Toxic Friend- (4 Lessons I Learned Being the Toxic Friend)
I told someone the other day, “There were times when I was incredibly toxic. Some friends ghosted me because of it.” As I said this to her, all I could see was my behavior. I couldn’t see all of myself.
This morning as I reflected on who I was in those moments, I realized that I was the most fragile and vulnerable I have ever been… like something in me had died, and I couldn’t even find enough of that “thing” to have a proper funeral.
Because of this new, profound perspective, I’d like to share the lessons I learned from being the “toxic friend.”
Lessons from Being the Toxic Friend
- I wasn’t toxic. I was vulnerable, scared, and filled with pain and shame. Because I was experiencing emotional shock, I didn’t know how to get help for myself, so I scrambled around and reached out to a few friends I thought I could trust, and I poured out my heart to them.
- My friends are not my “therapist”. Because I was always the friend who gladly listened to and held emotional space for my friends’ drama and trauma, I assumed that my friends would hold me with the same compassion and care. I found that relief with only two people (and they know who they are). Most people who are not licensed clinicians cannot hold emotional space for someone’s deepest pain. One of my friends ghosted me- refused to speak to me or see me for almost a year. When she finally invited me over to her house and asked me how I was doing, she admitted that she “couldn’t stand to be around me anymore”, and she told me that “everyone was talking about me,” adding to my feelings of deep shame.
- When I had no one to hold me but my therapist, I turned to nature. Connecting with nature and investing my time and attention to the space I belong to saved my sanity.
- When I reached the place in my healing process where I began to feel like myself again, I could clearly see what mattered most to me, and what relationships could be rebuilt and nourished from a healthy place. Now when I communicate with friends, whether they reach out to me or I contact them, I do it because I sincerely want to enjoy our connection. I don’t do it because I’m bored or I need someone to hear me “vent”. My friendships no longer hold unrealistic expectations.
What I Needed as the Toxic Friend
I wasn’t “toxic”. I didn’t need “ghosting”. I needed compassion and help. I needed someone who could say, “Dana, I love you, but you’re not okay, and I am going to help you find a therapist.”
If you have been ghosted, called toxic, or anything similar, I encourage you to step back from trying to process your pain with your friends, and seek counseling. Teaming up with a competent therapist can be transformative.
And if you ever have a desire to ghost someone because you are not strong enough to sit with them during their most fragile and difficult moments, it could be because their pain is touching a wounded place within you. I encourage you to suggest counseling for them and find some for yourself as well. Healthy relationships begin within us first.
All my love,
By Dana Tate Bailey, M.Ed., LPC, EOLD
Dana Tate Bailey is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Ceremonial Herbalist, and End of Life Doula in Tupelo, MS. Reach out to Dana at https://dana-bailey.clientsecure.me/ and https://southernherbalist.wordpress.com/.
If you find yourself in a toxic friendship and don’t know how to walk away, check on this post 5 Steps to End Toxic Relationships Without an Explanation.
This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area