For quite some time, I’ve considered myself to be adaptable, with a high threshold toward toxicity. I have ridden the waves of various cohorts, held on through tough times, teeth gritted, knuckles locked. I figure that’s a quality, some perseverance.

This was challenged by therapy, of all things. The therapy itself didn’t address what seemed to be an inner strength. No, the therapy helped me deconstruct a certain self-loathing, a trait that bonded me to some terrible people over time and some just plain inhospitable situations. So I realized that I wasn’t really letting the poison roll off my back. No, I was assuming that I deserved the poison. There was no point in dodging it. And I often hated myself enough to want even more of it.

This was never a situation of creating the toxicity as a punishment. This was not self-destruction. It was more a matter of assuming that I couldn’t fight back against a toxic paradigm because I was toxic myself, because I deserved it and didn’t have the power to do anything about it.

So, therapy: It took about a year or so of weekly sessions, amid turmoil both environmental and self-inflicted, to start to understand my levels of personal disrespect. To start to step away from my own toxicity.

I can’t say that I escaped it. I certainly fall back into the hole from time to time. But I’ve been learning to trust myself, parts of myself, trust my intellect and capacity for problem solving, even appreciate positive traits. I am still self-critical, but I don’t hate myself. Not anymore.

And that had an interesting effect on my ability to weather toxic situations. That is, I no longer assume that I deserve all that bullshit, and I have realized that I can probably do something about said bullshit.

So that’s where I am now. And it’s made me much less tolerant of a poison world, of people who thrive on being shitty to other people, illogical, somehow both intelligent and ignorant. I’m scared as all hell to do something about it. And I’m writing this because I think many people might be in similar situations. Toughing it out, riding the storm, when your gut tells you that the storm might be the system itself, Jupiter’s big red dot. So it’s a matter of problem solving. This is what I tell myself on a micro-level, to trust myself to take care of problems as they arise, and then move on. It’s much harder when you are within the problem, within the storm. But it can be done. Because you know, intuitively, logically, deep in your soul, that toxic systems do not inherently deserve tacit tolerance.

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