When you know a friendship is toxic

Now that I have just one short week until I can begin editing Waking Dreams, I have been musing on a friendship that recently ended after quite some time. I have really struggled with this decision, and it did not come lightly.

Over the weekend, I was on a hike with an amazing new friend and we began to talk a bit about our pasts. Something this new friend said really hit me. She talked about how funny it is that we women are always so concerned about the effect our decisions have on the social group, that we often sit back and take a lot of BS for fear of rocking the boat.  A light went off in my head. I have been angry at this other former friend for quite some time and my fear of “rocking the boat” in my social group has had an effect on me. I sat silently and then reacted poorly to a lot of things, but now… I just don’t care. My family is more important. And I want it to be extremely clear that I do not condone the behavior of this former friend (hereafter “NPD”).

I struggled for a while wondering why NPD had behaved in the way he did. Why did he continue to harass my husband and I, in spite of my repeated requests that he stop? Why could he not go a single conversation without implying that my husband had terrible clothing choices, was inept at taking care of himself, and me and was going to be a terrible father? Why did he think it was appropriate to then turn to making fun of my daughter, who had yet to be born? Why did he think, even after we asked and told him to stop, it would EVER be funny to joke that he was going to have sex with our daughter? And when we responded with a “WTF?! Don’t EVER say that again” – why did he laugh at our response and say “What? I’ll wait until she’s 18”? And when we said that was still inappropriate, why did he continue and say “What? I”ll have had a vasectomy by then!” Apparently our horrified response was exactly what he was looking for, since he continued to make the joke another two to three times. Maybe he would have made it again, but we stopped seeing him by then.

I will not stand by and tolerate someone who takes me aside to tell me what a horrible wife I am (while I was pregnant!), and then makes me listen to him complain about how his wife is a psycho bitch. Then, when I defend her, have him rally and tell me I am being mean. At the time, I was boggled. I had no idea what end was up or down with NPD.  Sometimes he was so nice and charming, that I forgot about all the other crud. Then it would resurface and I would feel like crap all over again. When Nick pointed out that he thought our daughter came early because of all the stress of dealing with this person – well, that highlighted for me just how unhealthy the relationship had become. Now, I just don’t care. I am still a bit angry at NPD and partially at myself for being so slow to realize how toxic the friendship had become. Better late than never, right?

I do not know if NPD behaves like this with other people, but I know that this is how he behaved with us. Given how he’s twisted what I’ve said and what others have said to suit his own version of the truth (i.e. whichever version makes him out to be the good guy), I can’t trust him.  I do not know what’s real with him, or what he says just to get attention, since he seems to want attention all the time.

Mostly – I will not gamble my daughter’s emotional or physical safety on what I already know to be an emotionally unsound person. I will not have her think it is okay to make fun of people in the way this person thinks is okay.  I have already placed my friends in the awkward position, and I am truly sorry about that. I will see NPD at social events, but that’s it. Our interactions will be minimal, and I will never leave my daughter alone with this person. Ever.

The epiphany was that I do not need to hide my feelings. I am happier when I am open about who I am. I want to put my foot down now and let my daughter know that it’s okay to cut people out who hurt you repeatedly. I hope she would have the strength to walk away if she’s ever in a relationship with someone who abuses her emotionally and/or physically. Cut and run, because YOU are more important than any potential social fall-out.

So, what do you do when you know a friendship is toxic? If it can’t be repaired – accept the loss and move on. Profit from my experience! Don’t spend months mourning the loss and wondering what went wrong! Accept the fact that just like all those other vices (junk food!), they may make you laugh or feel good every now and then, but overall, if they make you feel crummy, you should probably leave them by the wayside.

Thanks for listening, and I apologize for the high drama content of this post!

-The Rambler

8 thoughts on “When you know a friendship is toxic

  1. I love this and am so proud of you for posting it. I thought about it a lot since we talked earlier and I keep coming back to that image I posted a few weeks back–the one about hard times being the repellant that keeps bad friends away. If someone turns their back on you for having a difference of opinion with them or another friend, that's not someone who really needs to be in your life. Your daughter, your husband and yourself, OTOH? There for the long haul. Those are the people you need to be making choices for, and those who stand by as you do? Those are where the love is. ♥

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  2. Thank you, Deb! You are absolutely right. I am realizing as time goes on that it's okay to let go of some things, so long as I remember the important people in my life. And they don't get more important than my daughter and her daddy!

    As I realized this, it was amazing how my creativity suddenly came back. I stopped worrying about all those other little things that got in the way of my writing. It is amazing how cutting out the negative people really helps you start seeing the world in a positive light again.

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  3. Having read this, I wonder if you are aware that NPD stands for Narcissistic Personality Disorder??? Which as I read this, I found to be rather apt. Clearly, this person had a personality disorder. They are soooo hard to deal with because you often feel like the crazy one. They believe their own load of garbage and if YOU are the person they have decided to torture, you can do nothing right and they will see to it that everyone believes them. they believe their own lies, so that they sound true to others. You did the right thing.

    Stay strong. You are amazing and you seem to be blooming right before our very eyes.

    XOXOXO

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  4. Thank you so much, Brady Bunch! I don't know how I missed responding to this waaaaay back when, but thank you! Yes, I did know NPD stood for Narcissistic Personality Disorder – this individual may or may not have the actual diagnosis – but it seemed apt at the time. All in all, it may just be that our friendship became too toxic and the memories of all the insults made it irreparable. I have certainly been happier and more productive since I stepped away! I hope you are well.

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  5. I am glad you have ended things with him. What a creep! I am dealing with this issue too. I have a hard time letting go of friends. Or of knowing when to let go of friendships. Everyone knows how to dump a significant other. Not everyone knows how to dump a friend.

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  6. Thank you. It is a difficult decision for certain, but one that I am still happy to have made to this day. It's kind of funny how long it takes you to recover your feelings of positivity after being in a friendship that has become toxic. I don't know if there really is a good way to do it – I very much doubt the way I handled the situation was the best. But you are absolutely right! Not everyone knows how to dump a friend. I am sorry to hear you are dealing with this issue, too. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. I can say this – it does get better…

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