Removing Toxicity From Your Life (and Soul)

I’ve come to despise that word more and more because it makes it so easy to point a finger and say you’re upsetting me so you’re toxic and kick them out. And sure it’s a sure-fire way to make certain that no toxic people remain in your lives but also you’ll be kicking out a lot more people who have just done something that you’re hurt by. Even good friends can be hurtful from time to time. I guess I’m more trying to write this as a personal reflection on how more black and white I saw friendships and people. I try and usually avoid saying that I do this or that because of a diagnosis I have, in fact I’m constantly trying to say that defaulting to using a disorder you have as an excuse for a harmful or destructive personality flaw you have or just hurtful actions you keep repeating is the best way to guarantee that you will never change. Ironic, coming from the person probably the most stagnant these past few years. However I have learned that it just isn’t as simple as that sometimes. Will power can only overcome so much, especially when you are someone who doesn’t have a lot of willpower to work with anymore.  So these past few months I have not been taking very good care of myself, more importantly of my mental health. I thought I was. For a little while I got really bad, fell into the exact same spot I was in a few years back with even the same person and same exact feelings that I tried running away from all those years ago. This post isn’t about that though. What I’m trying to get at is I fell back into an old routine and an old mindset that hurt. Every day was this repeating cycle of distrust, confusion, and just an overwhelming feeling of sadness. There were many reasons for this and while I tended to focus on one, I know that it’s always more complicated than that but during this time I tried solving that one problem by distancing myself from it and hoping I could myself work on the other parts. It kind of worked there was a good period where I finally felt content again with my new routine, but who’s to say if I was ever actually healed or if I ever truly processed and dealt with what I was feeling because that “content-ness” was very quickly and abruptly taken away from me once I started receiving notifications from the person I tried running away from. All those feelings just came rushing back and I started to feel kind of shitty again and now on top of that I felt this immense feeling guilt and responsibility if anything were to happen which ate away at me. It was like I had spent the past two months explicitly focused on moving on and feeling better about a situation and one thing brought me back to the very beginning so I must not have dealt with it properly.

I mistakenly believed that because I no longer shared the same feelings I did the last time things were bad between us that I wouldn’t be so affected by things that, once I’m away from the situation, I know aren’t as big of a deal like I’m making them out to be. I assumed I was so hurt by being lied to because of those feelings and how much it toyed with those specifically. I even wrote a post reflecting on last year that almost directly called out my unhealthy focus on “truth” in relationships:

“I was hurt in the past and I think because of how lying was often used to keep me blissful while they got what they wanted out of me I have now associated people lying to me with them trying to manipulate me. However that isn’t usually the case and we just lie sometimes to avoid a conflict that we didn’t want to confront or the many countless reasons people do it that aren’t with harmful intent. I’ve put to much pressure on this idea that I want those close to me to be honest with me. For a time I wanted them to be upfront about issues too but I quickly learned expecting people to always be upfront when even I can’t seem to be most times was only setting me up for disappointment. So I held close that even if they didn’t want to be upfront about that at least they didn’t ever lie or outright try and deceive me about these issues but I ended up only just making myself more hurt when that didn’t always happen with my close friends. I’m putting too much of a pressure on that when I really should be taking things more easy.” – This Year in Retrospect (2018)

