Getting Rid of a Toxic Friend
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Getting Rid of a Toxic Friend
Sometimes I get so distracted by life that I miss the warning signs that should have been heeded.There comes a time when you just know it's time to let go, because most of the time people are what they are and will not change.
Do you feel happy, safe, or relaxed around this person? Or do you feel you must be on your guard like you have to watch everything you do and say? Is there always such unhappy drama and this person seems to make you feel bad about yourself when you are around them? Are there moments that they indicate that somehow it's your fault they act this way or that they are not happy about something? Are they always negative about people and have nothing nice to say about others (keep in mind if they bad mouth everybody else, then you are probably on the bad mouth list as well). If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it may be necessary to examine this relationship further and perhaps it's time to let go.
The following is a true story and I have changed the names of all involved, except for my own. Once upon a time I had a friend named Diane who I hung out with a few times a year. First I became friends with her boyfriend Thomas, who was a coworker of mine. He relocated from CT for his job and his girlfriend Diane followed him. He bought a condo nearby and they lived there together. Another coworker named JoAnne was also friends with Thomas. I didn’t really know Thomas that well until JoAnne had an after work party at her apartment one evening and we all were invited and that is where I really started talking to Thomas and Diane.
Diane appeared to be a very mature and intelligent person and was a lot of fun to hang out with, but she also had a sharp tongue on her. She would have made a really good Attorney, except her smart mouth most likely would have gotten her disbarred.
Several Red Flags Over the Years
The first red flag came when Diane and Thomas visited me the first weekend that I moved into my new condo. Diane brought along her 16-year old daughter who was visiting from CT where she lives with her father.
So we were all sitting around talking and all of a sudden I hear this loud CRACK. It turns out that Diane smacked her daughter on the leg and then proceeded to tell her that she had a fat butt. Her daughter is a 90 pound skinny little thing and Diane is at least 10 times that size. I remember getting a bit offended by that. How could someone treat their daughter like that?
A few months later the second red flag appeared. Thomas is a banjo playing musician and was part of a band here in town. They decided to throw a party at their club house and invited 30-40 people to listen to some bluegrass banjo playing. At 9:00 p.m. that evening I had to depart and out of courtesy, I let Diane know I was leaving. At that point out of the blue and with no warning, she became extremely hostile and belligerent with me and yelled at me that I only lived a few miles down the road. Her point was that I can stay longer since I don’t have far to drive. I explained to her that I had to get up early the next morning to go to church. But that was some hostility all right.
I am not sure when it happened, but myself, JoAnne, and Diane started hanging out together about two or three times a year and it appeared the three of us had this “girl group” going on. Diane and Thomas would invite JoAnne, me, and other people for dinner parties at their condo and we did all have a good time. Diane is a master story teller and always talked non-stop all night. Nobody else could get a word in edgewise but she was entertaining. I had a few parties at my own condo and always invited Diane and Thomas and JoAnne and other people, mostly coworkers.
At one dinner party Diane starts explaining a book she was reading about the vegan lifestyle (her and Thomas are vegans). The book was called Skinny Bitch and sounded so interesting I went on-line and ordered a copy. Even though I am not a vegan, the book was quite fascinating. Once I finished the book I emailed Diane and told her I really enjoyed the book but I could not read past the first page of the chapter describing the extreme cruelty towards the animals at the slaughterhouses. This is when the third red flag reared its ugly head. She responded with a nasty remark, out of the blue. The following is an actual and true cut-and-paste of her email comment back to me: Yeah, but how did it make you feel that God's creatures endure those conditions so that "the mammals of higher intelligence and compassion" can satisfy their carnivoure desires. No Christain should be able to justify that because they love pulled pork or fried chicken something must be tortured. Would you be willing to subject yourself to the same? What did God have in mind when he told Moses to build an ark; did he want those animals preserved so they could suffer as Jesus did on his way to the cross. She didn't even spell Christian correctly.
This incident occurred a few months after I had to turn down an offer to go with Diane and JoAnne to an outlet shopping mall, because I already made a commitment to someone else that I would visit their church. So I chose church over the outlet mall. Diane tried several times to talk me into ditching church so I could go with them to the outlet mall but I would not do it.
