It took me a long time to realize a few things when dealing with people.
Not all relationships need to involve physical abuse to be considered abusive. Toxic friends have no place in your life, even if you’ve known each other since childhood. Just because someone is a family member, it doesn’t mean you need to put up with their negative bullshit. And love should not hurt.
You can justify almost anything when you are desperate to have someone in your life. You’ll limit your expectations because you want it to work out so badly, and you give them the reins of power. They show you glimpses of kindness and you’ll fool yourself into believing this is better than nothing at all.
When you don’t set boundaries for yourself, you accept the worse people into your life. The more time and effort you invest into these relationships, it’s that much harder to walk away. And when you are ready to walk, you wonder who will want you if you’re already broken inside? So you stay. And you continue the insanity, because this is what you are used to.
I’ve seen the best people destroyed by unrequited love and negative influences.
One woman I’ll never forget.
I saw this girl walk into the office, wearing a black hoody over her hair, a perfect black winged liner around her eyes and a pissed off look on her face. I went out to buy munchkins for everyone and I bought her a huge donut for herself. I plopped the bag down on her desk and said I hope she feels better without prying further. She smiled at me.
I’m drawn to strong characters and so over time we connected and became friends. More accurately “work wives”.
She reminded me a lot of myself and I understood her mindset. I discovered over time that she was experiencing issues with an on and off again “boyfriend”.
It was one of those situations where emotions and sex were involved, but it wasn’t a real relationship. But she was stuck in a cycle. I understood the frustration, sadness and pain. I wanted to pull her out of it but I knew better than to preach to her. If she was anywhere near as stubborn as I was, my words would fall on deaf ears.
No one can truly understand someone else’s love.
When this “boyfriend” started to get physically aggressive with her, showing up at the office to make her leave with him, banging loudly on her apartment door until she opened up and messing with other women and denying it, I voiced my concerns to her.
The biggest issue was she kept seeking him out, if only to remind him how much she disliked him and was “over him”. She fed him information about what she was up to, just so he would react, become jealous, and pursue her again as though she was his “territory”.
Silence and cutting ties completely would have been a true indicator of moving on, but she couldn’t do it.
She thought she was getting back at him for everything, but she was the one suffering the most. Even when she tried to pursue other guys, and everyone rooted for her, she kept finding something wrong with them. If there wasn’t drama to chase, they were boring. Every flaw was a deal breaker.
She was disgusted with the person she was really in love with. She didn’t trust him, and she couldn’t stop fighting with him, but that’s who she wanted. I witnessed her cancelling plans on other people, just to accommodate the possibility that this guy would come around. She didn’t verbalize it, but it was obvious when she admitted to calling him and texting him throughout the night.
If he showed up at her house, she was upset. If he didn’t, she was angry and disappointed. She told everyone at work about it so much, the constant breaking up and going back again, I would hear people talk about it, and see the “here we go again” looks. She kept putting her business out there, and it left her wide open for criticism and negativity. So I tried to be as supportive as possible, but also firm.
When I left that job, I wish I could have taken her with me.
We met up about a month after, and this “boyfriend” showed up while we were at the store in her neighborhood. She spoke to him casually and told me afterwards that it was over between them. I was hoping it was true this time. We didn’t too live far from each other, but I knew if I wasn’t sitting right next to her on the job, she wouldn’t chance making plans and tying up her schedule. I tried a few times but she always had an excuse. I had to leave it be.
I know without a doubt if she truly believed she was as beautiful, smart, and wonderful as I thought she was, as many people did, this guy wouldn’t stand a chance. You settle with what you feel you deserve, even if it’s the bottom of the barrel.
Everyone I used to keep around me was a reflection of the way I felt about myself.
I replaced the anger I felt inside with addiction in various forms. When I felt that adrenaline pumping through my veins, ecstasy waves, jumping on stage and moving to the beat of the music, I felt liberated. When I was back in a sober state, I’d push it harder next time. I wasn’t scared to die. I welcomed it.
I kept seeing the ugly side of humanity. How quickly words are twisted, emotions become fickle, and the utter loneliness you could feel in a crowd. Friendships were born from the vodka bottle we passed around, the stories of abuse, neglect and heartbreak we shared, joining in laughter through the peak of our high. We celebrated the idea of being free from our misery, but it was this misery that united us.
The worst offenders are always the people that tell you how you should live your life, what you should be doing or not be doing, when they are a complete mess themselves.
Tough love is wonderful, when it’s coming from a genuine place, not from insecurity, judgment, or envy.
I would have been happy with someone allowing me to wet their shoulder with my tears and snot without saying a word before telling me I was doing it all wrong. I was living the only way I knew how to at the time. I was well aware there would be consequences. This isn’t as troubling when you don’t have many reasons to care enough.
This is what I would have said to myself back then. And what I say to anyone this may resonate with.
Move through your pain.
Go wild with it.
When it’s time to rebuild and move forward, begin to disconnect piece by piece. Get rid of the dead weight.
You don’t need permission or advice from anyone that it’s OK to do it or to ask how you should do it or even say why you are doing it. Disappear for awhile if you have to. The inner critic may surface, but you don’t need to listen to them either.
Fear will rise, wearing different hats of conflicting emotions, but it doesn’t make you weak. Don’t resist what you feel but don’t give into the excuses to stay.
You left it behind for a reason.
Focus on what makes you unique. Find what makes you smile. Discover what makes you feel beautiful without someone else’s validation.
Fight until it takes no effort. And if you mess up, so what, keep fighting.
Be kinder to yourself.
It is never too late to start over.