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Shedding Toxic Relationships

In my most recent therapy session, I was working through painful problems in a close friendship. The breakdown in the relationship as to do with money. I’ve found that an abundance of money can be both a blessing and a curse—in that there seems to be a culture with some people I’m close to that confuses love with money. In other words, it’s perceived that the more money I give, the more I love that person and that if I don’t give money, I don’t love the person.In the past I’ve unintentionally created this misperception because it’s been very hard for me to say no to those I love, and when I do, I’ve often felt guilty. So, frequently I’ve given money even when I’ve known I should’ve said no—just to keep the relationship in place.


I have grown a lot over the years and as a result I am no longer willing to “throw money” at a significant other, friend, or family member out of my fear that, if I don’t, the other person won’t love me.I’ve come to understand that in some relationships I was enabling destructive behavior in the same way that giving money to a drug addict enables drug addiction.I’ve come to understand as well that by throwing money at a relationship,I’ve also shortchanged myself in that relationship, and all because of my own fear of abandonment.


Now that I’ve grown strong enough emotionally to deal with my fears and stop enabling,I’ve lost a relationship because I said no,and the person has cut me off.I notice that I’m fine with the situation, and yet I’m still experiencing something like “phantom pain” (the pain that comes to people who have had limbs amputated, in the location of the limbs that are no longer there), which I believe is part of the grieving process over the loss of the relationship.


After processing the pain I feel about this loss, I received the following email from my therapist:

As we grow, we shed the “expired people” from our lives like we shed old skin or the way a bird sheds loose feathers or a tree sheds dried leaves…in other words, if we are wise, we realize we have the opportunity to shed what no longer serves us.


Those “expired people” that we have the opportunity to “shed” are the ones who are or have become toxic to us.


I experience both comfort and pain in this understanding. I’ve come to see that it is necessary to shed toxic relationships, and yet the voice in my head doesn’t want to accept that I’d let this person I’ve been so close to fade away from my daily life.The voice keeps telling me that I love that person,and that it’s wrong to let the relationship go into suspended animation or die. It continues to tell me that because I love the person and we had been so close, somehow our relationship will magically repair, and all I have to do is “wait with patience.”


At the same time I know that nothing works without integrity and a friendship or any other personal relationship based on payment isn’t really a relationship but simply a paid job, and I now see that if I continue to buy love with money, I have no integrity, and neither does the person that is selling the love. So it must be true that I have to shed that person, and still the voice in my head tells me that I just don’t want to let go.


Today, my life is the best it’s ever been. I’m stronger internally and clearer than ever before, which is why I now have the emotional strength to be true to myself and let the chips fall where they may—yet it’s hard.


I’ve learned the truth of the old adage that the definition of being crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.I’m not going to do that anymore with substituting money for love. So at present I’m just going to have to live through being uncomfortable, shedding someone I don’t want to shed but who I know is toxic for me, at least for the moment.Still, I also know that every day holds the possibility of creating a new friendship with the same person, one that will be healthier than the one that was shed, if we can both grow and change.There always has to be a breakdown before there can be a breakthrough.

Get My Mind is Not Always My Friend Today!

  • 17 Oct, 2013
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 7 Tags

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