I had to make some very difficult decisions regarding relationships that were unhealthy for me.
As someone who had always put others feelings and priorities ahead of my own, I noticed I had a pattern.
I’d fallen into the habit of always trying to spare the feelings of others, avoiding confrontations, constantly trying to create “safe” situations, submitting to the requests of everyone, and sitting quietly holding in what I felt to avoid the threat of and defensive retaliation from others.
All those emotions, opinions never able to be expressed and most importantly years wasted doing so many things for others, and not myself.
A pattern where I noticed I was only contacted when certain people needed something, such as advice regarding my profession.
Or a “ favor “ was needed, or phone calls in the middle of the night because a “ friend”, no matter how much they received advice from others, would never take that advice and assumed they could disrupt my life at all hours because they knew I’d listen.
And what I ended up with was friends, coworkers and, family members that were toxic for me.
I also noticed I had physical symptoms like anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and exhausted.
So I began looking inward, learned more about myself and what I needed to be happy and succeed in all aspects of my life.
After a lot of introspection and consciously trying to understand why I continued to choose toxic relationships, one of the more obvious reasons I uncovered was the lack of nurturing and attention I received as a child, and more importantly a male HSP child.
Being the oldest of four boys, Italian, Catholic, living in a society that encouraged extroversion and undermined introversion, being held to a toxic North American male stereotype, and parents who were very young when I was born, were all the wrong ingredients for a sensitive boy.
The physical affection was always lacking and even as a young child, I couldn’t understand how my parents couldn’t see what I needed even when I was telling them?
Rarely was I complimented, encouraged, shown what I felt was real and, needed attention, and was often criticized, overprotected, and sheltered.
They just did not seem to have the innate tools needed to nurture “who” I was.
As I matured, I didn’t have a strong sense of self. I tried to stay in the background, hidden and quiet.
The last thing I wanted was attention or to be a part of extracurricular activities.
As a Highly Sensitive, my early childhood had prepped me for a traumatic young life. I was lacking the tools for healthy social relationships.
And these unhealthy relationships continued into young adulthood, through College and finally came to a pinnacle in my early 40’s after several failed long-term relationships.
Then it was like a light switch just clicked on. This light switch helped me notice this pattern and helped me take control of my relationships.
I realized my remedy had to be swift and firm.
One after the other I ended these toxic relationships.
During these conversations, there was no sentence uttered like, “I’m sorry,” or, “I didn’t realize I was even doing that,” or, “Let’s talk about this and figure it out.”
They just accepted it and moved on, and as much as it made it easier it also hurt even more.
Being a Highly Sensitive I asked myself, “Are these people that cold?” I felt like such a fool and I was dumbfounded.
It took time for me to process these emotions.
But here’s how I choose healthy relationships now.
Being sensitive, receptive, and intuitive I consciously make sure I study people quietly from a distance before I allow myself to emotionally invest in any relationship.
I rely heavily on the sensitivities I possess in reading people and the sincerity they project. I ask myself if they are truly genuine, trustworthy, open-minded, and accepting.
I now choose to keep a handful of very close friends because for me that’s enough.
I think of myself as an extroverted introvert, and prefer being very social but in small groups of people I trust and am fond of. The time we spend together is high quality and an equal amount of giving and receiving occurs.
At work social events as well as family gatherings I avoid toxic people who thrive on negative conversations and behavior.
I realize and prioritize my happiness and peace of mind; it’s of the utmost importance.
I force myself to follow these personal rules for the sake of my own mental and physical health and well-being and I’m much happier because of it.
How are your relationships? Do you notice if they’re toxic or healthy?