How Toxic People Try to Change You

I’ve been on this earth for a while. I won’t tell you how long a while is, but it’s a lot longer than most people gather to guess when looking at my child like features. You can thank genetics for that one. While on this earth, there are a few things I’ve learned, one of them is that being “too much” for someone is usually code toxic people use to hold you in a position they want to keep you in.

The phrase “too much” comes in many forms, and many actions. Someone may tell you that you’re “too strong” or “too independent.” I myself have been told that I was “doing too much” when a interested suitor asked what I did for a living. At the time I was a case manager, a grad school student, a mom, and doing a play (with this particular person). I wasn’t interested in this person romantically, as I was already married, but the words still bothered me.

What on earth did he mean I was doing too much? How was I doing too much? I was working to provide for my children and household, I was going to school to make a better life for my children and others, and doing the play was my “me time.” These words rattled around in my brain the whole weekend. I confided in my supervisor, who was also a therapist, about this phase. My supervisor looked me in the eye and said something I hadn’t even considered. “You’re too much for him. He means that he can’t handle you, not that you’re doing too much.”

An epiphany. I had been told variations of this through people’s actions as well as their words most of my life. Those people were not my people. They came, they tried to change who I was at my core, and when they couldn’t, they left, or I left them. It had never crossed my mind to bend into what these other people wanted me to be. Friends, boyfriends, bosses, etc. People put others in their own boxes and when you won’t fit, they try to force you to fit.

They may try force you to fit who they want you to be by pressuring you to drink, when you’re not a drinker. They may tell you small things like they like your hair better short, or they like you better with make up. It could be bigger things such as trying to diminish who you are as a person. Before you realize what’s happening, you’re apologizing for things that are innately you.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are beginning to feel like you’re bending, twisting and molding around the people in your life, then those are not your people. The people that you belong to celebrate the things that make you, you. It’s one thing to change weather you eat bacon or fish, but it’s something else entirely for you to begin to change your personality traits. Pieces of your personality and character are not trade offs for a relationship of any kind.

People that are meant to be your people won’t expect you to change who you are to fit into their lives. They won’t want you to change that you pray daily, or run on weekends. They won’t tell you to stop going to your mom’s for Sunday dinner, or to alter your life plans to fit around them. They won’t tell you to do that, because they love the parts of you that make you, you.

Your people will love that you hum in the shower, or do a happy dance before you eat something good. Your people will offer you a soft drink instead of liquor or a glass of wine if they know you aren’t a drinker. Your people will encourage you to follow through on your dreams no matter what they are. Your people are out there.

Be too much. Take up space. Use your voice. Be that girl. Let that flicker in your belly turn into a blaze and breathe fire. You were made for this world. Your people are waiting. Don’t settle for what wasn’t meant for you. Don’t try to keep people around for a lifetime, when they were only meant to be for a season.

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