Let me start by saying I’m writing this mostly for myself because I’ve never been good at walking away from people, even the toxic ones. Slowly but surely I’m learning, and if you’ve struggled with walking away from toxic people, maybe we can learn together.
I guess I could introduce my situation with, “So there’s this guy,” or “I have this friend,” but what’s the point? I think most people have been in a situation where they were being taken advantage of, or manipulated, or used and despite being 100% fed up, let it continue.
I’ve been in situations like this more than I care to admit, though. Somehow I find myself involved with people who take advantage of me, and I struggle to walk away. Whether it’s giving money to friends who never pay me back, or letting emotionally stunted guys bring me down… I’ve been there. I’ve shed a lot of tears over people who have probably never thought twice about my feelings.
A month or so ago, I was cry-driving… You know, when you listen to Adelle and cry while you drive home…and I was just thinking, “How many times am I going to cry over a situation that could have been avoided if I just had the guts to cut this person off and stop dealing with his shit?”
That’s when I realized… This is what I do. I let people get to me, but I let them stay around…then I get mad at myself about it… and before you know it I’m cry-driving about them AGAIN!
So why do I let them stay when all they do is bring me down? After literally years of being walked over, I finally figured it out. I let them stay because in my warped mind, even shitty company is better than no company. And that’s when the epiphany came, as much as I hate being the cliche co-dependent girl, my inability to dissolve negative relationships all comes back to the fear of being alone.
It’s not that I’m afraid of going to dinner by myself or waking up by myself, but I am terrified of being alone when I am at my lowest of lows looking for validation and realizing that the crappy friends or guys I would usually text for shallow reassurance are no longer there. It’s just me. And what if that’s not enough?
Oddly, once this epiphany hit, I felt empowered. Now that I knew WHY I let myself get mowed over by toxic people, I could overcome my fear of loneliness.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. Instead of being afraid to be alone, I’m in love with myself.
Of course I took the necessary initial steps to remove the toxicity, like deleting the phone number, unfriending the person on social media, and not only deciding but RESOLVING to move on, for real this time.
And after that is when the hard stuff started: Avoiding the itch to send the innocent, “Hey, how are you?” texts. Intentionally staying away from the places where the memories feel so strong they could suffocate every oxygen molecule in my body. These are the hard things that usually send me spiraling back into the vortex of crappy friends.
I won’t pretend that there isn’t a void, but I learned that the void doesn’t exist in their absence, actually the void existed before our relationship/friendship ever did, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself otherwise. It’s almost as if I had put together this wonderful puzzle, except I was missing the last piece. So I grabbed something that seemed like it would work and jammed it into the empty space. While the space was less empty it wasn’t complete. Instead of jamming toxic people into my life to try and feel good, I have been filling that void with love for myself, my life, and the non-toxic people around me.
And it’s working.
Feeling like you need validation? Call your mom. She’s made for validating her precious baby. Feeling lonely? Embrace being alone and walk around in your undies singing along to Beyonce. Feeling the itch to text your person? Text your best friend instead and tell him/her why you appreciate them. Focus on your built in support system, the people who know you and love you regardless of the chaos of your world.
Most importantly, treat yourself well. Get fresh air, take a few extra moments to take in the warmth of the sun. Read a book. Express gratitude for your beautiful existence. Praise yourself for your many accomplishments. Smile at your reflection. Eat delicious food, especially the kind that nourishes your body. Set new goals. Invest in yourself.
These are the things that will fill up that empty space in your puzzle. You fill the voids in your life, not anyone else. Trust me when I say you are empowered to remove the people from your life who make you question your worth.