You know, how sometimes we just can’t remember the right word that describes something? We wrack our brains for it and come up with a bunch of similar meaning ones in the process. I tried long and hard to find the word that described a person in my life, and came up with ‘draining’, ‘parasitic’, and a couple of others. Only recently did I finally realize that the adjective I was looking for was ‘toxic’.
Just like, it is necessary to remove toxins from our food and body, mental and emotional toxins need to be eradicated too. In toxic relationships, usually one party hurts the other. Such kinds of associations may exist between any two people – friends, coworkers, family members, etc.
Relationships of this nature are typically characterized by certain things like constant sarcasm, hurtful remarks and/or passive-aggressive behavior. Often the victim in this setup is left feeling emotionally wounded after an interaction but can’t pin-point as to why exactly. One feels a sense of dread or uneasiness at the mention of certain people, often having a strong urge to avoid them, but never really getting down to turning their backs on them. One may feel small or ashamed of themselves after an interaction, yet one falls into a rut of rescuing, fixing and caring for them, for no explicable reason. If you feel that way about someone, well, that’s a toxic person for you! And if you still don’t know what I’m talking about, maybe this will help you identify ‘em.
- Toxic people are self-proclaimed ‘definitive realists’.
More often than not you’ll hear them say “get real”, “I told you so”, “what’s wrong with you?!.” And believe you, me; they derive sadistic pleasure in doing so. But if, by any chance, you get the opportunity and decide to give them a taste of their own medicine… Oh dear God! It’s like you’ve stepped on a landmine!
- They’re know-it-alls.
Well yes, they think, they know just about everything there is to know. They have a strong need to always have the upper hand in all situations and challenge every word of yours to the point of exhaustion – for you. Anything you say in front of them is incorrect, even if you’re reading it out of a frikkin’ encyclopedia!
Things you need to abide by when they’re around: (A) They’re always right; (B) You’re always wrong.
- They suck the energy out of a room.
There is an unmistakable drop in vitality when toxicity enters a space. Every interaction with such a person is bound to leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Strong, negative personalities draw us out of ourselves. They siphon our energy reserves especially if we meet them head on with resistance. Rather than engage their toxicity, gracefully bow out where you can. Self-preservation is key.
- They have a strong need for drama in their lives (or around them).
Such people often feel the need to create drama in their lives, or at least be surrounded by it. They tend to manipulate or control others, may abuse substances, be needy (it’s always about them! Talk about the African Savannahs and it’s still about them. Huh!), pick fights easily and are unwilling to take help from others (that doesn’t always mean they are independent).
- They believe their experience is for everyone.
If they’ve been in a bad relationship, it’s reason enough for you to stay away from love; if they’ve had bad experiences with business, it’s why you shouldn’t start one of your own. A toxic person will always be the first person to give forceful and manipulative advice based on events from their life, but will never accept any from others.
- They’re narcissistic and egotistical.
Toxic people are forever looking for self-gratification from anyone and everyone around, though they expect it more from people, they are closest to. And the bigger problem here is that we tend to encourage this behavior in them by giving them what they want. We feed their ego to keep them happy (or usually at bay) and that only makes it worse.
As they see it, everything absolutely must be about them; else the world will come to a standstill. These people are too self-centered and absorbed in their own lives to notice anything and anyone outside their little bubble. You’d think bursting that bubble would do the trick, right? Sadly, not. They’ll simply build another one, shove you aside and strut past like they own the world.
Toxicity is palpable.
My toxic friend was a host of everything aforementioned. Sometimes all I needed was for him to be a good listener; be patient and hear me rant about an argument I had with my mom, or how I thought I fit the job perfectly that I didn’t get. But how he interpreted it was that he needed to life-coach me through each and every thing I said, and in the process belittle me and make sure I start to believe that everything is my own fault. More often than not he would demean me, tell me I’m an immature child, constantly provoke me and make me feel like shit, all the while convincing me that his actions were for my own good. My interactions with him always left me frustrated and exasperated, but also confused as I wouldn’t be able to put a finger on why he’s bad for me. I began to believe everything he said about me, started losing faith in myself, developed a strong urge to change who I am and started worshiping him in spite of all the mental and emotional abuse, he inflicted on me.
As I described earlier: we’d fight, I’d get hurt, then in retrospect, I’d think he was right and decide that no amount of pain administered to me would be greater than the pain of losing him, so I would apologize and apologize and win him back, all the while sweeping the issue at hand under the rug.
It was almost like emotional BDSM!
Then? Then what… We’d go back to following the same cycle every once in a while.
So much so, that it gradually began to dawn on me that I was literally turning into a masochist! Then one fine day, he delivered the biggest blow, and that was the final straw. And I was grateful for it, because that’s when I realized, I needed to cut the cord and from then on, there was no turning back.
And here’s the great part: I’m a much happier person now. Sure, life still has its ups and downs. But eliminating that necrotic patch was the best decision, I’ve ever made, and I can actually feel the lightness in my step.
So if you have any such person in your life, who makes you feel any lesser, waste no time in diagnosing the situation and removing such toxicity once and for all. You’ll miss them, yes, but it’ll change your life for the better in the long run.
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