I'm In A Toxic Relationship...Now What?
What do you do when you discover the fox in the hen house? There are some people in your life whose sole purpose of being there is to disrupt the egg-laying peace within the proverbial coop. Let me make it plain: these people are toxic.
I've sadly had several toxic relationships over the years. None is easier to handle than the next, and none are easy to spot. They can come in any number of packages: the bad boyfriend, the callous cousin, the faulty friend, and yes even the silly sister. Some come with a myriad of red flags, but mostly the truth sneaks up on you.
The "easy" one to spot is the boyfriend who routinely puts you down or makes you feel inferior or worthless just because. I was in that relationship. I saw it, but because I lost myself in it, I started to believe that I wasn't deserving of better. The harder one to spot is the one that is masked as a seemingly well-meaning friend who says they love you but what they truly love and what they really celebrate is your imperfection.
If you are someone who generally tries to truly see the good in people, you may just dismiss the things that make you pause for a moment as "oh there she/he goes again being [insert name]." The problem with this reaction is that you excuse the bad behavior as par for the course when really it is something more.
But what do you do when you finally wake up and realize that the person's seeming "questions of concern" are really a way for that person to size you up, find a weakness in your life, and celebrate the fact that you are flawed? It's really sick of you think about it. And as sick as it is, I would take a $100 bet any day of the week that you know someone in your life who does this regularly. You may have even talked to them on the phone this morning. Newsflash: that person is toxic and they suck. What should you do? Put up a wall and let it be unmovable. You can be civil without letting someone completely in. And look, I'm not saying those people are bad people, I'm just saying that some people can't get past their own insecurities and "stuff" in order to be genuinely there for you.
In my 30s, I've been faced with the truth of people more than I would like to admit. Before we got married, our spiritual counselor told us to prepare ourselves for the reality that everyone who was with us up to this point would not be with us forever. It was a harsh thing to think about, but she was right. We are all blessed with the ability to decide who we are going to allow to come along our journeys with us. I used to hear some version of this and think, "why do I need to choose? I want to bring everyone along." I tried that for some time and discovered that my load eventually just got too heavy. I had to let go. I had to set boundaries.
And let's face it, I am not blameless here. There are people out there that have probably seen things in me that they don't like. I had a few years (2008 and 2012 to be specific) where I made some truly troubling decisions that altered the course of a few of my friendships. I wasn't at my best, and I wont make excuses for why I did some of the things I did, but I had to face the fact that I was allowing my own insecurities and hurt to propel me forward instead of the good stuff.
Toxic relationships suck the life out of you. I've talked about those people who before you meet with them you feel drained of energy. This is essentially the same thing. When you are around a toxic person or even talk to them on the phone, you feel defensive and anxious. You feel that you can't be your true authentic self because you know the other person is either fishing for information, or you know they will find a way to poke holes in your little life bubble to let their hot air in. Try something for me: the next time you are faced with someone who you think might be toxic, listen to that small voice in your ear. If the voice says something like, "who sent you?" or "Molly, you in danger girl", then you know what you have to do. Run, chile...