My most recent horoscope said an issue from the past was going to resurface in my life so I would have a chance to fully heal.
Oh THAT sounds like fun, right? Besides, horoscopes are mostly complete bullshit, right?
Huh. In the space of two weeks, three exceedingly toxic, suck-you-dry-then toss-your-withered-corpse-aside-persons made a surprise reappearance in my life. Fun times! (Is that sarcasm? Why yes, that IS sarcasm you hear right now.)
Rather than rant about what total douche-baggery bullshit these folks were up to THIS time, I figured I’d save you the bloody bits and get to the lesson, because if there isn’t a lesson, then it’s all wasted, right?
1. Toxic people are in love with their own bullshit. AND they aren’t satisfied unless you are also on-board with their bullshit. Their favorite tactics are employing their overwhelming emotions as a weapon of mas destruction that washes over everyone without regard, because THEIR feelings are the ONLY thing that matters. Generally, but not always, they play on your sympathy or guilt. If that doesn’t work, they ramp it up to ANGER. and boy howdy, have they got deep reserves of toxic anger from which to draw. No sympathy or guilt? No problem. They simply pull out their rage and use it to bully/threaten anyone daring enough to resist being sucked into their personal vortex.
I will admit that in the past I was trained to be *very* responsive to anger. As a kid, I learned that angry people were dangerous and BROKE things. Angry people needed to be handled verrrrry carefully, and it was best to either completely disappear or somehow placate them to prevent further escalation of their rage. By the time I hit adulthood, the patterns were well-established and I naturally gravitated toward what was familiar- Surprise! Angry people!
Well, I call bullshit. I call bullshit on cowering and I call bullshit on their bullying. I call bullshit on their manipulation and on their toxic insistence that they alone know what is real and true. Why? Because every bit of their lives are constructed around lies they tell themselves, which would normally be fine. Yes, you read that correctly- FINE. It’s a free country and you want to be the biggest asshole on the planet? Knock yourself out.
BUT when you want to inflict your bullshit on other people? NOW we have a problem. Of course, toxic people can’t contain their poison, and it leaks out in caustic drips (or worse) on anyone nearby. Being in a relationship of ANY kind with these folks comes at a cost- which varies in price depending how how screwed up they are and how desperately they believe you are necessary to their own personal safety and happiness. Which leads to the second point about these lovely, lovely people.
2. Toxic people only have eyes for……themselves. Everything they do, and I mean EVERYTHING, is calculated based on a cost/benefit ratio inside their heads. No gifts are given, no kind words offered, no sympathy tendered, NO support or kindnesses UNLESS they are more than reasonably sure they are going to get something back for their “expense”, oops, I meant efforts. In short, they are expensive people to trust because they will take all your good will, kindness, compassion, trust, money (for real, trust me on this), positive self-regard (because they can’t tolerate anyone healthy, so you are going to find yourself an ongoing target of their venom), and anything, and I do mean anything good in your life and either try to outright take it for themselves, or destroy yours, because if they can’t be happy, no one else should be happy either.
The one characteristic common to all three people who decided they needed to pay me a surprise visit is their inability and/or unwillingness to take accountability for their own emotions AND their need to push the emotional work off on to someone else.
Let me provide one example….One person wanted me to relieve their overwhelming feelings of guilt, because GUILT!
“Gah! I feel so BAD for making such shitty choices. Make it stahhhhhp.”
Except, the only thing that would make the guilt go away is to address WHY you feel guilty and then do something honorable to make amends. You don’t like feeling guilty? Well, do something honorable and fix it…..like the rest of us do every. single. day.
People who push their bullshit off onto others blame other people for their own actions (She deserved it/He made me so mad, I couldn’t help myself”) and surprise, they *never* apologize. Why? Why should they when their actions/choices/behavior are *never* their fault? Tricky, right?
Yes, these are sad people, but they are also exceedingly dangerous. These are people that have very little genuine regard for themselves, and they have nothing left for anyone else. The cause is understandable and sad, but the fix has to come from inside of them. No one can do the work for them, which I sort of think infuriates them as well.
Well, I call bullshit. Life IS hard, but lying to yourself and others makes life even harder. NO ONE gets a free ride. Actions have consequences. Period. Money can buffer these folks from the consequences of their toxicity, and they can acquire the trapping of success (which they often use to convince themselves they aren’t the complete waste of space that they secretly suspect they really are), but it doesn’t change a thing. They are still pain-filled banshees wreaking destruction on their lives and anyone unlucky enough to be close to them.
3. Best outcomes? For yourself? Avoid them. Seriously, I have read every article there is on “difficult people” at the office or among friends or family and the very first suggestion is to simply avoid them. Ideally, these folks would have some type of awakening and decide that it’s time to suck it up and deal. But until that unlikely day arrives, it’s better to just not go anywhere near them.
If you can’t avoid them, AND if it is safe, call them out on their bullshit. Lying is what caused the problem to begin with and obviously, TRUTH is the cure. Be prepared for ferocious blowback and do some calculating of your own, because unless they are susceptible to a sudden attack of humility, your truth is going to feel like acid pouring over their open wounds and they *will* strike back. Count on it.
So what is the lesson? Choose your loved ones *very* carefully. Choose your work carefully. Choose your tribe carefully. Listen to your gut. Is your bullshit detector going off? Yeah, trust that and get out of there. Many times we will get a physical reaction to these people before our head can sort out what is happening. Trust your body and get out of there. Someone is talkingtalkingtalking and your head is starting to fog up from all the noise, get out of there. You find a simmering anger rising up in your throat, but the person “seems” so nice and you can’t figure out why you want to vomit. GET OUT OF THERE. You can always come back to it later if necessary, but don’t stay there and let yourself get run over by their bullshit. Extricate!
Finally, know you aren’t defenseless. TRUTH is your weapon because that is the very thing these people fear the MOST. Once they know that you are onto their bullshit, that is often enough for them to flee. You don’t even have to do anything! They can see it in your face, and will generally turn tail and run. Mission accomplished.
Thanks for reading this far and feel free to comment. No, my life isn’t all sunshine and roses, but at least I TELL THE DAMN TRUTH because that is the only scrap of safety to which I can cling. And for those who think I am being extraordinarily lacking in compassion, there is a time for compassion and a time for survival. Besides, you can’t fix these people. Until they want to get better, the best choice is to avoid them entirely for your own well being and peace of mind. You don’t owe them anything (really and truly, criss-cross-applesauce), so save yourself, dwell in the the truth, and go do some good where it will do some good.