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Navigating Healthy Relationships: Healing from a Bad One

Healing from a toxic or bad relationship can be a challenging journey, but it’s also an opportunity for growth, self-discovery, and ultimately, finding healthier connections. Whether you’re fresh out of a difficult relationship or still carrying the scars from the past, navigating healthy relationships while on the path to healing is possible. I was not always sure

about this.

Years ago, I was in a relationship with a guy that I thought would be my husband one day. We had known each other since we were kids. We grew up in the church youth group and always knew we would end up together. Years had passed by, and we did not see or talk to each other. We both attended a conference and life instantly changed. It was that day we decided to start dating again. In that moment it seemed like a great idea, so we went for it. The first couple of months was great. We talked all the time and went on several dates. It was something new for us as we were a lot older now and had much more freedom. I felt at peace when I was with him. He made me smile from ear to ear. I was in love. I was in college and living at home with my mom. It seemed like a great idea at the time. He was in the music industry, so I got to hang out with so many people. We were out all the time. We went to parties, video shoots, clubs and so much more. I was living the life.

A few months went by and things took a turn for the worse. I was missing so many

days of school because I became the driver to all the events the artist he worked for.

My grades started to drop. Our living situation was about to change. The artist he

worked for was moving and wanted everyone that lived in the house to find another

place to live. His “wife” wanted more of a private life, free from all guys and extras that

lived in the house. The guy I was with did not have a place to live. I was so in love and

I could not imagine moving back home with my mom. We stayed in hotels for a little bit

until money ran out. I remember sleeping in my car with him because I did not want to

leave him stranded even though I had a bed at home; I just needed to call my mom. He

was ok with us sleeping in the car because he had no other place. When I finally told

him I had enough and this is not what my life was supposed to be about he told me he

would never let me leave. We were in the car and he slammed my head into the dash.

I began to bleed and cry and he started to apologize and tell me it would never happen

again. I believed him even though I should not have. After a few days and my wounds

began to heal, I moved back home with my mom. He and I still talked and hung out. I

thought I was ok after that event but I was wrong. I could not trust him anymore and

actually was afraid of him. One afternoon I told him I did not think we should be

together anymore and he got so angry. He shoved me into a concrete wall. He

whispered if he could not have me nobody could. I told him I loved him and I would

always stay just so I could get away. I went home and told my mom everything. We

immediately went to the police and filed a restraining order. He started stalking me. He

would stay just far enough away to not violate the order. At night he would shake my

car to make my alarm go off to hope I would come outside. I was afraid to leave at

night. I would only go to school and come home. I don’t know what happened but he

finally stopped bothering me, but the wounds were stuck with me, or at least for a while.

I finally started dating again. It was so hard for me. Every guy I met I would be in fear

that it would be nice for a while and then turn bad, so I did not really give them a

chance. I did not want my heart to be broken or feel used. I definitely did not want to

be abused again. But that was not the way to be in a relationship. Just because my ex was

that way does not mean the next guy will be the same. It took a while for me to really

understand and get that. There were steps I needed to follow.

1. Self-Reflection and Healing

2. Set Boundaries

3. Red Flag Awareness

4. Practice Effective Communication

5. Embrace Vulnerability

6. Seek Support and Guidance

Before diving into a new relationship, I had to take the time to reflect on my past

experiences and heal from any emotional wounds. I had to apologize to myself for

allowing what happened to continue. I started going to therapy, journaling, and

engaging in self-care activities that promoted healing and self-love. I had to establish

boundaries within my relationship, especially after experiencing such a toxic one. I had

to clearly communicate my needs, desires, and deal-breakers with potential partners,

and be firm in enforcing these boundaries. I learned to recognize and heed red flags

early on in a new relationship. The most important thing for me was to trust my instincts

and pay attention to any warning signs that reminded me of that past experience.

Healthy relationships thrive on open, honest, and respectful communication. Being

willing to express my thoughts, feelings, and concerns with my partner, and encourage

them to do the same was hard for me. This is one I am still working on today in my

marriage. I know that effective communication fosters trust, intimacy, and

understanding which paves the way for a strong and healthy relationship. Healing from

my past relationship made me hesitant to open up and be vulnerable in a new

relationship. However, vulnerability is essential for building intimacy and deepening

connections with my partner. It was scary to open up about that past relationship

because I did not want to appear weak or stupid. The hardest yet easiest thing for me

to do was to surround myself with a supportive network of friends, family, and a

therapist. Once I figured out who I could talk to about what I was going through with

out feeling like I would be judged things started to work out. I have been with my

husband for almost 20 years. It was not always easy because I brought some of that

hurt into our relationship because I was not following my healing steps.

Remember, healing from a bad relationship takes time, patience, and self-compassion.

By prioritizing your well-being, setting healthy boundaries, and cultivating meaningful

connections based on mutual respect and understanding, you can embark on a journey

toward healthier and more fulfilling relationships. Trust in your resilience and embrace

the opportunity for growth and transformation as you navigate the path to healing and

love. I was finally able to heal from the worst relationship of my life. I learned what I

needed and wanted from a partner. I recognized the signs of a bad relationship. That

relationship taught me how to WALK AWAY when things are bad. It taught me that

Love is not abuse. But most of all it taught me to value myself and to make sure I don’t

carry my past hurt into my current situation. This does not just apply to relationships.

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