Love, Mental Health, Relationships

Trust and Toxicity

What is it that makes us hold on to the people that are the absolute worst, the most toxic to our lives, just plain no good for us?

Consider my own personal experiences. I connect with very few people. So, when I do, I’m ALL IN. I don’t know how else to be. Usually, the people I connect with are the same. Then the red flags start getting thrown. But, I say, “Oh, it’ll be ok,” or “I can’t judge. I have the same issues,” or “No one is perfect. I have to accept some faults.” I keep saying this until I have been brutally and deeply hurt and that person has abandoned me. I keep saying this while my rational mind tells me to let go but my irrational one tells me that their bullshit shouldn’t dictate my actions and I should continue to be a good friend. I keep telling myself this long past what is healthy and sensible. And after I finally let go, I still struggle to stay away because, as I said, I don’t know how to go all in.

I’ve realized what my personality type is and how I approach friendships and relationships with friends or family will probably not change. This means that I will take disappointments hard and I need my time to grieve after each failed attempt. That’s ok. But, I still haven’t figured out when to start that grieving process at a suitable point in time. I haven’t figured out when to kick a toxic person out on their ass.

Ironically, though, I’ll be ready to kick out a good person. Take this for instance. One of my friends misinterpreted something I said. Rather, she chose to do so because she was in a bad mood and had had a trying previous few days. She reprimanded me 1) unnecessarily, and 2) in front of a group of people. My initial reaction was, “What the f**k was that?” I started thinking to myself I have to pull away, I’ve gotten to close to this person, they’re going to hurt me, we can be cordial, but we can’t be close friends. Then, I did what I often do not do in this situation. I stepped back and relaxed. I gave myself the rest of the day to be mad. The next morning, I told her I understood her frustrations and I forgave her. She was very apologetic. This was progress for me and I thought I had moved on. We hung out a few days later. I realized that I was holding back things I had planned to share (I had just had a breakthrough in group therapy). It took me a couple hours to tell myself to chill out and trust her. She had already apologized several more times during the day. I shared what was on my mind and I felt better. Later, she thanked me for not divorcing her as a friend. But, honestly, there was no reason to. A couple years ago, though, I wouldn’t have been able to get through such a situation nearly so quickly.

I realized that the toxic people that I have kept in my life, the ones that I still feel emotionally attached to, have made me afraid to trust the decent people that come my way. So, I’m more likely to push them away out of fear that they will hurt or leave me and instead stay with the people who DO hurt and leave me, thinking I can fix them. This is my safe place. But, really, it isn’t safe, is it? These actions also keep my depression and anxiety at a high.  I’ve realized that, while it might make me a little sad and restless, it’s healthier for me to have an evening home alone, then continue in relationships with people that are just complete shit. It’s a struggle, though!! Fortunately, this aspect of my life is a work in progress.

What’s your experience? Share with me?

Mental Health, Poetry


Processing the finality of loss
Not in the usual way
Not by happy or accidental death
Rather, by emotional void
Unable to recognize the face
Of someone I used to know
Of someone that used to love me
Everyone says, “life changes”
It seems a petulant excuse
A way to give up, save face
A perpetual belief you’ve instilled
That you hold the halo
When it comes to being friend,
Father, mother, sister, brother
When was the last time
You looked in the mirror
Tried to understand the reflection
Of someone that you used to know
Of someone that had not walked away
Give an ear to the angels and devils
That whisper to you
The things you do not want to hear
But, need to know
Loss was avoidable once
So stuck on the potential of it were you
That you made it inevitable
Realizing this, I see
Though I feel pain
The loss is not my burden
It is yours to bear
Your self-imposed finality

Mental Health, Random

You are the Company You Keep

Lately, I feel lonelier than I’ve ever felt before. I feel like there’s no one that I can put absolute trust in. My list of friends grows shorter everyday. Everyone is living their lives, but I’m still trying to find my place. Almost everyone…

Why is my friend list growing shorter? Last night, in group, we discussed the realization many of us often have that your “friends” are not always friends. Some of them might be. They might be close friends or just everyday friends. Some people are relegated to the acquaintance category. Then there are others, you realize at the risk of emotional devastation, are just people you know.

A few months ago, I was at a Halloween party drinking with some friends. I admit it. I blacked out. In all my 32 years, this had never happened to me before. I felt guilty, embarrassed, wondered what I did wrong that day. What about my so-called friends? One wanted to send me off in an Uber, half conscious, because he didn’t want me to get sick in the room. I could here him telling about getting evicted from the party. Later he asked me if I was ok, but it was clear I was no longer welcome. I arrived with two other friends. When I was ready to leave later (and completely had all my wits about me, mind you), I discovered they had left me. Another asked if he could leave me in car. I couldn’t stay with him because he was online looking for late night lay. One person was kind enough to let me stay with them and take me to my car in the morning. One person was my friend. Later, I learned that all those people are still fighting amongst themselves about how the situation was handled. But, you know, no one thought to make sure Lauren was ok.

I take personal responsibility for my actions, of course. But, just a few days prior, I had attended a “celebration of life” event for one of those friend’s mother, who had just died. All these “friends” were there. I had felt this sense of camaraderie. Some I had known several years. Some I was really just getting to know and trust. Others I’d just met and saw a future with. It made me happy.

In one night, that notion fell apart. I realized these people that I spent all my time with were just people I knew, but there was no depth, no substance to the relationships. I also realized that I had turned myself into a party animal of sorts, so that I could remain in there company, though I’d rather a simple activity in intimate company. They were not friends and I was not myself.

In group, we talked about what I’ll call the “friend selection process.” The therapist refers to it as our “picker.” Are you a good picker? A bad one? You know what I realized? My picker is totally broken. It loves to move past the glowing fruit and foliage, to find the old, putrid, low-hanging ones, the ones that are the easiest to get to, but that cause you grief in the end. The ones that cannot sustain you.

Why are some of us gluttons for punishment? Probably because it’s safe and easy. We’ll never really have to trust and be close to anyone, so we find these broken people that we think we can fix. We know they will disappoint us, but we’ve come to accept this as normalcy. We stop looking for the fruit that would be good for us. I mean, it must all be gone right? When we see the potential of something not only organically substantial, but also REAL, with depth, we sabatoge it. We put up our walls and find the first opportunity to push those people away. If we didn’t, we would be vulnerable. We would lose control.

I find it odd and terrifying that I was do ready to be a part of the whole life of a man I recently dated. I wanted to give all of my heart to him, which I guess I got pretty close to. I wanted to meet his children and be friend and maybe even another mother to them. I wanted us to support each other in our mental health and internal exploration. But, it was bad from the start and I knew it. So why do I want him back? Why do I continue trying to maintain a friendship when, for him, the moment is gone? Why do I do that with anyone, be it friend, love interest, or otherwise. It’s because I’ve become accustomed to deception and I’ve convinced myself I don’t deserve more than that.

Well, that’s the cowardly out… And it’s bullshit!

I am worth it. I am deserving of decent, respectful people who will love and care for me as much as I do them. Ever love and care for someone that you realized you didn’t like that much? Why keep that company?

Here are the goals. I intend to maintain my identity. I will not change for anyone just to keep them in my life because if I have to do that, I don’t need or want them in my life. I will care for myself instead of spending all of my time caring for others. I will be vulnerable. I may get hurt, but I may also organically find relationships of depth and substance. In short, I’m going to select better company that will keep me on the forward path in my mental and emotional health journey.

How is your picker?