This is part 1 on my “Toxic” series.
Before I dive into this series please know: I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or any type of “professional”. I am relating what MY private research shows, what I lived and learned, and if it’s another’s experience, I am crediting them.
I met “A” a few years ago. Alex was very young and I was a lonely woman. I was making terrible life decisions, and my life was not great. Immediately we “clicked” and were quickly best friends. We texted, Facebook messaged, Facebook interacted all the time. And looking back, there were signs of this being a doomed and toxic friendship and I wish I had recognized them.
We got together often, and she often paid for meals and shopping trips. She and I shared many similar opinions, and I was glad to have someone who seemed to accept me as I was.
But I was naïve.
Other friendships fell by the wayside, for if I vented anything or she met them, she would “share” what she felt was them not being nice. And it totally made sense. (At the time.) We early on had an agreed upon get together night every week. And when busy summer months, or holidays prevented us getting together she seemed personally offended.
A was opinionated with politics, and one time there was a comment made by my husband to her Facebook status. And it caused a massive fight, that honestly to this day still does not even make sense to me. And that was my first, massive red flag that made me stop and pause and wonder. Especially after, when the fight ended, she could never quite seem to “let go” of some things and it eventually led to her unfriending us on social media. Our relationship changed. After that fight I tried to go out of my way to keep the peace, even offering a “no politics” boundary because she would get so heated and dismissive of any view that was not her own. I started to feel very anxious and by Friday evening I was a stress ball, and then it would take me all weekend to recover, it was so draining.
I didn’t know the term “toxic relationship”, I did not know even how to deal with this all. I sought advice constantly, which sounded like complaining, but I was in so far over my head, I felt like I was drowning.
There were instances where I would go to two of my friends, and they’d point out the signs I was missing. I could see they were right, but then I just didn’t know how to walk away. I didn’t want to hurt feelings, I did not want another huge fight.
A eventually decided “it was okay” for us to be friends on Facebook again. And it was good. I thought things were moving forward in a healthy manner.
And then it happened.
A friend of mine posted a public meme. I commented. Because it was public, it came up on her newsfeed. And she responded to it as well. It was a snarky, sarcastic comment. And that was a final straw for me. I knew she did not know him, nor was she friends with him. She was so full of hate and anger towards what the meme was about, that she could not handle even scrolling by.
And that broke something in my heart and immediately I began to back away. If she texted, I waited to respond, thinking carefully through responses. I no longer shared big life news with her, or struggles. I started investing in me, growing spiritually and healing. I started investing more time in my two friends, and my husband and my sons. I was pregnant then, and eagerly anticipating a new baby to love and snuggle. Life seemed good.
It was August of 2017, I do not remember the exact course of conversation. Lamar’s friends were over. I had run out to the store for something when she texted. The entire “break up” came via text, she refused to answer when I called. I stayed firm, apologizing for being hurtful yet calmly stated I was not solely to blame for the friendship disintegrating.
Maybe I am half-guy, because in all my years I have never felt the need to announce to someone I was not going to be their friend anymore. Drama like that goes beyond my comprehension. It’s an attention-seeking behavior, a grab for the control they have lost.
We have not spoken since.
I have missed A tremendously. I have often felt the urge to text or call her, but because of how things ended I honestly have no idea what the rules are. So I never have. I carried that hurt, that pain for a long time. It was the starting point of a long hard year for me.
I believe I can honestly say that I am healed. I am moving forward, with more wisdom.
In a relationship that SEEMS two-sided, but behind the drama and manipulation, is toxic and one-sided, the first step is realizing.
Realize and acknowledge the traits that are making you feel “less than”.
I imagine if A read this, she would have an entire argument on how wrong I am. She would raise valid points, as I fully realize I am not perfect. I am sure it was very hurtful when I backed off the way I did. But up until then, if I had ever felt like something was wrong and brought it up, it turned into an ordeal that would cause so much frustration for me. And all through my life thus far, I have struggled with friendships. I just accepted than I must be a terrible, needy friend.
Make a list, talk to a friend. No relationship is perfect but realize that a healthy relationship is very two-sided.
There is room for misunderstandings, there is room for different interests and hobbies. There is room for growth and change, for moving forward towards each person’s individual goals. There is room for mistakes and other relationships, obligations. Relationships grow through what they go through, as should each person. There should be a mutual cheering on of each other, of supporting one another.
I am not perfect. I carry toxic traits myself. I think we all do. I carry fears and scars. I want desperately to be a person that others love and want to be around. But I also don’t want to sacrifice the healthy I finally am. And as I unpacked my story and contemplated various things, I think that’s a universal truth.
WE ALL want be loved and accepted, without sacrificing who we are.
I have growing I must still do, so do you. And our relationships should have room for that. As well as encouragement for it.
Until next time.