Are You Healing From a Toxic Relationship? Treat Yourself With Kindness!

Maria Anna van Driel
4 min readMar 18, 2023

Verbal and emotional abuse, toxic projection, stone walling, sabotage, smear campaigns, triangulation, parental alienation and a variety of other types of manipulation and control are all examples of psychological violence perpetrated by someone who lacks empathy, has a strong feeling of entitlement and participates in interpersonal exploitation to achieve his/her own demands at the expense of others rights. Aka the covert and overt (malignant) narcissists.

Odd as it might sound to many but abuse as such executed by the narcissist is creating PTSD with their victim(s) where the victim, so it is said, needs at least half the years of the abuse experienced to heal.

The translation of the German text on the wall “Violence is not innate”. The text in the box I am holding: “Living free of violence is a human right”. Photo credit: Maria Anna van Driel

An excerpt of the article ‘Relationship PTSD: The effects of an emotionally abusive relationship’,

‘Trauma can be defined as any highly emotionally distressing experience in which one’s sense of emotional or physical safety is in jeopardy. Therefore, any kind of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, financial, etc.) can be considered traumatic. When someone is experiencing this kind of emotional distress, the brain can’t really process information effectively because of an over activation of stress hormones causing a ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response. For example, if you were near a vicious animal, you wouldn’t be thinking, ‘Hmm, I wonder what I’m going to have for dinner tonight,’ or ‘Did I remember to turn off the lights when I left my house this morning?’ Your body would instinctively take some kind of protective action such as running away.’ (to read the full article visit https://thriveworks.com/blog/relationship-ptsd-effects-of-an-emotionally-abusive-relationship/ )

Although PTSD and CPTSD is invisible to the outside world, it is very realistic and does not only creep into the lives of military personnel. It can hit anyone! Dealing with the nightmares of a traumatic event and thus the multiple after effects is a normal reaction but not quite understood with family, friends and therapists/psychologists. This can result in people spending a huge amount of money on stuff simply to compromise this feeling of emptiness, confusion and mental decay. Not being understood while looking in the abyss of their own psyche is more dangerous than a stray bullet.

So, do you look at your situation and ask yourself am I ever going to heal from this? Is this pain ever going to go away? Well, yes but it is going to take time. After being on the receiving end for 2+ decades myself, that’s one of the things I often talk about, how it feels that I am never going to get my life back and start to heal from this.

It feels that those emotions and the feelings that you are dealing with are going to be stuck with you forever. And so, you are looking for ways just to kind of lessen that pain and make it dull as possible so that it is bearable and that you can actually survive. Although you will feel better over time, at this moment it is hard to imagine that in the really bad part of this whole thing, that you are going to be able to heal from it completely and get to the point where you didn’t always had those underlying stressful and painful feelings and memories.

Now when you are stuck in that mode it is really hard to find any hope that things are gonna get better. It can be very demoralizing when you are waking up every day to the same pain and you are going to bed every night in the same pain. You just feel like you are just basically going in circles making no progress. Whatever it is that you are doing, you are not feeling any better. That hole in your heart isn’t going away. And so you don’t feel like you are ever going to regain who you once were.

Now when you are in that mode it is not a good place to be and it makes things just really complicated. You do what you need to do to kind of make it through the day. You might even fake your smile or social interests. And the days that you don’t have to do anything, you might spend a significant portion of that time sleeping basically trying to get an escape from those murky feelings.

Photo credit: Maria Anna van Driel

I myself broke away from a long term toxic relationship in August 2022 and I have experienced many days today which have knocked me out of balance and exhausted me mentally. And do you know what I did? Nothing! And in the evening I treated myself with some delicious food like a shrimp meal and watching a movie without any feeling of guilt! :)

In other words, try to embrace these nasty moments. Not for you to experience the pain but, for you to learn how to love yourself again for who you truly are. An energetic and bright light!

Heal at your own pace because, pushing yourself towards a quick mental healing process will, in the end, only work in reverse.

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Maria Anna van Driel

In 2020 I realized I was trapped in a toxic relationship since '00. In Aug. '22 I found the strength to break away, flip my life to become a psychotherapist.