A dark, emotional image of a shattered heart with light emerging from the cracks. The words Toxic Love are underneath it in a gothic style text.

Toxic Love: My Journey From Heartbreak to Healing

Written by: Aunaya Martin

I was 20 years old, right on the cusp of turning 21, when the least expected thing happened. I fell in ‘toxic’ love.

With a brand new smile and a more positive outlook on life, every part of me was shining. I was finally starting to feel comfortable in my skin.

That’s what’s so crazy; they say it’ll find you when you least expect it, and it hit me.. hard. I was always a cynic when it came to the idea of love.

I always told people that romantic love didn’t exist, that it wasn’t really sustainable, and that it wouldn’t last.

And no, I wasn’t burned, broken-hearted, or bitter; I just didn’t see the logic or rationale behind the idea of romantic relationships.

I really believed that “love” was more of a timer that ticked until a realization finally set in.

I believe we are our own happiness and don’t need another person to feel complete or whole.

So, I never made time for a relationship or entertained the idea of a happy ending.

Toxic Love: I Believed All of This Until I Met Her

She was mysterious, bold, and captivating. Something about her just woke something inside of me.

A photo of the author and her girlfriend that she is referring to in the article about toxic love. The other girl's face is blurred out for privacy.

It was intoxicating to be around her; I couldn’t get enough of how she commanded the room.

Her presence enamored me. It took a while for us to reach the level we did, but eventually, we did. She was my first real relationship.

Things got very serious very quickly.

We lived together, worked together, and were in a relationship. But we were both consumed and obsessed with one another, so it didn’t feel like we spent too much time together.

If anything, we felt we didn’t see enough of one another. Every aspect of our life became intertwined.

Our friends were the same. Our schedules overlapped, and we went to the same parties, events, and functions.

Minor Issues Quickly Turned Into Toxic Behaviors

It was like we were living the same exact life. We became one. The problem with becoming one is you start to lose yourself in the process.

That relationship became really toxic quickly because of controlling behavior and other harmful behaviors.

For instance, whenever I tried to spend time with my family, it felt like I was on a timer. And if I didn’t come back when I said I was going to, I was met with outrage and anger.

It was like she was jealous of the time I spent with my family and other people. I also am a very level-headed and calm person, but she brought out the worst in me.

I began to scream and yell and match her energy, which I didn’t like about myself.

Then, I just stopped spending time with my friends and family members.

I stopped doing all the things I loved to do and enjoyed doing. The constant stress from the relationship led to symptoms like insomnia and changes in appetite.

I was no longer a person, just the other half of a pair. We did everything together and shared everything together; our lives were basically stacked on top of one another.


Even places I once enjoyed as an individual became “our spots.”

We loved every minute of the beginning, but somewhere along the lines, we lost ourselves in this fairytale come true.

That’s when things started to go south. We started arguing a lot more, and we leveled up the heat with each argument.

Things got emotional as well as physical. We began to bring out the absolute worst in one another.

My Toxic Relationship Wreaked Havoc On My Self-Worth

I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore. I let myself go in every sense of the word in the name of love.

The toxic relationship took a toll on my physical and mental health, leading to emotional distress, chronic stress, anxiety, and depression.

I thought if we just tried harder and worked to be more present in each other’s lives, we could keep that flame from dying.

But here’s the thing: when you’re with someone who isn’t meant for you, no amount of effort will make that difference.

So, we both began to pull away and treat each other poorly. We stopped doing the little things for each other and communicated even less. We began to feel anger and resentment towards one another.

I remember feeling like some days, being next to her, I couldn’t breathe. In the beginning, that was a good feeling because, in that sense, she took my breath away, but in the end, I felt like I was suffocating.

Eventually, it got the best of our relationship, and she wandered.

The Toxic Dynamic Finally Came to an End

I was heartbroken to find out and to find out how I did. I could feel something different between us, like the energy had shifted.

My intuition told me something was wrong, but when I asked, she played it off and said everything was fine. I kept feeling this increase in distance, and I wasn’t getting the truth from her.

She was making me feel crazy.

So, I kinda snapped and went through her phone while she was asleep. I would never condone violating a partner’s privacy like that, but I was going in circles in my head trying to figure out what was going on.

That’s when I read the ugly truth. She was cheating on me with her coworker. This guy she liked hanging out with and who I never saw as more than a friend to her.

She was way out of his league and betrothed to me, so I really didn’t feel threatened in any sense.

Our Toxic Love Became Outright Poisonous That Night

I was in shock when I read in a conversation she had with her cousin that they were together and that she was planning on leaving me and moving out soon.

Then I remember seething with rage. I woke her up out of a dead sleep to confront her, and she said she was tired and we’d talk about it in the morning.

