You know your situation isn't good, but you aren't sure how to make it better.
You've tried asking for what you need. You've tried communicating about how the maltreatment you receive affects you. You've tried to engage the other person's empathy, compassion and reason. None of these strategies result in lasting relief.
Imagine that you are sitting on a train track.
Imagine that the worst things that could happen in your toxic relationship are loaded onto a train bearing down on you. You hear the horn. You see the glare of the train's headlight as a dim glow in the dark a few miles away, as it rounds the bend.
What should you do?
Many survivors of so-called Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome PTSD from narcissistic relationships, or trauma caused by people with anti-social personality disorder find themselves hesitating as the sound of the train grows louder.
After sitting on the tracks awhile, their worlds have become so constricted and their fundamental assumptions have been so distorted by a toxic person that they believe the very nature of their existence is defined by their relationship with these tracks --- as though their life mission is to to hold them down for the train's benefit, despite the risk to their own lives.
Within this frame of reference, people do try to protect themselves, but while staying on the tracks. They wonder how they can stay on the tracks without getting run over. They pray, try to signal the train to stop, and try to fortify themselves so that they somehow have the strength and power to single-handedly stop the train.
Sometimes they just hope that the train will run out of steam before it gets so far down the track that it destroys them.
This is a very dangerous situation.
It is important to remember that you have options.
You can roll off of the tracks. The train can continue on its way, while you lie in the grass and look at the stars while you imagine how you to create a different kind of life now that you are in a new and expansive space, out of harm's way.
To save yourself --- and you are worth saving --- you don't need to be SuperMan or WonderWoman --- holding back s speeding train with the palm of one hand. You just need to get off of the tracks.
I know it's easier said than done. That's why I do the work I do, reminding folks that they can get off the tracks, and helping them develop the confidence, skills and strategies that let them do it while they still can.