Advice, Health, Relationships

The One With The Toxic Relationship Stuff

Several months ago, Scary Mommy staff writer Meredith Ethington posted an article titled I Don’t Have Time for Fake Friends. In it, the author candidly states her refusal to entertain superficial or toxic relationships. Sound advice, right? Wrong. For the next several hours, I watched otherwise rational adults ignore the very clear thesis of the author, and lose their s— in the comments. I get that there is always going to be that crowd who just doesn’t get it, but this was brutal.

I struggled to understand what could have caused such a visceral reaction. On the surface it appeared that folks didn’t get the point she was trying to make. I had several people argue that the difference in interpretation was due to the subjective nature of literature. The only problem with that argument is that this is an essay with a clearly stated thesis. In reality, folks did get the point the author was trying to make and were lashing out. Why?

Because they were the very people the author was talking about.

How do I know? First-hand experience. In the months following my decision to go pro as a freelancer, I have made significant progress. I have had more success in the last three months than I have in the last three years. My life is moving in a positive direction. However, there are two things that can tell a person who their real friends and family are – loss and success.

For the last several weeks I have been the target of personal attacks and accusations. At one point I literally shut down after a particularly bad encounter left me reeling. I was shocked at the extreme and callous nature of the interaction. As a person with SPS, (Sensory-Processing Sensitivity), I don’t do well with those who practice conditional love. It is a tit-for-tat approach where the relationship is basically a contract. It is fickle, shallow, and exactly what Ethington is talking about in her post.

A real friend is someone you can be yourself around. When you are together you laugh – real, feel-good, belly-aching laughter. If you cry in front of one another there is no fear, shame, or apology for human vulnerability. When you speak you can do so freely without fear of repercussion. If you cannot show someone your true self – only a façade – let them go. They are not healthy to be around and will only lead you to hate yourself.

Letting go of a relationship is not easy as it takes courage to walk away from someone. I decided to go no-contact with three of the individuals, and slowly distance myself from the fourth. I no longer feel like I have an invisible 30-ton ACME weight on my shoulders. Instead, I feel lighter, more confident, and less anxious when I log-in on social media. I know who my real friends and family are, and I keep them close.

Life is too short to put up with toxic people.



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