The absolute HARDEST thing for me to do was to let go of the preconceived notion that I had to put myself last before anyone else. That was so hard for me to do because I have always been a people pleaser. I have been someone that never wanted to let anyone down. And I simply had the fear of saying no to people because whenever I did in my past it never turned out very good for me. But, I had to learn. For my mental health and for my inner growth and peace I had to. I had to put myself first and when I did, everything changed, and a lot of revelations came from it.
It was extremely exhausting. I was doing everything for everyone else. I was putting their emotional needs and physical demands over my own. And it began to make me sick. And once I stopped doing things for other people it made me realize that I wasn’t getting the same in return. I do not do things with the mindset that I am going to get something in return, that is selfish. But in turn my selflessness was turning into a toxic trait because I needed to put myself first. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting yourself first, especially when everyone around you is doing the same thing. I got tired of being used emotionally. People would dump their emotional baggage on me and leave me to deal with it. And when I needed to do the same in return I was always told to “let it go”, “get over it”, “nothing is ever bad in your life to where you cannot be happy”. But I was viewed as selfish if I didn’t return their needs or demands. I was deemed a horrible friend, family member, spouse, etc.
The thing I had to do first and foremost was to identify the toxicity in my life and remove it. And a lot of that toxicity had to do with my own toxic traits that allowed abusive behavior or manipulative behavior. And being an abuse survivor, it is something that is easy to spot, but I also was the person to always believe the good intentions within someone. And for years I have always tried to ignore the bad in people. Which in reality turned out to be another toxic trait of my own. I grew up thinking that fighting for people who could care less about me or that abusive behavior and manipulation was what I deserved. And that was the number one thing I had to change. And that is without a doubt such a difficult task because it was engraved in my mind. I attracted people to me that I thought was good for me, because being abused was my comfort zone. Having drama and tears was my comfort zone. Another toxic trait of mine. Being unhappy was my comfort zone. I felt that if I lived in torture and unhappiness that it would hurt a lot less than repeatedly getting my happiness taken away from me. ABSOLUTELY NOT THE TRUTH!
In realizing that my toxic traits needed to be addressed and changed would be the leading role in changing what I allowed myself to tolerate. I was in a massive depression phase back in October 2017. I had a lot going on with my emotional state because my health was declining, I was not sleeping, I was not eating properly, and I was taking care of everyone beside myself. I kept putting everyone above me, and it was the one thing that was sucking the life out of me. I had to stop, look at myself in the mirror and put my needs above anything else. And that absolutely started such an inspiring change that allows me to sit here at this computer and write these messages to those who might need it like I needed it a year ago. It all started with allowing myself to succumb to my mental health. I had been clinically diagnosed with PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety about a year before that and I wasn’t doing anything about it. Not a single thing. So, with the guidance of a 12-year mentor I decided to go seek antidepressants and therapy. And to this date, I may not be in therapy anymore (which I am contemplating going back) but being on antidepressants has saved and changed my life.
For most of my life mental health was a stigma that was not discussed in the African American community. It was viewed as a cop out and weak. And that is the opposite of what it is. I thought that me admitting that I needed help and that I needed to get my mental health under control was me admitting that I was weak, and I was letting it win. And that is 109374934793% the opposite of the truth. Me having the strength to acknowledge that I have a mental illness that I need to address is what made my life turn around. Mental health is such a serious topic that no one seems to talk about enough. But, with me finally tackling mental health and physical health I was able to address self-care for the first time. Once I did that I was able to realize the toxicity I allowed in my life., I was able to see the people attempting to take advantage of me.
I was on Instagram one day, and I had noticed a brand-new tattoo that one of my best friends had gotten. It was an equal sign on her finger that in what I interpreted her definition meant, “I will no longer tolerate anything less than equal energy in life, love, and friendship”. And that was something that changed my life. I had to stop selling myself short and not accepting the same that I was giving. It allowed me to realize my worth and that I should not settle for anything less than what I deserved. And I do not think she really understands what she did for me in being so far away. We have always fought our own battles and even though we are in different states now, we seem to find our way to remain that strength for each other.
In realization that I needed to maintain my mental health, physical space, and energy my life changed drastically. It was like so many burdens were lifted off my shoulders and I was able to breathe again in ways that I have not been able to in my twenty-five and a half years of existence. It is okay to be selfless, but it is absolutely not okay to drown in your own misery and if being everyone’s stepping stone to trauma is the cause of it, cut it the fuck off. That is the simplest way that I can put it. I had to manifest my own destiny and my own fate by removing everything out of my life that was simply not meant for me. People who drained my energy had to go. People who used me had to go. People who wanted to cause nothing by drama and pain had to go. People who wanted to manipulate me and make me feel like me focusing on bettering me was a sin, absolutely had to go. And I have lost friends I thought would be in my life for a life time. Turns out it was only a coat tail needed to ride on and once I stopped allowing it, I was able to see the color shine bright like a diamond.
Once I removed all the bad energy and I kept focusing on what was going to make me happy and what was going to get me better, my life has flourished. New job opportunities opened for me. The love of my life found me. I was able to feel again, I was able to allow new things to come to me and was able to realize what was simply not for me. I stopped rushing things and I trusted all of what was coming my way. I stopped and realized that I was blocking my own blessing. The only person stopping my blessing and good coming my way was me. It was NOT the people taking from me and causing me pain. It was me because I was allowing it. And what you allow is what will continue. So, I stopped allowing it and I changed my future. I stopped blocking the blessings coming to me because I started to love myself. And loving myself allowed others to want to love me to. I know I am still a work in progress, but I recognized my own toxic traits and my own fault. I stopped them and began loving me. And nothing has ever felt so sweet! 💕