A long time ago, when I was in my 30’s, I dated this handsome Ivy League guy. We ultimately broke up because we were very different people. You see I am a morning person and he was a narcissistic control freak with sadistic tendencies.
I joke – but I’m serious.
I’ll call him Tox – short for Toxic Partner.
Tox didn’t show up as an obvious Toxic Partner. He was charismatic, successful, funny, generous, romantic. Tox inundatated me with love letters, flowers and candle-lit dinners.
Unfortunately, Tox also had his hidden underbelly Toxic side.
Tox didn’t like it when I went to the gym or yoga class without him – because he worried I wanted to meet men.
Tox didn’t like it when I arrived home from work super happy, because he worried that I loved what I did for a living even more than I loved him.
Plus, Tox didn’t like it when I dressed in anything somewhat sexy.
“When you dress sexy, it makes me think you’re interested in meeting other men,” Tox explained.
For the record: I wasn’t. I liked to dress sexy to feel sexy for me and Tox. Kaput. But while dating Tox, I entered into what I refer to as “My Amish Girl Period.” Basically, turtlenecks became a staple throughout all four seasons.
“If you ask me,” my friend Lisa told me one day. “You’re not involved in a relationship. It’s a hazing experience.
One time Tox was heading to Chicago for business for a full week. Before he left he handed me a little white box. Inside it was a plastic button pin with the words:
“Don’t even think of sleeping with me.”
“I saw this pin in a store,” Tox explained, “Want to wear it while I’m in Chicago?”
Was he joking? Did he really want me to wear the pin?
“You’re joking, right?” I asked Tox. “You don’t really expect me to wear this pin, right?”
He smiled awkwardly. “You can if you want to,” he said. “After all, it’s funny, right?”
I chose not to wear the pin – but showed it to my friend, Lisa.
“Tell him I want a pin, too,” Lisa said. “One that says ‘Don’t even think of sleeping with Karen.’ I’ll wear mine wherever I go.”
“Tox would be in trouble if we did wear pins like these,” I laughed. “After all, you know how men can be! Wearing a pin that says ‘don’t want me’ might only make men want me all the more.”
Although Lisa and I laughed, I confess that deep inside me I was not laughing.
I knew that Tox’s jealous and possessive behavior was problematic – yet I could not bring myself to break up with him.
I was in my thirties. I felt like I’d invested a lot of time, love and emotions-of-all-kinds into our relationship.
I worried if we broke up, I’d lose my chance for having a family. And Tox talked all the time about how he wanted to have a family with me. In fact, Tox talked a lot about marriage and babies.
After the “pin gift,” I experienced a “Freudian misread” related to my fear of marrying Tox.
Lisa lent me a book about successful coupling. I kept misreading the words “LOVE MATES” as “LOVE MATS.”
I wondered: Do I feel like a “love mat” in this relationship? Am I allowing Tox to walk all over me?
Then a few months after the “pin gift,” Tox’s jealous tirades truly took their toll. Lisa called at 9 at night to talk about a work issue. I was over Tox’s – watching TV. When I picked up my cell to talk to Lisa, Tox yelled at me. He explained that I was not to take calls after 9 at night – that this was our private time. Soon after, with the support of a wonderful therapist I broke up with Tox.
It was a really devastating break up. My parents were confused. After all, Tox was smart, Ivy League, handsome, charismatic, successful, funny- and I was in my “ancient” 30’s! My parents wondered how I could jump off this relationship when it was sailing towards marriage and babies!
I knew in my heart and soul that it was the right choice. After all Tox was boxing in my heart and soul – into a tiny limited cage – which had no stretching room for me to grow and expand and be who my authentic self craved to grow and expand into being.
Although I was the one who left Tox – I felt totally heart broken.
I felt like this break up was not only the end of our relationship – but the end of my happiness – forever and ever.
So how did I ultimately move on and recover? I used a simple tool. I told myself a very powerful sentence – which helped me not to view the break up as a Gigantic Life Sentence.
This empowering sentence was….
This is a mathematical principle based in fact – which also completely applies to life.
Think about it.
A break up is just a part of one’s life – it is not one’s whole life.
Nothing is everything.
A break up is not everything.
A challenging event of any kind is not everything.
A challenging event of any kind is merely something going on INSIDE one’s life!
A challenging event is NOT one’s WHOLE life.
It’s just a slice – not the whole!
When I began thinking of the break up as a “slice,” I gave myself permission to enjoy all the other yummy parts of my life far more.
Soon I discovered that the more time I spent enjoying these other yummy parts of my life, the more I was breathing life back into my life!
Plus the more I enjoyed the “whole” of my life – the more whole I felt inside me.
Or to say it another way: If I had foolishly remained focused merely on this one tiny “slice” of my life called “break up,” then I would have only been living a mere “slice” of who I was.
If you’re going through a challenging event right now, please keep in mind that this challenging event is just a mere part of your life! It is not your whole life! The part is not greater than the whole! Please re-focus on ALL the MANY other yummy parts of your life! As long as you’re alive, there are lots more yummy parts of your life to honor and explore! Plus, the more of your “whole” life you live – the more whole you will feel inside of yourself.
It’s never too late to rejigger your life – so you can find yourself on the path towards your soul’s true callings and cravings.
I know this personally. I now no longer accept toxic people into my life! It took me a looooong time to learn the lessons I needed to learn. But I’ve since finally stopped my bad patterns in love – for good! Plus, I’m happy to say I’m also a proud mommy to a wonderful child!
I could write a whole book on all I’ve learned thanks to Tox! In fact have! I morphed my pain into purpose – and wrote a book called Prince Harming Syndrome – which was loved and recommended on Oprah’s site. I also turned these Oprah-loved tools into a digital course called The Never Again Program – which you can download right away – and keep for life!
Click here to learn more about my story of recovery from toxic relationships – and find out more about my tools!
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.