and it's okay to not have to deal with the stress.

If you are one of those people and you're in this relationship right now, and the first word you think of when it comes to the relationship that you are in is stress. Yo, you gotta check yourself. Who wants that? Relationships are meant to bring us together, to make us bond, to give us the thing that perhaps even we were denied, to fill in some gaps, to hold our hands as we cross the street, to push us into this place where we find a new level of who we are through someone else's eyes. It's not that there's not gonna be hard days, that you're not going to be outside of your integrity, that you're not going to annoy the hell out of each other, that you're not going to fight over dumb things like you know whose turn it is to do the dishes or take off the trash or why there's hair in the sink or in the tub, or you know, why the dishes, like all these things, the things that don't matter, like they're going to come up, they just are but underneath those, there's something deeper. And I hope it's love for you and I hope it's connection and companionship and hope for those listening like you know that you are love even if you don't have that person in your life right now, I love you, I love you because you're here, because you listen to these stories, because you support this show because you're trying to change the world. Listen, only people who listen to this show are trying to change the world, you know what I mean?

There's a lot of people who talk who, who talk a big game, who don't come through. But I know one of you right now are hearing this and you're looking at your relationship. And you have to make a decision, and you are scared of the unknown. You're scared about the loss, quote unquote, of the relationship. But most people look at the negativity, right? Most people look at the negativity.

Here's what I mean by that;

They go, if I leave this relationship, even though it's volatile, it's toxic, it's painful, it's stressful, it's chaotic, it's hurtful, it's emotionally closed.

There's no sex. We don't even talk to each other, even though all that exists.

People will look at their relationship and they'll go, well, at least I got somebody and here are the words people use, and you gotta be careful here, they'll go, well, I'll never get that again, I'll never find anybody good enough. I'll never have anybody as who understands me. Stop lying to yourself. You're scared of the other side. Like I talk about this a lot, most people are more afraid of success than they are a failure. What if you change the position that you're looking at because your relationship is taking from you, it's hurting you, it's causing pain, it's tumultuous, your friends tell you, don't come around us together.

Here's the thing that you have to do. You have to look at opportunity and solutions, and I'm not even saying being positive, just be realistic. What happens if you leave and you walk through the door and you say, I love you, but I can't do this anymore because I respect myself enough, ‘cuz I love myself enough because my boundaries are important enough.

Well, maybe you find who you are again. Maybe you go on that trip you've always wanted to go on. Maybe you go to that state, that city that you've always wanted to be in. Maybe you start that business. You start that podcast. Maybe you travel the world, maybe you write that book. Maybe you start doing whatever that hobby is that you've been dreaming of doing forever. Maybe you notice a drastic shift in your health. Maybe your friends look at you differently. Maybe you look at them differently. Maybe you get in the best physical shape of your life. You run that marathon; you do that triathlon; you practice martial arts. Maybe your money situation changes. Maybe all these incredible things are around the corner waiting for you. But if you get stuck in the fear of, well, we have the apartment together, we have the house together, we have the kids together, and we have the mortgage together and maybe you don't have any of those things, right? Maybe it's just you have the companionship, everybody's situation's gonna be different. But if you're miserable, oh my God, look, if I could go back in time, people ask me this and I think about giving this answer a lot when I'm a guest on podcasts. People go, what would you say to your younger self? I'd be like, leave the relationship. Be alone. Learn to heal. Love yourself first. Do the difficult thing and walk away, and that's tough. I know this is the most un–Valentine’s Day, Valentine's podcast in history, but my hope is that one day you get the Valentine's Day that you want, need and deserve.

Some of us are on a pipe dream, some of us are in our heads making up realities that will never come to pass, and my hope is that your reality shifts in a way that gives you permission to go and find what you're capable of having. And if you're in a relationship right now and it's good and you love that person and they bring you joy, but sometimes they annoy you, it's okay. Love them anyway. Don't hurt them. Don't let them hurt you. Have open honest conversations. Share the truth ‘cuz they might not be there when you wake up tomorrow morning. Life is coming for all of us. Like at the end of the day, you don't know what you have. People always say you never know what you have till it's gone and it's true because you know how much time is left on that clock.

My friend, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the show.

I appreciate you greatly. If you didn't know, you can get a free copy of my first book, Think Unbroken. If you go to book.thinkunbroken.com, all you have to do is leave a review for this podcast and screenshot that review and add it to book.thinkunbroken.com. And if you're in the United States, I'm gonna send you a paperback copy of the book for free. You don't even have to pay shipping. I'm taking care of it 100% just because you left a review.

If you live internationally, I will send you the PDF copy of the book that you can digitally download as well, ‘cuz I don't want you to miss out either.

And my friends, thank you for being here, it means the world to me.

Tell somebody that you love them today.

And Until Next Time

My Friend, Be Unbroken.

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Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.