Give up on toxic relationships

Remember. If something hurts you badly, let it go, says comedian Shrirupa Sengupta

Shrirupa Sengupta

With the release of Kangana Ranaut’s film ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’, two things happened this month. The movie has taken my friends and family by storm and I have finally learnt to give up.  

Growing up, the term ‘giving up had a very negative connotation.

No matter where you are and what is happening in your life, giving up was not acceptable. You were taught to always smile and trudge along. I was told the same thing too and somewhere, it became a part of my life.  

I did not give up, be it on relationships, people, things or hobbies. Every time I wanted to, the voices ⁠— my friends and family ⁠— mocked me for not being committed enough, for taking the easy route.

It didn’t matter if I had decided that in the first hour or days later. It felt like others’ opinion mattered the most.

You either start something and stick to it or not start at all.  

In the years, I had learnt to let go of things but giving up wasn’t one of them. The only form of it that I considered was to release the moment and when it came back, I would embrace it once again. 

Earlier this month, I experienced something like that. 

I have a friend who I’ve known for most of my life. Despite how circumstances have changed us and what people have said, I stood by our friendship.  

Over the years, we moved cities and made new friends. 

Some of our mutual friends had warned me that something is wrong with my friend. My mother, too, would sit me down every year and tell me that I should end it. But something told me that I shouldn’t, instead, accept this friend as they are. 

It was probably the voices in the head that constantly told me to not give up that encouraged me to take this move. We have been friends for 15 years now.

That’s not the point of my story, though.

Earlier this month, my dear friend and I met up for lunch and I learnt more things that I expected to. 

By the end of lunch, I learnt that my friends, who had been warning me, were right.

My dear friend had been telling me false things about others. 

I realised that this action of mine for several years had not only hurt me but also my loved ones, including my partner.

I shielded my friend, my friend who probably still believes that there were no real consequences of the devastation they caused. 

By choosing my friendship over those who truly cared ripped apart the fabric of my relationship with my partner in 2016 and fundamentally changed us as human beings. 

Last week, I met my partner. I looked into his eyes and told him what I recently learnt about my dear friend.

I told him of all the red flags that I had ignored over 15 years and how I had refused to give up because it would mean letting my down the ethos of friendship.

I then told him that I was sorry for not protecting him. 

He smiled gently and spoke at length of how proud he was; how proud he was that I was finally learning to let go.

And it finally dawned on me — when we teach our children to not to give up, we are unwittingly teaching them to stay in toxic spaces, to continue trying. 

When you protect yourself, you protect everyone who comes with you — your family, friends, the ones who love you and trust you to keep them safe. And if you need to give up on anything that’s harmful, to live a better life, do it.

It’s okay to give up. There is nothing judgemental about it.

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