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Toxic relationships seem to be pervasive to the point where healthy relationships are in the minority. Toxic relationships are proliferating and have been doing so for the better part of the last few decades.

Toxic relationships are the coming together of adults, who carry wounded children deep inside of them, and who were raised in dysfunctional families that by their very nature are also toxic.

Toxic relationships are battle-grounds mistaken for what is thought of as “love” in which the personality-disordered and the non-personality disordered come together, intersect, interconnect and increase each others pain and suffering no matter how hard they try to make things work. (sometimes both parties in a toxic relationship are in fact personality-disordered)

The dynamic is such that it is engulfing and pervasive in its ritualistic patterned familiarity. Each person involved in a toxic relationship is an individual, of course, and yet to the observer of the foundational schemata of these relationships the twists and turns are so predictable that they could well appear as if they’d been scripted and everyone had read the same book kind of thing.

What I think most people don’t realize when they get wrapped up in the painful chaos of these kinds of relationships is that it is the very familiarity of that pain and chaos that paradoxically attracts and repels you, enlivens you and exhausts you, that pulls you in and pushes you out.

For the personality-disordered it is the only way that they know how to relate. For those who do not have personality disorders, but who do, more often than not have codependency issues that are tip of the iceberg of what are deeper unresolved issues from childhood the fit between them and the personality-disorders is a precast psychological mold that merely awaits your jumping right in to it.

And jump people do. There is fit between those who were raised in toxic dysfunctional and abusive homes who do not develop personality disorders and those who are raised in toxic dysfunctional families and do develop and get diagnosed with a personality disorder. After all, what in my last sentence is the essential difference between the personality-disordered and those who get involved in the toxic and often trauma bonded dysfunctional relationships that are more the norm these days?

The only difference in the arena of toxic relating between the personality-disordered and their partners is the personality disorder itself. The backgrounds, the home lives, the unresolved past issues often have many common themes and common manifestations of woundedness in varying degrees.

This is why the dance is such that many people with or without  a personality disorder will go through series of these type of toxic dysfunctional and chaotic relationships.

It is the familiarity that truly breeds the contempt. The contempt that the personality-disordered and the non-personality-disordered develop for each other as each regresses to past unresolved issues “at” each other (which really has all to do with issues that each partner has with a parent and the reality that they are relating to that parent and not even seeing each other) to the point that the past is so prevalent in the present that the “now” gets totally lost. Who each partner is in a toxic relationship is lost to the partner being related to as if he or she was that parent-figure. While this is very central in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder variations to lessor degrees do play out from non-personality-disordered as well. For the non-personality-disordered person, the loved one, involved with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder they are referred to as non borderlines.

The legacy of toxic relationships starts before we even realize that there is a devastating problem or untold emotional pain and further abuse and psychological woundedness. The legacy of toxic relating is carried from the past by so many people now that what is seen when they meet each other and begin to “fall in love” is really not about “love” it is really about that familiarity to a parent whose “love” one was never able to attain. That’s what the chase is about. That’s why it all feels so compelling and the rush to “love” (really it’s love/hate) is on to get into a relationship (that is really going to be an emotional war).

The other facet of the legacy of toxic relationships, of course, is the damage done and the untold pain suffered in these relationships as adults. If you are in a toxic relationship now, or have been recently, and you are still hurting, angry, or grieving, ask yourself what it was that was so familiar that it hooked you so totally that you ignored your own instincts, your own intellectual reasoning, your own spiritual knowing – what was so compelling?

What is it from your own past that led you to enmesh with someone in a situation in which you simultaneously handed your self over to someone else and threw your self away?

When you find the answer to that question you will discover the true nature of the legacy of toxic relating from your past. You will also discover how and why you made the choices that you did. You will then know better.

When you know better you will do better. Your understanding will have been hard-fought for and you will learn what you need to learn, in time.

The reality for those who are the non-personality-disordered side of toxic relationships is that there is something about your experience in life that led you to make what you now know were self-defeating, self-destructive choices.

The legacy of toxic relationships is all-too-often wrapped up in what becomes a blame game. The dilemma of escape is really what should be of paramount importance. It is only after these kinds of relationships have been ended that each person can go their own way and really get their own healing work done.

The legacy of toxic relationships is one that compounds what is already unresolved pain from your past whether you are aware of this or its roots in your life or not. The reality of this compounded legacy is that as you try to escape the relationship and its pain you seek relief while paradoxically needing to get in touch with the source of your unresolved pain.

The legacy of these relationships is very painful. The legacy of these relationships over and above the pain, the drama, and the endless and equally compelling chaos is the reality of the lessons that you need to seek after by living your questions so that you can find the answers you need to heal what you need to heal so that you can find healthier relationships and so that you can truly come to a reasonable working-definition of what love is versus all that it is not.

The legacy of any and all toxic relating is deep, profound, and can be lasting if it is not actively healed and recovered from. To heal and to recover both the personality-disordered and the non-personality-disordered must look within and stop laying blame with each other.

The legacy of toxic relationships is that the “love” perceived and sought after, wasn’t healthy love at all – it was toxic love. This toxic “love” speaks loudly to the intra-psychic woundedness of the young inner child in both the personality disordered and the non-personality-disordered.

Each must do their own work to heal and recover. Each has issues that while similar are not exactly the same but then when mixed surely make for an intensity that is by its very chaotic and dramatic nature toxic, compelling to the point of all-consuming, and extremely dangerous.

Toxic love is abusive and is about control, not healthy love. It is painful. It can become addictive. It erodes the self, of both the non-personality-disordered and to whatever degree, if at all the personality disordered have an intact self, those with personality disorders as well.

© A.J. Mahari

The Legacy of Toxic Relationships