Last week, I saw the new Tyler Perry movie which had a large focus on the dirty laundry that goes on in so many families. No family is perfect, and every single one goes through its own struggles. At the end of the movie, after all the dirt had come to light, the family members were instructed to forgive each other.
All I could think was, “What?” The actions in this movie were enough to shatter relationships, acts of ultimate betrayal. However, they were expected to forgive each other just because they were family. This is typical when discussing personal issues of familial nature, and sometimes other relationships in general.
Many times, people say, “That’s your sister!” or “You guys have been friends for so long!” in defense of those who are toxic in our lives. People think that a length of time is enough to immortalize a friendship or a relationship. Then, you have those who think blood is the ultimate defense for a person being toxic in someone’s life.
Toxic relationships affect us tremendously, and not in ways that are always obvious. “Whether you’re aware of it or not, a toxic relationship may negatively impact your mental health,” said experts from Keck Medicine of University of Southern California. “It can make you feel insecure or bad about yourself, leave you feeling drained and unhappy, place pressure on you to change something about yourself or may even be physically and emotionally harmful.”
That’s only mental health — I can think of a couple ways toxic relationships affect physical health, as well. For example, when I was dealing with a toxic relationship, I couldn’t sleep. Not because I was overthinking or trying to stay awake, but because it was my body’s way of coping with the stress.
Outside of that, keeping toxic relationships in your life can have long-term health effects. In a study following more than 10,000 subjects over a 12-year period, researchers discovered that those involved in toxic relationships were at greater risk for heart problems including fatal conditions, according to Arch Med Intern.
Here’s the thing — when a relationship is toxic, it’s toxic. If it’s on your side and you genuinely want to fix it, you can. However, if it’s the other person, it’s in your best interest to let it go. People do not change unless they want to, and you cannot force them to. It’s better for your sanity to understand this sooner rather than later. Whatever reason you’re holding onto the toxicity for is worthless at that point. One major indicator is if you no longer experience positive emotions in the relationship.
Being the only one trying or fighting for a peaceful relationship will bring you to the brink of insanity. Whether it be romantic, platonic or familial in nature, it’s just not worth it. I’m not suggesting you kick someone out of your life at the first sign of wrongdoing. But, when there’s a pattern or you’re experiencing those tell-tale signs, don’t fight for it because of whatever misguided loyalty you’re being guilted into. And, yes, you only get one family, but this doesn’t mean they’re allowed to keep you in a constant state of unhappiness.
Life’s incredibly short — we see this demonstrated every single day. If you don’t, check any news network. More importantly, life is too short to live unhappily because of others. You deserve peace, even if it may cost you a few relationships.
Maya Stevenson is a 19-year-old English and economics sophomore from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.