This is a big one. I want to start off by saying that for the purpose of being transparent and hopefully helpful, I'm going to continue to be honest and open throughout this post. No cover-ups, no masks to cover truths. Full honesty.
I used to have these friends that I grew up with.
We all were so different yet somehow our friendships worked. No matter how long it had been since we'd seen each other last, everything always just seemed to pick up right where we left off.
Life was fun with them. And every time we hung out we'd always do something exciting and memorable. Whether it was meeting up in Europe and taking the train as far as we could, or simply making each other's birthdays special, you name it, we did it with each other. For each other.
Everything seemed good, but as I grew up and spent almost every day for a year with them I began to realize that something was very off. I started feeling like a different person. I mean, I couldn't even recognize myself in pictures anymore. I chalked it up to "growing up", but to be honest, something else was causing this major shift in my life.
Life around them was so stressful. Not because they were bad people, but mainly because they weren't "my people". I started acting different. Making excuses for my selfish behaviour and allowing my situation to continue to get worse. I became obsessed with the way I looked and how I was perceived. I even started losing weight like crazy and had almost no appetite.
And my mental health started to quickly decline.
It's hard to give context to this story because I don't want these people to feel exposed, but just know that I did these things because I wanted to be liked. Maybe if I were pretty and skinny enough I would get the attention I needed instead of just being handed off as a lesser, weaker extension of this toxic friend group.
I was constantly put in situations where I was always made out to be "less than" or not up to par. I would be made fun of constantly. Even if it were something not even worthy of laughter... I was made out to be a "problem" they were fixing because I was a broken person they needed to help, but honestly that just made everything worse.
Needless to say, I became a product of my surroundings and one day I woke up a decided I had enough. I had enough of pretending to be the person they wanted me to be. I was tired of feeling like I was the only one who wanted a genuine relationship, and I just didn't have the strength to keep going in this toxic environment.
It was a hard decision to cut them out of my life, but I knew that my own genuine happiness depended on it.
See, when you hang around people who tolerate you instead of celebrate you, you end up harbouring feelings of anger and frustration. I know I did. I would talk about how upset I was CONSTANTLY, and no matter how many chances I gave them I felt as if I would always get the same response from them. I started to make myself sick by continually accepting their behaviour and that wasn't good for me.
I loved them. I truly did, but I had to seperate myself from them in order to be free enough to be my own person. It was hard, but I didn't want to compare myself anymore. I was tired of being let down. So I cut them out of my life. No hesitation.
I know it seems harsh. It was... BUT it was necessary.
Sometimes you have to make the hard decisions in order to finally live for yourself.
And guess what? You will probably have to cut toxic people out of your life on more than one occasion. It just happens...
Not everyone in the world is going to feel the desire to support and protect you. Not everyone is going to want to be your best friend and that is just the reality of life. But find the people who DO want to be there. The ones that celebrate you and lift you up when you're down. These people exist. You just need to separate yourself from the toxic friendships in order to have space for healthy ones.
Sometimes I find myself thinking back to those friendships and the good times we had. There were many, trust me. And for a minute I miss them.
But I keep my distance because it is what is best for me.
For so much of my teenage years I felt trapped in relationships. I would love people with the purest part of my heart, yet no matter how hard I tried they would always disappoint me. I didn't know how to say no, or express my feelings with them and I think that had a lot to do with my friendships continuing in a toxic direction, but now that I'm and adult I can see the need to be my own protector.
Don't let the hard things stop you from making the right decisions.
Go where you are celebrated. Not tolerated.