Are "stuck in" JWs in a toxic relationship? I think so.
This past two weeks, I've been realizing that a few of my JW relatives are very toxic people (they fit the description below). I realized that alot of ex-JWs who are stuck dealing with JWs may also be in a toxic relationship. (This may not be news to alot of you, but it was for me). Defining the problem, you can then work towards a solution with how to deal with these people.
“A hallmark of a toxic interaction is that both people have created a conscious or unconscious story with judgment, fear or blame about the other person and boundaries that were crossed,” Tatsumi said.
Signs You’re Surrounded by a Toxic Person
Gale shared these signs:
- You’re emotionally affected by their drama
- You dread (or fear) being around them
- You’re exhausted or you feel angry while you’re with them or after your interaction
- You feel bad or ashamed about yourself
- You’re stuck in a cycle of trying to rescue, fix or care for them.
Tatsumi shared these additional signs:
- The other person doesn’t respect the word “No” as a complete sentence
- When you’re with them, you feel like you’re “walking on eggshells”
- You ignore your own values
- You emotionally “check out”
- You feel like you’re being controlled, or you’re being overly controlling.
Again, it’s important to explore your own role in the interaction. For instance, how do you compromise your own values or boundaries? Do you lash out because you feel misunderstood or not listened to? Do you withdraw because this is how you react to criticism?
What to Do With Toxic Relationships
Gale offered these suggestions for navigating toxic interactions:
- Tell the person how you feel in an assertive way. Use “I” statements. For example: “When you act/do/say _____, I feel _____. What I need is _______. The reason that I am sharing my feelings and needs with you is_______ (because I love you, I want to build a healthy relationship with you etc.).”
- Set and maintain boundaries.
- Focus on taking care of yourself.
- “Find ways to protect yourself from their unhealthy behaviors.”
- Reflect on the relationship, and consider how you’re caught in an unhealthy cycle of relating to the person. For instance, you might be making excuses for them or trying to fix them.
“If the person’s toxic behavior doesn’t change, or the relationship is just too toxic for you, send them forward in life with love and compassion, and then move forward with your life,” Gale said.
Ending the relationship may be painful, particularly if you have a long history with the person, she said. “Ultimately though, you will have created space for much healthier and far more nourishing relationships in your life.”