Before you Label Someone Toxic… Check in With Your Heart.

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I read an article by Dr. Perry of MakeItUltra Psychology about How to Have Boundaries with a Toxic Person, and although I agree with his tips when it comes to healing from the trauma pathological narcissists leave in their wake, I don’t necessarily agree they should be incorporated immediately with anyone that we deem “negative,” which is basically anyone speaking out about the bad behaviors of others lately. Reading the comments under that post proved interesting.

One reader said, “I refuse to interact with negative people! As an empath, they literally make me sick!” — Ugh! People like this make me sick. And good luck living in your bubble.

Then, there was the person that said they “ignored them and went mute.” — Yeah. That’s called “gray rock” and is a survival tactic used by those healing from abuse when they have to interact with their abusers and ‘no contact’ is not an option for their healing. Used outside of this context, these people appear to be self-absorbed and rude, aka: as an asshole. Great look by the way.

And, my favorite comment — was the manager — who chimed in saying that the employees she managed were toxic because they complained to her, therefore, drawing her into the negativity and draining her. — Uh, that’s called your job, so people are going to naturally come to you with problems, you know… because you’re the manager… yikes, really?

I just finished listening to Dr. Christiane Northrup’s new book on Audible, called Dodging Energy Vampires, and although I know energy drainers are copious; I’ve dealt with my fair share of them, and we do indeed have to check them at the door after a while — I see an emerging trend happening where people are becoming far too superior to anyone in need of talking things through. And the trend I see is it’s typically the abusers who’ve done the wrong and then want to prohibit the victim from talking about it thereby calling them “toxic” when the conversation points to them taking accountability for their actions. They are flipping the script and calling this “having boundaries.” No, you’re a bully that abuses and then gaslights your victim. Let’s not get it twisted. —

Boundaries are for victims to protect themselves from more harm. Not for abusers to be able to abuse more. 

There are two people in a relationship: When one person in that relationship is no longer allowed to have a reaction to shitty behavior, and nothing you do, say, think or feel, after being abused is allowed in the name of the other person “having boundaries” — you are in fact dealing with a narcissistic bully. When that person tells you whatever the hell it is they want to tell you, no matter how hurtful, and then pulls the, “you’re negative,” “it’s not about you,” or “it’s not personal” card, when you want to talk about it, what they are really saying is that they want free reign to abuse you, yet fog their intentions by calling them boundaries.

The subtitle of Dodging Energy Vampires is, “Evading Relationships that Drain You and Restoring Your Health and Power.” Evading relationships? O.k? But at what point? Apparently, the second one deems someone is negative is the answer. If my son calls and asks me how I’m doing, and I say I have a headache, according to him, that is negative and I’m always sick. So, that has become a reason for not coming home for eight Christmases. Li.ter.al. The message is: I have to be fun, and easy to be with at every second, never mention anything about myself, and when he asks me anything, lie. No thanks. Don’t come home then.

And, really… what relationship doesn’t drain us after a while? Solution: I’ll just evade you. Nice. Restoring our health and power is not about being armored up sitting high upon a throne in our untouchable superiority. Evading and shutting people down is a rigid, angry behavior and is abuse in an of itself when done to someone you’ve just abused. This behavior of cutting people off at the knees and evading others in pain is a what Jeff Brown calls trauma-bypassing and is a learned patriarchal behavior.

This is only some of what Jeff Brown author of Grounded Spirituality writes about trauma bypassing:

“Be Here Now”! We can’t. We have too much trauma in the way. “The Power of Now”! Sounds good, but first, we have to deal with the “Power of Then.” Worst things, first. It’s easy enough to talk about being in the “now.” But what we are we even talking about? Now through the mind? Through the heart? Through the body? What does it even mean to be fully present? Most of the people teaching nowness are head-tripping, meditation addicted spiritual bypassers. What do they really know about presence? The truth is that we are all trauma survivors, and that includes every spiritual teacher I have ever known. Almost every one of them has confused self-avoidance with enlightenment, blaming the mind for all that ails them while conveniently sidestepping their wounded hearts. Bottom line- we can’t be in the present, because our emotional and physical body are tied up in trauma knots. Some, many, perhaps all threads of our consciousness are still back there, locked into the originating wounds. If we want to truly BE HERE NOW, we have to be there, then. We have to untie the knots and heal the core wounds. Then, and only “then”, will we know the true power of NOW.” — Jeff Brown

 

I’m all for boundaries against toxic people, but before labeling someone toxic, don’t forget people are human and looking for connection. Part of being a friend is listening and holding space for people. We’ve forgotten this. Giving people the benefit of the doubt first, with some compassion and empathy may work wonders on someone feeling heard. If someone is toxic, maybe we haven’t heard them out? If that’s your take on someone immediately, maybe you’re projecting? We live in a very literal society anymore. It would be nice if people had some sort of tolerance level before cutting people off at the knees, lest they become the toxic person themselves.

