Growing up I was not the friend who was front and center. I was easily pegged the comic relief because of my quick wit and ability to verbally spar with the best of them. I was uncomfortably thicker than my peers which put me in the position of feeling undesirable more often than not. That’s why when I moved to Philly at 18 years old it felt like a new leaf had been turned over.
I was making new friends and being pursued was becoming more of a regular thing than I had ever imagined. I was blossoming and coming out of my shell and learning to own the proverbial “it” that everyone else seemed to have mastered before me. Just because I was growing and learning to love myself didn’t mean everyone in my circle felt the same.
Within my first 6 months of living in Philly I met a guy, who was a neighbor and also old dorm mates with my best friend and then roommate. He was nothing spectacular to say the least. He was maybe 5’7, an aspiring rapper, way more ego than talent and had a knack for trying to make me feel bad about everything that I was- or better yet was not.
He was a former fat guy, black as midnight and was super self conscious about it. His self loathing was projected upon me daily though I was a bit naive at the age still and didn’t recognize what was going on. Despite all the warning signs, a sexual relationship began and I was caught in a whole tragic mess for awhile. He hated my body and what it represented yet had no qualms about late night escapades. After awhile all of that came to an end and eventually we forged a “friendship”; and I use that term loosely.
For almost a decade I tried to make a friendship work that just wasn’t going to work. Not because I wasn’t making the effort but simply put- he was never my friend to begin with. He was never down to encourage me, celebrate my successes, or accept that there was anything about me worthy of his respect. He spent a lot of time accusing me of being an attention whore because the idea that people could be genuinely drawn to me escaped him. I pardoned his behavior time and again simply because he had a great uncle relationship with my daughter
But the reality was no matter how great he had been to my daughter; he had never been great to me. And I suffered psychologically for it until one day, 9 years later, over a friendly dinner at my house I finally snapped. I can’t remember exactly what the trigger was, but whatever he had said finally made me vomit up all the anger I’d quelled over the years. And just like that he was gone out of my life.
And to think it was that easy. To think that I didn’t have to withstand his condescending rhetoric all those years had I figured out early enough exactly what I was worthy of. It hurt briefly for a moment in time until I realized that I had lost nothing and gained everything with the severance of our faux friendship.
And that folks is the crux of cutting toxicity out of your life. Recognizing your value, your worth and unapologetically and unabashedly cutting out the people who do not see that same value in you. Often time we hold onto unhealthy relationships because of the familiarity and not the quality. And that’s also how we do ourselves a great disservice.
One of the most liberating feelings I ever had was seeing his name show up in an email a year or so after our faux friendship ended; and not even being compelled to read it. I clicked that delete button quicker than than the notification arrived. I no longer felt obligated to worry myself with his thoughts or feelings and it was something I should have done long before that point.
Every now and then I find myself assessing my relationships with people; the quality of our interactions and deciding more assertively if the company I keep is more of an asset or an emotional liability. Keeping my emotional space clean is so important and requires regular maintenance and house cleaning.
Your emotional and mental health will be challenged by this world on a regular basis. The things you can control are who you invite into your intimate spaces. Do yourself a favor and learn your worth; makes it much easier to cut off the toxins as they try to creep in under the guise of friendship.
Use discernment my friends.