Am I A Toxic Person?

A few months ago, I had a long-time friend tell me that I was had been making negative comments about her and to her. And thus was the end of our friendship.

It did make me think.

We are all aware of toxic people and the fact that we should stay away from them because they aren’t good for us. We try to stay around people who have good positive energy and make us feel better about ourselves.

But what if we are the ones that are toxic?

I wouldn’t have ever imagined this about myself except there was literally someone who chose to stay away from me and end a friendship because I was toxic for her.

How do we even figure out if we are the ones who are toxic without going through that kind of heartbreak (and yes, it was heartbreaking)? When does it stop being honesty and more toxicity when it comes to friendship?

I’m not going to defend myself here because I can’t speak for that person’s feelings or how she perceived my words. If what I was saying was being received as negative, then all I can do is accept that my words must have been negative.

I can explain what I have been doing. I have been analyzing myself constantly over the last few months trying to figure out how to better myself as a person. I also have been wondering that if one person could view me as toxic, does that mean another person could as well? Self-doubt and insecurity have now become good friends of mine. I keep thinking about everything I say multiple times after it’s been said to figure out if I’ve hurt or offended anyone else.

I also have been trying to figure out at what point do I stop blaming myself and accept that maybe it was just our relationship that had come to its natural end. How much of my true self do I change just to make sure I am not toxic to anyone else? Is it actually a question of honesty versus toxicity?

How can I fairly judge how and who I am as a person? How much do I need to change to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Or will it happen because we are all different personalities and how we view each other can change over the course of a friendship?

Being Direct

For a long time, when I was growing up and even when I became an adult, I just shoved down the way I felt even though I was miserable. I would get angry at the way I was treated by others or sad because of some reason or another and I’d just pretend it wasn’t happening. It would eat at me until I exploded. I’d get so angry that I would yell and scream and insult. It never ended well. I’m pretty sure I lost a few friendships that way. (Although the question remains if we were really good friends to begin with, if one fight could break us.)

Anyways, I finally realized the only way I’d feel better is if I talked about the way I was feeling. Then, it was up to the other person to work it out with me or decide not to be friends with me. It still sucked a lot of the times because usually the problem had arisen due our world views and ideals not aligning and that meant that it would be difficult to remain friends unless we wanted to argue or be annoyed all the time. It was better for both of us to walk away at that point. At least, we maintained our sanity and civility.

As I get closer to 40, I thought that most of the people I knew subscribed to this thought pattern. I realized recently that I was wrong. There are still a few non-confrontational people out there. And somehow, you could be doing something and never know it was happening because no one told you that you were doing it. It’s a difficult way to maintain friendships because it requires you to be perfect all the time.

I learned after having quite a few meltdowns and having a few spectacular blow out fights that it was better to be uncomfortable with someone for a few minutes but have a stronger friendship for it. I’d rather talk to someone about something even though, honestly, I dread it. I get nervous and anxious just thinking about being in that weird zone where we have to talk about our feelings. There’s the possibility that the discussion will end in a fight because you’re both arguing your point of view and no one is really listening. But there’s always the possibility that you both will figure it out and it will make you both better for it. I’ve had practice having these discussions with my husband because it’s impossible to have a happy relationship unless you’re both willing to discuss the important issues and listen honestly without getting defensive. I’ve been in the relationships where it was just attack and defend. Those aren’t any fun, trust me. You have to be able to admit that you might be at fault (even accidentally). Everyone is human. Everyone can make mistakes.

After the last few decades of my life, I also learned that it’s okay if not everyone likes you or even wants to be friends with you. My personal goal is to be honest with myself and and believe that I’m doing the best I can to love myself and to be a good person to everyone I know.

After that, whatever happens, happens.

The Positive Of Social Media

When you scroll through social media, it’s easy to be jealous of what you perceive other people’s lives to be like.

I get this way all the time especially since my life at the moment revolves almost completely around my kids.

Then, I realized something. The person I was consistently wishing I was like is someone I could talk to because she has been through what I’ve been through. So I did. I messaged her and she and I spoke for a bit about what I’ve been feeling and where I was stuck.

