When to let go of toxic relationships

When it comes to complicated love Manni Bradshaw wonders, should you learn to let go, or linger?

At the beginning of each new year, we find ourselves in a state of personal renovation. No matter how big or how small the alteration, the new year's resolution is the ultimate in D.I.Y self-improvement.

For most of us, it's about hitting the gym more often in order to shed the excess baggage gained over Christmas past while others may require a more dramatic, long-term overhaul. Whatever the case, a resolution is essentially about the brand new you, a reconstruction of the original blueprint where new goals and aspirations are designed to make you feel and be a better person.

If change is as good as a holiday then most of us are in need of a seriously long vacation. As human beings, we've somehow grown accustomed to hurting each other time and time again without even batting an eyelid.

We seem to forget just how fragile we are and how certain words and actions, albeit intentional or in error, have consequences. Sometimes these fall outs are permanent and beyond absolution. It's apparent that resolution cannot exist without conflict but how did we get so stuck on the past? Resentment, anger, fear and self-loathing? How do we move onto better versions of ourselves if we keep clinging onto the experiences that hurt us the most?

A few years ago, Emma found out that her boyfriend of ten months had been living a double life. It was a shocking revelation, one that traumatised and tarnished several relationships along the way. Friends, family, women and children. Like a battlefield full of casualties, everyone seemed to be affected by the consequences of her boyfriend's action.

Any normal girl would have just left and moved on with her life but in a surprise twist of character, Emma decided to stay and forgive him, not fully understanding what this tremendous feat entailed.

As the years went by, this particular boyfriend had been living in misery, a life he was willing to endure in order to prove his remorse. Despite going to regular sessions of psychotherapy, all his efforts to resolve the situation had been in vain. Every day was a living reminder of what he had done and of how he had hurt Emma, who in turn was not making the situation any easier.

She had become a monster lashing out at anyone who had tried to help or offer support. For two and a half years, she would find any opportunity to rehash the past both publicly and in the privacy of their own home. It was almost as if she was hellbent on staying in the past.

Towards the end of last year, the relationship had gone from bad to worse. Her boyfriend was without work for a while and the self-inflicted stress and anxiety had started to physically manifest in Emma's body. She developed a minor arrhythmia and is now forced to take medication to calm her down. It took a Swedish masseuse she had never used before to talk some sense into her. "You're harbouring a lot of resentment. You need to let it go before you kill yourself."

Hearing the words come out of a perfect stranger's mouth is all it took for Emma to start making the mental adjustments she so desperately needed. In 2013, she made a the following resolutions...to let go of the things in the past and start living in the present. To accept situations she cannot change and rise above the anger it may cause. To see fault in her own retaliation and the large scale damage it had caused and, last but not least, to acknowledge the efforts of a man who had spent the past two years proving that he was truly sorry...

Sometimes words and actions are like bulldozers; if you decide to go forward, you're bound to destroy everything in sight. Once the structure of love and trust has been broken, there's no telling how long it will take to repair until the dust has completely settled. If you're lucky these relationships can be salvaged with a little bit of time, patience and a really good masseuse.

Amnesty is not always the case and some damage is so irreparable that all you're left with are ruins and remains of what was before. Despite making every effort to ease the situation, it only takes one blow to destroy a perfectly good foundation.

When it comes to resolution, I couldn't help but wonder, are we all just under construction? 


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