The Devil Comes Out
One day Diane was emailing jokes to everyone and we got to talking and she wanted to know if me and JoAnne wanted to do a girls night out the coming weekend. We ended up going to dinner and saw a movie. After the movie we went to a local watering hole and had a drink. Now I rarely drink alcohol and am not a night person. Diane and JoAnne know this because I told them several times. At 11:00 p.m. my head was feeling like lead and I felt exhausted so I tell them I am going to cut out and go home. Then all Hell breaks loose! Diane became real pissy and hateful at me and said she feels I don’t want to hang around with them and that I don’t want to be around “fallen women”. Let me say now that I am a Christian and go to church. She does not. I felt like she was basically taking a shot at my Christianity, even though I have never ever shoved my views down her throat. She blindsided me and I felt she was attacking me out of the blue. I sat there for 30 minutes trying to explain to her that I am not a late night person, I am exhausted, and the liquor in that 1 drink didn’t help my head any, and that I do not think of these two as fallen women, and if I did then I wouldn’t be hanging around them.
So I got up to leave at 11:30pm and when I was walking away I strongly felt I needed to take a shower after that attack. Also I strongly felt the daggers being thrown in my back as I walked away from the table. I felt darkness behind me! A week or so later on a Saturday morning JoAnne and I were walking on a nature trail. I knew JoAnne would not tell me what Diane said about me when I left (because she doesn’t want to rock the boat), and I didn’t really want to know. She did tell me that after I left, Diane told her she accidentally found out that all this time she was living with Thomas, she was paying his mortgage and everything else on his condo, that he wasn’t paying a dime towards his own condo. When she told her children about it (they live in CT) they told her to pack up and move back home.
Two months later Diane is emailing jokes to everyone and I responded to her (silly me) and asked if she still lived in town or did she relocate to FL. She still lived in town in Thomas’ condo and wanted to know if I wanted to go try a new restaurant sometime. At this point I am still confused why, during the girls night out 2 months before, she attacked me and got so nasty with me for leaving early. So I inform her yes we can go to that restaurant but I am not staying out that late and asked her why did she get so pissy with me about it before.
Well the doo doo hit the fan (again). She basically emailed me to drop dead and that I have said so many hurtful things to her in the past about her and Thomas’ relationship that it makes her head dizzy. She told me it’s called living together and that I should get over it. She also made other personal jabs at me on what she thinks are my flaws. I decided I would take the high road with her because everything I said to her she turned it on me and really didn’t care what my feelings were. It was clear there would be no conflict resolution with her and she was trying to make me feel like a loser. I came so close to tears over her hatefulness that I decided to take the high road and told her I was flabbergasted and clueless that she felt that way and that I had no clue about any comments that I may have made about her and Thomas’ relationship. I ended up apologizing to her if I ever said anything that she perceived as hurtful. What a doormat I am huh? I never heard back from her. At that point I decided this is it. I will never contact her again and we are no longer friends and that will be okay with me, because I was getting tired of her attitude problem.
Finding Mr. Right - you can get some good advise from this book even if you are not a Christ Follower.
Relocation and a Turning Point in the Relationships
Then Thomas gets laid off and couldn’t find a job in this town. Eventually he found a job in Florida, 10 hours away. It seemed this was fantastic because he always wanted to retire in Florida and live on the beach. His tiny rented apartment had a direct view of the Atlantic Ocean outside his front door. Diane did not relocate with him because she couldn’t find a job in Florida and didn’t want to leave her full-time job, benefits, and vacation time. So she started flying down there 2-3 times a month on her own dime to visit Thomas on the weekends. So they were trying to make the long distance relationship thing work. Apparently it was not working very well for them at all.
Have you ever known toxic people that you had to cut off?
Toxic people you have known -- were they:
The Lull Before the Storm
Ten months go by. Neither I nor JoAnne had any contact with Diane. It turns out Thomas came to town once, and only once, and had lunch with some former coworkers and nobody informed JoAnne or myself that he was in town. That was another issue Diane had about Thomas – he refused to fly to see her and told her she was to fly to see him.
Six months go by. JoAnne gets a long email from Diane saying her and Thomas mutually agreed they would split up and are no longer together. She stated that she went to Florida to see Thomas on Easter weekend and they went away together to some island for the weekend and had a really great time and all was good. They went back to Thomas’ condo where she fell asleep on the sofa. She woke up with Thomas beating the crap out of her. He put some really big bruises on her and then stormed out of the condo for a few hours. She called the police and they show up to tell her if she would have gone to the hospital and then called them, they could have done something with him. But as it was, she called them first without the hospital so they couldn’t do anything.
It also turns out that the weekend he came to town (the only time he came to town to visit her) was also when she was taking a shower and he went into the shower, grabbed her by the hair, and tried to throw her outside the front door into the common area hallway.
She flies back home and Thomas tells her he is evicting her out of this condo and she is to pack up all her stuff and get out of his condo. So that is when she contacted JoAnne and asked if she could help her pack. In the meantime I am getting ready to have the first major surgery in my adult life.
