I’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t encountered too many toxic relationships in my career as a human. Yes, there have been “some” and by “some” I really mean like two.
Sure, there have been a fair share of people with toxic qualities around, but the key is never letting them dig their talons into you. Even with best efforts, it can still happen and usually without you even realizing it until you do a physical check and notice the pit in your stomach or the absolute drain when you are around these types. Energy Vampires – the ones that thrive on negativity and drama and well, misery loves company, so why not drag everyone into the abyss of self pity.
No thanks! I’m super good where I’m at!
The benefit of having experienced toxic and then eliminating toxic is that when it does show up, you know it and you know what to do.
So, as life would have it, challenges and challeng-ing people turn up when you need a good kick in the butt in the self-improvement area. I totally subscribe to the idea that some enemies are actually teachers.
Ideally, once these teachers are identified, you eliminate and learn. But not so ideally are the certain circumstances that don’t allow for that quite so easily. A bigger lesson is in store. Sometimes those teachers stick around… possibly for life because they have to. The lesson then becomes how to deal and NOT let if affect your quality of life.
Today I wanted to address that because it’s a good reminder for myself on how important boundaries are and how important it is to keep them in place when such situations arise. There’s physical elimination of totally cutting someone out of your life with complete void of contact, but when that’s not totally possible, there’s emotional elimination and boundaries. What better way for me (and my family) to work through a current toxic situation than to blog and remind myself of these boundaries.
Summer, do you have a toxic terror right now???
Why yes, yes our family does. It’s not something new. This has been existing and it won’t go anywhere anytime soon, which is why it is so important to know how to deal. It’s unfortunate, but I know many families that have at least one of these influences in their life.
At times, there is little contact and all is quite peaceful, but then those moments come when they poke their heads in again because something doesn’t go their way or they think they understand something as truth when in fact it isn’t. That’s when the wings start flapping and their grandiose perception of something spins out of control.
I’ve learned that these type characters will never simmer permanently. There will always be reason to get upset and the issues behind that varies and is way deeper than I want to go right now.
So what does said toxic person look like? It’s actually quite close to signs of narcissism.
If you have never dealt with that type of character, feel extremely grateful. It is NOT easy.
A toxic person…
Tries to control you and doesn’t respect your privacy
Disregards your boundaries
Interferes with your business
Takes without giving
Is always right
Has no remorse and if they do, it is very short lived
Loves to play the victim
Doesn’t take responsibility
Knows how to charm really well
Throws tantrums when you don’t meet their expectations
Uses others as leverage against you
Blames you or others for their unhappiness
Uses you or others as the excuse for their bad behavior
Uses legal systems just to remain engaged with you
Uses manipulation by making you or others feel guilty
Oh wait, let me add one positive… Gives excellent writing material! Serious, though. The stories and drama they create yields good page-turners (look for such material in next book).
When that toxic person is someone in your family, it’s a sticky situation. What if you really love your nieces and nephews and the only way you can see them is through your toxic sister?
What if you really love your mother and you are so tight with her but can’t stand her new toxic husband?
Just because they are family, family in law, blood, work with you or share children with you – doesn’t give them a magic pass to mess with your life.
These situations call for boundaries. You know that it’s inevitable. You will have to see this person on more occasions than you wish. You run in the same circles, share a family and it’s just not possible to never see them again.
It happens with divorced parents all the time. The mature divorced couple keeps it friendly and honest and in doing so makes for well-adjusted, secure children. I feel pretty lucky in my co-parenting relationship to have established that.
But then I have people very close to me that wish they never had to see that ex spouse again because of their toxic behavior, even after so many years. It takes all effort to fake that smile in front of the kids and pretend to get along. But they have no choice. They’re stuck.
What do you do when you’re stuck with a toxic person?
Here’s what I remember to do when toxic episodes arise:
1. Keep calm. Let them be the wing flappers and save your energy.
2. Make rational decisions. Stay honest. It will always pay off.
3. It’s none of their business what you are doing in your life. There is no reason why the toxic person needs to know where you are going, with whom and what time you will be back. If you don’t want to share that info, it’s none of their damn business.
4. Keep communication all business. Whether that business is the health of your ill parent, the children you share or the car you once owned together. Keep it all business, get it handled and move on. No small talk. No invitation for the toxic to charm you or manipulate you or guilt you into their dungeon. Don’t engage unless productive. This is a huge one and one that made a world of a difference with my past toxic relationship.
5. And above all! ENFORCE YOUR BOUNDARIES! “Hey, ex-roommate! You might have lived here before, but you don’t anymore. You cannot just walk into my place without an invitation.”
Leaving boundaries flexible is like leaving a crack in the door and saying, “Please come in!”
The toxic person can’t wait to break through the flexible boundaries so they can gain their way back in again. Enforce your boundaries and don’t allow them to be broken. It’s your life to control, not theirs.
All in all, accept that negative influences are unavoidable. How fantastic that you get to be the positive influence!