How to Break Free from an Unhealthy Relationship


“Broken Hearted” 11 x 14 pastel in matt & ready to frame

I enjoy watching old re-runs of “Raymond” on T.V. The humor reminds us of our own humanity. This dysfunctional family makes us laugh as we see the painfully obvious results of their follies. Personal relationships should help us grow and learn, and bring joy and satisfaction into our lives. In “Raymond” we see the twisted insecurities that bring the exact opposite.

I thought about Raymond when I read a local article written by Jayme Hodges, MSW, of the Lee Memorial Behavioral Health Center titled “Unhealthy Relationships Not Always Apparent to Those Involved.”

Jayme wrote “We often focus on the positive qualities of a person, which can distort our perceptions of any negative behaviors. We also may explain away negative behavior by saying ‘he or she is just having a bad day’ or ‘he or she is under a lot of stress.’ Low self-esteem and/or low self confidence also keep people in unhealthy relationships because they believe they can’t do better.”

From my own experience I would add that you shouldn’t feel guilty if your gut instincts tell you that something is amiss. Your mental and emotional health depends on an accurate analysis. Discussing your feelings with a close friend or a counselor will help to ground you in reality.

India Hope 005

“Drawing and 1st level of acrylic paint on a family portrait”

How can you tell that you’re not overreacting or just imagining things? Hodges suggests “Pay attention to your own emotions and listen to those around you. Take the time to reflect on the relationship because you will have a better chance of recognizing if the relationship is unhealthy and what steps you can take to work on or end the relationship.

“If you are experiencing an unusual amount of emotional distress – especially if it interferes with your ability to complete routine daily tasks; if you are more irritable or angry with people or situations, or if you are isolating yourself from family and friends when you normally would not, you should consider seeking professional help.

“Interpersonal and romantic relationships are important to your mental and physical health. These relationships should help us grow and learn, and bring joy and satisfaction to our lives. Healthy relationships should be an equal partnership. They should be built on trust, respect, honesty, support, open and effective communication, listening and fairness.

“Unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, are often marked by manipulation, lack of trust, abuse – which could be emotional, physical and/or sexual; coercion and threats; constant criticism and lack of support; and isolation from family and friends.”

#hopeful in India

“#Hopeful in India” 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas

Raymond and his family seem to be stuck in a never ending cycle of insults and abuse, floundering in the aftermath of dysfunction, but it provides their audience with laughter and feelings of sympathy. We warm to their imperfections and assaults on one another. But in real life, the results of this kind of behavior in relationships can be disastrous.

If you are experiencing any of these dark and imprisoning tactics, please seek help. Your mental and emotional health depends on it.

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