It’s so easy to get oneself entangled in a toxic situation/relationship without even realizing it. It generally starts with compassion for others – most good-hearted people are empathetic to others. Especially when it is someone we care for going through something hard, or someone we’ve just started to get to know whose “patterns” we are not aware of, etc.
Before you know it, you’ve been sucked into their vortex. You’re just trying to be a supportive friend, partner, or coworker; listening to their woes. At first you may think, “Damn this person really has some crap luck.” or “He/She is going through a rough time right now.” As time goes on you start to realize that what you have mistaken for temporary is part of who they are; not what they are experiencing. It becomes clear that this person is THEIR OWN STORM. Whether it’s because they need turmoil to feel whole, they are using it to avoid looking too deeply at their own lives, they think they deserve to be miserable or any other array of possibilities, this person is CHOOSING to be the victim and in some cases smearing their negativity all over you day after day.
I am a victim collector – let me rephrase that, I used to be a victim collector.
I have a huge heart; I care a lot about others. I was also a “fixer” – you know, the girl that says, oh that’s broken, let me fix it for you – be it your stapler, your heart, your bank account… whatever. Helping people made me feel like I was doing something good. And I am when I am helping someone that truly wants to fix it.
The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by toxic people – takers – victims – users – the list goes on. And I taught them to keep dumping it on me, crying on my shoulder, etc. because in my mind when you care, you are there. So there I was sitting in the middle of a group of people that used me for what they could get, that became over-dependent on me; a cluster of people that sucked me into their vortex of negativity.
Not only was it slowly sucking me dry over a period of time, it was also making it near impossible for me to keep a grip on my bipolar cycles and anxiety.
What a miserable life.
But guess what, when that is who is in your life, eventually they empty your tank. You become depleted. Toxic people are generally, in addition to the things I’ve already mentioned, not the type of people that consider how they are causing others to feel or to stop and consider replenishing the well they are drawing from. They are selfish – deliberate or not – and they will take until you are lying wilted on the floor, then they merrily move on to the next source of nourishment.
Where does that leave you? Broken.
Once I reached that point I sat there, crushed, not understanding how I could give so much but be of such little importance to all of these people that run to me over and over for their fix of choice. I was astonished by the fact that when I broke, there was no one willing to help fix me. Some dropped everything and ran; others were content to keep me close so they had someone to keep them company in their pit of darkness.
As I sat there, I realized, that as comforting as it was to pity myself for a time, that this behavior wasn’t going to get me anywhere and my “so called friends” weren’t going to help encourage me as I would them because they liked the comradeship they thought they’d found.
That’s when I had to put my shit-kickers on (my preference Doc Martin’s) and start climbing out. I don’t know how people are content to just stay right where they are and blame everyone else. It’s certainly not fulfilling.
It might be for some, but it wasn’t for me. I donned those boots and grabbed my ax and started to climb. I had to thicken my skin and harden my heart a bit (not for always, only as needed – it’s okay to put yourself first). As I climbed I started lobbing off the parasites that were bogging me down. Yes there was guilt associated with it, but just like a scratch on your hand, it didn’t last forever. Others fell or knocked themselves off by trying to pull signature manipulation moves that had worked for them in the past. I let them fall.
As I did this there were times I’d ask myself, “What the hell are you doing? If you dismiss everyone in your life, what will you have left?”
Do you know what the RIGHT answer was? “Me! I’d have me left.” And you know what I didn’t have? The dark heavily weighted feelings that had me constantly battling with depression, stress and anxiety.
I thought, “Woah! What is this new world?” I had time to consider me, I had the means and energy to nurture and pamper myself a little in a manner that I deserved. Fuck yes this feels good! But wait… I do kind of miss having comrades. I love myself and am perfectly content with my own company, but we all need interaction with others.
No worries!!! I cleared all this room in my life. As I continued to tend to my own needs and responsibilities something started to happen. For every space left, life was bringing me people to fill them back up; this time of a more positive nature. However, let me be clear, it wasn’t just life bringing me people, it did bring them, but it was also me assessing and choosing which ones would fortify my life, which ones were worthy of all the love and kindness I offer and would be willing to enrich my life in return.
It was all up to me. I could elect to begin new toxic cycles, or I could resist the urge to embrace every person that reached out to me and select only the ones that would be a good fit for both parties.
Once I accepted that I wasn’t being cruel and heartless, when I finally realized that I was worth all of the love that I extended to others, my entire life changed for the better. I am a much healthier, happier person. As a result I am far more of an asset and inspiration to my loved ones.
IT’S OKAY TO SET BOUNDARIES AND KEEP PEOPLE THAT DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD OUT OF YOUR LIFE OR AT A DISTANCE!!!
Try it, you’ll thank me.