Friends should be the people who inspire you, motivate you, support you, and lovingly call you out when you are being an idiot. I am so blessed to have so many of those people in my life. I haven’t always wanted to hear what they’ve had to say, but when it comes from a place of love and support, I recognize it for what it is.
Unfortunately, I also have toxic people in my life who disguise themselves as friends. Some of them are easy to spot, so I can phase them out with relative ease. Others are much more practiced and well-masked. Those are the ones I have more difficulty letting go because they played their part so well.
Today’s challenge is to evaluate some of the more prominent relationships I have and recognize who is toxic and who is tonic. Fortunately, I did not have to start from scratch when it came time to really look at the people in my life because for the last few weeks, I have been doing that, especially for one relationship in particular. I am finally in a place with that relationship to be able to accept it for what it is: a friendship of convenience.
It took many months for me to recognize this about my friend. Part of the reason is because I like to hope for the best in people. I believe that when someone does something nice for you it is because they are trying to grow the relationship. I forget that some people only do nice things because they are working an angle. They only do nice things for as long as you are an asset to them but no longer than necessary. Is that everybody? NO, of course not.
Most of my friendships are wonderful. Many of them have helped me grow as an individual, as a mom, as a teacher, as a dancer, and as a woman. Through many of these friendships, I have been able to better know myself. Even the toxic relationships taught me a lesson I needed for self-growth.
The biggest obstacle I face when choosing to let go of a relationship is feeling guilty about it. I know that I shouldn’t. I know that the person I’m letting go of is an energy vampire or is nothing but negative. However, I still care what happens to them. I still wonder how they are doing, at least at first. I am a deeply passionate person, so when I care for people, I do it wholeheartedly. That also means that the pain I feel upon the recognition of the person’s toxicity is felt much deeper and often for much longer.
Therefore, I need to remember that it’s important for me to periodically evaluate my relationships. The better I get at identifying toxic people early, the less likely I am to keep them around long enough to hurt me.
This challenge also has a flip side for me. Not only did I look at who might be toxic to me, I also looked at how I might have been a toxic friend to others. I had to pray about it, think about it, meditate on it for several hours today. I realized that I had been the toxic person in the past and likely in the present. I have been The Complainer, The Energy Vampire, The Negative Nellie, The Convenient Friend, and probably others.
I want to openly apologize to anyone that I have been toxic to because I know how that feels when the other person never acknowledges that they have been toxic to you. So, please accept this apology and know that I am working on being a better friend to others and myself.