What if you are the toxic person?

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  anita 8 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    Everywhere around the internet you can read articles about cutting negative or toxic people out of your life. And I get it, you have the right to end a unhealthy relationship and it may even be the best for both people. But sometimes I wonder: what about the toxic person? Am I the toxic person?

    In the last year I lost contact with a lot of people. I don't know what's wrong with me. In most cases it was my own fault I think for not communicating when it was too much and then getting overwhelmed and then not getting in touch again (out of fear, shame, procrastination).

    Last week I met someone new and it seems like it's failing again. I'm not able to truly be myself and everything went too fast. I feel nervous and the person asked if I feel ashamed around them. So I tried to explain that I have these issues and that I'm seeking out therapy.

    Maybe it has something to do with not respecting my own boundaries… I always try to help out when someone is for example moving or needs help. But sometimes I didn't really have time or I didn't really want to do it, or was feeling uncomfortable. And then I reacted in a weird way or couldn't cope.

    I don't know. Something is just very wrong with me.



    Dear Lily:

    I read through your earlier thread, Feb-June 2018. “Something is just very wrong with me” is your most recent sentence on this new thread.

    Yes, something is very wrong: you are experiencing life with an emotional injury that is still bleeding, figuratively. You often feel hurt, angry or numb and confused. In any interaction, you don't know if there was abuse, and if there was, who is the abuser and who is the abused.

    When your father slapped your face and insulted you, when you were a child, he was the abuser, the guilty one  and you were the abused, the innocent one. If you believe this one truth that I stated, then much of that figurative bleeding would stop and you will be able to know presently, in any particular interaction, if there was abuse, and if there was, who was the abuser and who was the abused.

    For as long as you believe that your father hit you and insulted you because you were bad, because you deserved it, then you will continue to be confused in the present time.

    Back in February I suggested to you that if your father apologized to you, clearly stated he was wrong, that he understood your hurt and anger, and then corrected his ways, healing could have taken place then. But he didn't. Instead he acted like nothing happened. A core belief was formed in you that you were a bad person, or that there is indeed something very wrong with you.

    Living with this core belief means that every time you do make a mistake, or every time something doesn't turn out well, you assume it is because there is something very wrong with you.

    And yes, there is something wrong with you, but it is not something you were born with. There was nothing wrong with you as a child. You have to go back to childhood to believe it.

    It is true that abused children often turn into abusive adults. at least at times, in some contexts. Part of the healing process is to behave in ways you are okay with, making sure you are not abusive, that you do-no-harm. And to make sure that you don't stay in situations where harm is done to us, that you do not submit to abuse.




    Dear anita,

    thank you for always replying to me.

    Hopefully I can work out the issues from my past with my new therapist. We recently talked about my past experiences and when I was a child, I used to fight back and yell at my parents or defend myself, but at some point I stopped.

    I don't know if I believe that me hit me because I was bad? In the past I felt very angry towards him, I even felt that I hated him. I didn't want to have anything to do with my parents and didn't want to trust them or tell them personal things.

    Now I feel like I have disappointed them. Not only do I not follow their religion, I also have huge issues with getting my life together. I feel bad for still being financially dependent on them.

    With that new person, I wonder if I was abusive. Everything happened too fast, I was very worried all the time, but I went along with his rhythm. Usually I avoid meeting new people, but I liked him so much, that I wanted to give it a try. He was respectful, never did anything without me agreeing to it. I admired his kindness and talent and liked how he treated me. But I had problems expressing this to him and I let him lead.

    I ended up sleeping with him after only knowing him for a few days. A few days later I got lip Herpes (I already occasionally had herpes in the past) and I told him about it. But we made a mistake by sleeping together again on another day, without kissing. He had told me that he had also had had herpes in the past, so I was calmed down, but it was still a mistake.

    Then he told me that he was feeling sick, but one day later he said that he was feeling better. It seemed like he didn't really want to talk about what his health problem was. Yesterday I wrote him again and asked him directly if I had infected him and if we could talk about it or if I could do anything for him. And he responded that he is fine and that I don't have to worry. And that he is out with friends and that we could talk on the phone the next day. But today I don't know if I should call him. He didn't write back and maybe he just wants to be left alone.

    Maybe it also seems like I'm exaggerating? But I don't want to infect anybody… I worry a lot and I hope he is okay.

    I think this is a mess again. I should really stay away from other human beings…. I didn't take my own advice and take it slow. It seeams I'm definately not ready for a relationship… Maybe I should focus on myself for another while



    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome.

    Regarding “.. hit me because I was bad?” do you believe that you were a good child then and that you are now a good person, deserving a good life?

    (You wrote in your recent post: “Now I feel like I have disappointed them (your parents)”- isn't it a thing a bad daughter/child/person does, to disappoint her parents?)

