Typically, a good proportion of the women who come to see me in the Bringing Sparkle Back clinic, come because they are stuck in a relationship; the kind of relationship that is completely sucking the sparkle out of them.
Toxic relationships are those relationships, whereby the behaviour of your partner, causes you emotional, psychological and sometimes physical harm. Toxic relationships, over time, leave your self-esteem and self-confidence shattered into pieces, and what might be the simple answer on the outside, to call time, isn't always the obvious solution when you are consumed within it.
Often, the response from the women I see, is to try and 'change' or 'become a better partner' because when your self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence is at rock bottom, of course you are going to blame yourself and try harder. The Bringing Sparkle Back therapy process is about building self-esteem, to make make my clients strong, so that they are in a much better position to make choices about where they go and the choices they make.
If you are that woman, stuck in a relationship that is sucking the very last bits of sparkle from you, here are my 5 practical steps to calling time:
1. Recognise and acknowledge you are in a toxic relationship
The first step is to recognise you are in a toxic relationship and acknowledge that it isn't you who is fundamentally flawed in some way (even though you are probably being told this on a regular basis). Denial is a classic coping mechanism, which we use, to help deal with emotional pain. However, denial isn't going to help you move forward. Gain some understanding and awareness of your relationship by assessing it against the 4 key foundations to a healthy relationship (see previous blog post http://bit.ly/29aubSx). Hold a mirror up to your relationship and allow yourself to accept its a toxic one.
2. What's making you stay?
Despite being so miserable and feeling like you are having the sparkle sucked out of you on a daily basis, you are still living and breathing this toxic relationship. Why? What is making you stay and battle on? Is it financially driven? The children? Great sex? Guilt? Fear of being on your own? Close relationships with his or her family members and friends? All your eggs in the same basket? There are always pros to staying in a toxic relationship and unfortunately, that's what makes leaving so difficult, but ask yourself the question, are those pros worth sacrificing your happiness, your self-worth and your health and wellbeing for?
3. How do you want it to be?
Remember back to when you were carefree and had bundles of optimism, hopes, dreams and sparkle. How did you want it (love) to be? Create a clear vision of exactly what you want from the person you choose to share your life with. Start with a blank sheet. Create images, words and positive emotions and don't hold back. Think about healthy relationships you envy - what is it about those relationships that make you envious? Who are your 'relationship role models'?
4. Develop your exit strategy
This is where it's really crucial you are feeling strong, because you have to be able to hold onto that vision of how you want it to be and be willing and ready to let go of what you define as being the 'the pros' to get to where you want to be. Develop your exit strategy, make a detailed plan and stick to it. Part of that plan may be some ultimatums or changes you want to see from your partner. You want and need to see consistent change over a specified period of time from your partner for you to consider staying and trying to make things work. Be clear about your boundaries, respect your self-worth and communicate exactly what it is you want.
5. Call time
If your partner shows signs of positive change, stick at it, and if you do decide to stay, make sure you continue to put your self-worth and self-respect before anything else. Enjoy the healthier and happier relationship you now have, that perhaps you would never have achieved had you not held on to the vision of how you wanted and needed your relationship to be.
If your partner can't, or simply won't change, hold onto that vision of how you want it to be and call time. Do your grieving, but stay strong and put your exit strategy into action. Walking away and calling time is a toughie, but also liberating, because you have set yourself free, free to be the one who is in charge and in control of YOUR happiness, health and emotional wellbeing. Don't ever settle for less than you deserve. Healthy, happy, loving relationships really do exist.
If you are feeling like you are in a relationship rut, get in touch by visiting www.bringingsparkleback.co.uk
Catherine Asta Labbett is the founder and owner of Yorkshire based 'Bringing Sparkle Back' Psychotherapy, Relationship and Life Coaching for women who want to sparkle again.