The phrase “you can’t pick your family” has always made me chuckle, mainly because as an adult, I have always chosen how I spend my time and with whom – family members included. As I’ve gotten older, my tolerance for toxic behaviour has worn thin, which has resulted in a Marie Kondo style removal of anyone that hasn’t sparked joy.
I was once a “people pleaser”, or someone who didn’t want to “rock the boat”, and I often found myself in adverse situations. I would be that go-to person who would listen to others rant about how their life was difficult, or how others were the root of all their woes. Up until recently, I thought these relationships were meaningful. I would often say that you had to take these types of people ‘with a pinch of salt’. It was an ongoing excuse; the reason why I would allow myself to be at the end of someone’s mood and why I’d be inclined to forgive.
I thought everyone knew that type of person. They’d be the dominant one within the circle of friends, or they’d be the self-appointed head of the family. We’d tip-toe around their feelings because we all knew what they were like. No one would challenge them if they wanted a peaceful life. Not because we were afraid, but perhaps deep down, we knew what the consequences of our actions would be. It would mean ending the relationship.
Why didn’t you just cut them out of your life?
I’d end up referring to all the good that they did, or explaining the history of the friendship. However, in the back of my mind, I’d always pondered, if I mattered at all, wouldn’t that make people change their ways or treat me how I treat them? At what point do my feelings and thoughts matter? When is it time to put you first?
Life is way too short to walk on eggshells in fear of upsetting or going against an opinion
If you’re in a relationship with someone, whether it’s a partnership, friendship or otherwise, you should have the right to say what you want without fear of repercussion. You should be able to have friendly debates and have your own opinions and thoughts without it escalating; you’re allowed to have a voice. If you can’t, then you’re merely there to satisfy the needs of the other person. You are there to make them feel better about themselves, help them with their insecurities and feed their ego.
Babes, do they spark joy?
Are we at fault?
Looking back, I blame myself. Not in a self-pity sort of way, but I acknowledge my part in these types of negative relationships. I was that “yes” person; I bit my tongue in many situations. I never challenged their point of view. I kept quiet when they would go on and on about how other people treated them, even though I knew those people were probably as tired of them as I was.
As time goes on, you accept your role, you run on auto-pilot, but that cannot last forever. You’ll store all the minute irks and situations where they have taken you for an idiot, and you’ll end up storing those feelings until you’ve had enough. Being a yes person and then suddenly, in their eyes, having your own opinion, will be a shock. You’ve “changed”, or you’re being persuaded to speak up because of someone else…when really, your last nerve is shot. The insults will come, gaslighting and deluded accusations will come. Their insecurities are now fully projected onto you because, how dare you form an opinion of your own, or stand up for yourself? You are now the enemy, but you knew it would come to this because you’ve listened to previous stories of others in the same situation; they too have reached a breaking point.
These people do not spark joy
You can choose who you have in your life. You can choose who you spend time with, who you allow in your space and how you want to be addressed. You’re in control of your relationships, and you should be in an equal partnership. You deserve to be treated with respect and should be able to have your thoughts and feelings accepted and valued. You’re allowed to be you!
We are all born into families and influenced by so many things and people. We start friendships and may continue them because we feel some sort of alliance, just because we’ve known them for years. As much as you love and value those people, your love and value should be reciprocated. If not, you’re just another yes person excusing harmful behaviour and fuelling a toxic personality. Not only do you not need it, but you also don’t deserve it.
So think about your next encounter with your long-time friend or family member. Did they spark joy? If not, my love, why are you bothering?
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GIF oversharer, Starbucks lover and advocate of the side-eye. Woman of Wakanda and collector of all things materialistically minimal but bold. *Often known to contradict oneself.