When it comes to relationships sometimes it is just as important to stand and speak bravely, knowing that your words can mean you may lose someone you love, as it is to stay quiet for fear of losing the same people. We all, in some form or another, have secrets or demons that we are too afraid to face. Some people will shut down while others will lash out. Then, there are others who will try to hide behind addictions or simply throw themselves into their work.
We can be enablers continuing to support someone’s toxic behaviour by always finding an excuse and defending them or even covering for them. Making excuses to ourselves to maintain the relationship when we know only too well that it is not healthy for ourselves or the person we love. Do we call them out on their crap and try to make them accountable? Many will turn a blind eye to it or walk away, which in some cases can be relatively easy. However, when it is a spouse or a close family member, sometimes it can be so much harder.
How long do we tolerate toxic behaviour in another when they refuse to acknowledge their own behaviour as harmful to those around them and they fail to take responsibility? Should we tolerate it? Or should we ignore it? Is the behaviour deliberate, or is it the result of a mental health issue that can be addressed with some form of treatment? How long do we hang around and put our own physical, emotional, and mental health at risk?
If we do hang around and continue to enable the behaviour, then what are our motives? Do we do so because we fear losing the person, or do we fear what others will say when they find out we left? Or is it because we don’t know who we are without that person in our lives? There are so many reasons why people stay and justify staying in their own mind when they know they should leave. However, if they can finally find the inner strength to put themselves first, they will see speaking their truth, and standing tall will free them of any further suffering.
I recently had to make that call as there was someone in my life whose behaviour over many years had become more and more toxic. The extreme highs and the terrible lows, the screaming, the anger, the violent outbursts, and the effect of that on those around them were extremely concerning for me and others. Their inability to take any responsibility for their actions or see the behaviour as a problem and always blaming others for triggering it were not just red flags but all the bells and whistles warning of serious mental health issues.
The scariest part for me was not the violent outburst, but their ability to be hysterically sobbing and screaming one minute and then with the click of a finger calm and coherent when someone rang their phone. The speed in which they could go from screaming banshee to calm person was extremely alarming. Failing to see that the screaming outbursts are abuse and a lack of emotional intelligence and not a passionate expression shows a lack of respect and compassion to the target of the abuse. Incidents were becoming more and more frequent, their behaviour more erratic, and I feared for their safety and emotional well-being and that of those around them, especially children. I had tried over many years to get them to therapy or counselling to no avail. You can’t help someone who fails to acknowledge there is a problem.tt
I know how badly a persons behaviour can affect anothers mental and physical health, and it almost cost me my life. Unless we live a hermits life with no contact with others, we all have to consider how our behaviour affects those around us. Yes, there are many who don’t give a damn and will be the same self-serving narcissists they always have been, but for most of us, we actually care about those around us and what impact, if any we have on them.
Unless we take a moment to consider how our behaviour can and does affect others, we may very well be hurting those we love, especially children, who may need their own therapy later on because of us. Because of my love for someone else and my desire for them to get well and to protect the children around them, I did speak up and have no regrets having done so. Yes, I have lost them, and others who I love dearly, out of my life, I have been called a disgusting human being, evil and a horrible person, among other things too profane to write here and they have tried to paint how others see me. But I am glad I did, for they do need help.
I will no longer enable such behaviour or try to defend them or tolerate them out of the love I have in my heart for them. I know that deep down they are troubled, they have said so themselves in the past. I know with all my heart that they are aware they have problems, but to admit so, would mean they are responsible for their actions and they are not the victim they have gotten so used to being. Whether or not they ever realise that I spoke out because of my love for them and wanting to see them get better is not important, only that they do get the help they need for they have so much untapped potential that is being stifle by all the pain. If they don’t seek help, then there is still much pain and suffering they will have to endure, and those around them will continue to live in a toxic environment and will suffer the consequences.
It took many years for me to get the strength and courage to speak up, and I wish I had done so much early, and maybe, just maybe, they would now be okay. I will continue to send loving thoughts their way and hope that one day they too will gain the strength and courage they need to seek help to release the pain and suffering inside. I will always hold love in my heart for them and wish them well whether or not we ever speak again.
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