I’ve talked piecemeal – and in different amounts to different people – about how I managed to get myself in a toxic relationship. And when I realized that Maurice Broaddus was having folks write guest blogs about the things they’ve gone through in the run up to Mo*Con this year, I asked if I could write about codependency and toxic relationships.
You can read the post here. It should open in an new window and everything.
After I sent it to him, I started doubting myself. Some of the amazing guest posts were so much more personal, so much more moving, so much more everything… and really, could my issues even vaguely measure up?
And that’s a testament of exactly how much a toxic relationship can mess you over.
Because I re-read what I’d sent Maurice.
The axioms about boiling frogs are largely true. Increase the heat slowly, slowly, and the frog will never think to jump out of the pot. I did not pay attention to the slow, small changes, the little nudges that ended up twisting my worldview. The nudges that eventually left me in front of Despair’s mirror. I was about to quit college a term away from graduation. To stop writing fiction. To stop blogging. To stop going out. For the second time in my life, I seriously considered killing myself. The despair was far, far deeper than anything I’d felt while clinically depressed. The water was boiling, and I barely noticed.
Yes, I was lucky. I was in a situation where changing my circumstances could actually change everything else.
It didn’t feel lucky. It didn’t feel fixable. It felt helpless as hell.
Since I started extracting myself from my own toxic relationship, since I’ve started changing my own behaviors and policing my boundaries, I’ve run into quite a few other people on the same journey. Maybe that means that I attract those folks.
But I’m afraid it just means there’s a hell of a lot of us.
If you don’t want to read my whole essay, at least check out Sick Systems: How to Keep Someone With You Forever and How to Avoid Problem People.
And go read the rest of the excellent “Road to Mo*Con” posts.