It is incredibly true that you don’t feel many losses as strongly as you do the loss of a friend. Even if you feel lighter without them. Even if you breathe a little better now, there is always something nagging at you, telling you they are better off and not you, that they deserve someone who won’t wake up one day and decide they no longer want them in their life. That you are a bad person. There are so many articles and quotations about dropping the toxic friend, cutting them loose and never looking back. But they don’t tell you about the aftermath. They don’t tell you about how you might decide to block out the memories of that person ever existing to you, that you block them out because if you allow them only the slightest entry, they will overcome every single other thought you have.
They don’t tell you how many times you will think that you are twisted and bad. That you don’t deserve love. That you are somehow broken for deciding you don’t have the capability to handle someone who hurt you with their love.
Someone you love. But love shouldn’t come with doubts and fears, losing yourself to accommodate for someone else, making decisions that are no longer your own, feeling dependent and detached at the same exact time. They tell you how bad a toxic friend is for you, but they don’t tell you how bad it feels letting one go. They don’t tell you that you’ll think about the pain you might have caused them, hoping that instead they’re too caught up in being angry and resentful to miss you. You don’t want them to miss you.
Sometimes you wonder if you made a mistake. If you’re the toxic friend who needs to be cut out before your poison sinks too deep. You blame the stupid articles and quotes, the ones that confirmed everything you already thought, the ones that gave you the courage to end one of the most meaningful relationships in your life. They don’t tell you that something can have so much good, but be so poisonous. They don’t tell you the amount of times you will hold your phone up with their name, ready to pour out your soul and tell them you made a mistake, ready to beg for your friend back. But you won’t. You will think about how much lighter you feel now, how much of yourself you’ve gotten back. Then you will think you’re a horrible person for feeling like this. That you don’t deserve to feel lighter and happier, that you should feel a little darker, miss them a little more. You don’t deserve lightness after making someone you care about suffer, even in the slightest. You tell yourself karma will come for you and you think you will deserve it.
The things you don’t tell a toxic friend when you cut them out is that you love them. That you probably love them more than a lot of people.
That you know that both of you are responsible for this, that you hope and know that they will feel a little bit lighter too. You don’t tell them that you miss and love who you were before them, who you are, more than who you are when you’re with them – the you that you’re terrified you’ve become. That you desperately need yourself back. More than you need them. That you shouldn’t need them, and that they shouldn’t need you. That you hope that they’re happier, lighter, better for the people in their life than they were for you. You know that they’re not toxic, and you feel a pain in your chest every time you describe them this way, every time you reduce them to a title on a self-help article. But you do know that they are toxic to you. That the relationship you built that was once so fulfilling has become much too polluted to let you breathe the same way again, that all you can do is abandon ship.
I stand by the fact that I am someone who will fight to mend relationships, that I am someone who will stay and take the battle wounds if they mean that I’ve salvaged the thing worth fighting for. I care so much that I am always covered in battle wounds. But you were not giving me battle wounds, you were leaving me raising my white flag in surrender, giving myself up to you rather than, for once, fighting the fight to leave. So I fought the fight to leave. And I am still fighting with myself to stay gone.