I think one of the things people disregard most are the effects of a toxic relationship on a teenager – regardless of their sex or gender. Most people think supposed “first-loves” are not damaging, that their heartbreak is minor and insignificant, most people don’t realize how wrong those beliefs are. Teenagehood is an essential stage of the creation of “man” and “woman”, funnily enough, my own first book and blog are about just that – you see, if you break down the word teenage it’s طین age, you can say I’m looking to much into it, but it’s an interesting breakdown. طین means soil, and what are we but shaped clay? For a beautiful garden to grow, that soil must be watered regularly, given sufficient oxygen, and lots and lots of sunlight – that’s how teenhood should be; nutritious in all senses – the physical, the emotional, the mental, and the spiritual. Toxic relationships prevent that.

For the past 4 years of my oh so young life, I’ve clung to one person, my entire existence revolved around them, their needs, their wants, their dreams, their hopes, their problems, I was obsessed. I’d cry when they’d ignore me, forgive them when they ratted my secrets out to their friends, nod my head obediently when they told me I’m not good enough, and totally ignorde my well-being and health for their own. I was subjected to mild verbal and heavy emotional abuse. My “growing phase” was watered with acid instead of water, add in societal pressures, high school drama, a lot of gossip, judgment, shaming, and you get a messed up, confused, and abused 17-year-old girl.

Many people who were involved in that person and I’s drama asked me how I moved on and became the young girl I am today, considering that person was my only attachment, I’d say I made a lot of progress – here’s what I personally did to move on and grow.

Step One: Block Them
It’s simple logic; get them visually out of your life – social media is the rage with all teens, so block them on facebook, instagram, twitter, hell – block them on WhatsApp – but especially, block them on Snapchat; if you don’t then you’re just going to thirst more for them.

Step Two: Self-Reflection
If there’s one thing I learned from my little time in therapy, it’s that self-reflection is the most important thing for growth. Sit down with a cup of soothing herbal tea, maybe grab a pen and paper, or your laptop, if you want to audio record your musings instead of writing so be it. Then, mentally throw up; let it all out, your feelings, your thoughts, your theories on things he/she did, and others about why you allowed yourself to stay, follow your train of thought till you reach the problem, the reason you stayed with that person.

Step Three: Coming to Terms
If you’ve found the reason, you’ll probably start feeling guilty, maybe you’ll feel ashamed of yourself, or maybe you’ll feel like a fool – they’re your feelings and you’re allowed to feel so, but don’t drown in them, instead accept your mistakes – accept them as lessons – and by doing so, accept the part of yourself that is the case to your involvement in such a relationship. Remember, we are all only human. It’s ok. Use this slip up to learn and help others like you.

Step Four: Don’t Control Your Anger
Let it out. If you’re feeling like there’s fire coursing through your veins – that’s understandable, but don’t bottle it in, let it out. Hit that belly dance class, start kickboxing, sign up for that yoga course, volunteer at that charity organization, go spend a week or two among Nubians, retreat to Siwa, take up cooking or baking, anything to release your emotions. Anger belongs to the center of your ego – and there are two ways to deal with your ego, physical activity that compliments your ego so it’s satisfied, or goodness activities that feed your compassion – said compassion tames your ego.

Step Five: Find Your Purpose
No matter how temporary. Go become a Zumba instructor, start a baking business, go photograph campaigns, lead a group of friends in a charity, become a nursery teacher for the summer, plan events, go take an internship somewhere you’re interested in, write a book, start a goodness project, whatever it is that makes your fingertips tingle and your tummy erupt in nervously excited butterflies – do it, no matter what it is.

Personally, I found solace in writing, then in studying media online, then in starting up a teen blog about 9 months ago ” TeenTimes“, which has unexpectedly become a hit among my generation, and suddenly, my life became full, graduating, building a mini media company slowly, writing a book, continuously attending bellydance classes or hitting the gym, reading more and more books, meeting up with friends, expanding my social life to include people who do not know the person I was attached to for years, and generally trying to find my own purpose, which – for now – has been helping other teens like me realize their power and break away from toxic relationships.

Toxic relationships are not easy to move on from, especially if it were a first love, but always have faith in yourself, realize your worth, know your power, and be grateful for everyone around you willing to support you through your withdrawal phase. The only way to counter a toxic relationship with another, is revitalizing a healthy relationship with yourself.