I have shed that innocence away from my youthful eyes
Open now to the deceptions, the intentions, and the lies
Armed with wings as dark and black as a moonless night
They spread over the steep cliffs and take to ready flight
- The Cliffs from the book Through the Trees by Nina C. Palmer
We reference the five stages of grief as a process we go through to cope with loss. Most commonly, it refers to death or a terminal illness. It is, as if, we who endure a toxic relationship are not allowed to cope with such a process ourselves. We must cope with the stigma of walking away from someone we committed our lives to. We must cope with the manipulations from the person who psychologically tortured us. We must move past those fears of abandonment.
I wrote Through the Trees as a means to endure the grieving process. Within the pages of poetry is the deep emotional hurts that faced in each stage of grief, but it also lead to my freedom. I hoped, by allowing myself to connect to each stage, it would assist me in moving from one stage to the next. I challenged myself finally be able to move on free from bitterness or any ill grievances. I wrote it completely in metaphor and symbolism.
Here is how I applied the five stages of grief to ending my toxic relationships.
A toxic person will shroud their intentions in charm. We fall for them. We love them. It is exactly the way they want it to be. Every velvety word, every seemingly gentle touch is nothing more than a ruse. When we are spellbound by them, it is as if a heavy fog has surrounded us. We become lost.
When deception is realized, anger creeps in. We might be angry with ourselves for being so blind or angry that the person we entrusted ourselves to could be so incredibly hurtful. A battle ensues for our self-respect, but someone who has conditioned us so well to doubt ourselves and follow their lead is usually victorious. The anger still writhes under our surface anxiously plotting an escape.
Seemingly defeated, it is not difficult to comprehend this mid-stage. The emotional captor has us under a spell. Feelings of fear, obligation, and guilt consume us. You doubt our worth, and our self-esteem suffers. Sadness fills our days, and depression sets in. We allow ourselves to fill the position that the toxic relationship requires us to occupy. To them, we are no more than an endless pathological supply of self-fulfillment. Our own needs fail to be met or even acknowledged. If we venture outside of this position, we are quickly dismissed and firmly placed back where we belong.
Perhaps we can only endure so much. We begin to see our suffering as unnecessary and pointless. We look for a way to make it all work and for them to have their cake and eat it too. It is the greatest challenge we can embark on and it always leads to epic failure. Our happiness and well being is of no concern to them. Their only hope is that we abide by their rule. Our suffering is what pleases them the most. Alas, still we ponder perfection. We ponder changing ourselves for them. Then we have the age old thought that we can help them change. We attempt to make an exchange. If I do this, then they will not have to do that. I will no longer hurt or be hurt. We can both be happy.
We did all we could do and yet the cycle still continues. We have been alienated from anyone’s rescue. We have endured baiting, blaming, and bullying. We have been gas lighted, groomed, and manipulated. There comes a day when playing the victim is no longer an option. Being a scapegoat is no longer tolerated. We execute that escape. It’s time to let go.
This emotional journey is like walking in the woods and getting terribly lost. In the end, we must dig down to whatever inner strength we have left and hike our way out. In this journey, you are not alone. Let us embrace each step towards reclaiming our willpower and self worth. When the journey finally reaches its conclusions, may we stand and look back finally able to see the forest through the trees.
As someone that has gone through all of these five stages through my journey at overcoming verbal abuse. It is so important to invest in your healing.
Much light & love <3
Founder - Overcoming Verbal Abuse