In an earlier post we talked about redefining our friendships and deciding who we really want to keep around and who needs to be cut off. But cutting off toxic people is only the beginning of a long journey to letting that relationships go. Today we're gonna talk a little bit more about what happens after you "break up" with the friends that were dragging you down.
I'm going to continue referring to this as a breakup for several reasons. Mostly because it's exactly the same. You'll drunk text old friends, you'll miss them, you'll reminisce about the few good times you had and somehow forget about the rest. You'll agree to meet up with your ex-friend and realize half way through that it was a mistake. It is a breakup. It just so happens that you (most likely) haven't made out/slept with the person in question.... depending on how many frat parties you guys attended.
The first step to handling this is to treat it like any other break up. Get your Ben & Jerry's, watch your sad-ass movies, cry it out, and delete their number. Block them on Snapchat. Whatever you gotta do girl, you do it.
After a few months of being separated you'll find yourself either missing them a lot more or a lot less. Either way, take this phase with a grain of salt as it will likely reverse a few months from now. Try not to act on either emotion. Feel it out. Acknowledge how you feel, but let it pass.
The recovery time it takes for you to move on from a friendship is a lot like what it is for a relationship. If you're with someone for a year, you don't want to dive into anything for at least 6 months. Give it at least 6 months. See how you're feeling then.
Assessing the Damage
Another important component to recovering from your break up is taking the time to assess what parts of that person rubbed off on you. As with any relationship, you have probably absorbed certain traits and habits and phrases and ways of thinking just from being around this person. Take the time to figure out what parts of them you find reflected in yourself. Contrary to the title of this section, not all of what you find will be bad. After all, you were friends with them for a reason, and I'm assuming you probably liked something about the person. Maybe you absorbed their knack for quick-witted puns. Maybe you discovered that oil panting was your *jam* just because you went with them to a paint night once. That's all okay. Keep the things that you love. But chances are you'll also find some negative things too. Acknowledge those things for what they are (not you) and tell them politely that it's time for them to leave.
Finding space for forgiveness
The most important key to moving on from a toxic friendship is to not let it continue to poison you. If you find yourself referring to cut-off friends as "that bitch I used to hang out with" or frequently tell stories about what horrible people they were.... Congratulations! You cut them out for no reason! Because the toxicity is still there. And it's not their fault anymore. The hard truth is that once you've said ciao to a toxic person, any bitterness or anger is of your own making. Breathe in now and acknowledge that by allowing yourself to stay bitter you are destroying your own happiness. Breathe out and let it go. Do it again. Do it until you really truly have forgiven them. Not the fake forgiveness where you're over it but you're still going to harbor resentment. Not the kind where you're "over it", but hate the idea of them. Not the kind where someone brings them up and you roll your eyes. The real kind. Where the only lasting impression they've left is that of a falling leaf. Fleeting. Gentle. Let it pass you by and keep on going.
If you're going to go through all the trouble of getting rid of someone that is holding yourself back don't choose to hold yourself back by not letting them go on the inside too.
The Final Stage
This has to come after forgiveness. If you just skimmed through that last paragraph but you haven't taken the time to really let anything they did go, then this section will serve you no purpose. Go back. Continue when you're ready. This paragraph isn't going anywhere. Now. Once you've really truly forgiven them. Once you've really truly let it all go. Now comes the most amazing part. You get to remember the good stuff. You get to look back on the good times without missing them, without wishing them back in your life, without it being tainted by bitterness. You get to hold the good memories close to your heart, not because they're in them, but simply because they are good memories. The most tragic part of the grudge holding world that we live in is that once a relationship goes sour we're left without any of the joy we were able to collect with that person. So, when you're ready. Whenever you're ready. Take a moment and remember the laughter. The smiles. The excited jumping up and down. The calm peaceful mornings and evenings. Remember the good, and realize that those memories are as much a part of you as you are of them, and that the person in them is simply a person. Not someone who wronged you. Not someone you know. Just a figure.
Your happiness is your happiness. It is yours to hold close and dear. It is yours with as many people or as few as you choose. Just remember that it is up to you and you alone to choose that happiness. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Always remember that every thing you need already exists. In you. Around you. You need only choose to see it. ♥