June, 2021

I have had my fair share of toxic friendships over the years but one story particularly stands out to me. Let me take you back……to the 6-year-old me. I had just shifted. My building had all the amenities I could possibly have wanted and to accompany me in using them, I had my group of friends, my lovely group of friends or so had I thought. I used to play all kinds of games with them; some of them I had never even heard like Kanda Batata or Single Double Strawberry (they sound so weird in hind sight but oh my god, what games they were!) It was so much fun. I loved it…. for a few years.

That’s when things started going downhill. They started picking on me because I was the “scared” one, scared to fight them. With them, any small argument would take about 10 seconds to escalate into a fight. Hence, whenever they bullied me, I was scared to stand my ground. I hated it. In one sense, I allowed them to bully me even more by not taking my own stand.

I started getting afraid of them. My self-worth started crashing and I lost all confidence. I became a pleaser. I somewhere knew the reason why and I also knew that I wasn’t comfortable with these people, but they were my friends, with whom I had spent every night playing. They had become a part of my life. It was routine now. I HAD to go down to play and meet them.

This is where some of us are caught with toxic people. We are always in some kind of dilemma. On one hand, it is very fun to be with them and it was almost routinely to meet them but on the other hand, they make you feel worthless.

I endured it for many years. I did not like that I was with them and even worse, I didn’t like myself anymore. I didn’t even know that there was any such thing called as ‘cutting-off people’, back then. I thought I HAD to stay. I had been neglecting what I was feeling for all these years. It kept getting buried inside me, piling on and on and on, with my self-worth crashing down and down and down.

That’s what I want to highlight. You need to prioritize yourself. You need to know how you feel and you need to do something about it. If it’s getting complicated for you, think of all the reasons you want to be with them, and all the reasons you don’t and see which outweighs the other. Although, if they make you feel worthless, not respected or neglected, you need to talk to them about it and if you still see no change, then you need to cut it off. That’s it. It might be scary or awkward or anxiety-inducing for you but you have to do it. The one thing I have learnt from all my toxic friendships is to respect myself, to prioritize myself, my needs and how I feel.

Today, I am much happier, much stronger, and know better that I always have the key to control everything around me because it is my life. It is my life and I am going to live it the way I want with the people I want. That’s the way you should live.

Naman Mehta