    Regarding the man you met last week, this is what I understand happened: he was respectful to you, didn't force himself on you like that man long ago, in the dormitories. He “never did anything without me agreeing to it”. You liked him a lot but felt nervous and uncomfortable. He noticed you felt uncomfortable and asked you if you were feeling ashamed around him. You didn't answer him with a yes or a no but instead “tried to explain that I have these issues and that I'm seeking therapy”, and so you let him lead, “went along with his rhythm”. His leadership and his rhythm led you to sex. A few days later your oral herpes was activated and you told him about it. Then had sex with him again without kissing. Later he told you that he was sick, then that he was feeling better. You asked him if you infected him (the herpes) and he answered that he is fine and that you “don't have to worry”.

    My answer to your question: “What if you are the toxic person?” is that you were not a toxic person with this man. Regarding your oral herpes, the first time you slept with him it wasn't active at all, so no risk of infecting him. The second time, the herpes was active but you told him about it and no kissing was involved, so no risk of infecting and no responsibility on your part for (not) infecting him.

    There is nothing else that you mentioned that would lead me to think that you were abusive, or toxic to him in any way.

    When he asked you if you felt ashamed being with him, I wish you told him that you did feel uncomfortable, that you told him just how you felt, instead of telling him you are in therapy. I wish you didn't let him lead you, as kind of a leader as he may have been, it is a bad idea to allow a man you just met to lead you to his bed while you are uncomfortable and worried.

    Do you think that he will call you today as he said he would?




    Dear anita,

    yes, I still struggle with my self worth. Sometimes I even say to myself that I'm not a good person. Sometimes I thought that I was a difficult child… My parents used to say “oh, these bad children” somewhat jokingly. I know my mother had a hard time raising three children. She always says that it's not easy to raise kids. But now she tries to be more encouraging.

    I often feel like I'm not deserving of a good life. I had so many chances, but I didn't use them well enough. My fear of failure kept me from trying. And for example with this new man I felt like I'm not good enough for him. He has his life together, while I'm still struggling.

    With him I wasn't completely comfortable. Maybe I wasn't loving enough, I don't have that much experience when it comes to relationships. I talked to him more like a friend. I'm just this awkward I guess when I don't know somebody that well. He said: “But you know me a little bit better now.” But I only know him for 1 or two weeks!

    Why is it bad to talk about therapy? I wanted to be honest with him, I wanted to let him know who I was. But maybe it comes off as too insecure? Maybe it was too soon? Maybe I was overstepping a boundary there? He said he was happy for me.

    Yes, you are right I should have talked to him about being uncomfortable… I don't know why I do things I'm uncomfortable with. I was already uncomfortable giving him my phone number and so on. But i wanted to change something I guess and give it a shot.

    It doesn't look as if he will call me. Yesterday after he responded I wrote: Yes we can talk on the phone tomorrow, if you like. Until tomorrow then? And he didn't respond. So I don't know if I should be the one to call or write. But maybe he doesn't want that and maybe this will come off as even more insecure and needy.

    Well, I guess I behaved really stupid, right?



    Dear Lily:

    There is nothing stupid about needing people, about liking a man and wanting to spend time with him. There is nothing stupid about “wanting to change something”, and “give it a shot”. If only you are okay with making mistakes, if you understand that everyone makes mistakes, then you an learn from them and become wiser.

    No one is born wise. Intelligent, yes, but not wise. Wisdom comes from learning from mistakes, learning how to live so that we can have as good a life as is possible for us.

    There is no magic. There is learning. Are you willing to learn?

    With this man, it is okay that you told him you attend therapy, but not instead of telling him you were uncomfortable. It was unwise to proceed when uncomfortable. If he is a decent person, maybe he would have helped you to do what you needed to do: to not proceed at that time, to wait. Maybe later, if he and you chose, you could have met again and talked more. Maybe over time you would have felt comfortable enough.

    You did communicate to him, according to my understanding, that you are not worthy of him. Maybe he believes you. He probably doesn't feel that confident about himself, unlike what you think, he probably doesn't feel that he has his life together. He probably lacks self confidence himself. If you meet him again, or someone else, remember that: it only seems like he (whomever he is) has it all together, but it is not likely. In a relationship try to aim at helping each other instead of imagining he is all  powerful and capable of helping the helpless, needy you.

    We really are in this life together, we do need each other. You are not the only needy one.




    * didn't reflect under Topics



    Dear anita,

    yes I am willing to learn. That was why I wanted to give this a try. I tried to overcome my fears, but I should have taken more time.

    Maybe I made him feel insecure, because I was insecure myself. Even the thought of starting a relationship makes me very anxious. I couldn't sleep and I almost started to cry at work, because I was afraid that I couldn't handle this. But I didn't tell him this. I would like to get to know someone very slowly…

    I didn't manage to behave naturally around him, so maybe I made him feel bad.

    Maybe some part of me wants a strong person to lean onto, but this is not what I truly believe. I don't think I would be happy in such a relationship. I would rather like to learn how to solve problems myself and take care of myself. I wouldn't want to load all of my problems onto someone else as this would make me feel bad.

