Evicting Toxic Tenants, Part 1

This is part one of a two-part post about coping with toxic friendships. Today I will talk about the formative toxic relationship in my life, how I connected with others to encourage a toxic relationship, the red flags I ignored, and my own role in a toxic relationship.


For the month of August, I am writing about tidying up the home life: from cleaning the house to effectively organizing my time.

I am also working through some internal cleaning: my mental headspace. Living healthy doesn’t exclusively mean eating right or exercising on a regular basis. It means being mindful of my emotional and mental health as well. It’s easy to focus on the external stuff, like what I eat and how much I exercise, but very hard to concentrate on the energy I give to thoughts, interactions, and even friendships.

Friendships are a sticking point in my internal life.

I have a lot of people I consider friends, some I consider close friends, and fewer considered best friends. In my 30+ years, I have a lot of failed friendships and until recently, rarely did I focus on the successful friendships, but much of my mental energy went towards the unhealthy ones.

Many, if not all, of these failed friendships, were toxic in nature. It is important to note I am not talking about friendships that died due to time, distance, and a lack of communication. The toxic friendships generally did not have geographic issues nor was there a lack of time for the friendship, they failed for other reasons.

When the friendships were dying or at a clear end, I would repeatedly reflect on my perceived failures: lack of perception for the warning signs from the beginning, my role in encouraging the negative friendship, and the length of time I allowed myself to endure the unhealthy dynamic.

What follows is my experience with toxic friendships, the self-reflection I needed to complete to move towards healthier friendships, and the fallout from these situations. This process wasn’t easy, and I am nowhere near finished with it, but I wanted to share my current position both as catharsis and hopefully to show that there isn’t anything wrong with you if you realize you’re in a toxic friendship.

My Toxic Origin Story

I am rather lucky that I can point to the origin of my toxic friendships. It was one individual in my life and how everyone surrounding them responded to their toxic behavior.

It was a family member that I dealt with since I was six years old. I have allowed geography to cut them out of my life which helped me heal, but the scars and patterns remain today from the experience.

This person controlled everyone around them with such toxicity, that the only way to reasonably handle them and keep familial harmony was to give in to their desires. We would eat on their terms. Do activities on their terms. Listen to their problems on their terms. There’s video evidence of them completely changing the mood of the room when they walked in for my sixth birthday. This video saved me from believing I imagined their behaviors when they tried to gaslight me as I grew older.

What I saw growing up with this relative was the following:

  1. It’s important to love a toxic person no matter what. Unconditional love will help them.
  2. Give that toxic person whatever they desire because that’s part of the expression of love. They are broken and only you can help fix them by giving into them.
  3. How they treat you is a measure of your worth: if they treat you badly then you are doing something wrong. If they treat you well, then you are doing something right. Always strive to be treated well.

I dealt with this relative for 18 years, which straddled my formative years on how to foster friendships with others. Unfortunately, what guidance I received to navigate my troublesome peer-relationships didn’t match the example I was given regarding this ever-present familial relationship.

So instead of seeking healthy friendships, I sought the relationship I was most familiar with: a toxic one. I don’t know how many friendships I’ve had that were toxic on some level, and that’s the thing, not all these relationships were toxic in the same way.

Think of it as gradations of toxicity. Sometimes I can overlook toxic behavior because the time spent with the person is more important than the slightly toxic behavior they exhibit from time-to-time. With others, they wrapped up so much of my time and energy that it was a drain to think about the next time I would see them. I will be focusing most of my post on the latter.

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Have a Healthy Summer

For most of my adulthood at the beginning of each year, I fell into the mental trap of “getting healthy and in shape for the summer.” I wanted to have that perfect beach body, even if we never made it to the beach, and feel comfortable wearing cute summer outfits.

I never succeeded.

Life would get in the way, I would get distracted or frustrated with my diet and exercise and so I would enter summer either at the same weight I was at the beginning of the year or a little bit heavier.

Since I made significant lifestyle changes and stuck with them, I have found that I am finally entering the summer the way I always wanted to: beach ready and several cute outfits.

Still no available beach and rarely do I get out of my “mom uniform” because cute outfits and a toddler do not mix.

