Toxic Relationships - Cause & Effect

As a prostate cancer patient or survivor, it is not hard to find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster. Prostate cancer impacts men and their life-partners on many levels, and the journey can be a long one with many twists and turns. At this point in your life, you can easily and even unknowingly drift into or create a highly toxic relationship.

Bad habits

How? It is so easy to do.

It can begin by feeling sorry for yourself and ever so slowly drawing others into that never-ending “Pity Party.” Perhaps you have become angry with your situation and now lost patience with those who care for you.

You may have developed a few bad habits along the way, such as abusing alcohol or reacting to opioids. It does not matter how you got to where you are in any toxic relationship. The key is to recognize that you are on the wrong path and that you need to make changes.

Toxic relationships are just that. No matter how you look at it – it is never healthy.

What is a toxic relationship?

A classic definition of a toxic relationship is often described as one that involves some sort of abuse, manipulation, or other form of negative behavior that can impact one or both individuals in a relationship.

Abuse and manipulation along with negative behavior are easily misunderstood when dealing with any cancer patient. Abuse does not always mean physical abuse; it also applies to verbal and mental abuse.

A cancer diagnosis can easily put you into a never-ending “pity cocoon.” In the process you put yourself into self-isolation. COVID-19 makes this easier today than it has ever been before.

Looking in the mirror

The reverse may be true where you become more demanding. After all, in your mind, you are ill and “deserve” to be treated differently.

The questions to honestly ask yourself at this point are: “Am I manipulating those close to me, and do I secretly resent the 'heathy' folks in my life who are trying to help me?” Are you accusing others of “infractions” with little or no reason to presume your assumptions are correct?

If you sense you are in a toxic relationship, you also need to honestly ask yourself, "Why is this happening?" The harder question we never want to ask is, “Am I the cause?"

Perhaps for the first time in your life you have to realize that now is the time for brutal honesty with yourself. Now is the time to speak up. You and others need to understand the root causes of the distress.

Lashing out

A sure sign of a toxic relationship is a sense of increasing volatility. Are you experiencing an increase in over-the-top behaviors, or extreme reactions that feel overwhelming? Are you more isolated? Do you insist those close also isolate and not be involved with others? Is it time to make some changes? Only you can make that decision.

If you are in a toxic relationship with a spouse or life partner, professional counseling or even psychotherapy can be potential resources for help. Such approaches can be extremely helpful in identifying proper coping mechanisms and identifying how to develop healthier and more productive interpersonal communication skills.

The role of addiction

A toxic relationship can be also caused by the result of an addiction. As a prostate cancer survivor who was on Lupron, I can honestly say the drug played havoc with my emotions. As a survivor, you may find yourself addicted to the opiates that were prescribed for cancer pain. While opiates are effective, they can and do cause many issues.

No matter what your toxic situation looks like, now may be the time to make some changes.

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