I Used to Be One of Those Toxic People

In a response to a recent Thought Catalog post, I felt it necessary to write that I used to to be a toxic person and it’s possible to be better.

1. I used to talk more than I listened.

I used to be completely narcissistic. If it didn’t bother me, I didn’t care. I would always listen, but always thinking about what my next point would be. In my current job working with college students where my main job is to listen, I learned value of just being there. Most times, people don’t want advice (unless asked) or my opinion. They just want to speak and speak freely. What I have to say or think rarely matters.

2. I could never be wrong.

I used to think being wrong was a flaw. In the past few years, I learned that being wrong is a moment of growth. If I knew everything, what fun would that be? I embrace now embrace my downfalls. Each one teaches me a valuable lesson about who I am and where I’m going.

3. Drama followed me wherever I went.

There was always something wrong. Always something that would upset me where I could be pissed at each person I came into contact with. Thought Catalog was right that I would always search for an excuse for why advice given to me wouldn’t work or why something could not be fixed. I tend to look on the brighter side of things today. I embrace the comments of others and their thoughts. Each person knows something I don’t. That’s worth something.

4. I forced relationships.

I used to strive for unique relationships with other people. I used to have this thought of what it meant to be in a romantic relationship and what it meant to have a best friend. I would try to manipulate each of those relationships into what I wanted it to be. Today, I understand these things happen on their own. I cannot force a romantic relationship. I cannot force someone to love me or to stay with me even though I’m the most difficult to be with. I cannot force my best friend to talk to me after months of emotional abuse for reasons why they suck. I cannot control everything. This is hard, but I understand the reality of it.

5. My experience is the standard and the only experience that matters.

If I think that waking up early in the morning is the only way to live, then it was the only way to live. If my level of ambition was higher than yours, than you were under achieving. I could not separate that each person has their own experiences and wants that are valid in their own right. I used to think my ex-girlfriend was not striving to be her best because she values slam poetry and would give up everything to write each day without hope of a paycheck. In fact, she was probably braver than me for wanting to chase her true dream. I wish I never told her how she should downplay her slam poetry in a job interview for a job she got and is doing incredibly well. I wish I never thought that she wouldn’t do anything unless I pushed her to. She was braver than me.

6. I often lied.

I  would tell stories that benefited me in some way. My happiness was more important than your happiness. I think back to when my ex girlfriend in our sophomore year of college went to see a friend perform in a show. I made her feel so guilty for not spending time with me and lied that I was sick and how dare she go without me. I was made she was happier than me – having a better time to me. Truth is, it’s no one’s fault that I was miserable except my own. It’s my own fault that I was difficult to be around. No lie or embellishment that makes me sound more interested could change that.

7. I lacked general tack and general courtesy.

Okay, everyone. This is the moment where I admit that what I think doesn’t always have to be said. This where I say that my “brutal honesty” wasn’t always necessary. I lacked empathy. I told it like it was. However, I couldn’t take it when it was directed at me. At some point this the last year, I’ve been able to admit my faults. It’s not easy, but I do it because I know that I’m not always right. I know that not all of my thoughts need to be broadcast and decide that it’s okay because I am “being honest.” I’ve learned to be more courteous to feelings of others beyond my own. This one is seriously hard to write about because my motto used to be, “Whether or not want to know, you’ll always know what I’m thinking.” I should be honest with my feelings, but I don’t have to be mean about it. Lesson learned the hard way multiple times over.

Also, I could have been better with general courtesy regarding my friend Jackie. When I wrote a post awhile back that spoke of all my friends moving, Jackie got offended and rightfully so. I should have been more thoughtful to her situation and how my words could have been seen as an attack against her. Although it wasn’t, it doesn’t change how it made her feel. It should have been me apologizing instead of her apologizing for how she felt.

8. The exhibit controlling behaviors.

Whew, okay. If the last one was hard to talk about, I don’t know what this one will do to me. I had to pour a glass of whiskey.

My ex-girlfriend. Sorry that she’s been the example for much of this, but she’s the one that dealt with the brunt of these behaviors. I needed to control everything in that relationship. If I was sad, I needed her to feel bad for me. If I felt like she didn’t care, I would manipulate the situation until she did. I really wasn’t a bad guy. I just had a lot of growing up to do. I needed to learn that my idea of a relationship wasn’t realistic and I did not do my significant other any favors while I was growing up. My immaturity cost me a great relationship and a great person. It’s hard because without ending that relationship, I am unsure if I would have ever grown as a person.

My ex has been, and will probably continue to be the most unforgettable person I have ever met. This isn’t because I’m not over her  (we’ve been done for almost two years), but the things she’s taught me without even knowing it. She deserves all the happiness in the world. My only regret is that I cost her nearly three years of that.

9. I loved to talk about other people.

Oh, yes. I lived for gossip. Being the hold of gossip meant power. I would use the misfortune of someone else to better my image. It’s not that I would talk negatively about other people, but I would definitely not acknowledge their accomplishments and would rather speak on where they screwed up than what they are getting right.

I strive to be better than the list above. I spent the spring and summer of this year focusing on myself. I stopped paying so much attention to what people thought of me. I started caring about what I thought of me. I didn’t like what I learned in my first few weeks. I worked to change how I viewed me in hopes that others would view me in kinder light was well.

It’s never too late to grow and change. It’s never too late to become who you want to me and acknowledge that you may not have been the best person, but you are working to become a better person.