I have problems with letting go. Of anything. I find it hard to accept change once I’m invested in a certain thing or situation. This includes everything from types of food to my recently finished thesis, from old friendships I know just aren’t worth hanging onto to people in my life I know are toxic. Let’s talk about that last one.
Toxic people come and go from our lives. Sometimes they go because we’re strong enough to push them out, and sometimes they go because they found someone else’s life to pollute. They come in the shape of friends, lovers, partners, and even family members. Sometimes it’s difficult to know that a person is toxic. Sometimes you know they’re toxic but you ignore it in hopes that things will be good again. I think everyone can relate to this – hanging on to something they know they should let go of. We do this because we remember the good surrounding people; the times they made us feel good, the times they were good to us, and the goodness they inspired in us. We disregard the times they make us feel bad, the times they are bad to us, and the badness they bring out of us because maybe it’s just a phase and the good times are just around the corner again.
At the end of my undergrad I became involved in such a thing. I call it a ‘thing’ because relationship just wouldn’t be appropriate. We were friends, so I guess you could call it a friendship, yet ‘thing’ still feels like a better fit. We were unbearably similar. It meant that everything was extreme; we could never just be. All of our worst traits were brought out and everything was a competition – who could be ruder, who could be more hurtful, who could care the least. And because neither of us were the type to talk about our feelings, none of this was supplemented with the knowledge that we did in fact care for one another. It was all guess work.
I’m not the type of person to play games – which is probably why I am horrific at dating. I don’t wait two hours before texting back and I don’t pretend I’m not free the first time someone asks to do something, I don’t play coy or pretend to be something I’m not. I’m unapologetically myself. If I come across as shy, it’s because I am. If I seem awkward, it’s because I am. If you think I’m rude, it’s because you’re either a bellend, or I like you and am comfortable.
That digression had a point, honestly. Our whole ‘thing’ was a game. And it tired me. But I let it carry on probably four months longer than it should have. Everyone around me told me to stop, and I knew they were right. He made me a version of myself that I didn’t like and he purposely made me feel bad about myself. It was a kind of toxic that simply needed to be cut, but I couldn’t do it. Despite all the game playing and the shit he put me through, with him I could be the most unedited, truest version of myself, whether it was a person I was proud of being or not. And it was hard to let go of that.
Of course, eventually, I did – that was a whole drama in itself. Obviously I felt better afterwards. I felt strong and empowered and proud of myself. Yet somehow I find myself making the same mistakes again and again. When will I learn?