Are you, or a loved one, in a toxic relationship?

In the last few weeks, my inbox was inundated with memes that were meant to make me laugh, instead they made me sad……. for approximately 10 minutes!  Then I was mad!

A Kikuyu woman in Kenya, allegedly, (innocent until proven guilty – many would disagree and call it guilty until proven innocent), killed her millionaire husband and hid his body in a septic tank.  That is very sad because to kill someone is evil enough, and to then stuff their body in a septic tank is beyond malevolent.  These are the people Satan might reject from hell because they are way too diabolical for his taste.

Then, without warning every kikuyu woman on planet earth and beyond was branded a killer: the memes were warnings to any person planning to marry a kikuyu woman, and/or install a septic tank.

Fact of the matter is, this generalisation does more harm than good.  Instead of people focussing on what could have led a seemingly normal woman to kill her husband (if ever she did), they are more concerned with finding creative ways to bring a whole generation of people down.  And now the word ‘kikuyu woman’ is synonymous with septic tank – not helpful. 

The main focus should be on what is wrong in the world and its inhabitants?  People are getting killed daily at an alarming rate by husbands, wives, relatives, parents, children, friends, foes, business associates, and strangers.  Society should investigate as to why this is happening.  Is it due to an explosion in toxic relationships in every society irrespective of social, economic or immigration status?  Making it so easy for crime shows like fatal vows and fatal attraction.

Many of these deaths happen because a relationship has gone sour, bitter and eventually toxic, and one partner sees death as the only way out.  This toxicity poisons the mind so that an individual can’t reason rationally or see an end in sight.  They feel imprisoned and suffocated by their circumstances and see no way out.  A rational person would deliberate if their actions would lead them six feet under, or in a six feet cubicle – none of which is anyone’s first choice.  An irrational person, whose mind is in so much turmoil, would probably not care either way, their reasoning would be compromised by whatever is nibbling at their brain.

Not all murderers suffer some sort of mental breakdown to commit murder, there are many who are devious and devoid of all human emotions who commit murder solely for the high.  The ones that think they are more intelligent than the police. The ones that commit calculated murders because they think they can get away with it.  However, if you look closely, somewhere along the way there must have been some sort of mental turmoil or dysfunction to make an individual want to end another person’s life, without care or concern.  Mental health is broad with lots of grey areas.

A responsible society should be more concerned with identifying signs that a person is on the verge of committing a heinous crime or is in danger.  There should be agencies in the community to facilitate, discreetly, in matters relating to victims and/or potential perpetrators without impinging on their personal safety or human rights.  This might give humans hope of living in utopia where people only die of old age.

A harmful relationship can cause tremendous strain on people and their relations – at home or at work – directly or indirectly.  There’s a misconception in society that toxic relationships only exist in weak and insecure people, therefore a seemingly normal person can survive a toxic relationship because they are not weak or insecure.  This is usually a façade displayed to the public, but underneath that is an overload about to explode – this is when many people snap and do the unthinkable.  People should watch out for their friends and read signs before someone snaps and commit a crime. 

The other thing is that toxic relationships don’t always start toxic.  As with most things, relationships evolve, grow and change.  For the majority, they’d grow with the relationship and adjust as necessary by taking steps to either cope or adapt positively.  For others, if the change is not positive, instead of changing, they adapt maladaptive coping mechanisms like cheating on their partners or worse, eliminating them.  Sometimes the best thing to do is leave, even if that means ‘tail between the legs’ and judgement from holier than thou holy Marys.  Always look after you.

Needless to say, some relationships start on the wrong foot from the onset because most people refuse to trust their gut instincts.  Some think it’s ok to enter a bad/wrong relationship because they are capable of changing the other person.  The only ‘wrong’ relationship anyone should insist on to the bitter end, is that of a parent-child-parent – because you can’t choose family, therefore if they become toxic you won’t forgive yourself until you’ve done everything in your power to restore them to factory settings.  

Other relationships start with wonderful promises, hope and tremendous mutual love.  However, in most instances, heartbreak, jealousy, distrust, bitterness and acrimony follow and only the strongest healthy relationships survive.  For the not-so-strong ones, how the end is executed is the difference between life and death.  No one said the pursuit of love and happiness was easy – it tests to breaking point the strongest among us.

How someone in a toxic relationship plots their next move

An unhealthy relationship, on any level, can corrupt a person’s well-being which is detrimental to that person’s self-esteem and their mental health.  It is therefore important to differentiate toxic people from the rest – some people are addicted to toxicity and spread it around like gospel to unsuspecting people and those with low self-esteem.  Always look after one number – you.

Having said all that, all relationships are worth fighting for, or not giving up until all avenues have been assessed, evaluated and covered.  Watch out for the constant hurdles initiated by unexpected mood swings, unexplained anger, and persistent unhappiness because at the end of the day some people are happiest when they are unhappy and not much can be done about that.  Should you find yourself with one of those, it is best to stay clear because your perceived happiness is a thorn in their ribs, and anything could set them off.  Sometimes looking after yourself means walking away without the need to explain or feel guilty.  Overly nice people tend to think staying to help ‘grow’ the toxic person is the humane to do, but this is like having your hand hovering over a self-destruct button. 

There are a multitude of reasons why people end up in lethal relationships and it has nothing to do with their character, intelligence level, geography or the weather.  Most of these relationships never start off toxic and a person is blindsided by love or money, and when the toxicity hit (like a stealth bomb), it feels like a ton of brick that knocks you sideways for months, and by the time you regain composure several things could have happened. 

It is said that to make a relationship work one must make self-sacrifice – I don’t think the type of sacrifice should be your personal happiness, self-esteem, respect and self-care.  And when one is with the right person, that person would never let you self-sacrifice those things.  Happiness depends on you and not another person, and in the same sense their happiness depends on them not you.  Sacrificing your own happiness to make someone else happy won’t make a damn difference.  And the minute that happens then you know you are in a venomous relationship and should take the next exit.  Everyone deserves to feel safe and thrive in a relationship and if that lacks then it’s time to move on.

Take stock and evaluate your relationships.

Be your brother’s keeper but always look, first and foremost, after number one…… you.

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