I’ve known many toxic, narcissistic, selfish people in my life.
One person was particularly profound and long-lasting. The effects this had on my childhood and life created the blueprint for most of my relationships during my first 40 years.
My ex-husband was almost exactly like this person. They both saw the world through their own narrow lens of how it affected them. They gaslit me into behaving in ways that served them, and I allowed myself to be squelched and suffocated.
After 12 years of marriage, I finally came to terms with how miserable, lonely, and sad I was and realized that I did not want a marriage like this for my children. I decided to get a divorce; I wanted a better life for myself and to create a better life for them.
And in so doing, change the way they viewed relationships and how people should treat and love one another. I chose to create a new blueprint for them.
Doing this gave me trust in my inner voice; it allowed me to take a stand against the person who had hurt me so much in the past (for the first time).
I gave an ultimatum: drug rehabilitation or us (this person was an opiate addict, too). They chose drugs, and we never saw that person again. It was challenging, to say the least.
But on that day, I was reborn as the strong, lioness mother that my children needed me to be. I stopped being the scared, intimidated, dutiful daughter and stepped up to be the protector that my children deserved and needed me to be.
I broke the intergenerational cycle of mental illness and addiction by claiming my own life—for myself and my kids.
I learned to fill up my own cup so that it runneth over and helped to fill my children’s cups. My example taught them to fill their own cups.
We were free from the traps of toxicity and emotional abuse. I vowed never to allow anyone to make me feel like that again. I love myself. I will be love for my children and for the world.
Then, a few years ago, I found out that a coworker was bad-mouthing me at our workplace—and another friend told me what she was saying. Nothing that was being said was true, and those who were hearing the stories knew that. I was understandably outraged and hurt, but I realized that her betrayal and meanness reflected her, not me at all.
Anyone whose opinion mattered knew that the stories were lies. So I just ignored it and let it go. It didn’t affect my life or work at all and quickly disappeared into irrelevance.
I used to let things like that bother me, and those hurt feelings would linger for a long time. But I don’t let that kind of stuff bother me. I’ve eliminated toxic people from my life, for the most part, so this doesn’t really happen to me anymore. I’ve learned to care more about my own opinion of myself than anyone else’s.
The take-home message here is to create healthy boundaries for yourself and your life. Don’t allow other people to determine your worth—do that for yourself.
Stop caring if others love you. Love yourself.
Be love for yourself. Be love for your family and friends.
Be the love in the world.