Get Rid of Toxic Relationships Once and For All
Dec 05, 2019
While I was married, I lived out west and I was surrounded by women who weren’t happy in their marriages. I was one of them and we bonded on how little our spouses showed up for us, we queried about who might be cheating, we laughed at how much more capable we were, and we cried on each other’s shoulders when times got tough and we were desperately unhappy. Things felt harder for me, in my family situation because of a lot of other reasons than just being unhappy, and because of that, I vowed that I would put an end to the misery I was putting myself through, but I had two small children and I imagined that if he wasn’t showing up for me at all as a partner, he would probably be 100 times worse if I were to leave him. I had to bide my time. When I moved back out east, I knew that the time was imminent…it wasn’t going to be long until we were separated and I had to face the world with two little kids who were looking to me to continue to be their support, to know what I was doing and lead the way with grace, dignity and strength. So I did it. And when I did, not only did things get crazy for me in my separation, but they also got unbelievably hard with my friend group that I had just left behind.
What happens when you leave a marriage or your family breaks apart, is that it puts a microscope on everyone else’s relationship around you. Suddenly women you know and love are comparing themselves to you, and if they have put up with worse and stayed because they thought it was the right thing to do for their kids (it’s not), then they will expect you to do the same because if you do what they did, their choices become right. They made the right decision and they can sleep better at night. The microscope can also be that suddenly everyone else who feels they are just as unhappy as you are forced to make a decision in their own lives about whether they stay or go. I know a lot of women who would rather stay because of the money they have learned to live on, the lifestyle they have become accustomed to, and possibly get a boyfriend on the side than break up their family, so when the proverbial shit hit the fan, I had one particular friend who decided to stay because of the money they made collectively and couldn’t bear the idea of living in a smaller house or apartment and not get to ski every weekend, and she turned on me faster than a snake strikes. She did it from the sidelines though, and would ask me for information about my life and I would tell her all of it: I was so happy to be gone, the kids were happy and adjusting, I was having fun dating…and in the blink of an eye, the conversation was around whether or not I was stupid or crazy or both. She knew how he treated me and the kids, she knew that it was a horrible existence. She heard me cry so many times about wanting to leave and just run away for my own sanity. She heard me, didn’t she? Was she never listening?
She told me I was ruining my children’s lives and that I was going to pay a price for that. It dragged on into my dating life: how dare I date younger men? Who did I think I was? Wasn’t I embarrassed? She even called me stupid. Not just my behaviour, but me. The only person who has ever called me stupid in my entire life was my abusive, drug addicted mother. To tell you that this reaction from her gutted me would be an understatement. I didn’t know what I know now and I took it so personally and couldn’t get out of bed. I sent her a response. A simple Go F*ck Yourself. I stayed in this somber state for a couple of months feeling deeply rejected and abandoned and confused. I had just left the most toxic relationship of my life (and trust me when I say that I’ve had some pretty toxic people wander into my space throughout the years). I had two small children I needed to take care of and show up for, and here was one of my closest friends saying these things to me. She tried to end our friendship telling me that she wasn’t about to stand by and watch me destroy everyone. It was horrific.
What I needed to learn was:
A loving friend will never judge you when you’re doing the right thing. I had two friends in total judge me for leaving, treating me like I robbed them or something, looking down their noses at me. I have had hundreds of women champion me and my goals and the way I have protected my children. When you live your life according to what one or two people may think, you’re losing out on the community you build by surrounding yourself with people who don’t live in fear. It’s beautiful.
You must never, ever, ever, ever accept malicious behaviour from anyone, thinking that is just who they are, and you have to accept them for that. No. If someone is making you cry, leaving you by yourself when you’re struggling with one of the hardest things you have ever dealt with, and blaming you for showing up for yourself and your kids instead of patting you on the back and helping you through, you DITCH THAT “FRIEND.” That is not a friend. You need to make space for yourself to grow after ending a toxic relationship or going through any kind of adversity. You don’t need someone in your ear saying horrible things to you, digging the knife even deeper into your heart. It’s amazing how low some people will go because you’re the stronger one and they want to keep you stuck, where they are.
Just because you’ve known someone for years on top of years (or a lifetime) does not give them the right to mess with your decisions or your emotional well being. History does not equal abuse. No matter how much time you’ve put in, it’s time to get out. Sometimes when we set these kind of non-negotiable boundaries for the people around us, it helps them straighten out and realize a few things about their lives, if they’re afraid to lose you. It doesn’t happen all the time, but by setting the example, it’s amazing how some people will take the opportunity to grow and change what’s not working in their lives.
Toxic people are everywhere: they are the quintessential victim, it’s never their fault, they have no remorse for what they’ve said or done when they cause pain, they live life according to what others will think and push those ideas on you, they don’t support you, they expect the moon and give little in return, they make you feel crazy when you confront them for their bad behaviour by gaslighting you…the list goes on.
If you have to live with a toxic person because you cannot boot them out of your life (or you don’t want to), then you have to learn about boundaries and stop people pleasing. Decide who you want to be, what you’re willing to put up with, and then put a stake in the ground and own it. Be consistent at all costs, no matter what, all the time. You never have to put up with anything that doesn’t feel good or that makes you feel like you’re losing hope. You can put some distance between you and anyone you choose by claiming the need for space, and taking a few months to recharge by yourself, or just without them.
Walking away from toxic people is super easy if you don’t live in the dream of the person and the friendship, but you live in the reality of who that person really is. Letting go of someone toxic in your life means no more pain in your body from stress, you don’t have anxiety all the time, you don’t worry about what they’re going to say or do to you, you don’t have to worry about being put out all the time, or made to feel crazy. You don’t have to deal with them getting their back up just because they don’t like something you’ve said when you’re trying to set boundaries. You sleep and eat better. You don’t have to deal with someone always being right and making everyone else wrong. It all goes away. Breathe. It gets better. When I was able to see my “friend” for who she really was, it was hard to think of it as a loss.
Sometimes relationships are only meant to exist for five minutes and not a lifetime. It’s important to remember that not everyone who is in your life is meant to be there for a long time. We are always put in front of one another to be the mirror for how far we’ve come, where we want to be, or where we’re headed. Remember that. We are always both teacher and student in every single interaction we have with another human being. It took me a while, but I finally see it for what it is when someone comes into my life and it’s because we all have gifts to bring, things to say based on our experiences and hardships and there is a reason we are all put on this earth. It’s important to recognize that and fight to the death to find out what it is so we can make those interactions as meaningful as possible.
Sometimes after going through hellish relationships, we wonder if we are the toxic person for other people, and it might be that you are dipping into that, just because you’re still trying to keep your head above water, but if you want to keep the good friends, you can fix it just by reading this quick download that I made for you: "Are You a Toxic Person". Download it HERE
. It will also teach you the signs to look for in a toxic person so you run in the other direction when you see one coming.
Please head over to the Thriving After Divorce private Facebook group HERE
and post your comments on this post! I would love to know where you're at and what you're thinking about with this process of letting toxic people go. What are your ideas and what have you done that has worked or not worked?