But I am experiencing something I’ve never before: staying fitness-minded and motivated in the heat. As I discussed on Monday, having MS and living in a hot and humid climate is not a good combination. I am finding that my motivation and my ability to stay fitness-focused is waning more than it did in the cold winter months.

What do I do? Well, I have to make some adjustments to accommodate this unforeseen speed bump.

Healthy Choices

The main thing I’ve learned is that my choices had to change in the summer months. This can range from the food I eat to the time of day I exercise to the intensity of the exercise I commit myself to complete.

If there is a day where I know I won’t be able to exercise for a while due to the heat, I have to adjust my eating to reflect that. Rather than eating heavier or caloric-dense meals, I adjust to more frequent and lighter meals throughout the day.

If we expect a high heat day or extreme humidity, then I will make sure to get out earlier in the morning to avoid dealing with either. 6:30am is usually a great time to get out, beat the heat and the traffic, and be home in time to say “good-bye” to Ash before he heads to work.

If it’s too hot or humid out to exercise, then I move any sort of workout indoors with the A/C blasting or a fan on me if I need to do something with intensity. I also need to make sure that keep drinking water throughout the day.

The hardest choice to adjust is the first one: I love to eat. So if I am having a craving for something particularly heavy, potatoes of some sort, I want to indulge it. I try to find ways to compromise or satisfy the craving with something else. Popcorn works best, but a cool piece of fruit will do in a pinch.

Remembering to drink enough water can also be a problem for me – so by carrying around a water bottle or cup can help remind me to stay hydrated. I need to keep drinking water if I am going to keep exercising throughout the hotter months.

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Celebrating Fatherhood

I am lucky to have three important men in my life: my dad, my husband, and my son.

Two of those men are fathers, the third may become one someday. That’s his choice when he’s ready.

I wanted to spend a post talking about how much I love and respect these two fathers in honor of Father’s Day yesterday.

My Father

I could list all the things my father did like many Father’s Day posts do: sitting with me when I was sick, teaching me something important, or dispensing sage life advice when necessary. All of which he’s done.

Or I can write about two formative lessons he passed on to me. One was an individual incident and the other was taught my entire life.

While I was “daddy’s little girl,” that didn’t mean I had to be girly-girl. In fact, I was more like “daddy’s little tomboy” growing up. He taught me how to climb trees, build a tree house, shoot a bow, ride a bike, scare my mom, and not allow boys to push me around because I was a girl.

Never once growing up did I ever feel the need to adhere to a specific gender role from my father. He never told me “no” because it was unladylike, nor did he expect me to behave a certain way because that’s how it’s done according to gender.

He made sure I understood one thing: don’t be what other’s want you to be. Only be yourself.

One of the best examples of this in my life happened when I was around 11/12 years old:

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Guest Post: My Ingredients to Self-Made Confidence

In keeping with wellness month, I asked Terez from Inspireme.Love to let me share her post about the importance of self-confidence and how to achieve it as a means for personal wellness. It fits in nicely with the theme of this month, especially when it comes to promoting resolution success. Enjoy this inspiring post and check out all her other social media accounts below.

This post originally appeared on her Inspireme.Love blog back in March 2018.


Do you feel powerless? You’re desperately fighting to lock out all the hurt that consumes your life, but it seems like the more you harden to protect your heart the more wounded you become. When was the last time you lived an entire day free from low self-esteem, low self-worth, poor self-image, self-rejection, self-blame, and negative feelings about yourself? Just all of it? A full day where you were in control of your feelings, your thoughts, and weren’t riding the roller coaster of painful emotions? You were fearless, confident, and fulfilled. If you struggle with loving yourself or parts of yourself, or are constantly fighting the temptation to resent others who have what you desire, then pour yourself a cup of coffee girlfriend and get cozy, because you’re not alone on this one and we’re about to dig down into those deep-rooted wounds that make each day so hard.

