I've got to start out by saying that I'm aware of how toxic my "type" of man is. I've got daddy issues, which generally leads in a beeline direction to the emotionally unavailable rockstar with the cool hair and lanky bod. Give me a jerk with a heart of gold and I'll give you a chain to put around my neck.
I know full well I'm not the only one. It's such an archetype for certain women to fall so deep for these men that their teeth splinter on the concrete. We're chasing them down, jumping over every obstacle he throws at us, scraping our knees because our ankles are broken. Why? Is it because some women, like me, subconsciously are not happy in a relationship unless they're emotionally and mentally being chainsawed? Is it because these brooding men bring out our maternal instincts and have the ol' "Oh, I can fix him" mentality?
I'm sure it's a blended mix of all of the above. I'm generalizing here, I'm not saying that men don't get hurt by toxic women, but it's such a "Thing" that women are always getting hurt by this specific brand of male. You might think, "Well, if you're hurting so much in a relationship, why not just leave it?" Ha. Ha. Might as well say to the junkie, "Well why don't you just stop using heroine?" Not so simple. These relationships are all about their very high highs, and incredibly low lows. The highs are all about the entire solar system being implanted in your cranium and feeling like you're the only human that has experienced flight. Everything about being with this person, from hand-holding, eye-contact, cuddling, making love, is about the explosion of stardust. Making out feels like sex, and his thumb drawing circles on your legs tremble, the space between your thighs turn into a furnace. Everything makes sense, and you could die happy.
The lows...well, think about the last time you downed 25 cranberry vodka shots under five minutes and the hangover you felt the next morning. Your brain has turned to gray mush which bubbles in the sun, your stomach is a swish-swashy sack of bleach, and the McRibs you ate last night are halfway up your throat. It's like that, except instead of drinking being the cause, you: 1) said the wrong thing to him. 2) He's acting like you don't exist. 3) He showed affection for another girl. 4) You're convincing yourself the love promised in his gaze was all in your head. These kind of relationships are RARELY ever established officially, as in boyfriend/girlfriend status. They're the kind where you're desperately nibbling on every tiny breadcrumb he leaves behind because there's promise of a huge cake.
Speaking for myself, I was aware I was CHOOSING to put myself in this much pain. It's not like he was forcing me to stay with him. Quite the contrary; he was resisting me with everything he could throw at me. So naturally that made me persist. I would go through bi-polar lows simply because I'd take all that pain just for a small chance that I'd get to snort the stardust again.
Tear out my limbs, put my eyes in the blender, wear my teeth as a necklace, but please, please just keep kissing me.
Fast forward to the break up. Well, if you could call it that. These relationships almost always end up with him just trying to fade away. This was when I was locked in a white room and forced to sweat out my addiction. I remember waking up with crust in my eyelids and willing to do almost anything not to be conscious. My house became dream-like, as if my reality was being filmed with a bad quality camera. My body was trying to actively shut down because keeping the door closed on the fiery avalanche of grief was too much energy. Music lost its key to my heart (didn't help that he was a guitarist with a soul from the 80s), and fresh air tasted like dust. I used movies and social media for temporary escape, but it was like my eyes were eating cardboard.
Six months later it still made me cry if I thought about him in too much depth. There was still an ache, pulsating like a second heart, except instead of pumping life into my veins, it was memories.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that it took me around a year to stop thinking about him at least once every day, with no contact whatsoever. But even with the deepest of aches, time is your healer, and you'll always remember that exact moment you become aware that you've finally allowed yourself to slip from his grasp.
It's been well over half a year. I've had my flesh ripped off my bones, but have tried to think of it like a snake shedding its skin. My new boyfriend is someone that has been my friend for two years. He's emotionally availiable, sensitive, unafraid to be vulnerable, listens to me, cherishes me, holds me close and tells me he loves me when I'm crying. All things that normally would send me for the hills. I'm not going to pretend and say it was easy choosing to go into this relationship. Normally if a dehydrated addict was given the choice between water and heroine, there would be no debate. This time I've chosen water. My love for pain and stardust are wounds that still bleed, but it's helpful to find someone who loves you despite the mess.
Just to clarify: you don't need to find someone to fix you. I was lucky to find the man I'm with now. If I hadn't gone through such a painful relationship, I might not have been able to reciprocate my current partner's unconditional love. I look at it as a test from the universe, source energy, God, the Force—whatever you wanna call it—to challenge me on how much I actually wanted to be happy.
Toxic love isn't love. It's drugs. In our time, in our own experiences, we will choose to be happy, know what is good for us, and what we deserve in a partner—or on your own, if that's your preference. When you decide to be happy, it will be the toughest, knee-scraping climb of your life, and a lot of the time you'll wanna fall back down into familiar darkness, and that's okay, too. Just as long as you keep getting up to climb again.