Learning to Leave

Megan Schumacher
8 min readMay 21, 2022
Image by Ajale from Pixabay

I like to play this game where I see if I can change another’s behavior and perception of me when they’ve made it clear that they don’t have my best interest in mind. I’ve done it in my jobs, with family, and in relationships with varying degrees of commitment to the process. The hope being that I can exert some control over another’s experience of me.

The logical solution is to remove myself from a scenario that screams “danger!” or “unhelpful!” But that’s not how I’ve historically gone about approaching this.

Take an example of someone who is being a jerk to me. They are rude. They put me down. Ignore me. Historically, I’ve gone into a sort of indignant denial initially — no, no, no, this can’t be right. I am highly likable. They must not be seeing it. Here, I’ll make some adjustments. Make it clearer for them. Sure enough, I involve myself in this big solitary dance of shifting to be seen the way I want. Control. I take a person who shows me exactly who they are, someone who thinks poorly of themselves and so projects that onto those around them, and immediately brush this knowledge aside in favor of the fantasy that I can sway them. I think, here is my big chance to change the story. To shift how this person perceives me.

It’s striking how long its taken me to finally say, wait, why don’t I just get away from this person? Leave this situation? Set a boundary with the toxicity. Care for myself. Sometimes, it is a long road to self-love.

There is an interesting phenomenon which occurs when we are children. As young people, we need our world to be balanced. If someone in has a great deal of influence on us, such as a family member, and mistreats us, we don’t say- that is bad behavior on the part of that human. We blame ourselves so as not to experience the discord of not feeling safe.

It generally never occurred to me to leave a bad situation. Instead I would try to shift what is an obvious reality and adjust myself to coexist within the toxicity. I know I learned this as a kid. I finally started to note all of the similar situations that kept happening for me and ask myself some pointed questions. Why was it that I often ran right into fire, imagining that I could change the inevitable outcome with pluck, strategy, or charm. I have a great many stories of close calls and “what in the world…

Megan Schumacher

Toddler mama. Born again creative. Former people pleaser. Working out the fumbles of life on the page.