We often look to other people when thinking about characteristics and personality traits that we find annoying, maddening, or wrong.
Yet we overlook one crucial factor: that we, in our personal ways are frustratingly difficult. We’re human, after all. It is not belittling to accept the fact that at some point in our lives, we have been the “toxic” person in someone’s life, just as we have dissociated with such people in ours.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that no matter what, your partner will be, without a doubt, maddening, intolerable, and plain asinine in a few – but important to you – ways.
However, it’s in the same ways that you learn to accept and change yourself. Some of our greatest learning experiences are our failures, and in the same way, when we have failed to understand our partners and separated – we should readily assess how we have been difficult.
Now, of course, your assessment of what you did wrong shouldn’t be a 21st Century version of ‘repenting your sins’, mind you. Yet it should be to learn and come to terms with the fact that we are all different degrees of wrong for each other. Don’t wallow for weeks and months about what you could’ve done differently. Acknowledge it, but don’t let it consume you.
Even best friends, no matter how close you are or how tight the camaraderie, do tussle, argue and feel underappreciated. This is normal. Correcting someone – no matter how crazy and difficult it feels – is true to the purpose of true friendship and/or love. What is love, if not to help someone become the best version of themselves?
We tend to live our lives unaware of the fact that we are difficult – in fact, our societies shape it to be so. Our parents loved us too much to tell us we are difficult, our friends avoid doing that to keep us from sitting and feeling poorly about our intricate difficulties and faults, and our ex partners ran away too eagerly to tell us just what was wrong.
What’s funny is that once in a while our partners call us out on these things. It feels like a terrible personal attack. Inevitably, they hold a mirror to our imperfections. The fact remains, it is a human trait to be difficult. We all are burdened with with some insanity.
Is it wrong to leave people behind?
This is an interesting question. I’ve battled with this recently, having to abandon some relationships and friendships in which I haven’t felt the same level of effort being reciprocated.
If there’s anything I’ve found, it’s that there’ll be moments you will feel very conflicted. There are people I’ve known who have stuck around during some of the most pivotal moments in my life, and having to let go of them made me feel like scum. I guess, in a way, I was turning my back on people who were there for me when I needed them.
However, for me what was most critical was feeling respected, and I should hope you expect the same out of the people that you associate with. There are few things worse than having to think twice about saying certain things, being prepared to calm them down before you’ve even got your point across in arguments and in some cases, having to feel like you’re tagging along when you just want to hang out.
For me, there was two simple questions that I asked myself:
“Why is it wrong for me to choose a path that I feel is right?”
“Why do I feel some sort of social responsibility to stunt my growth in order to make these people happy?”
Now, mind you, that during this entire thing of having to let go of these relationships, I didn’t for a moment think that I was better than this person or those people. It’s just that they didn’t understand me anymore.
In the end, some people stick around, some don’t. It’s important to recognize that. What ended up happening, if you’re curious, is that I got a lot more confident about myself, to know that I could go it alone. I became happier, and eventually found people that I felt connected with and that supported me in the ways that were important to me.
It’s a hard thing to understand when you’re going through it, but when you look back it’s apparent. Don’t think it’s damning to accept that you can be difficult. We all are.