Family on Roller Coaster

People recovering from a toxic relationship, whether it’s with a parent, a partner, a boss, or a friend, rarely have an idea what to expect. Recognizing that the recovery roller coaster is normal is half the battle!

Situational Amnesia Means You Minimize the Bad Stuff

You imagine that you will feel relief once you have created distance. You imagine that escaping a toxic person will mean instant freedom and happiness. When you discover that isn’t the case, a common refrain is, “I should be happy. Why do I miss her so much?”

If you start having thoughts such as, “Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember” or “I know I should be happy but I’m not”, congratulations! You are officially in recovery! Now it’s time to realize that you have entered a process and how you progress will be entirely up to you. You may move quickly or slowly, and neither is right or wrong.

It’s Okay to Visit Pity Land, Just Don’t Stay There

I always try to reassure people that cycles of happy and sad are totally normal. You may achieve something, get past your “year of firsts”, get a new job, or just have a great night’s sleep and feel euphoric! A few days later, you might receive damaging communication from your toxic person and suddenly, you are thrust into a deep sadness and disproportionate feelings of gloom and doom.

Early in recovery, this is to be expected.

Let yourself have that temper tantrum, cry, stomp, whatever gets it out. Even go to be for a day if that’s what you need. Just recognize that these are cycles and ensure that you are practicing good self-care.

…And the Horse You Rode In On!

No matter how you approach the recovery roller coaster, you always need a good toolkit. Whether you are a person who uses humor, sarcasm, temper, or a combination in order to process these emotions, it’s imperative that you have tools for recovery. I am one who is split fairly evenly between humor and temper. That is, I make fun of him a lot but I also let off that angry steam (safely) when I need to.

What’s important is that you find the tools that work for you and make a habit of using them. Frequently I will post a meme on my Facebook page that is along the lines of “f- you humor”. It makes me laugh, it makes me feel like I told him off, and more importantly, it reminds me that life has gone on just fine.

From the Health Care Perspective, Track Your Feelings

As part of your recovery, it is always helpful and sometimes critical to seek out professional treatment. For this reason, I highly encourage everyone in recovery from a toxic person to document and track these roller coasters. While the feelings are completely normal, there may come a time when you need pharmaceutical intervention because your brain chemistry has been altered by the experience (also completely normal!). When that happens, your provider will be thrilled if you can produce a track record of when you have certain reactions and what came right before them.

Here’s a Bonus: Tracking it Helps Prevent It

One of the best discoveries along my road of recovery was that, if I would document specific reactions and the incidents that occurred right before, I was better able to prevent those reactions in subsequent episodes.

Talk about feeling powerful!

I’d love to know…how many of you have felt like this roller coaster of recovery “proved” that you are “crazy” or “the problem”? Drop me a comment below and let’s talk!

Aubrey Cole

Aubrey Cole

I survived a quarter century of psychological, emotional, economic and sexual abuse. When I got out, I vowed to help others do the same and founded the Emotional Abuse Survivors Network project in 2012. Now, I offer hope and healing to others on their journey as they rediscover themselves. My forthcoming books, Bodies in the Basement and Define Winning, chronicle my experiences, escape, and recovery. There is nothing so special about me that others can't emerge and thrive.
Aubrey Cole

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