I’ve had a hella year. It’s a little over 12 months since we had a diagnosis for our middle child that forever changed the dynamic and trajectory of our family, and, perhaps more seriously, our views of ourselves as individuals and as a unit. It has also been a year of amazing change and growth professionally. I’ve learned the hard way that trust must be earned and verified, and all interactions must be written down and clearly negotiated and understood by relevant parties.
Being the big-hearted cartoon-like character that I am, I attract all kinds of people. Most people are beautiful and broken and bring a bounty of insight and support in their interactions. Most people want to do good. Most people are doing the best they can. All people are fighting a very hard battle, which we often know nothing about. Some people are just toxic assholes.
I’ve taken mental stock of the people who have seriously fucked me over through the years, and thought it may be helpful to other softies to share some of the tell-tale signs of a slimeball or snake.
So here’s some observations:
- Shame blame and suggesting you’re insane – There’s a lot of material on the Internet about emotional vampires and toxic types. They are often referred to as narcissists, and a common weapon in their arsenal is blaming others for their failings, seemingly seeking satisfaction by shaming people, and frequently gaslighting (creating situations that make you question your sanity, or openly and aggressively saying you are nuts while they are in total control of their faculties). They will highlight your fears and enjoy watching you question your sanity at any opportunity.
- Taking credit for other’s achievements – Toxic people pat themselves on the back when things go well. They are often bossy and brutal and have an inflated sense of their own importance. They will frequently point out how clever and important they are and more often than not use that as an opportunity to downplay other’s contributions or strengths. The saddest part of this being, they are often hurting in their own way and their bullyish behaviour is likely a result of their own unquenchable desire to feel control because someone, somewhere took it away from them.
- Always Right – Toxic and controlling people must always be right. They will fight a point until their perceived opponent is exhausted. When discussions turn into battles, you are probably dealing with a toxic type and alarm bells should tell you to avoid this person indefinitely.
- Gossip – Toxic types take great pleasure in sharing the misfortunes of others. Just for fun, try asking a person who is prone to spilling all sorts of secrets and salaciousness about others what they are saying about you when you are not around. They will almost certainly act affronted, and deny any less than saintly activity when speaking of you in your absence. This is bullshit of course, and they cannot and should not be trusted.
- Few Friends – People figure out in due course that they are dealing with someone toxic, and when they do, if they have a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-preservation, they will remove themselves from a detrimental dealings. There are also people who simply do not warm to many others, they are selective or shy and choose their tribe with great care. If people don’t present with other character or behavioural tendencies on this list, they are not toxic, they might just not like people very much. I adore those kind of people, and need to be able to tell the difference more quickly now that I am older and have been shit on enough times to know better.
- Take With Both Hands – Toxic people will plead poverty and suck you dry in tangible and intangible ways. Toxic types feel that their needs are paramount in any situation and will seek out the “givers” and the “nurturers” in life. Empaths and sensitive types are like a flame to this miserable mangy moths, and if you have a big heart, they will work their way into your life to take whatever they can get and leave it a bit more broken. Relationships must run in both directions, and while every person will have something different to offer, respect and reciprocation will be of spoken and demonstrable importance to people who are not toxic. You deserve that. Do not settle for less as life is short and those who build you up rather than suck you dry will help make the journey better, easier and almost surely more fun for you both.
- Full of Excuses – Toxic people, as I stated earlier, are well versed in the blame game. Rather than owning issues or seeking solutions, they will spend their time and energy telling anyone who will listen how some fuck up was entirely everyone else’s fault. Finger pointing and finding fault in everyone else is not conducive to problem solving or growth. Toxic people’s energies are spent on building layers of excuses for why they’ve done or neglected to do something that has a negative impact. It’s never their fault. They likely won’t even be interested in finding solutions, as they are too focused on letting everyone know all the ways they were not to blame.
- Lies – Toxic people do not embrace the truth. The truth is scary for all of us at times, but toxic people will often be pathological in their inability to see or accept any truth that does not suit their skewed and self-serving view of the world. Don’t let people like this close you. And also, try to be honest with yourself, even about the actions and activities of toxic people who weasel their way into your world.
- Cruelty – Last, and certainly not least, toxic people are cruel. They will manipulate, bully, shame, blame, and their devious eyes will twinkle and dilate when they say something hurtful or make you feel small. Don’t get me wrong, there comes a time in any healthy relationship that uncomplimentary truths will need to be told. People shouldn’t enjoy this, and if they do they are not your friends.
I hope that this helps someone somewhere. You’re worth so much more than being treated with cruelty or dishonesty. If this blog hits nerves for you regarding any of your relationships, maybe it is time to rethink some of the people in your life. You do not need to tolerate toxic people. You are worth so much more than that.