My Interruption in Life
Three weeks after my surgery I get a phone call from JoAnne. JoAnne is actually calling me almost every day to see if I need anything. She is looking after me during my recovery, bringing me groceries and light housekeeping. It was during one of her checkup calls that she tells me she heard from Diane. It turns out Thomas’ 90-year old mother passed away in CT, and Diane and Thomas flew up there separately for the funeral. Even though they are not a couple anymore, they both stayed at his mother’s house in separate rooms. Around 2:00 a.m. Diane gets up to go to the bathroom and trips over a really big dog who lived there, fell down the staircase, and broke her neck and shattered her right shoulder.
They rush her to the hospital for surgery. The doctors would not clear her to fly back home for another 3 months. She stayed at her sister’s house where they had to bathe and feed her every day. JoAnne was talking to her on the phone during this time and Diane told JoAnne to tell me that she was so very sorry over and over again, and that she would send me an email. JoAnne kept saying how sorry Diane was for being so ugly to me. In hindsight, that tells me that 1) Diane in her nasty hateful moments toward me knew what she was doing, and 2) knew that it was wrong and now she was admitting it. Am I right in thinking this way? Well, I never received an email from Diane.
So I get better and recovered from my surgery. Diane is now back in town in Thomas’ condo. He changed his mind and said she can keep living there. I feel sorry for Diane; after all she’s been through in the past year: getting her butt kicked by Thomas a few times, falling and breaking her neck, and shattering her shoulder. So I emailed her asking how she was doing and let me know if she needs any housekeeping or grocery shopping. I was very eager to help especially since I needed those things during my recovery and I had empathy for her. I even offered to take her to lunch if she wanted to get out of the condo for a while. She was on long-term disability with her job. However, even before I emailed her I had a bad feeling about the whole thing. But I did it anyway because at that time I just didn't have any good sense. I thought maybe, just maybe, all the trauma Diane has been through maybe changed her attitude? Baaaa, Baaaa.
We ended up going to lunch 2 times. She was not able to operate a motor vehicle in her condition so I drove over there to get her. We had a really good time at both lunches. I guess she had on her angel face and was real nice and pleasant. After each lunch she emails me to say she really enjoyed our time at lunch and she really missed seeing and talking to me. She wants to go to lunch a third time so we make plans to do that. I called her the day before our third lunch and asked if we were still on. She says no I can’t go and I was going to call you but I have to get physical therapy tomorrow. I said okay; just call me the next time you can go to lunch. That was the last time we went to lunch.
In the meantime, Thomas is offered a better job in Savannah, GA and relocates there. Good for him! Three weeks after our lunches, JoAnne and myself get an email from Diane stating that Thomas was leaving town to visit his daughter in Florida for the weekend, and that we could have his condo in Savannah for that weekend if we wanted. Heck yeah!
Avoiding Mr. Wrong
If you had a friend like Diane, would you:
Off to Savannah We Go!
We all loaded up into JoAnne’s car and drove to Savannah on a Friday morning. It took 4 hours to get there and the whole way down Diane is talking non-stop about all the things Thomas does wrong, what he can’t do, what he won’t do, blah blah blah. However when he calls her on her Blackberry, she proceeds to tell him she loves him and likes hearing his voice. But all weekend it was Thomas bashing.
On Friday evening Diane tells us that she does not feel safe when around Thomas when he gets an attitude with her. She asked him what time he was going to return that Sunday and apparently he got snippy with her and said he didn’t know. After going through the beatings, she said if she was in person with him when he said it that way, she would not feel safe around him. At that point I told her if she felt that way then they probably are not going to get back together. She looked at me and said, What? So I had to repeat myself. Now I am trying to be a friend to her – there are times when you have to be truthful with your friends for their own good, at least I think so. In hindsight, I am wondering if that was the moment I got myself on her black list. I guess I told her something she didn’t want to hear?
So now it is Friday evening and we went to an oyster roast at the Westin hotel. We took the ferry and arrived around 8pm. It was real crowded and no seats were left. The prices for the oysters were outrageous. It cost $6 for a simple hamburger or hot dog. You even had to shuck your own oysters. We decided this was not for us and we would go back to the Riverfront to find a restaurant. I suggested that since we are already here, why not check out the restaurants The Westin has to offer? The really nice hotel restaurants usually have good food. This particular Westin had 2 different restaurants. We checked out the one on the main level. Diane and JoAnne didn’t like the food selection – not enough variety. So we went to the 2nd level restaurant which was fine dining. We are looking at the $38 - $45 entrees and Diane got really snobby with an attitude and said she was not paying those prices. I said they have soup and salad and sandwiches for $6-8 each. Once again she gets really snobby and says I don’t want a sandwich, I want a meal (I wish I had a tape recorder at that point just to record her being so snooty). So as we were leaving I turned and noticed the two hostesses standing there. Apparently they overheard her and they were smirking and making fun of her as she walked away. I just shrugged my shoulders and was quite embarrassed at her behavior.
