Self-love isn’t something that comes naturally to all of us, and on my own journey to prioritizing my own happiness and well-being, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to let go of relationships that are holding you back from doing so. And while choosing to shut a door may be scary, the decision will only help you grow in the long run.

It all started with an old email that I found while cleaning out my inbox. I was triggered by certain jokes that made me feel bad about myself, and I realized that in order to be happy inside, I had to break off a friendship that had become toxic to my mental well-being. And it wasn’t about one particular incident. In fact, this person had always been consistent in their actions since I met them. The constant “jokes” and “advice” about why I was still single, the “helpful” critique of my life and actions — ending the friendship was best for the both of us.

I’ve learned that there are certain types of friends that you have to avoid in order to be successful in life. The “constant critic” is one of them. As Benjamin Franklin says, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain — and most fools do.” Nothing you do is good enough in the eyes of this person. The constant critic can always do it better and they always let you know exactly how you should be living your life. The funny thing is this type of person is usually so busy “helping” you figure out your life that they completely ignore everything going wrong in theirs. There’s constructive criticism and then there’s criticism that breaks you down little by little until you become a fraction of yourself. I believe in running, not walking away from this person.

I decided to send an email to express how I felt. It was clear, concise and with examples of times within our friendship that I had felt cut down and demeaned. I was proud that I was able to express myself after years of ignoring the insulting nature of our friendship.

I was also relieved when I saw that her response to my email was apologetic. She felt bad and offered a few excuses to explain her behavior. While I appreciated the gesture, speaking my truth was not about getting an apology. It was always about reclaiming my power. I’ve always thought that closure was overrated, but after sending my email, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I had gotten my hurt and frustration off my chest, and I was ready to embrace self-love.

Breaking up within any dynamic is hard, but if you know a certain relationship is holding you back from being happy, there should be no doubt or second thoughts to the decision. Once you let go of what’s dragging you down, the freedom to move on is exhilarating.

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