Once a friendship turned toxic, I had to put myself first.
Scrolling through the #Lynchsyndrome hashtag on Instagram has become a source of writing inspiration for me. Amidst the posts' stats, cancer journeys and dietary tips, a crucial aspect often remains in the shadows — the importance of maintaining good mental health.
These past three years have been a whirlwind, a period of trial and tribulation I've endured, like millions of others. It all began with the heart-wrenching decision in November 2020 to bid farewell to my beloved companion, Sid, after his devastating kidney failure. As if that wasn't enough, my husband's health took a downward spiral due to COPD, leading to frequent hospital stays. And to add to the chaos, my only child embarked on their college journey in August 2021. Tragically, my husband of 26 years passed away just a few days after Thanksgiving that same year. In less than a year, I went from being a wife to becoming a caregiver to, suddenly, a widow. The wave of loss and transformation that swept over me was overwhelming.
In these challenging times, my circle of friends became my lifeline. Their unwavering support guided me through this period of immense change. Their presence helped me navigate the stormy waters, and I'm profoundly thankful for that. One friend stood out among them, and our relationship took on a new and complicated dimension over the past year.
What was once a simple friendship became tangled, unpredictable and sadly, toxic. This friend was someone I had held in high esteem, but the relationship's cracks became evident as time passed. I have lost so much as of late — and the thought of not having this person in my life overwhelmed me. We had a long history, loads in common, took long hikes together and had been intimate with one another over the past year. I did everything I could to preserve this relationship and make it work, but my Herculean efforts did not matter, and it began to wreak havoc on my mental health. I began to refer to this intricate and complex relationship as my Gordian knot.
A Gordian knot is a legendary and intricate knot from ancient Greek mythology, often used as a metaphor for an exceedingly complex problem or situation. It is famously associated with Alexander the Great, who, according to the tale, effortlessly solved the knot by simply slicing it with his sword rather than attempting to unravel its intricacies. This act of bold decisiveness gave rise to the phrase "cutting the Gordian knot," symbolizing a creative and direct approach to tackling challenges that seem impossible.
Toxicity can reside within all of us — we can be potentially toxic to some while being wonderful to others. Alternatively, we might unknowingly draw out the toxicity in someone else. Regardless of the source of toxicity, whether it originates within us or others, its toll on our mental health is undeniable, and it has far-reaching implications for our overall well-being.
After many negative experiences and exchanges with this person, I couldn't take it anymore. Some people are simply committed to what they think, regardless of what you do and say. I cannot change anyone, but I am responsible for how I respond and for ensuring that I put forward the best version of myself. So, no more. No more texts, no calls, no more, no more dinner, no more explaining, no more negativity, just no more. I had to channel my inner Alexander, finally slice my Gordian Knot, and sever the ties between us. Enough was enough.
I remember the quote, "Your diet is not only what you eat. It's what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, and the people you hang around. Be mindful of what you put into your body emotionally, spiritually and physically." As the saying wisely suggests, our well-being extends beyond what's on our plates. It encompasses the emotional, spiritual and physical elements we allow into our lives. Our choices regarding media consumption, the books we read, the company we keep, and the passions we pursue form a broader spectrum that shape our holistic health. This concept is particularly relevant when discussing the impact of toxic relationships on our lives.
Letting go of toxic relationships shares a likeness with untangling a Gordian Knot. The bonds once tied to us are woven with memories, emotions, and shared experiences. But as we prioritize our growth and well-being, we must also understand that self-care extends to the relationships we nurture.
Alexander's swift stroke through the Gordian Knot symbolized an act of liberation. Freeing myself from this toxic relationship has led me toward emotional and spiritual freedom. Though the process has been painful and challenging, it signifies an act of self-respect and preservation.
Releasing this toxic relationship that no longer contributes positively to my well-being has made room for personal growth, positivity, and creativity. It has brought me closer to a healthier version of myself. The journey may be daunting, but it's undoubtedly worth it.
I'm on a journey to become more mindful in my selections regarding what I welcome into my life—whether on an emotional, spiritual, or physical level. It's important to recall that much like how Alexander's swift and resolute action unraveled the intricate Gordian Knot, I have the power to confront and conquer toxic relationships with my bravery. In doing so, I clear the path towards enhanced well-being and peace.
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