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?

Emotional Awareness- Yes, It’s A Real Thing

Have you ever met people who have no idea why they are acting the way they are acting? They don’t seem to understand that actions have a cause and effect. They act and react according to instinct but never take the time to really think about the why.

I touched on this a little bit in Emotional Abuse…Let’s Talk About It. Emotional awareness isn’t something common among South Asian Indians. We haven’t been raised with the idea of mental health.

For those of us who have finally figured out that mental health is as important as physical health, it took a long time to get to that realization. For me, in particular, it took a lot of going through problems and changes to understand that this was an important aspect that I needed to address if I really wanted to be happy. I had to face that this was a real thing. My mental health was something I had to take care of continuously.

Because I finally faced myself, I started self-analyzing so that I could understand why I acted a certain why at certain times. For example, I used to be super jealous in my previous relationships. I just reacted to the things that would happen. After the end of one of my relationships, I finally took a look at how I was acting because being jealous is seriously no fun. I realized that it had to do with my personal insecurities. I had (and still have) a hard time believing I’m worth anything to anyone. The only difference is now I understand that this is something I need to work on as opposed to my partner. I understand now that I should not be putting this on someone else. It helped my relationships that followed after.

I take the way I feel about myself very seriously. It’s easy to blame unhappiness and a lack of satisfaction on the world around you because it’s difficult to look inward. But most of the time, we can control how we feel and be able to change it if we just took the time to understand where our feelings came from. We can have a better understanding of ourselves and how we react to the world around us and give ourselves a chance to really feel good about our lives.

Even if it feels like you are on top of the world, being emotionally self-aware is a good thing. It’s always good to know why you act the way you act. Maintaining your mental health should be as important as maintaining your physical health. Give it a try sometime.

 

 

Stigma

Stigma.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, its meaning includes a mark of shame or discredit.

The Indian community takes stigma very seriously. If you do something that isn’t part of the community’s definition of acceptable, there will be some sort of stigma attached to you. If you don’t get married until you are older, if you don’t have kids by a certain age or at all, if you have a degree, if you don’t have a degree, if you have too many relationships, if you don’t have relationships with the right people, if you don’t speak your parents’ language, if you can’t cook and clean, and the list goes on and on, you probably have some sort of stigma attached to you.

There isn’t a specific definition of what is acceptable and what isn’t. It varies with each community.

Here’s my take on it: Who the f*** cares?

Why do so many people care about what someone else is doing? Why does it matter as long as the person is a good person and not harming anyone else? Why should it matter to me at all who is dating who or making how much money? It makes absolutely no difference in my life.

I didn’t think this way in my teens and 20s. Then, I wanted to fit the mold of what I should be doing. It wasn’t until I realized how unhappy it made me to do what everyone else wanted that I stopped. It did break some of my friendships and relationships. It did wreak some havoc on my life as I reoriented myself to put my feelings and desires first.

It sometimes still does affect me. I’m Indian so my programming is definitely towards the “what I’m supposed to do”mentality instead of the “what I want to do” mentality. And then I have to sit and really think and ask myself if what I’m doing is making me happy. I’m raising children now and I don’t want them to feel like they have to fit some predetermined mold. I want them to be able to make choices throughout their lives without feeling like they are doing something “bad”.

I’m glad I’ve at least gotten to a point where the stigma attached to me bothers other people more than it bothers me. I am who I am.

Relationships: Be Lame or Have Fun

Relationships are hard. Even the best relationships take some work. But, it’s possible to make a relationship easier if you just know how.

The hardest part about any relationship between 2 people is that you are going to have 2 sets of personalities and opinions. And if you’re lucky, those personalities and opinions really make the relationship a lot of fun and exciting.

But occasionally, there will be clashes. Here’s the bottom line: you can either let those differences hurt your relationship or you can help make it stronger.

When I was younger and in a relationship, I held onto things every time there was a fight. I would stew in my anger about things not going my way or if it seemed like my wants and needs were being ignored. I grew up with that image in my head that my significant other was supposed to create my every happiness (I’m sure every Bollywood movie I saw and every fairy tale I read helped grow this expectation). How surprised was I to realize that that expectation didn’t translate into real life.

Somewhere, between all of my relationships, I learned how to be responsible for my own happiness. I learned that if my significant other was happy, I was happy. I learned that sometimes, in a relationship, you’ve got to swallow your pride so that you and your significant other can move forward together.

Now, I’m in a relationship where we encourage each other to do things that make us happy and give each other the space to do so. When we fight, we take some time out and then address the issue and move on. We realize it doesn’t help either of us to be mad over something just to keep our pride and, in that, lose time enjoying each other.

My husband told me one thing while we were dating that has stuck with me throughout our relationship: “You can either be lame or you can have fun.”

I choose to have fun every time.

 

Those Wife Jokes

Have you ever noticed that there seem to be a lot of wife jokes? I saw a post in my one of my mommy groups on Facebook where the mom had mentioned that her friends (male and female) kept forwarding jokes where the wives were being put down.

