I’m So Loyal, It’s Toxic

I’ve always prided myself on my loyalty to those around me — I forgive easily, forget often, and I’ve gotten my ass handed to me in fights that weren’t my own (though to be fair, I’ve also handed some ass). I’d always thought that it was what good people were made of, but over the last few years, my views on my loyalty have started to shift. I’ve noticed a pattern of toxic ties that I can’t cut and it’s really starting to weigh on me.

  1. I find ways to justify people’s ridiculous actions. I can justify practically anything because I always try to see past the surface of what someone is doing. A guy cheated on me for the fifth time? Well, it’s because his mom never truly loved me so he’s got some issues. A friend stabbed me in the back? She’s just been going through a tough time lately and she’s not herself — she probably didn’t mean anything by it. Logically, I recognize my own toxic behavior, but that doesn’t keep it from happening in the moment.
  2. I have the makings of a professional defense lawyer. I can sit beside anyone and defend them for how they treat me and those around them because I’m a firm believer of the idea that if you know someone well enough, you can’t judge them. If you can judge them, you don’t know them well enough. In that light, everyone has a solid defense for the way they behave. It’s what allows me to make all of those ridiculous justifications.
  3. I stand by people who make me feel like crap. Regardless of how many times I’m mistreated, ignored, cast to the side, shunned for some BS reason, I’ll always come back like I’m some kind of abused dog looking for one accepting pat on the head to tell me that I’m still loved, even if it’s only a little bit. I’ll accept your BS plight and stand by you for some more abuse. WTF is my problem?
  4. I’m willing to look past people’s toxicity and focus on their good qualities. I’m also a firm believer that everyone has at least one good quality, and if they’ve been in my life long enough, I’ll find that quality and stand by it. Once I see it, I can’t let go of it and it becomes the backbone for my argument about their lack of toxicity even if their toxic behavior outweighs the good stuff. Ugh.
  5. I’m overly forgiving. I can forgive almost anything; lying, cheating, stealing, physical and emotional abuse… the list becomes pretty grim. I can forgive a serious offense with something as simple as an “I’m sorry,” or sometimes­ — most times —  even less than that. I don’t need an apology to forgive someone, so most of the time they’re not even sorry and I’ll forgive them anyway, which just enables their behavior even further.
  6. My abundance of understanding is a death sentence. I’m compassionate and empathetic, which is a deadly combination that makes it almost impossible for me to find a justifiable reason to cut someone out of my life. Because of this, I just end up stuck in a wash, rinse, repeat cycle of toxic friendships and relationships.
  7. Their last chance was 200 last chances ago. I can dole out “last chances” like candy on Halloween because I want people to give me a reason to stay, a reason to try, and something to show me that my faith in them isn’t misplaced. I always want them to have the defining moment of, “Oh crap, I don’t want to lose her!” that never comes. Still, I keep handing out last chances because I WANT it to come.
  8. Once I actually leave, I always find a reason to go back. Again, just like an abused dog. I see the promise of “I’ll stop treating you like crap,” or “I promise I won’t do [insert BS line here] again,” and even though I know it’s not true, I still come running back like a well-trained punching bag because maybe, just maybe, this time will be different. Spoiler alert: it never is.
  9. I seem to go unnoticed until I’m finally gone. Never once do I hear so much as an apology for putting up with people’s BS or a thank you for all I’ve done for them until I’m gone — and I mean really, truly, no more running back for more abuse gone. Still, even the small bit of groveling or appreciation I get at the very end seems half-hearted at best if it comes at all, so it all seems kind of pointless anyway.
  10. I’m never really doing it for them. I’ve never had someone be as loyal to me as I am to them, so I subconsciously believe that maybe the more I put it out there, the higher the likelihood that it’ll be returned. It’s as if I think that I’m going to get someone to see how valuable I am to have around and they won’t want to leave because I was there for them. Eventually, I’ll finally have someone who will stand beside ME through all the BS, be there to comfort and console ME, be there when life becomes too much and I try to push THEM away. So, really, I guess I’ve always been doing it for me.
  11. I’m starting to realize that There’s No Point. I’ve been standing alone this whole time anyway, so what difference does it make if I cut the ties? In fact, I just might end up a bit happier in the end.
Ashley is a freelance writer, a serial-entrepreneur, a mom to an overly-energetic toddler, and prone to adopting too many animals. Her newest venture is running an Etsy store, Haskell's Handmades. She has no free time because her over-the-top energetic little family keeps her busy laughing (and writing.)