Mental Health

Self-Care Sunday: Detoxing from Toxic People

I’m a recovering toxic person.

It’s a bit like being a recovering addict. Being around other addicts who are actively using is a bad thing, likely to lead you back into the life you’re trying to stay out of.

There’s another truth about being a person in recovery . . . it takes one to know one. Once you’re on a path to recovery and have worked through the things which were part of your addiction or compulsion, it’s pretty easy to recognize it in other people. Especially people who aren’t aware of or are in denial about it in themselves.

If you don’t know what a toxic person is, by that term, Abigail Brenner, describes some traits of toxic people, in her Psychology Today article, 8 Common Traits of the Toxic People in Your Life, posted on August 29, 2016.

Here they are:

  1. Toxic people are manipulative.
  2. They are judgmental.
  3. They take no responsibility for their own feelings.
  4. They don’t apologize.
  5. They are inconsistent.
  6. They make you prove yourself to them.
  7. They make you defend yourself.
  8. They are not caring, supportive, or interested in what’s important to you.

We all have toxic people in our lives. Some have a tiny role and little impact. Others are deeply embedded in our daily lives. It’s easy to cut those who don’t really “matter” in our lives. That’s not to say they don’t matter as people or human beings, just that not having them in our lives isn’t impactful on our everyday lives. You pretty much know who those people are, just like you know who the toxic people are who you may not be able to eject from your life.

So, what do you do with those people?

Learning how to set and maintain boundaries is one of the most important things.

Boundaries are something I struggle with, especially with a particular individual who I have no options about why or when I interact with him.

I had gotten pretty good at setting boundaries and informing him in advance what those boundaries are. I got a little complacent. I dipped back down into the depression. There were circumstances which I couldn’t avoid and maintain certain responsibilities.

A couple of days ago, I wound up spending seven hours in his presence. I spent that time with him partially because I’m an enabler. I spent some of it with him because, without him I couldn’t do things I needed/wanted to do – like spend a little time with my adult daughter and grandchildren.

As the day went on, I started feeling all the things: manipulated, judged by association (I could relate to every judgmental statement made about others – mostly complete strangers.), defensive, and as if I didn’t matter except for what I was doing for him. By the end of that time, I couldn’t wait to get away!

I was completely drained and exhausted. Except, I had things I needed to get done. Like write the posts to get through the weekend and the early part of this week.

At first, I wanted to just give into the ennui. It would have been so easy. As a matter of fact, I did for a little while. Then I realized that giving in completely wasn’t an option.

What did I do?

  • I gave myself permission to give in for a little bit. I was drained and needed a rest to regain the energy to kick-start my butt into action.
  • I used my creative energy to get it out and let it go. I wrote three haiku poems: one about my experience of the day, one about how I was feeling, and one about a positive moment I’d recently experienced.
  • I put on music that soothed my soul.

Then I got down to the business of writing this post and others.

What are somethings you can do to detox from being around toxic people?




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