Letting Go of Toxicity

Problem is, you can’t accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at the dump, baby – you’re just lickin’ at the empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.”

“But I love him.”

“So love him.”

“But I miss him.”

“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.”

–Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

This quote is powerful. I don’t care if it’s from a book (or movie) that many people write off because it’s “girly” or “emotional”. All of that aside, the rest of the content aside, this quote is powerful. 

I thought of it again when talking to a friend the other day who’s going through a difficult time with a “toxic” family member.

When I say toxic, it might sound harsh, so let me explain. I believe there are people everyone runs across in life, whether it be significant others, friends or family members, that continuously bring us down, cause problems and/or spread deceitfulness and drama. Often I think it’s fairly easy to avoid or shut these types of people out of your life. However, in my life personally and I’m sure many others, there are a few people that you come to care for and at some point begin to realize, in one all encompassing term, they’re toxic.

In general, people know that when something is causing problems or making you sick, you remove it. If you have a virus on your computer, you wipe it clean. If you get cancer, you fight to get it out of your body. If you’re bit by a snake, you suck out the venom. If you hate ketchup, you leave it off your burger. That’s easy because those things aren’t people. You don’t have a connection with them. The hard part is realizing someone you do have a connection with is that thing that’s shoveling in the negativity. We feel bad, we feel guilty and we feel that we have some responsibility to keep that person in our lives no matter how much they fight against us.

When I was younger, there was a person like this in my life, and I was struggling with how it would make them feel and how others would view me for cutting them out of my life. I stumbled across this quote in mid-struggle, and it was like a slap in the face. When someone’s bringing you down, there’s a certain point where you have to drop it or life’s just going to continue to be miserable. Some people love to find drama and they love blame. Unfortunately, the thing people don’t love to find is the truth, and anyone who I was worried about viewing me as the bad guy or who was mixed in with all the toxicity this person was causing, was just another thing I was eliminating when I let it go.

The truth is we can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change. We can’t make them see how much we care about them or how hurtful they’re being. And the people we really end up hurting the most by constantly allowing or re-allowing that toxicity in our lives, are ourselves and others around us.

So, I’ll say it one more time and let it sit with you and the person that was on your mind while you were reading this.

Problem is, you can’t accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at the dump, baby – you’re just lickin’ at the empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.”

“But I love him.”

“So love him.”

“But I miss him.”

“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.”

Movie version above is a bit different than the book quote.

22 thoughts on “Letting Go of Toxicity

  1. That’s a great quote! It’s just so hard when the toxic people are family an you know there are going to be times when you just have to deal!

    • It is! That was my friend’s problem that I mentioned in the beginning. Eventually, she ended up letting him know how she felt about him and their personal situation, left it at that, and stopped struggling to help him or interact with him. They do still come into contact on occasion, and she interacts with him as normal and civilly as possible (if he’s not trying to cause drama). And anything beyond that, she refuses to dwell on.

  2. This is a good one. We have a similar situation here. The book boundaries is a very good one for when you’re dealing with – as you said a “toxic” relationship. Forgiveness is always best, but continuing in a relationship that only seeks to use, hurt, and manipulate isn’t always safe.

  3. I couldn’t agree more! As I’m getting older I’m realizing life is too short for people who put the “d” in drama. You need it spend time with people who lift you up not people who bring you down.

  4. i JUST DID THIS A MONTH AGO! How nice to read something that spoke to something so recent and something SO INCREDIBLY TERRIFYING TO DO! I have struggled with this person for over a decade and forgiven too much and tried again. Then I had a child and I realized, I am now truly allowed to say I can build a wall. Only healthy people (not people without normal problems, we all have those) but fundamentally healthy people can be in our world now. People who are striving to make themselves and the world better in their own ways and who can examine their own actions in a reflective light! Thanks for this post, it bolstered my resolve!

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