Emotional Healing

Save Yourself: Recognizing Toxicity Around You

Do you have a narcissist in your life? Are you continually thrown off balance at the mercy of this person’s emotional state, well-being, or needs? 

Over the past year, I have learned that many people struggle with narcissitic personalities and energy vampires without even being aware of the problem. Surprisingly, we tend to think that we are the problem in the relationship. We believe we must try harder, be more sociable, do more for them because somehow, our worth is now tied up in their approval. When people call us out or challenge our narrative, we may pause, but we quickly come to this person’s defense. They aren’t that bad; they are simply going through a difficult time, had a rough upbringing, or have some other reason that we should pity them and bend over backward to make them feel better right now. It isn’t their fault. 

Yet, the problem? They are never happier, they are not getting better, and it is most definitely their fault. Or at least their responsibility, not ours. Yes, maybe for a day or an hour they sing our praises or give us some magical moment, but here is the sad truth: that moment will end, and they will keep coming back for more and more, sucking us dry. 

In college, my roommate befriended a girl in our dorm who was highly toxic. While I am not a licensed mental health professional and cannot diagnose her officially, I can clearly state that she was an energy vampire who sent us spiraling. Nothing about that relationship was life-giving or healthy for any of us. For the sake of this post, we are going to call the energy vampire Alice. Alice would insight drama anytime she felt threatened, she would pit friends against each other, and she would make everyone around her feel crazy. One early morning, I got up to go to yoga with my roommate. She and Alice had been going to yoga together for a few weeks at this point, and I thought it would be fun to join in. The entire walk from the dorm to the gym Alice was silent and dead-eyed, staring at me as if I had deeply offended her. When we arrived at the gym, my roommate pulled her aside as I went to get settled in. Later, I found out that she had cried and told my roommate that she felt replaced and threatened by me. That was not the only time she stared me down and tried to bully me away from my roommate. When my roommate got a new boyfriend, let us just say it was not pretty. 

 I spent many late nights fretting with my roommate about what we should or should not do. And, frustratingly, the second we were ready to make a clean break from Alice, she would do something nice, seem normal again, and make my roommate question our judgments, pulling us back into a vicious cycle of pushing, pulling, and fretting.

It took my roommate a year a half to finally de-tangle herself from Alice, and to do so, she and her boyfriend literally went abroad for a whole semester. 

More recently, I have watched my partner struggle with his toxic past as he continually faces the narrative of the villain. He has lost leadership positions, respect, and sanity because of someone else’s bullshit, blatant lies, arrogant and outright shitty behavior, and subtle but extremely dangerous toxicity. 

Here are some signs that you might be dealing with a narcissitic or an energy vampire: 

  • You feel responsible for their emotional well-being & feel shame or guilt if they are upset. 
  • You feel like you are walking on eggshells whenever this person is around.
  • You desperately want their approval or validation. 
  • You are exhausted and drained after spending time with them.  
  • Their stories never really add up, but you find yourself pitying them or thinking, “oh, their poor soul.” 
  • You feel crazy whenever you challenge them or try to call them out on anything. 
  • Wherever they go, drama and gossip follow.

If you said YES to one or more of the above, you might be in an unhealthy or toxic relationship, and I challenge you to read on. 

If you hear anything from this article, I hope you hear this, my friends:

Get out of this relationship. Leave. Walk away. Close the door and don’t look back. 

It is serving nobody. 

And I mean it.

 I know that isn’t always easy to hear, and you may be highly entangled and not see a clear way out, but you always have a choice. There is always a way.   

And to be clear, I am not telling you to cut anybody and everybody out of your life with whom you have challenges; I am a big advocate of giving people the benefit of the doubt because we all make mistakes and go through hard seasons. 

But I am saying, if you are doubting your gut feelings, sanity, and reality, or feel like you are walking on eggs shells and are terrified of upsetting the other person, really take a second to reflect on that relationship.

Is this a pattern of behavior? Are they always playing the victim card? Do you feel like you can never do anything right? When is the last time they did something for you with no strings attached? 

All relationships should have give and take, not rewards and punishments.

 I have learned that there is nothing you did wrong in these toxic relationships or should be doing differently; You are not the one who needs fixing. You are not a bad person for setting boundaries and walking away. The toxicity is theirs, and you will kill yourself if you stay in that environment. 

We all deserve to be surrounded by people who fill us up, challenge us to be better each and every day, and bring joy and radiance into our lives. Don’t allow one or a few people to drain your energy and life force for their gain. 

If you or a loved one are struggling to break free from a toxic relationship or know someone who may need extra support, please reach out and schedule a consultation call with me. I have walked alongside my friends and loved ones and experienced firsthand the damage narcissitic personalities can have on us. I would love to support and encourage you to break free from these negative relationships so that you can return to your most whole and best self. 

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