I’m going to first tell you something about you that you may not believe at first, but I genuinely hope that you come to grips with it, despite any daunting past years of self-doubt you have been abused by. You are powerful. You are capable of transforming your pain into opportunity. You have the ability to break free from self-loathing. You have the strength to be happy. You have the courage to look fear in the face and show it who you are. You have the heart to love every bruised and beaten part of your mind, your body, and your spirit. You have the resources inside you that will transform your interior and exterior life into one of joy and peace. You are the answer to all the questions you’ve cried your heart out over. Stop accepting that you are nothing but damaged goods, you’re past help, and you’re just going to keep living day by day sinking further into this black hole as though it’s part of your identity. It’s not who you are. You my dear are a fierce lionhearted heroine that can slay anything that has the nerve to step in your way, make you question your essence, and threaten to influence your power. You’re just amazing, let’s put it that way.

If you feel like your life is an out-of-control mess, and if you were to be brutally honest with yourself, you’d find yourself admitting that you gave up on life and yourself a long time ago, take it from someone whose been there, you’re more than your emotions, experiences, and circumstances, and you have the power to make something astonishing of yourself. Do what I did and become your own damn boss. Take control. Here are my ingredients to self-made confidence that have empowered me to overcome anything that challenges me to turn on myself and live unfulfilled. You’ll find that once you are walking in confidence you will be living a very different life.

SELF-WORTH

Do you feel worthy and deserving of a good and happy life? Your answer reflects your self-worth. If you feel unworthy and undeserving then you must strive to grow your self-worth so that you feel at your core your value in who you are justifies having an abundant life. When one has low self-worth they may feel worthless, that they belong in an unhappy lifestyle, that they deserve to be shamed, that their mistakes can’t be forgiven, that they need punishment, that they have to hurt themselves, or that they don’t deserve love. When one lives with low self-worth it is a very dark and lonely life. One often tries to quench the pain by things that boost their ego, such as puffing one’s self up and exaggerating one’s self. They enlarge themselves greater than they actually feel about themselves, leaving them unfulfilled.

Common behaviors that demonstrate this are bullying, mocking, putting others down, turning people against someone, attention-seeking, rejecting confident people, taking pleasure in making someone feel bad about themselves, deliberately hurting someone’s feelings, bad mouthing someone, spreading rumors, refusal to celebrate someone’s victories, rejoicing in someone’s mistakes, turning down an opportunity to support someone, projecting one’s insecurities onto others, belittling, insulting, throwing pity parties, taking envious action against someone, and measuring one’s own worth with status, wealth, achievements, beauty, popularity, respect, love, and admiration from others. The list goes on and on. When one measures their worth with the exterior they are perpetually placing value on something that is ever changing, such as the opinions of others. The result? One lives in an endless swing of high inflation to plummets of deep depression. There is no such thing as stability or safety. One lives fear-driven, hiding their authenticity behind a mask that they tie their identity to. (Perhaps a shot of whiskey would do us more good than coffee. Go get it girl!).

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Taking a Phone Detox

When Jai wakes up in the morning ready to be taken out of bed, the first thing Ash reaches for is his glasses. The first thing I reach for is my phone.

I wish I could say it’s because I have a bunch of important messages that I need to check from overnight. But it’s not.

The main reason I feel the need to instantly check my phone is for a resource/time management game and social media sites like Facebook or Reddit. I need to see what happened overnight, make necessary adjustments, comment, upvote, downvote, like, subscribe… I need to interact with the digital medium.

And then respond to any important messages.

None of what I am doing is so imperative that it must be the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning.

My name is Deborah and I am addicted to my phone.

I am not being flippant about this, I genuinely believe I have an addiction to my phone (and technology). This has been a long-standing addiction, something I’ve dealt with since before Jai was born. I believe my addiction got worse due to countless hours of breastfeeding when Jai was a newborn and never scaled back as he got older.

When you are stuck with a little one on your breast with nowhere to go, reading and interacting on your phone is the easiest and most entertaining means to pass the time.

Now that he is more aware of what is going on, I need to be mindful of my phone usage, particularly around him.

I have this overwhelming fear he’s going to get the message that he’s less important than my phone. With my current phone/technology usage – it’s unavoidable.


This post isn’t about shaming parents who use technology, it’s about my problematic usage of technology and an attempt to have a healthier relationship with it. This post isn’t about passing judgment on others’ technology usage, but an examination of my own.

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