Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My Toxic Friend


What can you do when you discover that a person whom you believed to be a friend, actually wishes you ill?

You discover that a friend secretly wishes you ill, to the point of actually trying to sabotage you. What do you do? Most of the time you walk away, right?

But isn't there a part of you that desperately yearns to tell them why?

People are insecure, and sometimes it’s impossible to be happy for someone else's successes, if you are miserable in your own life. This is particularly understandable if the friend's success hits you right at the centre of one of your perceived inadequacies. And you are certainly permitted a certain amount of sympathy and self pity.

But where it goes too far is when you actively try to harm, sabotage or boycott a friend. Worse even is when said friend's goals aren't even remotely related to yours, yet you still can’t bare to watch them succeed.

I witnessed such an exchange between two friends…

Marie, is a 42 year old, single, loud, overweight, heavy drinker, who talks obsessively about how men are all jerks. Amber is 36, happily married with baby on the way.

Marie started a restaurant blog and one month later began boasting to anyone who would listen that she already had more than three hundred comments on her blog. At the same time, Amber began mental health blog, and wondered why she wasn't getting any comments.

"Will you comment on my blog?" she asked Marie, hoping to at least get one comment.
When a week later Marie had still not commented, Amber asked why, to which Marie looked away and replied, "I'm sorry I’m almost never on my computer."
"Then how did you get three hundred people interested on your blog?" Amber asked.
"I don't know, I guess people just really wanna read about good food."

Amber was certainly put out that Marie wouldn't even add one comment for her, especially as other friends were showing themselves to be more than happy to provide this simple favor. But three hundred comments in just one month! Amber began to wonder whether Marie might not be withholding something.

With no internet knowledge, Amber banged her head against a wall night after night trying understand how to get her blog noticed. Sure she got the odd comment, but nowhere near to Marie's speed. Amber was getting disheartened.

A few weeks later Amber bumped into a very drunk Marie at a party, who happened to have a friend in tow. Jessica was the archetypal San Jose tech genius, who lived, breathed and dreamed computers. She spoke of programming and coding and things that neither Amber nor Marie understood. And then she revealed the truth.

"I've been helping Marie with her blog and I'd love to help you too," she said to Amber
"That's so kind of you," Amber replied. "Tell me, how exactly did you help Marie?"
"Well I designed her blog page and I also used SEO and other tools. Now she has more than three hundred followers."
So, Marie had been taking all the credit for someone else's work. And she had been unwilling to share the information to help her friend. But why?
"Jessica's going to help me with my blog," Amber said when Marie returned from getting more drinks.
Marie said nothing, suddenly she seemed to be sulking.

A few days later Jessica called Amber, "I will help you, but you must keep it to yourself. Marie is adamant that I shouldn't help you."
"But why?" said Amber. "Our blogs aren't even remotely related or competing with one another."
"I don't get it either," said Jessica. "I think she's just really insecure."

Amber now understood what sort of person Marie was. She stopped returning Marie's calls, ignored her emails and essentially walked away.

But was that really Amber's only option? Could she have not confronted Marie and given her a chance to apologize? When a friend has been selfish and deceitful to the point that you learn this person wishes you ill, you might try to deal with it in one of the following ways:

1) You confront. Be prepared though, that instead of bowing their heads in shame and apologizing, the person might try fiercely to justify themselves, turn it around and even make it look like you are in the wrong. Attempt this approach ONLY if you are certain of your argument. Pick one message that you wish to convey, in Amber's case she could keep repeating, broken record style, "did you or did you not tell me that you didn't know how you got so many comments on your blog?" Do not allow yourself to be sidetracked with other arguments or led down paths where the person lists things that did wrong in the past. No one is perfect and you probably made mistakes too at some point in your friendship, but for the purposes of this argument, that is NOT THE POINT. Do not allow the other person to make it the point, for the convenience of winning their argument.

2) You try to help. Again beware, for in order to accept your help, the other person must be willing to accept that they have behaved inappropriately. If Amber approached Marie and said I know you tried to sabotage my endeavors, but i value our friendship enough that I'd like to help you, Marie might deny it outright and, as mentioned above, turn it all against Amber.

3) You forgive and forget. Unless you have the discipline of a shaman who sleeps on a bed of nails every night, this option rarely works. You may tell yourself that it wasn't all that bad, but, do not be fooled, for it will eat into your trust for that person. It is likely that you will no longer view that friend with the same love, respect and regard as you did previously, and eventually resentment will build up. I would recommend against this option, unless, like i said, you have the self discipline to really forgive and really forget.

4) You walk away. Sadly, unless your friend is the type of person whose vocabulary includes, "I'm sorry, i messed up, please forgive me," walking away is often the only option you have. Sadly most toxic persons are not familiar with the concept of asking for forgiveness, which is why most of their victims choose to walk away without a word.

About the Writer

Annabelle Charbit is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on My Toxic Friend

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By Annabelle Charbit on September 09, 2010 at 04:58 pm

Dear Melody

Thanks for your comment

You are absolutely right. In fact, as an experiment i did confront her and gave her a chance to apologise. Well guess what?? She denied everything. So i walked away.


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By TonyBerkman on November 04, 2011 at 02:50 am

Your work is excellent. I checked out your site and your book is a fun read... at least the parts that you show :-)

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By Uttam Gill on November 04, 2011 at 03:09 am

Simply an outstanding blog...You have so plainly put forth your views...I would say driven home the point so convincingly...I am so mesmerized by this revealing blog...Keep it up...

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