1. You will question your reality. You will question whether you overreacted, whether you’re blowing things out of proportion, whether you should take things down a notch. You will wonder whether you’re the one in the wrong, whether you’re the one making things difficult, whether you’re the one who is making a minuscule problem even bigger. You will start to doubt everything you know is true because a toxic person will do their best to brainwash you into seeing the world from their point of view. Their goal is to make you trust them, and love them, more than you trust and love yourself.
2. You will feel exhausted all the time. Even when you’ve slept for eight hours straight, you will feel like you didn’t get enough sleep. That’s because you only got physical rest but are still in spiritual and emotional unrest. You never get a moment of true peace because you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for this person to snap, for them to shift from a human to a monster. You never know when it’s coming, so you’re always on edge. You’re always prepared for the worst. In the back of your mind, you are panicking. Even if nothing has gone wrong yet, you know it’s only a matter of time.
3. You will develop some toxic traits of your own. To survive your relationship with this toxic human, you will tell white lies and avoid certain conversations. Even when you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong, you will feel pressured to twist the truth because you’re worried saying the ‘incorrect’ thing will set this person off. You decide you’re better off keeping them in the dark so you start watching what you say. You start telling lies to keep yourself out of trouble — or to keep the toxic human out of trouble. You might even lie for them. You might protect them out of ingrained loyalty.
4. You will feel a constant tug-of-war deep within yourself. Some days, you swear you’re going to walk away from them. You swear you’re going to leave the next time they hurt you. Maybe you even have your suitcase packed. Maybe you’re ready to go right now. Other days, you won’t be able to picture life without them. You will fall for their sob stories. You will believe you can still fix what is broken. You will decide it’s easier to stay, to deal with the demon you know instead of stepping into a new, unknown world. You will be mad at yourself for staying then mad at yourself for even considering leaving. You won’t know how to feel. You won’t know what you want, what will make you truly happy.
5. You will realize you need to leave. It might take months or years. It might take multiple attempts. But eventually, you will leave them in your rearview. You will say goodbye for good. You will move forward, even though it’s a struggle, even though it’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done. And although you will have mixed emotions about how long it took you to leave and how much time you wasted on the wrong person, the emotions you’ll feel most of all are relief and pride and hope. You will have a bright future ahead of you. You will be happier than you ever could’ve been alongside them.