(This is part 2 of my Toxic series)
Last time I shared my story, and today I want to share more about realizing.
Toxic is the new buzzword. We tend to overuse it, apply it to folks who aren’t toxic. And I do not want to add to the misinformation.
I did not realize the relationship I was in WAS toxic. My dear friend, S, told me over and over. And I didn’t understand how she meant, I justified everything by saying “Well, I have flaws too! And I did __________!”
Looking back, I am so grateful for the truth she spoke to me. I am so glad S never gave up consistently reaffirming that I was not crazy. It took a long, long time for the truth to reveal itself, maybe in part because I wasn’t looking at things as they were, but instead through lenses of unworthiness and self-disrespect.
I think we are all a little toxic.
Yes, I said that. Because the other word for toxic is: selfish
So I will say it again. We are all a little toxic sometimes. I have grieved hard the loss of my son, and my unborn baby. And during that time I “needed” and wanted any relationship to cater to ME. I was unable to step in and carry anyone else’s pain. So I retreated, hard. And Lamar and my family bore the brunt of that. It was as I began stepping towards my friends again, trying to find the inner strength to be a friend again, that I began realizing and understanding this post I am finally writing.
When I think of someone being selfish, I think of children. Not that I believe adults are incapable, I mean, look around. But the best example of the childishness of it, is children. My oldest will pick the biggest cookie, the nicest one, the one with the most chocolate chips. He never pauses to consider the younger brother behind him. My youngest will pick whatever toy he believes, Alex wants, and determines to NOT SHARE. And unless Lamar or I intervene in any of these two situations, they will not automatically “get it” and change their ways.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” I Corinthians 13:11
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
We don’t just reach a magic age where we realize our selfishness, our sinfulness, and BOOM we quit. We need to be taught, we need to be trained and shown. We need consequences and awareness that our selfishness impacts others. As children, it doesn’t really change much if we choose the bigger cookie. But as adults, when we choose selfishness in relationships, it hurts other people.
Selfishness as adults hurts others, deeply. I asked people to share their experiences with toxic people. And more than one woman messaged me, stating a parent was toxic and the deep wound that left in their life. It isn’t just women though.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:16
As a mom, I can definitely speak to the disorder part of that last Bible verse. Cries of “NOT FAIR!!!!!!” can be heard resonating loudly, followed by retaliation. If you’re a mom, you get it. (Or a dad.) But let’s get a bit more personal.
I have made no secret of the fact that my house makes me crazy. The kitchen is too small, it’s set up weird, the list of complaints can go a mile long. And I allowed it to negatively affect my friendship with someone. I was jealous, she got her dream house, and I felt stuck and miserable where I am. And I still struggle very much with this, because of many reasons. But it does not need to ruin relationships.
We all have these things, the things that make our inner selfishness rear it’s ugly head. But if we allow our selfishness, this ugly sin, to rule us, we become toxic. We then make everything about us, with little capacity to truly care for and love others.
Sometimes life hurts, and we find ourselves unable to love others the way we want to. That’s okay. True friends will understand. But you can’t stay there. You can’t unpack all you’ve been taught, and allow this to change who God has meant for you to be in this life.
I hope this post helps you understand a bit more and in turn helps you to recognize and realize what a toxic friendship is. It is not easy when you find yourself stuck in over your head, struggling to make sense of the other person’s selfish thinking.
And I can’t tell you what to do. What my breaking point was, will be different for you. And I can’t tell you how to heal either, because the temptation will be there to retreat and become selfish yourself with your needs. And retreating is good, self-care is good. But it can’t rule your life.
I often wonder if Jesus met toxic people, and what His response was. And while I highly doubt the term “toxic” existed in Jesus’ time, I do believe He met them and dealt with them. I believe His response would have been kind, direct. As was His style. I don’t believe He would have rejected them, but I do believe He would have shown them Truth.
No one is exempt. It can happen in sibling relationships, parent relationships, friends… It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Maybe there is a common denominator of deep pain that was never addressed. Men and women all across our world are suffering silently because it’s their mother, their father, their partner, someone they love deeply. It has worn down their self-esteem, they feel deserving of the treatment and they justify and even defend it.
It’s a sin issue. There isn’t a magic realization pill and cure. There isn’t a magic cure to recovery and healing.
But there is Jesus. There is safety there. That was where I began, by turning to him every time my phone dinged multiple times with yet another victim based, life isn’t fair multiple messaged text. It took me a long time to not have a mild panic attack when my phone dings multiple times.
I will close now, but with a heavy heart. Because this is hard stuff. This is pain filled, heavy issues.
love and tears today,