A toxic relationship is the most annoying relationship to be in and not for the obvious reasons you’re thinking.

Determining whether a relationship is toxic is or not pretty easy and straightforward.

As long as it’s not our relationship that’s under the scope.

“Being emotionally invested in a toxic relationship” should be an alternative definition of blindness.¬†Your gut knows something isn’t right, but it’s no match for the level to which the force of your head, heart, libido, and limerence will prosecute and turn a blind eye to that instinct of yours at every.single.turn.

I remember years ago, being in the most toxic relationsh*ts and friendsh*ts. I’d be so grateful just to get a little dirt from them on the doormat I had become. What was so incredible though, was that I could spot, identify, and analyze toxic relationships that friends and family were in from a mile away. My toxic relationship radar was unmatched – As long as I wasn’t IN the relationsh*t. If I was in it, that radar was replaced with an insatiable hunger for crumbs – Crumbs from the loaf that was always promised but never existed.

The most difficult and annoying thing about a toxic relationship is that as long as you suffer from low self esteem and need¬†validation like you do oxygen… These codependent relationsh*ts will always bring out the hopeless addict in you and the hopeful, exploitative addict in your partner.

Toxic relationships are highly addictive if you lack confidence, standards, and self love.

The dirty shoes become addicted to using the dutiful doormat and the doormat becomes addicted to the dirty shoes for a sense of feeling needed, significant, and alive.

Addiction is extremely hard to kick. I’ve been an addict – not to drugs or alcohol, but to dysfunction, unavailability, the self-limiting story I chose to subscribe to that was crafted from a painful childhood and everything else that my abandonment issues ignited. Having to go No Contact with your happiness source, no matter how unhealthy, dangerous, and sabotaging it is, is hard. Change is hard.

If you’re addicted to a certain dynamic, self-limiting belief, person, relationship or substance, it’s really HARD. It’s hard to wake up one morning, have an epiphany and not only say “That’s it! I’m done! It’s trash day and I’ve got a lot to take out,” but have the courage to actually follow through and ACT on that realization.

Flushing the sh*t in our emotional and relational toilets should be just as non-negotiable as flushing the crap in our literal ones. Yet, the struggle is a little too weird to acknowledge and a little too real to gain the courage needed to act on behalf of a self that we don’t believe is good enough.

Bottom line: The only reason I ever put up with a toxic relationship for more than a hot minute – from family, friends, and lovers, was because it mirrored the toxicity of the one I had with myself.

I figured if I could de-toxify my relationsh*t, then the one I had myself would be detoxed by association.

I did not write this post to insult your intelligence by defining the obvious symptoms of what a toxic relationship is. I wrote it to unplug the triggers that are dimming your instinct right now.

I wrote it to initiate the courage you were born with to finally flush the crap in your relational toilet, once and for all.

Here are 10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship…

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Today I have the honor of once again, getting to introduce a very special guest post written by my dear friend Lorelle who many of you know from the comments here on PMS. Lorelle and I have never in person (she lives in Austrailia. More about her and how we met can be found on her first guest post here). The only 2 people who have ever written for PMS are Lorelle and my Mom. I have connected with and trust Lorelle more than I connect with and trust people I have known my entire life. How is that even possible? It’s possible because we attract what we exude.¬†

This is a very special post for me because it deals with the one thing that we all struggle with, self love. It also addresses how to deal with the kind of pain and emptiness that can only be felt from suviving your own relational, spiritual, and emotional murder.

Self love and self-deception cannot coexist. The denominator of self-deception will always be tolerating deception from other people. And just like getting healthy requires cutting out unhealthy foods, the level of emotional health that’s needed to truly love yourself and have unconditional confidence, requires a lack of toleration for toxic people¬†– including the toxicity of the cynical audience in your head.¬†

The photo above was taken yesterday, just a few minutes after I read this post. I was feeling a little run down and this post was like emotional dialysis. I felt so light, recalibrated, refocused, and recharged after reading it.

Although this post may not completely silence that audience in your head or the toxic people you have to deal with, it shines a light so bright on their limitations that it activates your boundaries and resurrects the one person you’ve been mourning the loss of, wondering where he/she went…¬†Yourself.

Lorelle, take it away my friend…

A few days ago, when visiting Sydney, I went to Watsons Bay to visit a famous lookout. It is a huge cliff that faces out to the Tasman sea. It stands tall, covered in grasses and smooth rock ledges, and plummets below to craggy rocks that sometimes are overwhelmed with the crashing waves and foaming waters that push full force in that huge cliff. This cliff is known as The Gap.

It is a truly beautiful sight, and with views that take you to the horizon on a clear day. It is also hauntingly sad in that it is an infamous suicide spot that has claimed many lives. People who in their darkest moment, have chosen to jump that massive cliff and plummet into what lies below. The last thing they will ever do.

I remember standing there and seeing some of the mementos left by loved ones for those who lost their lives there. Little engraved padlocks with messages and some photos and flowers. It is a humbling experience to be where others have been at their absolute lowest and to know this was their chosen last place to make a decision. That their future was deemed too hard and too painful to face, and so, this became their final resting place when they made that final choice.

But this post is not about suicide. It is about self love. You see, suicide doesn‚Äôt kill people…

Sadness does.

Hopelessness does.

Loneliness does.

Being unappreciated does.

Being lied to does.

Being played with does.

Being disappointed does.

Being disrespected does.

Being unloved does.

Being unrecognized does.

Being neglected does.

Being unnoticed does.

