Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Poison Ivy

Perhaps the most detrimental relationship of all is the toxic one. I call it Poison Ivy because it reminds me of the song “Poison Ivy” by the Coasters. It’s a generational thing. Anyway, I’ve had quite a few toxic relationships in my life, so I know from whence I speak.
     Poison Ivy relationships bring sadness, depression, anxiety, and a bunch of other negative aspects into one’s life. Here are a few examples of a toxic relationship.
     Jane and Sara get together for lunch. Jane begins talking from the beginning of the lunch date about all the trials and tribulations of her life, “Oh, you won’t believe how miserable my life is. I never have enough money to go anywhere, and my grown up son is back home with his girlfriend and now I have more mouths to feed. My health is suffering from all this anxiety and I don’t know what to do about it.” All the while she is smoking and eats like there’s no tomorrow. Meanwhile, Sara has not said a word except to nod and sympathize. The lunch date is over and Sara feels a little depressed that her friend’s life is so terrible and sad that this is what their dates usually sound like. Sara feels trapped.
     Susan and Mary have been friends for a long time. They both work at a local department store. Susan wants to return to school, so she can get a better job and eventually make a better life for herself and her daughter. She tells Mary and Mary immediately begins to tell her all the reasons why going back to school is a terrible idea, “Do you realize how much time you’re going to be away from home? You’re going to have so much work, and you weren’t really that good in school anyway. I would never take the time away from my family for such a selfish reason. What about Emily? Are you thinking about your daughter? What if you fail? Where are you going to get the money from?” On and on goes the negative feedback because Mary is jealous or simply doesn’t want Susan to succeed. Remember, misery loves company? Susan leaves feeling frustrated and doubtful of her decision.
     There are other scenarios where one friend will drag another into drugs, alcohol, excessive shopping or other negative behavior. The problem with toxic friendships is that one does not realize the friendship is toxic until it’s almost too late. Some of my most toxic relationships left me nauseous or with severe migraine headaches.  I wanted to help but felt helpless. I lost some confidence and had to spend hours and in some cases days to restore my self esteem. In one relationship I began questioning my relationship with my husband because she had me so confused about spending and buying.
     I finally realized that Poison Ivy must be avoided at all cost. When you notice yourself feeling depressed or overly upset after a visit with a “friend” ask yourself if this is the norm. Analyze the relationship and think about what is positive and what is negative. Who benefits from the relationship? If the itching is severe and the welts are too red, let it go and take care of yourself.
     Please don’t misunderstand, I realize we all have bad days and our friends need and deserve our attention and love. What I’m talking about is incessant negativity that brings one down repeatedly. Those are the toxic relationships one must avoid.

Link to “Poison Ivy.”

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