    It seems like I have to work on myself first before I meet someone new.

    I tried to call him, but he didn't pick up the phone.




    Dear Lily,

    What makes you think you are a toxic person? None of what you have written seems to suggest that. It is only that inner critic in you that makes you feel that way. That voice has been making you feel that way for a very long time.

    From the responses that you have got here and on all your previous posts, it must be clear to you that none here think you are ‘bad’. You can change the way you talk to yourself. You had already started noting down your thoughts.

    For each thought that calls you out as ‘bad’ look to the reality of the situation. Note down every ‘good’ things that you feel about you, expand on it and with persistence you can win over your inner critic.

    When you nurture yourself you are doing good to yourself; when you are good to yourself, you can easily be good for others but being good to yourself comes first.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Take care



    Dear Prash,

    thank you for your response.

    Sometimes if I read articles about toxic people, I wonder if I am one. And in the case of my brief encounter with that man, I fear that I might have hurt him. I probably have. I wasn't able to give him the feeling that he is loved. He doesn't want to talk to me it seems. I also won't call him again, as I want to respect his decision. Even though I wish we could talk at least one final time about what happened.

    I'm just wondering about: what did I do wrong? But I know, I should have taken it more slowly. I worry about what he might think and if he is okay. If he is indeed sick? It would be so terrible if he got sick because of me.

    And in the last year or so I lost some friends. So there must be something wrong with me…

    The first friend was constantly calling me, wanting to spend time together. I should have enforced my own boundaries, but didn't and always said yes. She also told something very private to other friends and even acquaintances, which upset me a lot. She also called me in the middle of the night, because she had a fight with her boyfriend and things like that. It was too much for me and I just stopped contacting her and she also stopped contacting me after a while. I now regret that we didn't talk about it.

    Another friend I lost, because we didn't contact each other any more. We never were very close to begin with.

    The friend I regret losing the most, I knew for a long time. We used to study together. She lives in a city nearby, but still we struggled to stay in contact. Last year we finally met and she came to visit me. We had a really good day together and I promised to come visit her soon, we even had made plans for the next month. But I also had no job at the time and barely enough money for food. I also had told her before that I wanted to change things, but didn't manage to do it. So I was so ashamed and didn't contact her for months. Only recently I wrote to her.

    Finally there was the friend I always tried to help with her festivals, moving and so on. Even when I really didn't have time or didn't really want to do it. And then sometimes I wasn't enthusiastic enough or was being difficult (sometimes it also went well). But I wanted to be a good friend. After the last incident I didn't contact her again and she also didn't contact me, as I was thinking that it just didn't work out. Maybe I should have just respected my own boundaries more.

    When I write this down I think that it probably all has to do with my difficulties with saying no. And I also wasn't feeling so well at that time, so I isolated myself a little. But I think I wasn't a good friend too. And doesn't this show, that I am very difficult? But maybe it only shows that I have some problems I need to work on. And to not do it again.

    I think I need to start writing more, it helped me to clear my mind.



    Dear Lily

    Your statements

    And in the case of my brief encounter with that man, I fear that I might have hurt him. I probably have. I wasn't able to give him the feeling that he is loved. He doesn't want to talk to me it seems. I also won't call him again, as I want to respect his decision. Even though I wish we could talk at least one final time about what happened.

    I'm just wondering about: what did I do wrong? But I know, I should have taken it more slowly. I worry about what he might think and if he is okay. If he is indeed sick? It would be so terrible if he got sick because of me.

    These are not the words of a toxic person. These to me are from a person who is concerned for others, someone who is considerate of another person's wishes, someone who respects others.

    About your experiences with your other friends, as you have written there are specific different situations which need their individual solutions. Labeling yourself as not a good friend or difficult person is not a good idea as you work on your solutions.

    Glad to know the writing is helping you. It really does by crystallizing our thoughts and helping us see it an objective way. Keep writing.

    Wish the best for you.




    Dear Prash,

    thank you for the encouraging words. I hope I am not toxic. This situation gives me a lot of anxiety. I feel ashamed of myself. But I try to tell myself that it was just a mistake and that I will do better next time.

    Thankfully I will go and visit a friend of mine later, maybe then <i can think of something else.



    Dear Lily:

    You believe that if something bad happens (the guy got sick, for example), it must be that you made him sick. If he doesn't call you back, it must be that you hurt his feelings. In other words, you are the cause of bad things happening. Your conclusion, in your very last paragraph is: “I will do better next time”.

    As if you did badly and that is why the guy got sick and that is why he didn't call you back.

    What if he didn't really get sick at all and lied to you about getting sick as a reason for not meeting you for another date?

    What if you didn't hurt him at all, and the reason he didn't call you back is that he is busy elsewhere, another woman perhaps?

    You see, other people have their own reasons, own motivations that are not about you making them sick or otherwise hurting them.

    I hope to read more from you.


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