I had to use my girl, Britney Spears, lyrics from her song Toxic in the title of this article about what else? Toxic people. Sorry, I had no choice.
Toxic people, we all know them. They’re our family, bosses, colleagues, etc. They’re self- involved, they need to be right whatever the cost, extreme drama follows them around like a younger sibling, they’re super eager to be your bestie, they love playing the victim, they gossip and bad mouth everyone and they’re horribly negative.
Currently I have a toxic person in my life who goes after my soft underbelly with such glee. For instance, I’ve been trying to get pregnant for four years and finally, finally, I just let it go. It was the right thing for me to do spiritually and emotionally. But here is what this toxic person said to me…
Toxic person: “So how is the pregnancy thing going?”
Me: “Oh God, please don’t ask me that.”
Toxic person: “You didn’t give up, did you? You should be doing everything in your power to have a baby. Do you NOT want children?!”
I knew this individual was an insecure, unhappy ass hat so I kinda just let it go…until the next time when this person went after my religion…
Toxic person: “Did you see the video I sent you?”
My big mistake, I opened the link and looked at the clip of a school girl sitting in what looked like a cage in an Orthodox Jewish school. Which is where women sit in some ultra-Orthodox temples.
Me: “What about it?”
Toxic person: “Don’t you go to an Orthodox temple?”
Toxic person: “As a strong woman I’m really disappointed in you that you would be put in a cage like that and be treated like a second class citizen! What is wrong with you?!”
I just kind of brushed it off but the straw that broke the camel’s back was when this person took a shot at my sobriety. I covet my sobriety. It’s my biggest accomplishment and the most important thing in my life next to my relationship with my higher power.
Toxic person: “You know that you will always be an addict.”
Me: “I consider myself to be in recovery.”
Toxic person: “I’m just saying that for you to think that you aren’t an addict or alcoholic anymore is false. Luckily I don’t have any addictions.”
Me: “Oh really. I think you’re addicted to negativity and being an ASSSSSHOLE!”
Was it the most spiritual thing to say? No, but how does one put down a boundary with someone who tramples over them? I will tell you this person is lucky I’m 11 years clean and sober because if I wasn’t this person would be bleeding from a few orifices.
I will say that this individual apologized so there is a glimmer of hope. But as I’ve learned in recovery, there is a big difference between an apology and an amends. Apologies are hollow and just words. But an amends is when you amend or change your behavior. It takes a great deal of spiritual work, therapy and mindfulness to amend old behavior that has been ingrained in you for so many years.
Unfortunately, in my experience, toxic people rarely change so here are five ways to rid the toxicity from your life:
- Know your boundaries and don’t let anyone cross them for anything.
- Be light and polite – Or as we say in recovery, “don’t seek out, but don’t avoid.” Just be cordial and don’t get into any in-depth conversations.
- Be positive – Toxic people will always want you to drink from their poisonous goblet. Winter is always coming for them because they’re so negative. I don’t know why I have so many Game of Thrones references in there.
- Lose the empathy – Toxic people enjoy Oscar winning performances of being the victim. Don’t have any Kleenex available and turn your shoulder away so they can’t cry on it.
- Stand your ground – Toxic people NEED to be right and get their way at all costs, their fragile ego depends on it. They will try to manipulate you, so stand firm.
Most importantly, know that toxic people are very sick. You wouldn’t want to spend a minute in their heads, trust me. After you’re done ridding them from your life, muster up some empathy and acceptance for them as well. You want to let them go with love.
Life is too short and beautiful to waste on toxic people who are what I call, “light suckers.” They will drain your light and leave you feeling empty and dark. You can learn to spot them now and can say, “You know what? You’re toxic and I’m not slippin’ under.”