Have you ever met someone who sucks all the good out of you? I call those people toxic. It is hard to be around them because of the constant negativity. So why do people stay with someone so toxic? The same reason you stay with anyone…hope.
A toxic person doesn’t put this vibe out right away. At least they don’t suck everything out of you all at once. It is usually a slow process where at first you are fooled to believe you can actually help this person.
There are a few of us out there (like 40%) that like to help others. So guess who we are attracted to??? Unfortunately not other helpers. We fall for the people who need us!!!! It’s so great at first to be there for another person. At first they are so grateful for all we do for them. It seems like our influence is actually helping them to get on track or stay on track. It is a perfect relationship. They need us, we like to be needed. They get better, we feel better.
Then somehow it gets a little crazy. This person continues to need help. After awhile you feel helpless because nothing is working. You feel tired of the situation and wish this person would just keep it together. Instead of feeling happy and fulfilled you start to feel used and frustrated. It is kind of like watching someone standing on the train tracks. You tell them the train is coming, but they continue to stand there until you pull them off. At first this is easy and you feel good about being there to save them. Over time you have to stay vigilant because every time you turn around they are back on the tracks. You continue to tell them a train is coming but its like they either don’t believe you or expect you to pull them off anyway so they don’t care. You start to feel stuck because if you leave they could get hit. You don’t want to take that chance so you continue to stand there and make sure they stay safe.
How draining is that? It is one of the worst situations to be in. A toxic person doesn’t always realize they are doing this. Some of them feel entitled. They believe they deserve to have others always helping them and there is something wrong with you if you don’t. If you are a people pleaser having this person disapprove of you is hard. They are also master manipulators and know which buttons to push. Other people want to change but simply don’t have the energy to follow through even with your help. They may apologize for always bringing you down and that guilt trip alone is enough to keep you around. They aren’t trying to manipulate you but it happens just the same.
If you are in a toxic relationship the pull to stay in the crazy cycle with that person is very great. If you care about people, you don’t want to see them get hurt. In this cycle you actually believe (and they may too) that if you leave something bad will happen to them. It is true that they may go back to addiction, or try to kill themselves, or never go to class because they are too depressed. You have to remember that you can’t SAVE anyone. This person needs to get professional help if they are that bad off. You aren’t the one responsible for their decisions. You also won’t be able to continue to do this alone. If they are refusing professional help be aware that they are officially now just using you. They don’t really want to change. You can’t control another person’s life or choices. If they choose not to get help then you have to make some choices as well. Hopefully you will choose to take care of yourself. You are important too.
I’ve had to leave toxic relationships. And guess what? That person didn’t die after I left. They either got the professional help they needed or found someone else just like me to take my place after they burned me out. I decided to devote my life to people who really want help so I didn’t have the urge to be in relationships with people who just take advantage of my niceness. It isn’t healthy to be co-dependent on someone. When you can’t leave because you are too afraid of what will happen to the person, then you are co-dependent. You may need to seek your own counseling to learn how to focus on taking care of yourself and being able to find healthy relationships. It is hard, but it is worth it to find others who can give as much as they take.
A great resource on co-dependency is Pia Mellody’s book, “Facing Codependence”