By Shariva Zender
Not a month ago I wrote about a Feminist Nirvana and how I long for the day women will be able to exist without fearing for their lives.
In the midst of the recent femicide, it seems like that day is still so far away.
But we must not stop fighting for it.
I spend a lot of time trying to understand the concept of introspection and what it means to truly self-reflect. Call it an occasional existential crisis if you will where I try to understand why I react a certain way to things. There are some moments I am really proud of how I handled a certain situation and other times where I know I could have done better.
I often times ignore my own red flags and brush it off as a character flaw. But I am an over thinker and soon as I have a moment to self-reflect I find myself in a mind battle of constantly asking “What could I have done differently?” or “How could I have avoided that?”
I also dabble in toxicity more often than not. So much so that I completely shut down to an impenetrable point where nothing comes in and nothing goes out whenever I feel hurt, sad or just overwhelmed. I also don’t like confrontation. Never have. I always want to be the one to “keep the peace” and not stir up unnecessary drama by voicing my opinion, so I keep quiet.
Not realizing that internalizing my feelings and bottling everything up is a toxic act that may or may not stem from childhood experiences. I am sharing this because a lot of people might have toxic traits they don’t even know how to deal with and some people are just plain oblivious that they even have toxic qualities.
Enter Toxicity Central
I envision it being a city-like destination where the journey is filled with unhealthy coping mechanisms and words like accountability and responsibility do not exist. A place where masters of manipulation welcome you with a devilish grin and sell you on the city’s superficial charm and it is easy to get swept up in the callousness of it all.
But we all know that toxicity is more than a mere character flaw or a city conjured up in my mind, because we see it and experience the brazenness of it on a daily basis.
I think whether we want to admit it or not, we all know the signs of a toxic situation or relationship. We see the signs, our friends and our mothers see the signs, but we are human and even if we remove ourselves from the situation – as women, we are still in danger. Because almost always, the signs that we see manifest into a perpetual cycle of abuse (emotionally, verbally or physically) later on in the situation or relationship. Some of us are lucky to get out, others not so much. Because even if they do make it out of the relationship, there is never a guarantee that they will make it alive beyond that relationship.
The newspapers continue reporting about how women are being murdered by their partners because of entitlement and out of jealousy. If you read these stories, you’ll quickly notice the patterns. You’ll also realize that at the very core of these heinous acts against women lies one common denominator – toxicity.
But when will it end?
When will we realize that we can no longer be okay with being the gatekeepers for toxic individuals?
It starts with you. It starts the minute you stop letting entitlement and past trauma dictate how you function with other people, especially women. Stop projecting your insecurities onto others because you don’t know how to properly deal with them. See a therapist if you must, talk to someone, evaluate your emotions and understand why certain things trigger you and learn how to deal with them.
Unlearning toxic behaviour is as important as learning to walk.
Because for far too long we have been walking on eggshells around toxic individuals who refuse to change their behaviour under the guise of “that’s just how they are”.
It’s time we focus on protecting our peace.
At all costs.