This is someone I knew entirely through social media so I had no idea if she would be someone I could confide in or if she was someone that would get me. But she did. She told me about how she felt when she was in the same life situation as me and how she moved on from there. She told me about her coping techniques. It was helpful.

I know there are a lot of negative things you could pull from social media but there are a lot of positive things as well. If we see someone doing something positive, instead of being jealous, we can try to learn from them. We can find a way to use other people’s experiences as resources and help ourselves get through whatever we need to get through.

 

Will You Talk To Me?

Do you ever wonder what makes us connect with another person?

I have about 3 categories of people: people I love and easily get along with, people that are cool but we aren’t that close, and people I just don’t want to be around.

The hardest group for me is the second one, the people that are cool but we aren’t that close. These are the people I have to make small talk with. These are the people that I would like to have a conversation with but I honestly just don’t know how. I don’t know how to change the comfort level for these people.

I am at a point in my life where if I can’t just be silent with you, it’ll be hard for me to be close to you. I need to be around people that can either facilitate the conversation or are cool just hanging out. I will try to make conversation but my mind doesn’t work as quickly or freely as it once you used.

I used to wonder what was wrong with me. Turns out that this is just my personality. I am not super social. I’m social up to a limit. I will always smile at you but if you aren’t easy to talk to, I have a hard time communicating.

It’s hard to be accepting that this is my personality. I don’t like feeling unfriendly or like people don’t want to talk to me. I judge myself for it. I should be more outgoing. I should be friendlier to people who have tried to be friendly to me.

But honestly, I just have an easier time around people that I feel comfortable around. I have to work hard to change that. Sometimes, I’m not even sure I want to.

What type of personality do you have?

All Our Indian Aunties Were Also Stay-At-Home Moms

I always imagined that I would be a working mom when I grew up. My mom was a working mom. I knew that a lot of the stay-at-home moms I knew weren’t necessarily college educated. I assumed that all of these aunties were stay-at-home moms by default. I thought that they had no choice and this is what they did. I thought it was definitely an easier life than to work and raise a child.

I don’t know if staying at home was a choice or a default lifestyle but that didn’t make it any easier to be a stay-at-home in the previous generation. I think about the things I face now on a daily basis with my children. I think about how many times I burn out and need time to myself before I send myself into a nervous breakdown. I have a supportive husband with the flexibility to allow me to take time for myself.

But what about those aunties I grew up with? Were they able to get time to themselves? In the Indian culture, there is definitely a “put everyone else first” attitude for the women. Your husband and your kids come first. If you have in-laws or your parents, they also come first. You are definitely last in line when it comes to being taken care of. So is that what happened to the women I saw raising my friends?

Our culture here in America has evolved enough to recognize that everyone needs some time for themselves. It’s encouraged and recommended. I’m not sure if the Indian culture has evolved as much yet but I can see the trend leaning towards it. I know if I ask my husband for some time to myself, he will do his best to give it to me.

I really wonder what the generation before went through when they were raising kids. Was it easier or harder? Did they expect anything more of themselves than being a parent or was that enough for them? How did they deal with the day in, day out of being a stay-at-home mom? Were they happy? Did they care if they were happy? Or was it enough if everyone else in their household was happy?

Someday, maybe I’ll try to have this conversation with some of the aunties I know.

 

What About Your Friends? (Throwback to TLC)

There are some days that it really hits that I don’t have that many friends. I definitely have a few good friends but I’m not getting 800 invites per weekend to do things. People aren’t throwing parties in my honor, I’m not getting a ton of texts a day, and my weekends aren’t crammed with random events.

To be fair, having kids also limits your social life a little bit but I don’t want to blame them since this has spilled over from my life pre-kids.

My friends have now evolved into people who will come running any time of the day if I need them, people who will be there to the best of their ability between their busy lives, people who I can be completely open to about what I feel and think.

And while I love that I do have some really good friends, sometimes, it does hit me that I’m never going to be the popular girl.

