Sadly, more than one person in my life is currently dealing with a toxic relationship.
When you brush up against someone who is poison to you -- and we've all done it -- it's easy to let that poison seep into your own pores and ruin everything you touch, so that you run the risk of becoming equally toxic to the people in your own life. It's sort of like how we react to people who commit horrible, atrocious acts -- we forget to be better than they are, and start to want to demand that they are harmed in the way that they have harmed others. We lose our ability to empathize and find our compassion. I'm not suggesting, in case you think I am, that people who do terrible things shouldn't be punished for them -- they should be -- but I do strongly believe that when we forget our own humanity and begin thinking of people as things, or deserving targets of anger and harm, then we have become what we hate.
It's important not to do that.
It's important to understand that people who are toxic to you are still people. They're people who are acting in a way that makes sense to them for a reason that you don't or can't understand and who are causing you pain because it's all they know how to do.
They're people who, for some reason, need to contain their pain by hurting other people.
I'm not saying anyone should continue on with someone who is toxic, and I'm not saying that toxic, poisonous behaviour should be tolerated. What I do think, though, is that it's important -- for your own sanity, for your own self respect -- to try to keep your sense of perspective, and to try to find some kind of empathy for someone who only knows how to lash out and can't figure out how to love -- because that is what makes people toxic.
And that is incredibly sad.
I was thinking the other day that I have two hands for a reason -- one to hold on, and one to reach out. Toxic people don't know how to reach out -- they only know how to strike out. They can't open up their hands because they only know how to make fists that strike. I can't imagine not being able to hold someone's hand if I need to because I'm too busy making a cold, hard fist with the intention of hurting someone who is determined to reach out to me because s/he does love me. What a lonely, sad, isolating way to live.
Again, I think it's important to remove yourself from toxic situations and relationships. But I also believe this: if you take on that poison and let it become who you are, then you have lost more than a relationship. You've lost what makes you amazing and wonderful, and that's hard to get back.
One hand to hold on, and one to reach out, and one heart to love.
Those are the things you need to keep, no matter where you find yourself.