toxic relationships

You’re sucking the life right out of me!

Says anyone who has experienced toxic relationships before.

Today’s topic is toxic people. Toxic in the way that they just don’t have healthy relationship skills. Whether they’re super codependent, narcissistic, a drunk, controlling, etc., they tend to bring chaos to the relationship. There you are having a good day and “she” walks in. Immediately you feel your heart rate rise. Oh no, what does she want today? What’s she gonna gripe about? OMG, not again!

I work with people in recovery. Oftentimes, they come with questions about people in their lives that are not the most pleasant to be around. They wonder if they should cut ties when it comes to toxic relationships.

Most times, my answer is yes. Why? Because most of the time those people are toxic and despite being told numerous times to get their crap together, they don’t. They keep nagging, showing up under the influence, making promises they break, or just not doing any “inner work”.

At the same time, if you’re the one in recovery, cutting ties with toxic people is necessary for you to experience that peace and joy you’re after. Not to mention keep you from drinking or drugging just to contend with the crap they bring to the relationship.

The first toxic relationship I had to cut in my life was my ex-girlfriend. Neither of us were emotionally mature enough to handle a relationship. She was a recovering addict and I was steeped in codependency. We couldn’t get well together, so we cut ties. It wasn’t easy. It rarely is.

Toxic Relationships: Who makes you feel bad?

Take a moment to think about anyone in your life that leaves you feeling yuck after you’ve spent time with them. Maybe it’s that co-worker who constantly complains about how sucky his life is, taking up  A LOT of your time, unwilling to make one change to create a better life. Or maybe it’s your mom, who is always belittling you and reminding you that you could have done so much better in life. Make a list of those people.

Have a heart-to-heart

I’m not saying you have to just cut them off entirely without warning. I think a real heart-to-heart conversation ought to happen. Sit down and kindly let the person know the truth about how you feel. Resist the urge to people please here. The news won’t be pleasing to the other person and it might even cause them feel offended and angry. Stay calm. Tell the person how (whatever it is that you feel is toxic) is affecting you. Let them know it’s making you angry, sad, crazy, or tempting you to drink. Then, without apologizing for your feelings, tell them that you are going to have to cut ties (or rarely spend time with them) if they continue the behavior. Again, be soft. Gentleness and compassion go a long way.

Toxic Relationships: You can exit slowly

If you struggle with conflict or if this type of thing just scares the willies out of you, oftentimes you can exit the relationship slowly. I’m talking more on the friendship level now. Maybe you used to hang out with Sally every weekend, but Sally has become an energy sucker. She’s bringing you down despite you making an attempt to tell her she’s bleeding you dry. Well, just cut back on your hang-out time slowly. Call her every two weeks to hang. Be busy with other things when she calls. Slowly dwindle your time together and hopefully Sally will either change her behavior or get the picture. You can do this with co-workers, friends, family members, and so on.

Cutting toxic ties is especially important for those in early recovery. If you’re on the sober path, you don’t need to be hanging around with Uncle Larry, who can’t do anything with a beer in hand.  You also don’t need to be around those who tend to trigger your “tripping” points. If your ex comes around wanting to play his confusing games AGAIN, don’t fall for it. Cut ties.

Surround yourself with positive people, or at least people who aren’t energy vampires or narcissists. Toxic relationships will wear you all.the.way.down. You deserve an amazing life.

You are worthy of peace and joy.

As you navigate your life, remember that even if you have to cut ties with a toxic person, God will be sure to open up a door for a healthy person to step into your life. Trust as you stand up for yourself, God will stand up for you.