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The Truth About Life After A Toxic Lover

Toxicity found you but it's not the end.

Her Voice

One of the most confusing aspects of breakups is who we end up taking the longest to get over. Why, for instance, does it feel easier to bounce back from parting ways with a genuinely kind, wonderful partner you considered a best friend than an ex who had virtually no redeeming qualities? Why are the people who proved to be selfish, dishonest, manipulative–aka, so obviously bad in every way–sometimes the hardest to release?

I read a personal testimony from a member of @thebodyahomeforlove who wrote:

As a survivor, I constantly wish I could go back in time and change who I was when my assault happened.⠀
I wish I had seen the signs. I wish I had never entered that relationship. I wish I loved myself the way I do now. Maybe I would have been able to change what happened. Maybe I would have avoided the mental abuse. But, that version of myself is valuable.⠀
She didn't know what she knows now. And even if she did, it wasn't her fault.⠀
Because of what I accepted and tolerated in relationships back then, I will never accept that behavior now. Because of who I was during that period of my life, I am stronger.⠀
Do I have some healing to do? Of course. But I came out of that situation shocked by how much resilience I have.
I love myself. But I also love who I was when my assault happened.

As I read her testimony, I understood this sister. I appreciated that nothing was rejected about her experiences. Gracefully understanding that every former version of ourselves is valuable. Knowing that shedding toxic releases makes us more alike than we are different.

I remember my first night single, I returned home from work, took off my bra and tossed it over the hamper and lit a candle. All I knew was that I made it out and now I could comfortably sit in an empty home without pettiness.

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Missing foresight, I was limited to the awareness of what life after a toxic lover would actually feel like. But I knew I had been here before, and what I would do first was change my look. Was a new identity even what I should be focusing on first? This was what I only knew to do, I was going through all types of hair styles to welcome the 'life after' me. What did she actually look like now?

Like most women, I even did the "cut a man out of my life haircut chop" when it was finally over over. But I had to see deeper. Collectively thinking with my girlfriends, could we write a new rule in the dating-relationship world. Could we? Something that was a solution to toxicity.

Here's the truth about life after a toxic lover:

You’ll need to know what to search up on YouTube to grow in femininity.

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It took a minute for me to come across some channels that perfectly matched who I wanted to be but I'm glad they found me. So many "a-ha" moments happened right on my living room couch as YouTube taught me. Vetting. Something I did naturally but not strategically. Femininity. I was getting in my own way. Understanding a man. I had to learn quickly here. And YouTube University was teaching me all of it.

You're semi-delusional.

At first, you say it's not you because the toxic one was him. The toxic lover was obvious. But delusion says that much of it was you too. Think about it this way, the word sounds defensive, I know, but society taught you that. As defined, delusion is based on or having faulty judgment; mistaken. When we allow the wrong person in our lives, it's because "we missed the mark", not them. So, when we allow the wrong person to stay in our lives, we should be held accountable for their presence. Once they're gone, be sure to ask yourself why it is you're attracting toxic lovers. Having these hard conversations with ourselves should be a requirement.

You’ll convince yourself you're OK when you're not.

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Isn't it easier this way? Eventually, someone will keep it real with you and after enough time, you'll see that your version of damage control is controlling you. Luckily, our culture has accepted therapy and even with a pandemic going on, virtual therapy has become a thing. I'd say, that if discussing your former toxic relationship with someone doesn't sting a little bit with the truth, seek a professional relationship expert or a good ass cultured therapist that'll challenge you.

You will have a period of time where you will date too soon because you miss companionship. 

Just prepare. The natural tug of needing your own masculine energy to laugh and talk with all started in the "Garden of Eden". It's not going away. It's natural of a woman. I was awakened to this acknowledgment after questioning myself. Sasha, why can't you stop dating and just let many years go by? What was I thinking? That seemed more like a punishment than a privilege. As I sat with those thoughts, I was just simply tired of the disappointment and needed a break, and breaks to recharge are healthy. And I did just that after dating, loving, relationship-ing since 16.

Heartbreaks come with work and when it happens, it’s hard to identify the type of work you really need done.

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Toxicity found you but it's not the end. It's hard for the mind to uninstall programs that block our truth, happiness and authenticity, and while healing from a toxic lover doesn't help, it will grow us if we let it. Finding the strength to go into negative memories to accept what just happened is a painful awakening, but one that is needed. As programs are projected on us as early as childhood, we have to uninstall them, files need to be deleted that are not yours. Files that could have been placed on you by your parents.

Your soul really needs to know that it's not yours and you don't have to carry pre-programming around of what others did to you.

The more we look in the mirror naked, we meet somewhere, some place that our mind must take us. Cheers to rebuilding a community. I love following bold women online who embrace stretch marks, gaps, fros, acne, sagging titties, pain, a body in any shape, therapy, mistakes, modesty, femininity and so on. The important stuff. Because the more she does, and I encourage that, the more indirectly she helps me tap into my own authentic reflections.

Life after a toxic lover ain't all bad, boring, or bougie. You go through the shit to get to the joy. And although it ain't always good, it's a period of time that you are finally allowing yourself to heal, hopefully. Because what got us to a toxic lover is the failure to be with ourselves too. And when we keep dating, going, moving through life — or ignoring this, we'll look back and before we know it, we have neglected the most important person to know entirely, ourselves.

Life after a toxic lover.

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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