I guess I never was. From the second I was in school, I have never been the center of anyone’s crowd. I’ve never been the person that everyone needed at a party. I’m not the person that would up anyone’s social standing (if there is still such a thing). Even my “groups” from college or different dance teams have moved in a different direction. And while I was there though, I was always on the periphery. I was the one person who was good friends with one of the people in the group which is how I was a part of it.

Honestly, I suck at making small talk with people. And to be completely blunt, sometimes, I’d rather be home with a good book or watching tv than be in a social setting full of people I don’t know.

For example, a few years ago I went to a party without my kid for the first time since becoming a mom. I was so excited to be able to be in the party scene again. But when I was there, I spent all my time hanging out with a good friend who I still saw on a monthly basis and talked to all the time anyways. I did small talk with a bunch of other people who I knew but wasn’t really friends with and then just hung out with the person I was most comfortable with and liked being around. It made me wonder what the point was of being at this party.

Recently, I watched someone who has a lot of friends at their social events. I kept trying to figure out if she was just more extroverted than I or maybe nicer than I am. Maybe she is just easy-going enough to be able to accumulate a lot more friends. Maybe she just has more time since she isn’t raising 2 smalls kids. (Although again, I don’t think that is a fair assessment because these personality traits of mine were there before I had kids.)

I also started wondering if sometimes, people just hang out with each other so they have “friends”. Do some of them in the group really even like each other? Or do they just tolerate it because it’s their group?

I don’t really have a conclusion to this. All I know is that this is where I am in life. At this point, I don’t really expect it to change. Maybe between the time I was a teenager to my 20s. Or my 20s to my 30s. But now, on the downside to 40, I doubt that I can change this part of my personality. I don’t even know if I’d want to. I’ve made the effort this far in my life and maybe it’s time for me to just be.

This might just be who I am.

Mom Funk

It’s really easy to lose yourself in general. I remember that I was constantly working on improving myself before I got married, before I had kids. Even though I am in a different stage in life now, that hasn’t changed.

Complacency is so easy to fall into no matter where you are in life. I’m pretty sure that I was somewhat complacent when I was in a comfortable job. And every so often, I feel that same feeling as a stay at home mom.

Seeing yourself clearly takes work. And it’s easy for that vision to get blurry when you are always looking at yourself through the lenses of your children.

Your priorities revolve around your kids. When you have some downtime (nap time is a welcomed break), if you’re like me, you are finally eating lunch in front of the tv. As soon as lunch is over though, it’s time to start on your task list. Laundry, dinner, or plenty of other things that are easier done without a child or two hanging onto your arms and legs. All of a sudden, the kids are up and you are back to being Mom.

I was reading an article today and the lady writing it was talking about “Mom Funk”. It struck that that was exactly where I kept falling into. I don’t know if I interpreted it correctly or how to exactly break out of it but the words resonated with how I’ve been feeling.

I have 2 great kids and a great husband and friends and family who are still consistently present in my life. I figure if I still can feel like I’m in a Mom Funk every so often, I can’t possibly be the only one.

So here’s my question to you: For those of you who have visited this land, how did you break out of it? How did you design your life so that you were able to find some personal fulfillment as well as the family fulfillment that you are receiving?

Things Are So Different Now

Things are so different now.

I remember being in my 20s. I worked, went to school, danced on teams, and went on trips. I remember sleep never being a priority and hanging out with friends being the #1 priority. I remember taking one random trip to Vegas in the midst of many planned trips to Vegas.

Things are so different now.

My day revolves around my kids’ schedules. Now our days are planned around their classes and play dates, their naps and meal times, and their bedtimes. Anything I want or need to do for myself has to be fitted in around these things.

I used to be able to hang out at my friends’ places for hours. Now if I try, I get reminded that if my kids are not comfortable, it’s probably not going to happen.

Before, if I could, I would be out. Anything I could go do, I would do it. Now, I would almost rather be at home. It’s easier. (Maybe it’ll get easier to go out with 2 kids once my second one is a little bit older but for now, it’s easier to manage the 2 at home.)

I remember one weekend where I partied Friday night and Saturday night and had full days of dance practices on Saturday and Sunday. That meant practically no sleep and being hungover. That meant a Monday at work that hurt.

