Last week, I wrote a blog post on Toxic People, and it’s somewhat sad and almost disturbing that, in less than 4 days, it has become my second most popular post, behind only the short version of my husband’s hospital stay. It speaks volumes that far too many people know far too much about toxic people. In speaking to a close friend about it, I realized that she, like many others, are “stuck” in their toxicity through location and circumstances. They are unable to simply walk away as I have chosen to do. What do these people do? Is there a way for them to protect themselves if they can’t completely sever ties?
In my case, people close to the toxic individuals tried to explain away their venom as coming from a place of hurt. I completely understand that grief can cause a great deal of pain and pain can cause some to lash out, but typically, if those malicious things are coming from a place of pain, they are said in the heat of the moment. The most vocal of the individuals I spoke about last week just kept coming at us (my children and me) through any avenue possible. In the end, we had to block our personal Facebook accounts, cell numbers and blog Facebook page. Even my husband’s Facebook account wasn’t immune, and a series of vicious messages came through his page before I had to block her there, as well.
The things said were ugly and cruel and could definitely not be simply explained away as coming from a place of pain. Her anger obviously ran very deep, and she appeared to have been handed a great deal of misinformation that she accepted as fact. My first instinct was to dispute every single falsehood she stated, but then it occurred to me that I do not have that kind of time, nor do I wish to waste energy on arguing with someone who clearly is not willing to see another point of view.
I sincerely regret those people who unknowingly and unfairly got caught in the crossfire, as most had no idea how I’ve been treated through the years, nor had any inclination that such animosity towards me loomed just below the surface of individuals they have known all their lives. It truly surprised me though, if they believe they knew my husband well, that they would think he would stay with a person who was capable of all the things of which I’ve been accused. I assure you the only “control” I had over my husband was that we loved each other. True, love is a powerful force, but it certainly isn’t based in evil.
But when the toxic people in your lives cannot simply (or easily) be eliminated – ex-spouses, parents, co-workers – you are in a different situation altogether. You have to learn how to live with those people, while still maintaining your own sanity and light. People can change, and I believe that even toxic people have the capability of making changes that could prevent them from maintaining a level of vitriolic poison that is nearly fatal to the relationships around them. But change generally isn’t easy, and I think that may be the deterrent for most people. Then, too, most toxic people do not consider themselves as such.
I came across an interesting article about how to spot a toxic person. It outlines some of the most common types, and while it doesn’t give you any handy tips (save offering a for-pay course on mastering people skills), it may help you decide of that person in your life is toxic after all. Just knowing whether or not you should continuing engaging with a person might help bring a level of peace that you haven’t had in awhile. There are some people with whom you just can’t win, and it might be better for your sanity to simply not try to have a rational conversation with a Tank or a Straight Jacket.
We can be civil and kind without falling prey to becoming a pawn in someone’s misery. And so, we must find a balance between protecting ourselves yet still trying to light the world around us. Perhaps the best (and only) thing we can each really do, is not to be a toxic person ourselves. Know when we are engaging in unhealthy behaviors and spreading negativity and hate and stop ourselves then and there. Be aware of our own faults and not allow ourselves to put any additional and unnecessary darkness into the world. Because there is plenty enough already. Shine brightly, my friends…
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