I had a breakthrough in therapy this week! I reached a point of understanding what my toxic cycle is! Now that I have the information, I am ending my toxic cycle this year.
When I was in high school, the only thing that motivated me was getting away from my parents. It was literally the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning. It motivated me to become Student Council President of my high school, chase high grades, and get involved in after school activities and sports. Any second I could spend away from home was a second of relief. My only goal was to get the hell away from them and never be terrorized again. I applied to colleges in London, Australia, and even Colorado, because I wanted so bad to be in places that they would never find me.
Of course that didn’t work out, and I was the last of my siblings to leave the house. I’m also the only sibling that keeps returning. The day that I decided to tell my parents that I was moving out, because I couldn’t take it anymore, was a few days before Christmas in 2010. I was 21 and in college in San Antonio at the time. My younger brother gave me a pep talk, saying that everything would be fine. He went to school in Florida but was visiting for Christmas. My anxiety was visible, even though I had a solid plan. He assured me with, “Just go downstairs and tell them. Nothing bad’s gonna happen.”
He was wrong.
My narcissist father punched me in the face as soon as the words left my lips. I had my glasses on at the time, and was left with a large welt on my cheekbone. My brother got between us and pushed him away from me, but I started sobbing immediately. My mom just looked on without reacting. You’d never know it if you met us in public, but that’s our normal dynamic. It’s horrible. That’s not the first time he’s attacked me as an adult, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Since then, I jumped from relationship to relationship looking for a way away from them. I ended up dating a sociopath, which sent me running back to my parents’ home after six months of being isolated, beaten, and violated every day. From there, I began a toxic career in the Air Force, that resulted in sexual assaults, mental breakdowns, and multiple hospitalizations. When I was medically retired, I ended up back in my parents’ house. I dated a number of toxic guys, ending up in bad situations all because I was looking for an escape from my parents. Each time I ended up back in my parents’ house.
Then I met my ex, and he did not seem toxic in any way shape or form. He was actually kind and honest. I felt something with him I had never felt before. Safety. Feeling safe for the first time in my life caused such a transformation. Suddenly, I believed in myself, and I felt like things could be different. I was genuinely happy, instead of working hard to make people believe that I was. With him, I cleaned up my life, got my career back, and eventually moved. When we broke up unexpectedly, guess where I ended up again? Back at my parents’ house. Shocker.
This is my cycle. I go from a toxic environment back to the initial environment that harmed me, year in and year out. The only difference was in Guam, I felt safe for a time. I blossomed before a bad situation veered my life back into toxicity again. Recovering from that was so hard, because I had finally had safety, and it was yanked away by a different narcissist’s addiction to chaos and drama. It fucked me up for months, because I thought I had broken the cycle. I hadn’t. Instead I found it in different people. The depressive episode after that realization lasted several debilitating months.
So the cycle continued in Guam. My mental health took a complete nosedive. In that situation, I was confronted with and could not avoid the very trauma I thought I had finally escaped. It was extremely hard on me. I lost about 20 pounds in several weeks, and my mental health crumbled under the stress. I pinged back and forth between mania, depression, and crippling anxiety attacks. I barely slept or slept all the time, bouncing between paranoia and fear at all times. It was exhausting.
When we moved away from that situation, the safety came back. I created a calm, quiet, and inviting space in our new home. It was so peaceful, and I loved being at home. I healed and completely distanced myself from the people that caused my decline. I stopped hanging out without saying anything to anyone. I could breathe again and my mental health settled down, because I didn’t feel stressed. I started doing healthy things, went back to a healthy weight, and stopped drinking, much like how I taking care of myself now.
How am I ending this cycle now that I recognize and understand it? The same way. Cutting ties and No Contact. I might not be in a place financially to live on my own, but in order to break this cycle, I need to go. I have to do what scares me. There are a whole lot of factors that I either have no options available or scarcity, but I’ll have to deal with it. Another problem presented itself with my little car accident last week. That resulted in the total loss of my car. I just have to add that to my growing problem pile and find a solution.
This same question has presented itself numerous times in my life. Stay in a toxic situation and make the best of it, or leave and try to make it in uncertain circumstances? Each time, I always stayed out of fear of the unknown. I can’t do that this time. I can’t allow this cycle to perpetuate itself any longer.
My understanding is this: there’s a reason it keeps happening. It’s solely life (or the universe) telling me to make a different decision. I’m listening this time. This is the decade of making different choices and ending the cycle that has plagued me for far too long. My main goal now? Putting my full trust in every decision I make, and not letting anyone or anxiety talk me out of what I know is right for me.