Things are so different now. I would rather be home and well-rested. I’d rather be in bed by 10 with my significant other and watching tv.

I’m hoping that as my kids get older, I find a different balance than I had then and that I have now. Something a little more in between.

While I’m glad that things are different now, I don’t want them to change completely.

It’s Not Their Fault Either

I saw a friend’s post on Facebook last night about reverse racism. She said that it’s not right because “as we all know- every race has racists”.

It’s easy as an Indian person to blame white people for the hateful shooting of an Indian man that happened in Kansas recently. It’s easy to blame white people for supporting Trump. It’s easy to blame white people for all of the fear that has arisen amongst people of different nationalities in the US.

We can’t blame all white people. I know when something terrible happens (and lately, it seems like something terrible is happening every day), it’s natural to feel that way. Even I feel that way sometimes. But it’s not right.

I think of all the awesome white people I know every time I do feel that way. I have one friend who literally posts her disgust every time there is something to be outraged about. I have friends who have never even seen the differences between us in a negative way. How many of us have white friends and coworkers who have done more to resist the negative things that have happened in this presidency than any of us Indians have?

How can we, as Indians, judge any race this way? I had a boyfriend a long time ago that had to break up with me because I wasn’t the same caste as him. We talk about Indians from other states in stereotypes all the time. All Gujaratis are cheap and all Punjabis drink a lot. How many of us have heard or said something like this? We all know people who don’t fit these ideas.

And how many times has the entire religion of Islam been blamed for the actions of a few? The Muslim friends I have are the most liberal and calm people I have ever known in my life. Yes, there are extremists but there are more regular, normal people who just want to live their lives like everyone else. They wake up, go to work, spend time with family and friends, and hang out.

As for voting for Trump, I also know a few Indian people who have done so. I no longer can socialize normally with them knowing that they voted for a man who condones hateful actions but that’s as far as it goes. There was a Hindus for Trump group. It makes me embarrassed to be Hindu and I’m hoping no one ever judges me based on this group.

I know it’s been a difficult time for the country and I’m hoping we come out of it soon. But we have to do it together.

 

Anxiety…My Hidden Companion

At 8:53 a.m. I was still curled up in a ball in bed.  It was Monday, and I had work, but I was thankful that my 10 am meeting had been canceled. The cancellation allowed me to stay curled up in bed a bit longer before I absolutely had to get out.  I had originally woken up at 4:08 am. “Breathe in. Breathe out,” I told myself as I tried to relax and let the anxiety pass. But it didn’t. It stayed with me.  It stayed with me all day.
I thought about every single thing I could be stressed about but there was nothing in particular that was actually stressing my out.  This prevented me from going through the exercises to try to at least manage my anxiety by telling myself that the reason I am anxious is well just not a good enough reason to be up at 4:08 a.m.  I turned to web browsing to tire myself out.  A little after 5:00 am, I was finally falling asleep.   When I woke back up again at6:54 a.m., I thought “6 more minutes…”  As I started to become more awake, I realized the anxiety was still there — without any reason.  I could feel my heart beating loudly in my chest.  I tried holding my breath.  I tried meditation.  I tried trying to slow down my breathing.  I tried to just feel my anxiety so I could accept it so it would decrease.  Nothing seemed to work today.

In the midst of client calls and work, I felt my heart beating and my chest constricting.  By 1:37 p.m., I wanted to cry.  I was tired of dealing with my anxiety.  Today was especially emotionally draining to “manage” my anxiety (because I am not supposed to “control” it) and still have to work.  I wanted to feel “normal.”  The idea that there are actually people out there who don’t have to deal with anxiety without any explanation was envy worthy.

But the anxiety wasn’t going anywhere.  Sometimes, I have an entire few hours without anxiety.  It’s rare for these hours to occur when I am alone.  Mostly they happen when I am able to just lose myself in the moment around some family or friends.  My unwanted and unwelcome companion just rides through life with me.  Some days it’s more overbearing than others like today.  I have learned to smile through it, but it’s there. Lurking – in the background.  Always.