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admitting is the first step towards growth

I’ve known for a long time that I was a toxic person.

It's a long story, but if you want to understand how I came to grow from it, I highly recommend you read along.

So, we begin: When I was 18 years old, a freshman at Transy, we had to go to a bunch of lectures on abusive relationships and sexual assault and everything, of course. I remember leaving one of those and realizing- that I was in an abusive relationship. But we were both abusers. And I knew it, that I was a huge problem there; but I felt so much pressure from family and imaginary expectations to stay with that guy, and I kept thinking “well, yeah I say horrible things to him. And he tries to control me. But he’s never hit me, so I don’t have a reason to leave.”

How broken does your concept of the world have to be to believe that? And listen, it wasn’t like my parents taught me that, EVER. and it's not like my family and friends were obsessed with him and I felt that kind of pressure- my mom told me all the time to break up with him and experience the world. Lol. but BECAUSE i am a stubborn brat, and especially was back then, I refused. Even though I wanted more, and I knew i wanted more than he could ever give me. Even though I recognized that i was being awful, and that he wasn’t treating me right either, i thought i had to stay to prove some kind of point? I don’t know honestly. I'll never truly understand that part of me.

Then, I found out after I finally broke up with him- 3 years later than I should have- that he had cheated on me, and those suspicions had been correct. I found out that he had lied to me about a lot of things, and that I had experienced years of gaslighting and emotional manipulation. I also started gaining perspective on exactly how emotionally abusive I had been, how many boundaries I had set and then crossed, how many things I had done that only added fuel to the fire. Also, I gained some objectivity and realized that he was gas-station ugly, but that's a different blog post.

So I started focusing on myself for a while. That doesn’t mean I didn’t date and meet people and have fun, though. You can do both, contrary to popular belief. Just depends on what you need and what your goals are in that stage.

During that time of finding myself, I met this wonderful man. So wonderful, and I was crazy about him even though I wouldn’t admit it until I had already ruined it. I wasn’t nice to him, y’all. He fed my ego in a lot of ways, and I took advantage of that, unfortunately. It still makes me sad when I remember how i acted sometimes, how I took advantage of his adoration for me. Honey if you’re reading this- you don’t ever have to forgive me, but know that I am sorry.

Losing his trust and love was a lot for me- but I look back now and realize that even if he had loved me then, I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. For a lot of reasons, but namely i certainly wasn’t mature enough and in the right mental place for it. Over the next few years I would grow so much- I would hurt another boy or two by not realizing that their feelings were stronger than mine. I would have more than one boy tell me he wanted to date me but thought i wasn’t interested. In those situations, i learned a lot about communication. I apologize to how I treated you guys, too.

Reflecting on those past relationships is so important to me; it gives me so much perspective, so much space to grow. I think that's important for most all of us to do, and I think having some serious honesty with yourself about it is necessary to improving future relationships of any kind- friend, family, romantic. Sometimes, it's nice to talk about these things with your partner in that relationship as well; to explain why you might have trust issues, to explain why not saying I love you back immediately is hurtful, to explain why some jokes are traumatic and why you don't want to talk about some things ever. I believe firmly that every person who has ever been a part of our lives leaves a lasting impact on who we are, and that it's important to be honest with yourself (and sometimes those who are important to you) about how that looks for you.

I want to pause and say: this isn't my Jake Gyllenhaal, reaching out to Taylor Swift on "All Too Well", "casually cruel in the name of being honest" moment. I haven't reached out and apologized personally to any of my exes I did dirty, not because they don't deserve it; but because they deserve better. Better than the version of me that I was. And they don't deserve being reminded of that. Adam deserves better, too; he deserves someone who's moved on. And I am, but that doesn't mean I can't feel bad for how I acted.

This isn’t all about boys, though. I had friends that I kept in my life for no real reason. I knew they were fake friends, vapid and surface level, but they were fun and they included me in things that I had never been included in in quite the same way. I loved those friendships… and then when they treated me bad, i sometimes let them. That’s toxic too, y’all. I allowed myself to remain in toxic friendships just because the benefits could be fun, sometimes. I participated in their drama, I took part in hateful attitudes and i allowed them to continue being awful people without trying to call them out. That’s not okay either. Mostly, I apologize to myself for that, and the people around me that I drug into those situations.

I truly do apologize to the real friends I dragged into those situations, because y'all didn't deserve that either.

Eventually, I would meet Adam, and damn if our relationship wasn’t rough for a while. Constant fighting, zero communication, cursing and tears. From both of us. We were both overwhelmed with these feelings and with extremely different family communication styles and wildly different forms of expression. Living together actually fixed a LOT of things for us, because we’ve been forced to face things head on that previously we couldn’t ever get close enough to fix. We fight so much less, and now it’s just normal bitching at each other over house stuff, really (I forget to switch the laundry, Adam is slow to empty the dishwasher, etc etc)- no more of that raging anger from before. This isn’t a method I really recommend, and it can be dangerous to do this- but for us, it just so happened to help. (AGAIN I DO NOT RECOMMEND)

Now Adam and I have a beautiful, though far from perfect relationship. We are still learning, growing and becoming new and more beautiful versions of ourselves, but this time we are doing some of it together. And that's really fun, and really eye opening in different ways. Growing together, and growing as our own people side by side, is really beautiful. The way Allison and I have grown, the way Taylor and I have grown, the way Callie and Ben and I have all grown together. Watching someone you love become beautiful versions of themselves while becoming a better version of yourself at the same time, and feeding off of each others energy, and learning from each other- wow, it's crazy y'all.

From all of these relationships, I’ve learned that communication is one of the most important things you can develop. There’s so many places I can point to that I won’t name them all.. But it would have saved a lot of heartache, and changed a lot of things.

I think also that honesty with yourself is essential: so many times I would have improved situations and made better decisions for myself if I had been real with myself. Why can that be so hard? Why is it so often that we are trying to fit a narrative that we’ve imagined?

Anyway, I have been haunted for years by how toxic I have been in the past versions of myself. Putting it out there, admitting it, addressing it and apologizing for it is really cathartic, actually. Y’all have no idea how freeing this feels.

I don’t expect forgiveness from anyone, by the way. That’s not the point, and those that I've hurt don’t owe me anything. But what I want to do is normalize admitting that we’ve made mistakes; just a few weeks ago, I shared a post on instagram about not dressing as indigenous peoples for Halloween, and I admitted that I wore an “indian” (First Peoples) inspired costume once. ADMITTING that out loud and taking responsibility for it, even now, 9 years later… that was scary, and hard, but it was something I needed done. And my feeling uncomfortable admitting that and trying to help other people grow and learn from it, well that’s nothing in comparison to how that “costume” might have made someone else feel.

So anyway, back to the point: normalize admitting your mistakes and growing from them. I am so proud of how much I have unlearned, the gentility and the brutality with which I have been educated, and the growth I have achieved. I hope you are on a similar journey for yourselves, admitting faults and growing into even stronger and healthier people.

All my love.

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