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 Void

Have you ever been at a point in your life where something felt like it was missing? From the outside, everything looks and seems perfect but you just know it’s not. It doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate everything you have but to be completely honest, there is a hole, a void that needs to be filled.

I know that I’m lucky. I have everything I could possible ask for and want. I have it easy on a lot of fronts. But there’s always been a part of me that needs more. It’s hard to say which area of my life needs to be filled.

This is something that we don’t talk about much. How many times have we gotten into a discussion with other people about feeling like something was missing? How many times have we talked about this feeling that something needs to change? We don’t. I know that when I have some adult time, I usually talk about the physical things happening in my life. It’s hard to express this void when everything I do have to say is already good. Maybe we talk about problems or issues we have with some part but again, it’s usually something that physically exists. This void is hard to explain. It’s hard to express in a way that others can understand. I hope I’m doing it some justice trying to explain it here.

In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert says that “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment.”

I have felt that happiness and inner contentment. And somewhere, somehow, it leaked. I can’t be the only one in the world searching for something. I can’t be the only one who has this need to fill this void. It took me a while to realize that I was trying to fill it with things that would never satisfy it. It’s like I have to come to terms with myself and where my life is now and find joy in that. I can also actively work to add substance to my life to help. But the void can’t be filled with superficial distractions. It won’t work.

It’s hard to keep up this effort. But my only choices are either to keep doing it to find the contentment I seek or to give up. I refuse to give up.

Yes, I Want To See You….Maybe

Have you ever made plans with people and then, as soon as that day comes, you hear an excuse to cancel that plan? I once decided not to go to an event my friend was having just because it was really far and I didn’t want to drive all the way. But I didn’t want to tell her that I was just being lazy. So I tried to find an excuse that wouldn’t make her feel like she wasn’t worth me making the trip down there. It was really a lame thing to do. 

Why aren’t we just honest about how we feel about something? Or if you are the type of person that usually cancels, maybe it’s just better not to ever promise anything. I know we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings but then again, are we sure that that person already doesn’t just know that we are making an excuse?

We all do it. I know there are things I need to get done by a certain deadline and there are times where I let that deadline slide a little. 

I wonder how we would all be if we stopped BSing about reasons to not do something. Are we really protecting someone else’s feelings or are we just trying to not feel guilty ourselves? I mean, I also wouldn’t want to hear from someone that they are more interested in doing something else other than hanging out with me. That wouldn’t help my self-confidence at all. 

Maybe we should just be friends with the people who do look at us as priority, that wouldn’t cancel on us without a good, honest reason to start with. I had this friend one time that would always just say that he would see about the plans that I was offering to him. It made me think that he was waiting to see if a better, more interesting offer was going to come. Otherwise, he would follow through on my plan. Why would I want to be friends with people like that? 

More importantly, why do people do that? I just don’t understand why you’d make plans with someone that you don’t consider high priority anyways. Is it just so that if nothing else happens, you’re not sitting alone at home? I would rather be home than out with people that I don’t consider my friends. 

The one last part of this I wanted to bring up are the group of people who tell you they will talk to you and even tell you when they will contact you. And then, that day comes and goes and you never hear from them. I know someone who keeps giving me future dates with promises of contact and yet, I haven’t heard from them at all yet. It’s gotten to a point where I don’t even bother clearing my day because I just assume that I won’t hear from them. 

All it takes is a little honesty and some effort to keep your word. If you can’t follow through on something, be straight about it. If you constantly can’t follow through with something, don’t say you will. Maybe it’s better to be the spontaneous person and just show up to places so no one is actually disappointed, only pleasantly surprised. 

Let’s stop the BS and maybe we can all trust each other a little bit more. 

Cheating Through Life

Recently, I have been experiencing people trying to take advantage of me. And the funny part is I see it happening almost like an out of body experience point of view and I think it’s just a little sad. If I were to put in a pie graph, 20% of people I have encountered are nice and 80% are out to “get someone”, cheat them to get ahead.

I recently got in an accident. Luckily, I was okay. Little setup: The accident happened near south central LA. As I was calling my insurance trying to figure things out, 2 tow truck owners came to the scene and started asking questions. I had to ask them to hold back so I could talk to my insurance. Then, another tow truck showed up a few minutes later, parked behind the other two, and then took off. I resolved everything with my insurance company and they were sending a tow truck. I told the tow truck guys, “sorry but the insurance can’t approve you over the phone since they have a system”. The guys were super nice and said, “hey no problem, just here to help. we’ll kick back in case things take long with your insurance”.

The insurance was suppose to take 45 minutes or less but they were taking a lot longer, over an hour. I called them back to get a status and apparently, they were backlogged. A little notification to the waiting client would have been nice. So I waited. Then, a tow truck showed up saying “Mercury? Mercury?” (the name of my insurance). Naturally I said “YES!”. He proceeded to be nice, very nice actually, introduced himself, and said “Coo man, let me set you up.” He proceeded to attach the car to the tow truck. I found it a little weird that he didn’t ask for my license or Mercury card. But I figured that was being handled by the insurance company somehow and they were just trying to get me on the way. I had been waiting over an hour and was just happy someone from the company finally showed up.

He hooked up the car to the tow truck and when I got in to the tow truck, I asked him if we were going to Fix Auto Body Shop which is where my insurance told me we were going. He said “Oh nah man, they changed it to one local to here. Yeah, yeah it’s over here”. A red flag went up.  Unfortunately, we were already on the way. I didn’t want to create a scene. Obviously, this was a semi-kidnap scene.

He proceeded to be a great friend all about putting me at ease.

Now we get to the body shop “Impact Body Shop”. The owner makes me wait a few minutes. Then, he asks me what happened. Weird, I thought the insurance would tell him that. The he asks “what insurance do you have”. SHIT, 2nd Red Flag. It was then that I realized the tow truck guy was the same as the one that pulled up second on the scene. He talked to the other gentlemen there to ask what my insurance was… DUH!

So I was able to stall him and get back to Mercury and get another tow truck which got me to the right body shop. After 5 hours.

So, why do people lie? Cheat? Their fellow human beings? Is this survival of the fittest?

How can we become so low as a society to come to this?

Bear with me, I am not ranting about anyone specific in LA. I have had the SAME experience of people trying to cheat me in London and back at home in India.

Over the past month, the balance of people being nice vs. being nice to get me has been really skewed.

I can only thank my parents for raising me in a way to stay strong and hold my ground. I get the true value of their teachings and an even more heightened respect for them. I often said, “oh dad/mom don’t worry”. Now, I get why they worried. I get what I need to do when I bring a kid into this world. I get it. But I can’t help but think how sad the whole thing is. Human nature, survival of the fittest.. it makes you grow some balls.