Tag Archives: psychology

Toxic People: A Seminar I Might Be Starring In

So, I have a couple of somewhat useless degrees in psychology (mostly because I chose to become a stay at home mom moments after finishing my graduate degree and haven’t had a chance to use it) and my husband is a Speech Therapist (he always makes me write it in caps). That means we get things in the mail like this: Toxic People: Living and Working With High-Conflict Individuals (A Seminar For Health Professionals). This one really caught my attention because I live with some high conflict people and I may even be called one myself if my husband had any say in this blog (yeah, I am sticking my tongue out in his general direction – write you’re own blog, buddy). In all seriousness, the high conflict person in our family is a toddler so, you know, hopefully she’ll outgrow it.

The truth is though, I am like a toxic person magnet. People with serious problems, anger issues, and an overall crankster personality are attracted to me in some twisted karmic way and I want to put an end to it. Yeah, I know, you’re going to say we all have this problem, but I am not talking about the family member that turns toxic in short bursts, drives you crazy for a while and them mysteriously goes back to normal. I am talking about people with pervasive problems that latch onto you and eventually make you exhausted and ill. I’m talking about dangerous stalker types that fixate and make plans to somehow ruin you or make you scared and miserable. I’m talking about people who end up in jail sooner or later and you are not surprised at all. I think this is what got me into psychology in the first place. I mean what the heck, why does my smiling at you once mean I want you to follow me around the grocery store making creepy comments and giving me unwanted once overs?

Then, there are also the people that latch onto you and dump all of their problems on you (problems that they don’t really want to do anything about). They want you to listen to them complain about life, people, situations endlessly, but they have no real interest in doing much about it. The kind of people whose friendship is all about you listening to them gripe and when they are hard pressed they can barely remember your name or what your favorite food is. They don’t know anything about you because they don’t actually listen to what you say. To them you are just an object that nods, listens and occasionally murmurs encouraging words, words (to them) that sound like the teacher in a Peanuts cartoon. Then, in an instant they turn on you, hate you, and try to make your life miserable for something you did, but you never find out what that something was. You’re just standing there dumbfounded wondering if they are going to come to your house later and throw a rock through your window. Yeah, I attract those types too.

It’s not easy to make friends because the entire time I am wondering if they are eventually going to turn into a raging bully with lunatic tendencies. I’ve become a picky friend chooser. I’m thinking can you fill out this questionnaire and pee in this cup before we make plans for lunch? Sometimes my magnetic pull on the unstable is so strong that I am afraid to leave the house. I am hoping this seminar will tell me where the off button is so I can go out into the world untarnished by the unrepentant weirdos in the world. I’m tired of playing defense. I want to meet nice people for a change.

The seminar promises to instruct me on how to be “…proactive with difficult people and difficult situations.” and give me tips on “Expressing needs safely to facilitate meaningful change.” My all time favorite thing the seminar claims to help with is “Creating Boundaries: who should you not interact with and why.” Yes, that is what I need. I need better boundaries. I need to learn to say, “NO!” in a loud and commanding voice. My father-in-law recently told me that “no” was the easiest and shortest word in the English language to say. Even my 21 month old daughter says it with more ease and forcefulness than I do. It’s her default answer. She always says no and asks questions later. I admire her for that. I hope I can start being more courageous and more honest with people in my life. I am learning. Baby-steps here and baby steps there. So far, people don’t really like the changes I am making. Sometimes my saying no causes tantrums and foot stomping (from adults not children) and I just have to be still and wait for it to pass.

I’m signing up for this seminar. Friends and family beware. A loud “no” might be in your future. I’m going to stop being the doormat and start being the door, at least in theory. I’m not striving for perfection, but maybe some equilibrium. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t turn out to be the crazy one because that’s certainly a possibility. Of course, I use the term “crazy” loosely, especially when it applies to me.



I attended the seminar. Want to hear about my experience? Read about it here: We Attend “The Toxic” People Seminar….

I’m An Introvert Trapped In An Extroverts World

Sometimes I walk around with my iPod on just to avoid talking and listening. Mostly it’s the listening. I get SO tired of listening. My ears literally hurt and I run to the mirror to make sure they aren’t bright red and oozing off my face.  I put on some talk show and don’t even really hear it. I just use it to drown out any conversation going on around me and to thwart any attempts to engage me in a discussion of any kind, on any topic, at any moment. I use my iPod like a “do not disturb” sign hanging out both of my ears. I’m an introvert trapped in an extroverts world. And by world I mean my house. Or any other place my family happens to be.

Jim and our daughter are two peas from the same pod. They will talk to anyone and by anyone I mean complete strangers. People they met five seconds ago at the grocery store will be important enough to require a ten minute dialogue and shopping intermission. If Jim gets a hold of you he will find out the inner most secrets of your life. He will know where you were born, your favorite color, and what your favorite cocktail is. He’ll know what your father did for a living and your mothers worst fears. He’ll know about the mole you had to have removed and how your first husband cheated on you with the woman he met at the roller rink. He’ll even know your second cousin’s middle name. The amount of information he can extract in such a short amount of time is amazing. He’s a talker and he loves to talk, especially about himself. Or the news, or any topic he can get you to listen to him expound upon. He’s the social butterfly and I am the hide me under a leaf caterpillar. I duck down the next aisle when I think I see someone I know. I let my calls go to voicemail. I hide behind the couch when the church people come to our door. Our daughter has inherited Jim’s gift for gab and will talk to any Grandma, Cowboy, or baby that comes her way. She demands attention from store clerks, cashiers, and cranky old Grandpa’s that seem to hate everyone around them but her. She adores 20 something good looking young men. Of course she does. She already knows how to push my buttons. On our last outing she screamed, “Guys! Guys! Guys!” at these two young men until one of them finally turned to her and said, “What’s up?” Of course it took everything I had not to snap back, “She’s too young for you buck-o so stop with the googly eyes.” One time at the Dollar Tree she walked right up to a seven year old boy and tried to hold his hand. The little boy was appalled because it was clear by the look on his face that he was positive he had just contracted a rare and fatal form of cooties. It takes hours to do the shopping especially when they are both with me. It can be a very long day.

It’s no better at home. All I want to do is sneak into the bathroom or hide out in a closet and read my vampire book or collect my thoughts or plan my revenge, but they always discover me. Jim wants to read every story in the news magazine to me so I don’t miss anything by reading it myself. Our daughter wants me to hold her sippy cup while she shows me that she can open the bathroom drawers and remove every item I have hidden deep in the dark recesses of the drawer. It wouldn’t be so bad if she did this silently, but she is usually shouting, “Mess! Mess! Mess! Fast! Fast! Fast!” while she does it. I’ve let her do unthinkable things to my most cherished objects just to get a moment of peace and quiet.

So, my iPod saves my sanity some days. I just pop it on and the sounds drown out the world around me. I saw a college-aged young women at the grocery store with hers on the other day and  thought she was probably the smartest woman in the state of New Mexico. I wonder what people would think if they happened upon a mom rocking out to Tom Petty next to her husband chatting up some cute sales girl and her daughter giving high fives to all the men walking by. They’d probably think she was crazy and they’d probably be right.