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I recently read a quote that struck a cord with me and it read a little something like this: When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you.  But before I delve in, let me give you a bit of background on how I got here.

For someone like me who truly enjoys social interaction, loves planning big parties and adores my friends as family, it has taken me a long time to get here.  A really long time.  But, here I am, staring a toxic sociopath in the face.  The journey has been one of immense heart break. It was a journey that occupied my thoughts endlessly and kept me awake more nights than I can count. But it was a journey full of so much growth and self discovery, so not all is lost.  Thank sweet Jesus I was finally handed the scissors that allowed me to cut this toxic sociopath from my life and begin this journey of enlightenment.

When I make a friend, I do so assuming it's for life.  Let's be honest: we're all busy.  Too busy to fake friendships or make small talk.  If I let you in, I LET YOU IN. You're included in family dinners and holidays.  I will fight for and defend you, endlessly. We can do the PTA together, play dates, or talk once a month.  I have all sorts of friendships.  Each of which is beautiful and unique.  Some need more tending while others flow seamlessly from year to year, without effort.  An effort I give freely and get so incredibly much more in return. I forge friendships, not expecting reciprocity or anything at all really, I simply enjoy people.  I love interaction, learning from others, gaining various opinions and seeing things through other's eyes.  Eyes that are often more well versed than my own.

When I met this person, we made fast friends.  We spent countless hours together, our families included.  But the path I traveled down with this person quickly became a black hole, sucking me into their miserable, jealous insecurities, draining me mentally and emotionally.  It took me to a bad place although I was completely unaware of this person's negative effect on my life.  Their fault?  Absolutely not!  It was no one's fault but my own for not originally having the foresight to call a spade a spade!  I ignored my occasional inklings and glimpses into this person's real self.  I made excuses for them and ignored my intuition.  I am cursed by my tendency to give more grace than is ever deserved. I seldom take off my rose colored glasses.  I like my bubble-it's comfy in here. Ignorance is bliss.  Or so 'they' say.

I've thought ad nauseam about all of the signs I missed:

This person derives all of their pleasure, not from within, but, from the misery and belittling of others.  I gave grace.

This person seldom went without a drink in hand and far too often got nasty {really nasty} while in their 'altered state'.  Again, I gave grace because I too love a good drink as much as the next person.

This person tried, with gossip and lies, to control all of the relationships around them.  This person tried to control who I hung out with and the view others had of me.  I can't say I'm guilty of giving grace here.  I was simply ignorant. So naive.  While I questioned how this person could speak so ill of other people, yet still hang out with them, it never ever occurred to me that I too was one of 'those' people.

This person plays the victim like no other. Classic toxicity. Who knew?

This person preyed on the weak and insulted, not only people's character, but their physical appearances.  I had enough.

So, here I'm left with this toxic sociopath staring me in the face.  I know that cutting them off is going to be far more work that I ever bargained for, but I have to do it.  For myself.

At this point, I fully expected them to resort to their usual tactics, but little did I know that a smear campaign was already being run, behind my back.  Remember that rose colored glasses thing?  Yeah, that.  I thought our friendship was different. Surely this person wasn't speaking about me like they do everyone else, right? Who was I kidding? Toxic people are incapable of real friendships. The insecurity, jealousy and manipulative tendencies stop them in their tracks.

The smear campaign that, unbeknownst to me, began quite early into our friendship, then became a complete gutting.  My character was being dragged through the mud and lies were being spread like wildfire.  Wholly ridiculous lies. Because remember that quote that sparked all of this?  When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you.

That's one of the most unfortunate pieces of my whole experience with a toxic friendship.  That I have absolutely no control over the things others were made to believe about me.  Nor am I even privy to the extent of this person's reach.  By no stretch of the imagination am I trying to convince you that I'm incapable of rubbing folks the wrong way. Certainly, I am.  I'm loud.  Sarcastic. I overshare. With my personality, you'll either love or hate me. I'm OK with that.  I'm OK with it when I am the one responsible for other's opinions.  

I struggled for so long with how I should proceed.  How do I right my name?  Do I expose this person?  The vindictive piece of me wanted to tell everyone what I was dealing with.  I wanted to share with everyone the {God} awful things that this person said behind their backs.  Do I show people this person's texts?  Have one on one conversations with the people I know they've intentionally used against me? Nope.  I decided it was best to let them set them self on fire.  If it happened with me, history would most certainly repeat itself.  Little did I know, it was slowly happening all around me.  The dots were being connected, with absolutely no help from me.

Although the situation was and still is incredibly awful.  Not all good was lost.  I have learned so many valuable life lessons to pass down to my girls when the time comes.

1.  Everyone isn't your friend.  People pretend well.  Be kind anyways. Check.

2.  It's OK to cut people out of your life.  In fact, cut everyone out who doesn't better you in some way. Double check.

3.  Standing up for yourself is empowering.  Like bad ass kind of empowering.

4.  People who aren't happy with themselves cannot possibly be happy with you.  Misery loves company.  Don't let them steal your happy.

5. You don't have to prove yourself to anyone. Be leery of anyone who requires too much coddling and reassurance of your friendship. It's those who continually fall for this tactic that become a toxic person's biggest victim.

6.  Eventually people see others for what they are, no matter how loud they scream.  Actions trump words.  Stay your course.  Good wins.  Good.  Always.  Wins.

October 19, 2016 by Bonnie DiCocco

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