Poisonous People

We’ve all encountered them, the people who manage to tarnish your life, and leave you feeling frustrated, angry and at times, like you’re walking on eggshells.  Usually they do nothing that can be specifically defined as unforgiveable; their taint is cumulative rather than administered in one large dose.  Often, they rely on the fact that you can’t get away from them (e.g. relatives, work colleagues, acquaintances) because it would be rude or unkind of you to treat them the way you would like.  They especially rely on the fact that those they make unhappy are effectively crippled by common politeness and social boundaries from treating these poisoners as they deserve.

The question I would like to ask you is WHY should you put up with this anymore?  What law is there, that says we should put up with discomfort and unhappiness, simply because social structures rule that to do otherwise would be unacceptable.  These poisoners are pushing those self-same limits all the time.  They get away with it because they never go over the top…but they make up for that by doing what they do over and over again.

I have dealt with this same situation personally.  I have  siblings, who believe that they know how my life should be lived better than I do.  When I was around them all the time, they constantly criticised everything I thought, said, did, and proposed doing.  I laboured under the burden of thinking there was something inherently wrong with me…because all these people, related to me, growing up with me, said so (of course they were guided by the attitude and behaviour of my biological father, but that’s a whole other story).  Basically, even though I was part of a large, supposedly close-knit family…I felt miserable and inadequate whenever I was around them.

Finally, one day, I had enough.  I stopped ringing, stopped visiting, stopped contact with them all ( we all live in separate parts of the country).  I didn’t refuse contact with any of them, but they were so used to the idea that it was my role in the family to run after all of them, that there was nothing from any of them.

And it was wonderful!  It was so liberating.  No longer being made to feel wrong or foolish or any of the other negative things that my family made me feel…the very people who, according to biological imperative, are the people I should have most been able to rely on in life.

Apparently they wish for contact to be resumed.  I have this from my eldest son who has limited contact with two of his aunts.  But, they want me to make the first move.  And they don’t refrain from telling my son about all my faults and imperfections as they see them.  So, it is plain that nothing has changed, and therefore, I see no reason to have any of them back in my life.  I have had people say to me “But they’re your family.  Don’t you want to be part of that family?”.  And, my answer is no.  Some people are simply not worth having in your life.  They don’t enhance your life in any way, and in fact, reduce the quality of your life.

I am not suggesting these people (including my family) are evil people, set on making the lives of others miserable.  I doubt that there is deliberate intent at all (well in most cases; some people are genuinely malicious).  But in life, you sometimes encounter people who simply fail to add to your life.  We only have one life, so why should we waste it on people who detract from it?

Maybe shedding these people will mean we have to violate certain social mores; we are, for example, expected to cleave to our family through thick and thin.  I don’t agree with that though.  If someone fails to treat me with basic respect and courtesy, not just once, but consistently, then I don’t care who they are…I don’t want to be around them.

We all need to learn to be more pro-active in ensuring our own happiness and contentment.  This doesn’t mean refusing to visit your aging great-aunt, who is a little senile and says weird things…but it does mean refusing to put up with the constant disparagement of your cousin, who can’t refrain from belittling everything you do.

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