There was someone I was hanging out with a few months; I had started to notice things, that were RED ALERTs of the friendship being toxic.
I notice after visits, I found myself not liking myself, double-guessing my own behavior and thoughts, even wondering why I feel lousy.
Excessive talks about exercise, dieting, and valuing looks (even hundreds of photo poses on Facebook!), looking at me, saying "Why can't you be like me? Obviously you don't like yourself." When I tried to say something to point out that we have different lifestyles, I was told "don't be so defensive, god, you're so sensitive!" So I fell silent, feeling no matter what I'd do, I'd still lose.
I started watching what I am saying in conversations, to avoid blowups and tantrum fits- it was easier to say "yes" and "whatever", than to share my differing opinions.
When disclosing a bad experience (i.e. a dog getting sick) or even small things (i.e. getting lost in a town on way to a meeting), I get laughter, mocking comments "you twit, how can you get lost?!" or "If she is sick, put her down- so?"
There were several other red flags, but I selectively ignored them because...
I didn't want to feel alone. It was getting harder and harder to find people, either childfree or CNBC; and so many times I'd contact a friend to find that she's busy with a daughter visiting, or another parent friend not having time even for a phone chat (even when we scheduled it when kids would be asleep.) So having someone who is childfree AND local, that's a plus.
Nevertheless, all this came to a stop when I decided to invite him to a labyrinth ritual three weeks ago, (a church invited me to attend a private labyrinth walk, and I was told I could bring someone.) I thought he'd appreciate that since he had been curious about my passion about labyrinths. I noticed he brought his camera, so I explained that he might need to ask permission of the priest to take photos of the labyrinth ritual and people participating (during the ritual, silence and personal inward journeying can be sober and private).
That's when he went off. Ranting about having the right to photograph whatever he wanted to, wherever he wanted to. When I'd say something, "I can see how you love your photography, and you are a good photographer, and how this could upset you, but this is a church.. You CAN ask the priest.....", he would go off again, saying that the church should appreciate his photography, to show the world about labyrinths...this went on for a while.
I found myself bursting into tears. I was taking him to a place that I love so much, and I felt violated. He then started to belittle me, "crybaby, overreacting."
I stared at him, and I suddenly thought to myself, "What's wrong with him being abusive?" I shut down my emotions and told him we're going back- I will not take him to the labyrinth. He said "whatever, I don't want to go anyway, with you being negative."
Suit me just fine. I dropped him off. Later on, he sent me a photo of my dog, "she's so cute!" I figured he was trying to apologize in his way or testing the waters-
I'm not taking the bait.
I talked with some friends to figure out where I was going wrong. R pointed out, "Wait, wait...you didn't do something wrong- HE's the one who is messing up with you, making you feel lousy, its all about him going 'me-me-me.'" I got confirmation of what she said, from other friends, that's it's not me. It was him, toxicity in the 'friendship.'
For the last three weeks, I didn't contact him. It never entered my mind 'til today, when I realized I'd need to get copy of my key from him (when he needed to use laundry occasionally.)
I told him that I'll come by to get the keys back, when he said he'd come over. I told him no. I already stated that I will come by. He wanted to talk about his trip to college, how lonely he feels, blah, blah- I stared at him and said, "I'm sorry to hear that you feel alone, but I don't see how that relates to me here getting my keys." I told him due to what happened recently, I don't feel safe with him anymore, and that to keep his distance from me. He was, of course, upset, raging "You'll be sorry! People don't like you!" I looked at him, shrugging before getting into my car. I know one thing for sure- he's out of my life, permanently. And good riddance to that.
End of this toxicity.
The geek in me, just had thought of this movie "Aliens", and Hicks (my favorite hero) saying something very simple about ensuring the end of Aliens (nuking the site invaded by Aliens).
Yes, that means I'll still deal with social isolation especially with parent friends in town, that speak my language. Harder to find childfree or CNBC folks who can sign... I can still talk with childfree/CNBC friends on Facebook, email or phone.
But you know what? I'd rather have that than dealing with a toxic 'friend'.