Being uncared for does.

And when these feelings become overwhelming, those who suffer want nothing more but to end that crushing, relentless pain. To make it go away.

To end it.

That is what drives people to make decisions that feel like that ‚Äėgap‚Äô inside them could be filled.

I have spoken about the Gap as a landmark, but I think it is also the perfect analogy to the gap we often feel within when we are feeling vulnerable and unloved. When we feel an emptiness and a hollowness inside that just seems to eat us up. We feel like shells. No life. No purpose. Just going through the motions of life, pretending to be ok, when inside, we are destitute.

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Me to myself last week:¬†“I need help. This is the end. No really, this is it.”¬†

I was eventually able to help myself and get out of what I was struggling with. There’s still a part of me though that¬†feels like it’s just a matter of time before I’m back in the prison of paranoia once again.

There I’ll be – hanging onto the certainty of my own awareness while feeling trapped in the same minimized state of emotional reduction that I write about and help men and women get out of, every day.

For 2 days last week, I experienced the worst kind of anxiety.¬†I hadn’t felt this way in 7, 8 years… maybe more. I don’t remember the last time I felt that anxiety but as far back as I CAN remember, I would always engage in what caused it up until I made a committed decision to change my life in my early 20s. Not only had it become second nature growing up… It was my only means of¬†emotional survival as a kid.

During those “I need help,” 2 days last week, I experienced a psychological hangover fuelled by this exhausting, involuntary re-hashing, catastrophizing,¬†fear, “what if-ing,” and grief as a result of having to live through what felt like my own death in real time.

There’s a term in the medical community called “anesthesia awareness.” It’s a rare condition where the patient wakes up during¬†their own surgery. In the majority of cases, the patient can’t feel anything, but they can hear what’s going on. They can also feel pressure, pulling and cutting sensations, and are aware of their surroundings but are unable to speak or move.

Last week, I went into an important meeting that I knew was a very routine “surgical” procedure, but I experienced emotional¬†anesthesia awareness about halfway in.

And it had nothing to do with the other party.

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Limerence is something I’ve experienced as far back as I can remember. If you haven’t heard of Limerence before, you’re not alone. I didn’t know there was an actual name for this kind of compulsory weakness/obsession/lovesick addiction that I thought was uniquely my own up until a few years ago.

What is Limerence?

The term was coined in 1979 by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her book¬†Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being In Love.¬†Tennov describes limerence as ‚Äúan involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.‚Ä̬†

Limerence convinces us that the object of our desire is the only source there will ever be as far as our happiness, purpose and emotional oxygen go. With limerence symptoms, you will feel dependent on the other person for emotional survival and devastated to the point of paralysis if these feelings are not reciprocated. Daydreams and fantasies about the other person are incessant and as you get deeper into your dependence, the fantasies can become elaborate and extreme. Your entire emotional ecosystem is outside of your control.

The funny thing is, none of this sounds strange or out of the ordinary to me whatsoever. This is exactly how I would describe the way I felt and behaved in every relationship when I was younger. 

Gloria Estefan¬†is one of my favorite singers. I grew up listening to her music because my Mom is a fan. I was listening to one of her most popular songs in the car today and realized that the song should be called “Limerence”¬†or ¬†“The Limerant,” instead of “Anything For You” because it describes what it’s like to be in stages of limerence perfectly.

Here are some of the lyrics:

Anything for you
Though you’re not here
Since you said we’re through
It seems like years
Time keeps dragging on and on and forever’s been and gone
I’d still do anything for you
I’ll play your games
You hurt me through and through
But you can have your way
I can pretend each time I see you
That I don’t care and I don’t need you
And though you’ll never see me cryin’
You know inside I feel like dying
And I’d do anything for you
In spite of it all
I’ve learned so much from you
You made me strong
I hope you find someone to please you
Someone who’ll care and never leave you
But if that someone ever hurts you
You just might need a friend to turn to
And I’d do anything for you
I’ll give you up
If that’s what I should do
To make you happy

As far as emotional investments go, limerence is something that you’ll never be able to afford but that’s what television, obnoxiously unrealistic social media accounts, love songs, and romantic movies are for. They thrive on making you feel like you can and you will – against all odds – when it comes to romantic love.

Even if those odds defy reality, logic, and require the absence of a brain and dignity to beat.

The problem is, your psyche isn’t wired to produce the kind of currency for that level of bullsh*t cost. Only your fears, delusion, and the story you tell yourself can produce that kind of psychological¬†Monopoly money.

Limerence is the Fool’s Gold of true love.

It’s the romantic love drug that pop culture perpetuates the addiction to. This starts at a young age when we are at our most impressionable and it continues until we become so hopeless in our romantic addiction, we start to confuse love with limerence.

For me, it started with fairy tales as a kid. I LOVE all of the fairy tales and everything romantic. You name it… Romantic comedies, tv shows, love stories, love songs – cheesy, beautiful, sad, etc… I’m a sucker for it all. The only difference now is, they are no longer used as a marker for comparing my life to, nor do they set any kind of standard for my relational expectations, wants, and needs.

Romantic love that’s expressed in pop culture is there for your entertainment, not to use as an outline for the script of YOUR life.

¬†You’d never watch Mission Impossible and because of that, decide to jump out of the next car you were a passenger in and leap into oncoming traffic – convinced that you were going to carry out an impossible mission…¬†would you?

So why do we continue to jump out of the relational cars, thinking we can emotionally survive the oncoming traffic?

Limerence.

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