DETOX: Foul Weather Friends
Spent some years jettisoning toxic, dramatic people. In a couple of cases, though I’d only met them a few times, they never seemed to miss a chance to send an email with a link to some terrible news, a flare up in fandom, or a dispute among pros. Not even anything they were necessarily involved in, just LOOK AT THIS.
Even though I asked some of them to please stop it with the phone calls or emails (I found letters in my outbox which show I spent years asking some people, over and over,) it didn’t seem to matter. Every encounter was an energy and attention-draining experience. A couple of these people continually raised the subject of old, bad times. They’d go on internet searches for info about people I didn’t like, or publishing clients who’d done me a bad turn so they could dish on their latest challenges or failures, or to mock their work.
Their enemies had to be my enemies. In a couple of cases, friends demanded I quit jobs if an editor didn’t hire them, too.
It didn’t seem to matter how many times I asked them to back off, they just wouldn’t back off.
I finally stopped asking myself why I put up with it, or what I was doing to attract this behavior, and simply put a stop to it.
“NO. NO MORE. I’M DONE. Respect this decision. If you don’t WE’RE done.”
I finally jettisoned the last of these people (an acquaintance who spent many years dirt digging and bringing up old bad news at every opportunity,) well over a year ago.
What a difference a year makes.
A friend and I who’d both worked at a really bad publishing company back in the day realized we’d not thought of or mentioned the client in something like a year. A third party contacted me to tell me something bad had happened to the client, and I said I did not want to hear more, would not look at the photo, and had no further interest.
And it felt really great.
Everyone knows about Fair Weather Friends, the people who dump you when you’re not the life of the party.
But Foul Weather Friends can do far more damage. They don’t want you to be happy, to move on, to be successful. Their attachment to you is based on misery bonding: shared bad experience. Once you no longer share that bad experience, you have nothing in common. And they will not be happy to see you happy.
A Fair Weather Friend will simply move on with their life without you, but a Foul Weather Friend will sabotage you to keep you on equal footing with them. They’re attached to their misery, and they think you should be, too.
I’m happy to say most of my friends have been wonderful people. But the few Foul Weather Friends I’ve had over the years have been as challenging to deal with – if not worse – than people who were openly antagonistic.
I’m very happy I did what I had to do to clean up my life. My anxiety levels have plummeted, my work output increased. I no longer dread opening my email. I’m sure my medication has a lot to do with this and my migraine control, but I also think enforcing boundaries has created a positive loop of behaviors and results.
I don’t believe everyone who does toxic things is an evil person, but I do think people do things out of insecurity or envy to people they know that they wouldn’t think of doing to an enemy. They feel justified doing bad things to punish someone in their social or professional circle.
“You owe me.”
“Why aren’t you validating me?”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Why aren’t you paying attention to me?”
“Why do you get all the stuff? Why not me?”
Unpleasant outcomes are meted out accordingly.
Don’t let anyone let you think the happiness of others is a sin against them.
Other people get to pick their friends, and so do you.