It’s not that I’ve unlearned this in the time since, believe me I realize how irrational I’ve been and unrealistic of expectations I’ve had when it comes to lying and when it’s come to less serious relationships I tend to be a lot more okay with it even during times I’m aware they’re lying I just brush it off knowing I’m sure they have their reasons for it. However with this person I couldn’t do that. That’s not due to me taking any moral standpoint on our relationship either. I’m not putting this relationship on higher standards because I feel like that’s what they need to do to make it up to me and allow me to forgive them. I forgiven them a long time ago. However, I’m just now learning that forgiving someone doesn’t mean taking away that fear they’ll do it again, it just means you aren’t holding any anger towards them. The truth is I am scared. More scared than I ever knew I was about this. It became almost reflexive once I knew I was being lied to to try and get away from that situation because I couldn’t cope with thinking about what that meant. It was like if they were lying about this thing, what else were they lying about but most importantly what is it that I believe we’re on the same page with that they might have agreed. I didn’t want to force my friendship on someone that didn’t want it and I especially didn’t want them to keep me a close part of their life only because I made them feel like it was either that or lose me entirely. And while it wasn’t what I was intending to do I can see 100% how it might have come across that way because in the eyes of the other person there’s no difference between saying you wanted more out of that friendship because your guys’ past makes it hard for you to just have them around and not be a big part in your life, and telling them that either they gotta be close with you and act the way  they used to with you or else. Either way it’s kind of forcing the friendship to go one way or another and perhaps you were too afraid to tell me that either you wanted a different option or that you just weren’t as seriously thinking about any of this like I was. I don’t want to get too specific I feel like I’m already crossing a line here, some part of me wants to keep going so I can explain and apologize but that’s not what I wanted this post to be about so let me try and cut this short. I made this a lot about you lying but it has more to do with me not able to deal with being lied to and I’m sorry I made that entirely your problem and I’m sorry for my part (because I know how big of a part I likely have) in why you felt like you had to.

You can make the argument that some people certainly are toxic and their personality is one that is always going to feed off the energies of others, but I know that these people I’ve been talking about aren’t those kinds of people. And that’s made me rethink my idea of toxic relationships. Someone can be toxic to you or that relationship can be toxic to you and it doesn’t have to make them a bad person. It doesn’t even have to necessarily mean they are doing something that is wrong per se. Maybe I’m just arguing semantics so I can put all the blame on me, but I do think that some people can act or behave in a way that upsets you or is emotionally draining. In this case I believe it’s more draining to me because of my not having dealt with past related trauma. And due to that I was too harsh and too demanding of these people. That was my toxic trait and my lashing out is what I’m sure makes them see me as the toxic person in their life and honestly I’d agree with that assessment. If I can’t cope with being lied to and if that’s something you have to do or just how you react to being confronted, if I’ve asked for a change and they can’t and if without that change I can’t change either then perhaps this is something that will remain cyclical. Perhaps we’re just both toxic to each other and all we can do is acknowledge this isn’t working anymore and put the effort we were putting into keeping this thing going still, and use it to water our other friendships. I don’t want to keep someone in my life that has me in their life more because they’re afraid to lose me rather than because they actually want me in their lives. When both of our actions are heavily influenced by that fear of losing this than maybe it’s just something we need to finally allow ourselves to be okay with letting go because I am toxic to you and you genuinely will be and are better off without me. I don’t know how to say that without making it seem like I’m trying to guilt them, or that I’m just enjoying this huge pity party. We really are just different people and we don’t get along the way we used to anymore and that’s completely okay. It sucks and I’ve spent a lot of time wishing more than anything that this wasn’t the case but it’s unfortunately just happens in life, with people.

I’m having to learn to accept a lot of things, my responsibility in this as well as an acceptance that with time people grow to want different things, act different ways, treat people differently. I’m accepting that the world isn’t in blacks and whites, that my impulse to either categorize someone as good or bad is a result of my poor social and coping skills. It’s easy for me to start splitting with someone and even being aware of the fact that you’re splitting doesn’t make it any easier to try and realize your either idealized or demonized view of someone is pretty far from the truth. So how am I intending to remove toxicity from my life? Well it’s to now start looking inwards. I know how I fucked up the last friendships and I’m aware of how serious of an issue it is so it’s something I’ll need to work on and probably with help. Professional help, not from a friend. Meanwhile I am a lot more nonchalant when it comes to little white lies I notice when it comes to everyone else and while it’s probably not a healthy way to learn to trust again by just running away at any sense of being lied to, I’ll never learn to trust again if I stayed somewhere I was consistently being given a reason to distrust. So I need to work on that in a less serious friendship or just with therapy. And to those I’ve said goodbye to or have said goodbye to me either recently or in the past few years, I really do just wish you well. I hope you’re doing okay and if you aren’t right now I’m sure you will soon be.

A good friend taught me we give off the same energies we surround ourselves in so let’s make sure those around us make us happy so we can go around and make those around us happy right back. I hope that if any of us don’t have that energy surrounding them that they find it soon. I think every one of us deserves that even if at times to some of us it feels like we don’t.