I was so angry about the situation, but I let her go back to sleep and said, “Fine, we’ll discuss it tomorrow.” Obviously, I didn’t sleep that night. All my brain could do was continuously try to process the betrayal.

I remember crying to myself the whole night and feeling all alone in my pain and confusion. This person lying next to me was a stranger. I didn’t recognize her anymore. I still loved her, but how could she do this to me?

Why didn’t she just talk to me instead?

We loved each other; was this supposed to be a part of our journey? So many questions reeled in my head and I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong or what I did to make her feel like she couldn’t talk to me and be honest and tell the truth.

A picture of the author and her girlfriend that she is referring to in this article about toxic love. The other girls face is blurred out for privacy.

I couldn’t wrap my head around how it all went wrong or how we started in such a magical place and ended in tragedy. I truly never thought I would recover. She was literally everything to me. I mean, I loved her.

She became my whole life, and I didn’t realize this meant we were in an unhealthy and codependent relationship.

Our Toxic Relationship Ended With Cheating and Emotional Manipulation

I didn’t even know what a life without her looked like anymore. She was my future. I made big life decisions in the name of our bond.

How did this person, whom I believed I couldn’t live without, how did they end up a stranger? After the infidelity, I ended things.

I realized that I had been subjected to emotional abuse, feeling powerless, and isolated in the relationship.

It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but I knew I deserved better. After it was over, I spiraled into a dark depression.

I didn’t know how to navigate life anymore. The bed had so much space. The air didn’t smell of her perfume, and the seat in my car wasn’t pushed back all the way.

I felt like she haunted me. There was no trace of her anymore, but her absence was like a knife in my chest with every breath taken. I began to drink alone every day.


My Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being Suffered

I would sneak out to my car in between classes and take shots of Jameson and homemade moonshine because I could feel the pain continually coming back. So naturally, instead of feeling it, I drowned it and numbed myself.

My grades began to slip. I went from being on the Dean’s list to barely passing my classes. I stopped showering, stopped eating, stopped caring.

This one experience defined my entire perspective. I walked around aimlessly alone because not only did I lose the love of my life; I lost my best friend. Goals, dreams, passions, and life didn’t matter anymore.

Nothing had meaning. Everything was gray. It took me longer than I care to admit to detach from her. The hold she had on me, the power I gave her, and ultimately, the hurt and disrespect I allowed. 

I felt defeated in every definition of the word.

Our Time Spent Together Taught Me the Value of Healthy Relationships

I never wanted to feel that way again, so I built walls around myself. Making sure no one would ever have the opportunity to be that close again.

It took months, but I finally started to meet new people. I mean, she was the only friend I had for those years, so I was pretty alone.

But I started to branch out and talk to more people, and I discovered my laugh and smile again. It wasn’t until after I broke up with her that I realized how unhappy I was in our toxic relationship.

I began to understand the importance of a healthy relationship, one in which both partners feel safe and secure, make decisions together, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

I think we as people try to see the best and make excuses for the red flags we see. We try to justify that behavior with a rose-colored perspective.

It’s important to acknowledge that not all toxic relationships can be fixed, and distinguishing between toxic and abusive relationships is crucial for healing. Not every unhealthy love will come with physical or verbal abuse, either.

I realize now that there was more than one clear sign we weren’t a good match, but I blatantly ignored them.

The people I was beginning to meet began to open my eyes to new possibilities of life and love. We all became so close; they helped me get over that whole experience.

They helped me see that I wasn’t reaching my full potential or going after what I actually wanted. This realization shaped my whole outlook to this day. I rediscovered my worth.

Rediscovering Myself After Experiencing Emotional Harm At the Hands of Toxic Love

I’ve always been a very confident and secure person. I don’t get jealous, and I don’t put up with disrespect of any kind. I also have always believed that what makes a person special to us is the way we feel about them.

So, in that sense, we’re the magic, not that person. So I’ve always carried myself like I’m the prize. During that relationship, I became a different person. I lost my beliefs, my self-esteem, and my confidence.

Ultimately, everything I had believed in or represented went out the window. I molded myself to be what she wanted, not who I actually was.

Recognizing Toxic Behavior in That Relationship Was Crucial To My Transformation

It’s taken me a long time to pick up the pieces of my life and the future we once envisioned together. But in my solitude, I have found not just the strength to move forward but also the will to keep going and the independence to live my life authentically.


Years have gone by, and I’ve had so many wonderful experiences with people who have shaped who I am. I look at my life as an adventure again and want to experience everything it has to offer.

With a changed mindset and some good people along the way, I’ve learned to be patient and kind with myself and my situation.

Because the reality is that everything is temporary.

Life ebbs and flows, and instead of fighting the current, we can learn just to float along and make the best out of the ripples that come.

Do you have a story about toxic love? Let us know in the comment section below.

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