Wondering when it’s time to say enough is enough or time’s up to a toxic, narcissistic, abusive, or generally problematic family member who abuses or neglects other people’s hospitality?
There is a list on the internet floating around that was originally created by Sherrie Campbell, a licensed California psychologist and author of the book “Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.” The focus of the self-help advice piece in question is when to put an end to a toxic family or social relationship.
Campbell’s list is incredibly helpful for any person or peer group thinking about or discussing issues related to sorting the wheat from the chaff when it comes to social and emotional currency.
As a rubric of sorts for when any rational and healthy, non-codependent but still aspiring collaborative person can with good social and moral conscience call any particular relationship with a friend, family member, co-worker, love interest, “friend”, or life partner quits. She writes:
1. When the relationship is based in any kind of abuse, mentally, physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally. When the relationship is based in manipulation, overt or covert, you can be sure you are being used and abused. When you are living in constant anxiety never knowing or being able to predict how any engagement is going to turn out, it is time to love yourself enough to let go.
2. It is time to terminate a relationship when the only contact you have with them is negative. The contact you have with them serves to bring you down, put you down and/or make you feel you are not good enough, or you haven’t done enough for them.
3. When the relationship creates so much stress that it affects the important areas of your life at work, home or both. When your emotions are totally caught up in defending yourself and wanting to explain yourself and the chaos of your relationships with these people is all you talk about, it is time to let go.
4. If you find yourself obsessed with the gossip about you and trying to right wrong information, and you are constantly being ostracized to the point you are losing sleep over it, you are becoming poisoned with their toxicity. Gossip only serves one family member to get others to gang up on you and you are left defenseless against the false beliefs about you being thrown your way. There is usually a ring leader gathering the troops for the assault and because they are joined together, you begin to wonder whether it is you that is the problem.
5. When the relationship is completely all about the other person and there is no real reason why the other person cannot make any effort toward the health and maintenance of the relationship with you. One sided relationships are set up for your failure. When you realize there is never going to be an “enough” place for you to reach in the relationship, you need to let go and start to focus on your own healing.
6. When and whether the relationship is only about borrowing or needing money.
7. When crazy-making, no-win games dominate the relationship such as the silent treatment, blame-games, no-win arguments that spin around on you, there is no point in continuing in this battle. Verbal warfare is never the place you will convince them of anything and these kinds of verbal interactions are set up to be their way or the highway. If these are the negative consequences you receive each time this person or people don’t get their way, it is time to let go.
So, there’s your answer. If any of the items on this list are issues you are dealing with in life as a result of exposure to a Cluster B or nurtured toxic, narcissistic and egocentric anti-social person behaving like an apple snakey snake… you likely have some form of PTSD or C-PTSD as a result and are in need of some immediate validation to trust your gut as advice.
Are you being abused? Saying it’s not that bad or making excuse for why an abuser should be allowed to abuse the hospitality of others at any time without repercussion or need to make pro-social amends is not only enabling, it’s (technically speaking) passive-aggressively anti-social.
If someone is taking advantage of your helplessness or fragility of any sort… you have a duty to warn yourself to get out of the relationship or situational setting — and to take your gut instincts and personal insight leading you to that conclusion immediately without hesitation or guilt.
If someone is deliberately gaslighting you — meaning lying to you, withholding select bits of data in order to trick you into leaping to a faulty conclusion you believe you can or should trust, or using words to mislead (including failing to correct a faulty impression with silence on a pertinent issue reflecting intended communication)… trust your judgement. Not a single utterance of further communication by word, deed, or action. That person talks out of both sides of their mouth. They will say whatever it takes to emotionally and psychologically manipulate you and anyone with will listen to them.
People who enable predators are the preferred social prey of every Abuser for convenience sake.
If someone is using threats of rage, extortion, or to do you harm of any sort to make you stay… you are being held emotionally, likely physically (by fear), and socially hostage. That’s a violent crime — not a “relationship”. Crimes against humanity create nothing but one-sided opportunities for Stockholm Syndrome trauma bonding to form in the marks of Cluster B Alpha social predators.
When the person who you know and wish you were allowed to love and like without them messing some part of your expectation for a healthy or supportive social relationship forces their way into your mind, heart, or emotions by damaging, threatening, or manipulating your social trust in some sort of self-promoting of their desires over your own rights to be treated like a human being in some way. People with what’s known as DATE RAPE MENTALITY all have an issue identifying and respecting other people’s personal rights or boundaries.
Overt disrespect. Covert mocking. Situational abuse of hospitality.
These are all valid reasons to state your piece, to withdraw your social participation, and to walk away from a relationship with any person who treats you with intentional or corrosive accidental displacement of their own self-loathing and or malice. But if you are still not sure if some social crime or harm a blood relative or marriage partner has chosen to do to advantage themselves while doing harm to you… consider the following self-help version of a sorting-hat trick.
Read Campbell’s seven steps out loud to yourself in the mirror at least once or more per day until you are able to really handle the reality of the right thing to do regard to this particular situation.
If someone is treating you poorly and their social offenses against you or others are on the list above, your mind and body already know. Now, it’s up to you to do the right thing starting with being able to look yourself in the face and to have a frank discussion with yourself about how the problematic person in question has been treating you or any single act that regardless of how much you love them or how great the rest of your historical relationship was being around them is no longer — for physical or emotional safety reasons alone — an “option”.
When it’s time to let them be a person you used to know, give yourself permission to set and enforce healthy boundaries. State your piece to give yourself and them a sense of closure and walk away.
If they hoover understand they are hoovering and say no to continuing social or emotional involvement with any form of present or future tense of the person. And bubble up.
Keeping your bubble of personal space, your home environment, and your social or workplace free of harmful, distracting, caustic and or anti-social influences is the fastest way to improve overall mood and health. Give yourself 36 months free from social involvement with toxic people before making any major life decisions about how you feel or think about yourself.
The perk of going no contact with toxic social influences is the body knows what to do to heal and to reset itself. Spend time alone, enjoy having privacy rights, and take time out to express gratitude each day to the people who you love who love you back, to the universe, and to yourself.
So far, you have survived 100% of your bad days. Breaking off contact with someone you love because they are harming you — and thereby doing a karmic disservice to themselves — is as easy or as hard as anyone chooses to make it.
If you are a highly sensitive personality type (aka an “HSP”) — give yourself permission to narrow your social circle. If you are an Empath, give yourself permission to cut ties with the person, to love who they used to be without needing to include the person they are today in your present or your future, and to live.
By detaching with love in your heart for yourself first and in such a way that is situationally appropriate with regard to the person who is actively abusing your time, goodwill, and or trust, one can let relationships that were only meant to be in our lives for a season go more gracefully and with ease.
Sometimes it’s figuring out that as a child someone who was either abusive or prone to enabling abuse for their own reasons groomed us to do the same thing that breaks the ties that bind us to our Abusers by Stockholm Syndrome training, perceptively. Let them go and give yourself permission to live.
Telling an Abuser thank you for the positive, goodbye to the negative, and encouraging them to have a nice day elsewhere if they are prone to acting like emotional vampires or bullies is socially, morally, and psychologically appropriate.