Answered by Dannielle Owens-Reid
This is such a cool question because it comes from such a cool place. Being able to identify your own emotions is so hard for so many reasons. In a lot of cases we’re taught to ignore our emotions because it’s not polite, because you'll upset someone, because you’re supposed to “be strong,” or because your emotions make you “look crazy.” It feels nearly impossible to even identify that anger and what’s more - to figure out how to actually deal with it.
Anger is one of the most important emotions. It’s the last thing you feel after you’ve felt everything else (sad, confused, stupid, wronged) so you’re kind of at the highest emotional point (which is why a lot of people feel so irrational when it happens). It took me a VERY long time to figure out and put a name to any of my emotions. I was in a toxic friendship for years and I couldn’t quite place what felt so wrong about it. I constantly felt like I was doing something wrong/in trouble, so when I would step back and look at it, I would be like, “Why am I so shitty?” It took a bunch of therapy for me to even recognize the reality of the situation I was in, AND to get out of it, AND to feel good about my decision, AND to stop fuming about the whole thing.
So, I’m just going to share with you the things that helped me…
I went through exactly what you’re going through and these are the things that helped me. It was a hard transition to make, there was a lot of guilt and weirdness, but eventually I took a step back and I was like, “I am so much happier, I HAVE to let myself be happy, otherwise what was even the point of all this?!” Once I let myself feel happy, the good friendships I had started to deepen in such cool ways, and I started to meet new, amazing people. In the past, I had this idea that *everyone* felt the way that ToxicFriend felt, that *everyone* thought I was dumb, that *everyone* would be upset if I tried to talk to them about how I felt, etc etc. BUT once I started to let myself feel that relief, happiness, and gratitude, I started to open myself up to some really good, strong, inspiring friendships. Having supportive, respectful, positive people in my life is a real game changer. I feel good much more often. I believe in myself way more, I am starting to really trust my own instincts. It wasn’t easy, but it was hella worth it.
The coolest part about letting go of toxic people is getting your life back and making it better than ever.