Relationships are tricky.
As you grow up, you have your fair share of friendships, and your fair share of romantic acquaintances. Some may last longer than others, and some may be so short that they almost seem irrelevant. However, despite their length, all theses relationships teach you more about people, and yourself, than you could ever learn from someone like your mom. (No offense, Mom.) Whether these relationships be toxic, or the best things to ever happen to you, you will learn to be thankful for each of them. Maybe not right away, but in the long run, you will look back and really understand.
Personally, I have dealt with my number of toxic relationships. I think I've had enough in the past five years to last any typical person an entire lifetime. When I was an innocent freshman in high school, I had a boyfriend who was no good for me, and a best friend who really was not a best friend at all. Unfortunately, I stayed in these for a long while, over a year, and faced lots of obstacles along the way. These relationships in my life caused turmoil between my mom and I, broken friendships with girls who I grew up with and many, many tears. I dealt with betrayal, abuse and manipulation. My mom and I did not speak, and she hated who I was becoming. I made choices that I never thought I'd make at such a young age, and all my friends were wondering who the devil was that took over my body; because one thing's for sure: I was not myself. Looking back, I wonder how I was so stupid and oblivious, but now, I finally get it.
Toxic relationships are really not as bad as you think. Don't get me wrong, they suck when you are in them, and they seem to squeeze every inch of life out of you, but once they're in the past, you can look back and think to yourself, "Thank god I went through that." That's because now you can look back and think of all the positives that came out of them (which is plenty more than you'd think -- trust me).
You learn to understand and recognize the red flags.
You've been through this before; you've seen them firsthand. Now you know for a future relationship that if someone possesses a similar quality to one of someone in the past, you know to keep your guard up. Knowing the red flags gives you the power to recognize an unhealthy relationship and end it before it becomes a toxic investment in your life.
You learn to use your voice.
You have understood that sitting back and not speaking your mind doesn't do you any good. It makes your friend, or boyfriend, think that you are weak and allowed to be stepped all over. After learning that that is not how you wanted to be treated, you now know for the future that you can say whatever you want when you want. And if someone has a problem with that, they are not worth it. At first people are shy and afraid to speak up for themselves, but after being put through hell and back, you have discovered that your voice is your most powerful tool and that you should always utilize it.
You no longer settle for what is being thrown at you.
Seeing how cruel people treat others and being a victim to that yourself, you look back and see all the wrong you have been through. And because of that, you have come up with a set of high expectations and guidelines in order for people to stay in your life. No, you are not picky; you are more aware of what you deserve. Settling for less than that is not worth your energy, or time.
You learn that you are incapable of changing people.
Yes, people can grow and evolve, but expecting your friends or significant other to change to fit your perfect mold is not going to happen. You may have learned this the hard way, but now you know that if someone isn't the kind of person you want to invest time into, they are not going to change. People are the way that they are, and you are no fairy godmother who can switch that up.
You learn what a healthy balance is.
This specific one is more catered towards romantic relationships. In toxic relationships, your significant other has a tendency to take all of your time: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They make you believe that is normal, and that nothing or no one else is more important than them. Therefore, you are under the mind spell that everything revolves around them and their happiness. Now, you know that is surely not true or healthy at all! Having "me time" and balancing activities with friends and family is imperative. When getting into another relationship, you will be much more aware of how you are spending your time, and you will ensure that you spend equal time with everyone who is important to you.
You are 10 times better at giving advice.
After going through your share of highs and lows, everyone knows you are a good source to confide in. You will tell people honest opinions, and have personal experiences to support your arguments. You can help your friends find the value in using their voice, balancing their life, understanding the red flags and so much more. Also, people having their own share of relationship difficulties will feel more comfortable talking to you because you are empathetic with them and know how they feel.
A relationship is supposed to lift you up -- not knock you down.
A relationship is not supposed to make you cry five times a day. Instead, a boyfriend and best friend are supposed to make you laugh; they are supposed to be your biggest cheerleader and motivator! Toxic relationships are always filled with much more negativity than positivity, and after going through one, you are much more understanding of how a relationship is supposed to make you feel, but also how it is not supposed to make you feel.
You will be so much more appreciative of something good when it comes around.
When you do have a friend or significant other who is amazing to you, you are much more appreciative of them. Because you know how bad it can be to have someone sucking the life out of you, looking at the person who makes you smile each day because they are just so great makes you so happy and thankful that they're in your life. You understand how great it is, and how precious relationships are supposed to be. Just think, you could never admire a rainbow without first seeing a rain storm.
Again, relationships are tricky. When they're great, they're great. And when they're not, it seems like the end of the world. But when this is the case, it is important to get yourself out. You deserve so much more happiness, kindness and encouragement. And once you're out and learn to love yourself again, I hope you can look back and learn from your experiences, just as I did.