You'd almost prefer to be punched in the gut.
At least you'd know what you were dealing with.
At least you wouldn't constantly wonder, "Is it me?"
At least you wouldn't feel like a low-life piece of shit every time you're around this person.
Who are these people that enter our lives like snake charmers, only to inflict their venomous behaviors when we start to care about them? Who are these Jekell and Hyde characters that make us feel like we're crazy and stupid?
If you're in a toxic relationship with someone -- whether it's your partner, your parent, or even your best friend -- you know what I mean here. You know the words, looks, and actions that slowly but surely crush your soul and make you constantly walk on eggshells with everything you say and do.
Toxic people are like vampires. They will suck the very life out of you, especially if you're an empathic, sensitive person who keeps trying harder and harder to "fix" the relationship and "understand" this abusive person.
If you're in a toxic relationship, here's a wake call: YOU cannot fix it. An ocean of understanding will not change them. There are only three options for you --
- Manage it.
- Leave it.
- Accept it.
Option 1 is possible when you have the strength to stand up to this manipulative, emotionally abusive person -- and if they begin to see the light of day and really want to change. If you don't have the strength now, you must recognize this person for what he or she is and learn to build boundaries and call them out on their crap. It's much easier to change yourself than it is to change the toxic abuser.
Option 2 is the healthiest choice for your own self-esteem and mental health, but sometimes it's just not possible, at least in the short term. If your toxic abuser is a family member, it's can cause seismic ruptures in the entire family if you cut this person out of your life. If it's your spouse, there are dozens of negative implications and consequences related to your children, finances, and lifestyle.
Option 3 is the choice of far too many victims of these vampires. By choosing to accept the behaviors, you are sentencing yourself to a life of pain, confusion, and low self-esteem. This is the worst possible option because eventually you will break.
One of the most confounding tricks of these toxic vampires is the way they make you wonder whether or not they really ARE toxic. You question your own judgment and perceptions and begin to feel you're the one to blame. These vampires seek out kind-hearted, sensitive people because they know exactly how to manipulate them.