In my life, I dated one guy who I consider malignant. I mean, I’ve dated a few losers, sure. But one in particular who impacted my life probably more than any other guy I’ve dated except Jerry.

It was a rough, rocky relationship the entire time we dated. He consistently made me feel bad about myself, and made our friends think badly of me. I was absolutely miserable. But then he could make me laugh, too, and his sense of humor was what attracted me to him. He was funny as hell, and I equated that with love, I guess.

When I realized that this wasn’t healthy, I was finally able to remove myself from the situation. I don’t know where the strength came from, but I’m glad it was there. I completely severed my ties with him, as well as with EVERY friend from that sector of my life. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

It was a lonely few months, sure. But I emerged FAR stronger than I ever thought I could be. And I have never regretted cutting that cancer –that entire circle of friends– out of my life. I did not and do not miss any of them. I thought I would, but even just a few months later I realized how much happier I was without that toxic influence.

One of those former friends apologized to me years later, saying that she had come to realize that I had been the victim in the situation, not the other way around. It meant a lot to me, even years later, and affirmed to me that I had absolutely made the right decision.

Sometimes the best decision is the hardest one to make. To cure your life of something that makes you crazy, you must remove yourself from that influence, not the other way around. I know that I was able to keep my head up after making my resolution to start anew, because I didn’t continue to defend myself to people who weren’t listening.

And the friends I made AFTER that patch in my life have been far better friends. Because of my malignant experience, I know better what to look for in a friend now.

So. While dating that guy was a horrible experience, I’m glad I did. He taught me a lot — about how friends should treat each other, about self-respect, and about my own inner strength.

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