There is a subtle, yet important difference between toxic people and abusive people. At least in my world, they are different, not interchangeable.
A toxic person is someone that is blissfully unaware of their garbage. Putting others down is their way of life and it doesn’t stop. They don’t necessarily approach you. They are just a constantly flowing river of muck. The phrase ‘misery loves company’ comes to mind when thinking about toxic people.
An abusive person, on the other hand, is aggressive and targeted. Despite being made aware of their terrible behaviour, they refuse to change behaviour (accept me as I am) OR they blame you for ‘making them treat you like this’ (zero accountability or concern for hurting others). Their behaviour is aggressive (and habitually) toxic.
I know both camps of people. I have forgiven them. Forgiveness does not excuse their behaviour, forgiveness sets me free. Forgiveness does not mean they are allowed in my space, it’s a way for me to let go. Forgiveness is completely for my wellness.
Looking at my followers on Facebook, I have a guy that sent me a dick pick. I have an ex-boyfriend that cheated on me multiple times then called me a whore. A guy that tried to fake a friendship to get close enough to make sexual advances on me. Another guy that verbally assaulted me after telling me I could turn to him if I needed anything. When I first realised they were following me, I was hopeful they were concerned about my wellness. I was thinking they were wanting to apologise for causing me harm and just too scared to reach out or acknowledge their terrible behaviour. Then I found my backbone. I told myself this is NOT ok. I wasn’t going to confront them so I simply blocked them.
Are these guys abusive, I would say meh. I would classify mr dick pic and mr fake friend as toxic. I would classify the ex-boyfriend and verbally abusive person as abusive. Why? Because of how they reacted once I told them they were hurting me. If they stopped, they were toxic. If they continued, they were abusive. Currently, they are not bothering me or getting in the way of my progress so they shall remain nameless. They know they did wrong by me and their existence is neither good or bad. The ironic thing is they will read this post and think that I still care because they do not understand that this is nothing more than an observation. And validation that I’m worthy of following. And, perhaps, an acknowledgment that they taught me something.
Then there are the friends on my Facebook list that are silently watching without engaging. I know they read my posts and my blog. I know this because I can see who is watching my Instagram stories and each time I share a link to my blog about abuse, my readership triples. Mad love to my readers!!! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME. Thanks for sharing this journey with me. I feel humbled and honored to catch your eyeballs! I hope that sharing my journey somehow helps you with yours…
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I started out the year with close to 3k connections on Facebook. I created my writing page purely to test a few things. I invited all my connections (I was curious to see who was actually supportive of my latest chapter). I wanted to see metrics (only the fan pages/business pages offer the insights of readers). I wanted a clean slate space to share a combination of light-hearted and emotionally fueled words. (Notice I didn’t say positive vs negative. That was intentional). Curious to know how many accepted the invitation to follow? 10%. To me, that means that I have A LOT of dead weight. I have a lot of people that slow clap when I accomplish a goal and toast with wine and nibble on popcorn when they THINK I’m struggling. The comical part is this group of people think that sharing a story of family abuse means that I’m struggling. They fail to see how it’s empowering. 2014 boke me to a point where I was suicidal. I was delusional about people. I didn’t understand the difference between toxic and abusive. I couldn’t accept that people wanted to hurt me. I exceeded my abuse number (3). Lesson learned. Reality accepted. This time around, I offered ample amounts of opportunity to test actions. I needed to remind myself that ‘words reveal who a person wants to be, actions reveal who they are.’
After being abused, my cycle went from “Why Me” to “Fu*k You” to “What can I fix” to “Screw You” to “They are in pain” to “Grow the Fu*k up and be a decent human being”. Healing is NOT linear. There are a million steps in the healing process. Abusers in my heart space took extra time to scrub out because the heart is not rational. It’s not supposed to be rational. It’s just pure give mode. The mind is the part that sets boundaries and says, ‘ok, you can stay as long as you act right. once you start acting up, you will be notified and IF the behaviour continues, then you are g-o-n-e.’ The head is basically the protector of the heart. They are a perfect team. Usually.
The exception is when dealing with psychological warfare. Mental and emotional abuse causes one to question what they define as acceptable treatment. Mental and emotional abuse conditions one to not question certain behaviour. It’s subtle and slow. It’s keeping people in a state of emotion so they cannot rationalise what is happening. It’s simple comments like “Jess, you are being harsh” rather than “Jess, I’m proud of you for having standards”. I’ve started removing the toxic people from my space. I’ve been talking about abuse for a year in subtle ways. I started getting bold during the #MeToo frenzy. Since then, I’ve just kind of thrown a bunch of stuff out there. I told myself to focus on my healing and not name my abusers. Later I decided that rules do NOT need to be followed because it’s my journey and well, if people wanted me to speak nicely about them, then they should have treated me better. I’m not lying or exaggerating. I’m giving examples and doing my best to share a learning with the purge but, sometimes it’s just flat out “FU*K YOU”. I forgive my rants. My rants are typically funny. At least I know I’m laughing. Crying was during the drama and laughter is when I have the courage to share it with the world. They didn’t break me! They made me stronger!
It’s just a matter of cracking my rose colored lens to see toxic people for what they are. Sometimes my kindness is over the top and toxic people are really abusive people that I mislabeled.
Progress Check: December post (The day I said Good-bye to Fuckwits). I second-guessed my intuition and shared a few nuggets of wisdom shortly after completing a month-long writing challenge.