Why are there so many wife jokes? What makes being a wife a job that is allowed to be made fun of? And why would women partake in this at all?

I do know people who do this. They are consistently making fun of their wives (whether in front of their face or behind their backs). Does it serve as a connection with other men? Is that all they can connect on?

And if you are the women, how do you react?

I remember an ex doing this to me once. I then spent a few hours trying to explain to him why it hurt my feelings and why I would appreciate it if he would back me up in public and not put me down. Needless to say, we did not last. I see other women tolerating it. I don’t know if it is for the sake of their marriage or if they feel like that is the only way they will keep their relationships (friendships, marriages, etc). Do we have to let others say negative things about us in order to have friends?

I wonder if the men who do this do not have a high enough self-esteem that they have to put their significant others down in order to feel accepted in their peer group. Or is it that they have to feel like they aren’t good enough for their significant other so they have to put them down in order to equalize the relationship?

For a while, I was around a lot of people who do this. Then, I realized that I hated listening to it. It wasn’t okay. You can’t necessarily change others but you can change yourself. I stopped hanging around people that do this. Now, the people I hang out with (along with my husband) have a lot of respect for women. They admire and respect women. And it doesn’t bring them down one bit.

There are no more wife jokes in my life.

Positive Gossip

We were catching up with some family over the weekend. One of the topics that came up during this time was about some other relatives and how they have to do some extra work to fix something that they were having trouble with. Later, my husband and I were discussing this between us and he asked me if it seemed like some people have more bad luck than others.

Here’s my question: Maybe they did run into some issues but they have also had a lot of good luck. Those people have been doing good and seem to be happy most of the time. So why is it that we get stuck discussing negative things that happen to others? Why does it feel like only bad things happen to them?

Plenty of good things have happened for these relatives. But we did not discuss those things. We focused on the bad things that happened.

That’s because when we talk about others, we tend to look at the negative things. How many times do we bring someone else up in conversation in order to just say what hasn’t happened for them or what bad thing did happen to them? How many times do we talk about how someone has gained weight (in a bad way) or didn’t do something the way we would do it so it’s can’t be as good?

So why is this? Is it because it makes us feel better to put someone down? Is it because we can look at our own life in a more positive way because we aren’t having the same problem they are? Does it make us better human beings because things are going smoother?

Which of us haven’t run into problems? I know there was a time when I had to deal with getting my epilepsy under control. There was a time when I had to get over 2 really bad relationships in a row. There was a time when I had to deal with being unemployed for months after I had gotten my MBA.

Here’s the thing: For every negative thing that happened, there was definitely a positive. I learned things, I gained things, I moved forward.

So I hope that, if people did talk about me, it wasn’t to feel sorry for me but to realize that I did have positive things happening even, if at the moment, it didn’t seem like it.

I know it’s not realistic to not talk about other people. We all do it. If we are going to do it though, let’s try to make it more positive.

I Was Invisible

I was invisible. I was invisible to the people I hung around. I was invisible at work. I was invisible to the dance groups I was in. Nothing I did was good enough. Nothing I did was special enough. Nothing I did was worth noticing.

I didn’t exist. I truly and honestly didn’t exist. I spent every single day, trying to find myself, to see myself. I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to become visible. I was doing everything right (at least I thought). I was in a relationship, I went out partying with people, I was in one of the more popular dance groups in the city, I was always on top of my stuff at work. I did whatever I could to make my life complete. I tried to feel fulfilled. But I couldn’t. It was never enough. Whatever I did wasn’t enough. I was still invisible.

Why couldn’t people see me? I look at my journals back then and see pages and pages filled up of misery and demands for attention. I see pages of self-loathing and pain. I sit and wonder if there ever was any happiness. Or was the happiness all just an act for the benefit of the world around me? How did I survive that way for almost an entire decade? How was did I allow myself to feel that bad?

And whose fault was it? Was it mine for expecting that people should see me? What is theirs for not opening their eyes enough to be able to see me? Was it my significant other’s job to see me or was it mine to make him see me? Was I not worth seeing? Should I have done something differently? Should I have looked at myself differently? Was it because I questioned if I deserved anything better? Was it because I blamed myself for being invisible, as if I didn’t matter?

I read and re-read these pages to make myself remember how far I have come. I do believe I am visible now but it took a lot for me to see myself at first. I had to see who I was instead of trying to see who I wanted to be. I was never going to be someone I wasn’t and maybe that’s why I never showed up on anyone’s radar. Once I accepted I was who I am, I started showing up slowly. Day by day, month by month, year by year, I saw myself more clearly.

And now, I can not only see myself but I know others see me. I know that I have some value. It took a long time to get here and sometimes, I do feel as if I disappear again. And then, the search begins again to find myself.

If you feel invisible, just remember that the first person who can find you is you. Once you are visible to yourself, you will become visible to other people. It will always be work to see yourself clearly. You will change. Your visibility will change. But once you do find yourself again, it will be easier not to feel so invisible.