We have all met one or two or ten, and at some point in our lives, we have been ‘the’ toxic person who suffocates another. I have often described relationships as ‘cling film’ that gets wrapped around your face until you either die, or you cant take it anymore and you leave.
The interesting thing about that defiance in me – and my determination not to feel trapped and my ferocious reactions to being pushed into committing to anything – be it a lunch date, a wedding, a relationship or just a ‘time’ to do something particular came as a result of ‘lack of’ insight into myself.
I am one of those people that says what I think, and it is often to the serious dismay of those around me. I have been called toxic before. When I was in rehab, what I saw as leadership skills, in my ability to get people to all move in the same direction – was to some – suffocating and toxic. But I was unaware. I had a mission in mind and assumed that because it made sense to me- that it would naturally make sense to others. But sadly, what I didn’t factor into all that maths – was that some softer, gentler,less confrontational personalities will go with the flow – even if they don’t like it.
So in a nutshell, really what I was doing was empowering those who could stomach my intensity and I was alienating those that couldn’t. I have since then learnt who I upset terribly and who thought I was a gas because I was always challenging the authority.
I have in the last month walked away from two people who I regarded as best friends for over 7 years. One of them was a drunk and a coke head when I met him. We never used together but I did get smashed at his place one night and took him gambling with me to escape the rage of his girlfriend (now wife). He was always… volatile, but I think because my understanding of codependency and the fact that I was also an addict – made the warning signs harder to spot.
Hi girlfriend, was a soft spoken, very shy and quiet woman. I liked her because I could see she had a lot going on in her mind, it just wasn’t coming out of her mouth. We gradually became close and I was witness to several breakdowns of their relationship – just as they were witness to me ‘going off the reservation’. I am by nature not a compliant or timid person, so the fighting didn’t scare me, but for everyone else it was a huge warning sign.
I endured several mammoth breakdowns where the bloke would literally lost his grip on what was real and what wasn’t. She would leave and I would ‘protect’ her and it would send me into hyper vigilant mode and my already crazy paranoia became almost all consuming.
The last time it happened there were restraining orders, police, plenty screaming matches, him arriving at my house drunk or high or both and I remember a switch in me going off, where I genuinely entertained the idea of having him beaten up beyond recognition and dropped in the middle of no where. I also went over to his house to check on his animals and stood for a long time with a skewer fork, figuring out how I was going to stab him with it with minimal mess. I have since grown to resent that I was ever in that head space because of someone elses behavior.
And then she did what she always does and she went back. I visited regularly but after all the breakdowns, I realised that he wasn’t changing for the better – even after two rehab stints and several admissions into psychiatric hospitals. She was however, becoming a very different person to the one I loved and trusted so much in the beginning. She wasn’t soft anymore, and she was always in pain from a clenched jaw and sore neck or back from being so tense.
The deterioration was so clear to me, but they didn’t see it. He was reverting old habits like porn, and hermitting away making music or sleeping for hours and then not being able to cope with his responsibilities. She would work from early morning until night to make ends meet and even then they still borrowed money from me. If I ever challenge them on a topic to do with the way they treat the kids or the animals, the fights that ensued were insane.
One time I broke into their house to steel the girls work stuff, and had to climb over him to get to it. He was passed out having vomited on himself and in hindsight – that wasn’t my problem. I should never have been the rescuer. I should never have been the mediator. I should never have been in that mess for as long as I was. The warped way of thinking became so hard to navigate that I was forever having to diffuse what could have been a heated and loud argument. Fighting also became so normal for them that they couldn’t understand why it was affecting me the way it was.
One day, I went there for a simple cup of coffee, and I don’t even know how it started or what triggered it – but he started yelling at me because I wouldn’t let him come to my house to confront someone. I did what I always do and tried to diffuse it. But I can only becalm for so long especially when what is falling out of someones mouth is so illogical and twisted that I cant reason with them. Then she did something which was the end of the ride for me. She joined him in the demented yelling. I was then asked to leave, which I did, but not after using some colourful and staining type language and saying a few things that I felt but no longer cared if it hurt them.
That was about a month ago and I feel so much lighter. I had three major stressors in my life, and they were at the top of the list. I didn’t realise just how badly they were affecting me until I had removed myself completely from the situation. They were the cling film and my sense of loyalty made me stay.
My boyfriend said that whenever I came home I would bring a heaviness back with me that made me hard to communicate with. They were toxic for me, which in turn made me toxic for my boyfriend and on occasion other people.
They placed a huge amount of emphasis on what they had done for me. ‘We have endured so much with you and been there for you through everything’. For the first time ever – I recognised that for what it was. A co-dependent way of justifying bad behaviour. They genuinely believe that I abandoned and rejected them because I am selfish and cruel.
For the first time in a long time – I don’t care. It was selfish, but it was also self preservation and if that makes me a bad friend, then I am okay with that. Very okay with that.