As promised, I am posting again tonight, and then will be back to my regular schedule posting once every other day. I’m really excited to chat about this topic, as letting go of toxicity is something I still struggle with to this day. Hopefully through this post I can help some of you who are struggling to release negative people or situations from your life, and guide you to some sort of enlightenment. I hope in this post, my experiences can help you understand that you are worth more than one-sided relationships or abusive situations.
When I was younger, (probably right before turning 15) I struggled with my self-image a lot, as any normal teenager does. I was the youngest kid in my grade, and I was always really intimidated by that. People would make fun of me for it constantly, belittle me and act like I was less than them. Because of this, I always tried to impress others to fit in, and sometimes that resulted in me putting myself in situations where I’d be in danger physically or spiritually. Once the second semester of my Grade 10 year, I left high school. I couldn’t take the bullying, and I thought leaving would really help my self-esteem. I never enjoyed being in a public school and my family and I both believed I could thrive in online schooling, which luckily, I did.
When I left, I didn’t really stay in contact with a lot of my high school/middle school friends. Not only did I not have many any to begin with, I also had a bad habit of jumping from group to group because I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I felt awkward, ugly and misunderstood (again, like most teenagers). So for the most part I was alone. I don’t remember the exact time frame, but at one point I was dating someone that I believed to be so important. For privacy reasons I won’t share his name, but he was a close friend of mine before we dated and I really trusted him. He made me feel happy and safe and like everything was right in the world. As we both started to grow up, he started to change. He was getting more involved in drugs, he had quit a sport he was so good at and had potential in, and he started hiding out in his basement and treating me terribly. One day, everything came crashing down. He cheated on me at a concert with a girl I knew. I was heart-broken. It never made sense to me why he would do this if he loved me like he claimed he did.
The worst part of it all was I was going through a really weird stage in my life and felt depressed constantly. Iwould self harm occasionally, and although I’m not proud of it, it helped me to become the strong woman I am today, as did everything I’m going to share here. After him and I broke up, he made fun of me for my self harm. He would post pictures of him on the internet scratching his arm, pretending he was me. Even though he was hurting me beyond belief, I wanted him back. I wanted him to love me so I wouldn’t feel so alone anymore. I now realize that this relationship was so unbelievably toxic and he was such an abusive person due to his own trials and tribulations in his past, but at that age, I just wanted love and I didn’t care. This was my first encounter with an incredibly toxic situation.
My second (and most prominent) encounter that I remember was with a girl I believed to be my best friend. Again, for privacy reasons, we’ll keep her anonymous. When I was 15, I had a really great full-time job at a frozen yogurt shop. I was balancing online school and working a lot, all the while having a few decent friends I could lean on if things got tough. Things were going pretty good, and so I decided to get a second job working as a hostess at a well-known restaraunt chain. I met a girl there who I immediately clicked with. She was 19, blonde and super pretty, but had a mean streak. As the relationship progressed and we grew closer I noticed red flags. She was an avid cocaine user, and enjoyed partying. She was also really immature and if we’d argue for any reason (even if it was something small), she had no problem letting me know that she thought I was ugly or fat, and she regularly told me to kill myself.
She got me into drugs, fighting and running away from home. At the end of the day, I made my own decisions but I was so afraid of this girl who was much older than me, that I’d just do whatever she said. I hurt my parents, especially my father, so much. It breaks my heart thinking back to all the damage I caused them over a friendship that we all knew wouldn’t last. I grew out of her immature, selfish ways and moved on. I healed, slowly. I got over my drug problems, I started listening to my parents, and collecting myself. I grew up and started to just enjoy being by myself again. I had friends I spoke to every now and again, but I think I did need that time to be alone. I don’t remember exactly how I decided to make the change, I think I just looked in the mirror one day and said “Shelby, you deserve better. Stop being an asshole”.
Then, I met my current boyfriend Anders. He’s my sunshine, my eternal light and the person who always knows how to make things okay. He encourages me to live my life to the fullest, and he sees me for all the good that I am. He allows me to vent when I’m not feeling okay, and knows when I need to be left alone or hugged. He never hurts me physically, mentally or emotionally. He’s a mature, stand up man who knows what I deserve and gives that to me willingly. But, he didn’t just come out of nowhere. If I was still the person that was drinking all the time, using drugs and running away from home, there’s no way we would’ve ended up together.
I attracted such a beautiful person because I started to become a beautiful person myself. I used to scoff at the idea that you have to be happy with yourself first before someone else can be happy with you but it really is true. As soon as I started healing, he came into my life as a sign that what I was doing was paying off. To this day, I know what I deserve because of my previous experiences with toxic friendships and relationships. If I hadn’t gone through the things I did, I’d probably still be chasing after people who don’t deserve me out of my fear of being alone.
But here I am, working on myself daily, enjoying life (for the most part), and being the best version of myself that I can be. I had to trick myself every day into thinking that I was worth more than I was opening myself up to, and eventually those “mind tricks” I played on myself became real beliefs. I don’t settle for less in my relationships anymore, because I know who I am and what I offer. Don’t ever settle, whether it’s with a boyfriend/girlfriend, friends or family. Always stand up for yourself if you’re being hurt, because that will free your soul more than anything.
All my love,