I’m not saying that we must become a welcome mat for people to wipe their feet on, or that we should tolerate people chewing our ears while we should be working, or that we need to be tolerating bad behavior year after year and calling that a relationship… let’s not be so literal and disclaimer-y to the nth degree, k? But, let’s use some common sense. We pretty much know in our heart of hearts the difference between someone venting, and someone toxic, am I right? When someone wants to mend a relationship by talking about the past so it doesn’t repeat itself, and that of someone toxic. I certainly understand the difference. Venting is a once in a while thing, and toxic is all the time. Discussion about pain is altogether different and should be a back and forth, honest dialogue between two people who reciprocate listening, asking questions, while having respect for one another. 

Life is hard. Be kind. Come back later and let someone know you care before you decide someone should be written off as “toxic.” Think of that word, “toxic.” It means waste, very bad, unpleasant, harmful. Not something I’m willing to do on a whim. And, I’m not saying that we have to keep taking it and taking it to prove our love to people either. This is a balance thing. You can be soft and kind and still have boundaries like a mofo.

Thankfully, when I was dying on the vine, I was able to put myself into counseling when I didn’t have a shoulder to lean on or an ear to talk to about my pain. It made all the difference in the world to help me stay another day. Think! Some people may not have that resource. And why are they trusting YOU with their story!?

We want world peace, but we don’t want to talk. We want to break generational curses and patterns but we want to evade doing the work. That’s not how any of this even works.

Be an ear. A shoulder. Have a heart. Have boundaries, but don’t forget your own humanness for toxicity. Don’t be so quick to write people off. Take breaks, but go visit your heart and check in with what you really know. It knows the truth. Anything else is toxic.

Letting Go of Hope to Live Life to The Fullest

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I snapped this photo on my walk a few weeks back. I walked past it at first then did a double take and walked back to re-read what I thought I read the first time.

Are you down there, Hope? 

Something I’ve been since childhood is hopeful. My mother would comment on how quickly I bounced back and how ever-hopeful I was no matter what was happening around us as she shook her head at me in amazement. I mean, I had my own cheerleading outfit for God’s sake! I wore the blue and yellow outfit I got from Sears around the house complete with matching pompoms, as I cheered room to room, encouraging myself and driving my mother crazy. Hahaha! Or should I say Rah! Rah! Rah! I was born an optimist!

But, it’s taken decades to realize that having hope isn’t always a good thing and being naively optimistic isn’t always the best use of our energy. I can’t believe I’m going to say this in black and white, and typing this out ‘almost’ makes me feel apathetic — like I’m somehow giving up, but… having hope in a hopeless situations can make us sick, stuck, depressed, anxiety-ridden, attached, trapped in bad relationships and not living our life to the fullest. Ironic huh? Let go of hope, find a life. Weird? It’s like we have to lower our standards just to get by in life sometimes, ya know?

This is an excerpt from my childhood memoir Steel Town Girl:

“I looked out the window at the trees quickly passing by and knew that’s what my life felt like. I smiled a bit at the thought of a new life, a good one this time. But I secretly hated that I could so easily be talked into hope. I hated hope. It wasn’t the thing with wings that perched itself in your soul. It was the thing with horns that clawed your guts out as it laughed in your face for being stupid enough to be hopeful in the first place. And I felt much too old for this. I didn’t have much life left in me. I was worn out.”

I was 14 years old in that scene and I felt eighty. 

I didn’t hate hope. I loved it. I hated the feelings of frustration, sadness, loss, and pain I felt in my heart I was left with when hopeful situations turned hopeless, which was more times than I could count.

At my age now, I have to conserve my energy for other things in situations that won’t change. I’m learning to discern what situations are hopeful and I’m realizing that in order to save myself, I must let go of hope in some situations. I can no longer easily get talked into hope. That doesn’t make me feel hopeless, it makes me feel more self-aware and much smarter than I was before. I’m still here and I’m still learning every day.

I will still encourage myself and will continue to be my own cheerleader regardless of what’s going on around me. Even when I get really down, I will eventually get back up. After all, I have lots of things I still want to do with my life. And I can’t do any of them when I’m searching storm drains for hope.

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I got up close and personal with my camera just to be sure Hope wasn’t hiding from me.

Hello? Hope? 

Hope didn’t answer.

Well, at least there’s no red balloon down there, I thought as I walked away.

I had to giggle.

I think giggling is full of hope. Don’t you?