The next morning we went to visit a historic house that was built in the mid 1800s which was refurbished several times over the years. They had group tours revolving around the original owner, his family, and the history of the house. The cashier told me if I had an AAA membership I could get a discount for myself and my party, but I would have to pay for their tickets as well. Diane piped up and said yes I would like to do that. So I paid for all our tickets and got an $0.80 discount for each of us and both of them paid me the cash later.
So we started the group tour and were on the second floor when I noticed holes in each of the four corners of the ceiling. I was very curious about this because I saw a house at Oak Island, NC built in the 1960s that had the same thing. I asked the tour guide what was the purpose of the four holes in the ceiling? She stated they are for air conditioning and the original owner installed them.
At that point the whole group busted out laughing. I was totally clueless why they were laughing. To this day I still don’t know what was so funny. So we move to the next room on the tour and Diane comes up to me and said really loud, in a condescending belligerent tone of voice, in front of the whole group ”Leave it to Michelle”. She was implying leave it to me to ask a stupid question. Well there was a guy standing next to her and he looked at me and started explaining that during the remodeling of the house, the holes in the ceilings were added for air conditioning, and also so the ductwork under the roof would not be disturbed. I thanked him for explaining that to me and at that moment I thought to myself that me and this man are the only two intelligent people in the room.
So after the group tour ended, we went to a restaurant for lunch. I had the buffet lunch and JoAnne and Diane ordered from the menu. Now when you get a buffet lunch it’s all about going up for seconds, which I certainly did. I had the fried chicken, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, ham slices, turnip greens, baked beans, and corn. You know, all the Southern Cooking. I was really stuffed. JoAnne has a salmon salad and Diane chose the gumbo soup.
When we are done eating, the waitress comes by and asked us if we wanted dessert. I said no I am really stuffed and can’t eat another bite. Diane tells me go ahead and order dessert. I said no I think I may throw up if I eat another bite. Diane says well if you did order dessert which would you have, the banana pudding or the peach cobbler? I said neither I am so full. She then berates me in front of the waitress and says well you should order dessert, I just don’t know what’s wrong with you. She proceeds to order peach cobbler and it arrives at the table. Basically she forced me to take a bite. She kept hounding and harassing me until I took a bite. Of course it did not taste good. I looked at JoAnne and said do you want a bite? JoAnne’s eyes got all wide and she shakes her head no. Let it be noted that Diane did not at any time mention dessert to JoAnne.
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So we proceeded to leave the restaurant and Diane asked if either of us wanted a stick of gum after the meal. We both said sure. She hands JoAnne a piece of gum. She hands me a piece of gum and then snapped at me and said, well go ahead and be a pain in the ass Michelle. She was implying that I was a pain in the ass because I took a piece of gum. That she offered. All afternoon we walked around the Riverfront and visited the stores and I bought a few souvenirs. She made a few more rambling smart ass comments to me but I can’t remember what. I had to walk on eggshells the whole time and watch everything I say or do or else I would get berated. At this point I made a conscience decision that this witch will not ruin my vacation. I also started praying to Jesus to please give me patience and that I would not get angry. He answered my prayer that day.
We went back to the condo around 5:00 p.m. and decided to stay in and order pizza. We were only there for about an hour before Diane got sick and started throwing up and gagging and hugging the toilet for about 45 minutes. She came out of the bathroom with her tail between her legs in a humbling way and kept apologizing to us if she ruined our day by throwing up. Is this what they call Karma? She did not criticize or berate me for the rest of the evening, except when I tried to wash some dishes in the kitchen sink she walked up to me scowling and asked me what the heck was I doing. I said I was washing these cups in the sink and she told me she already washed them. I then told her they had lipstick marks all over them so I washed them again. I have to admit I really enjoyed the karma part.
She did however keep asking me over and over if I was having a good time because she “couldn’t tell with me”. I kept telling her I was very much enjoying Savannah. Never did I get moody or depressed. I was laughing and talking the whole time and did not act any different than JoAnne. I simply refused to let her think she was going to ruin my Savannah trip. I wouldn't give her that satisfaction.
She continued her non-stop story telling the whole evening but was directing her stories to JoAnne and not me. I felt like the third wheel, especially after all the berating I endured. I know if I would have told her to kiss my ass it would have ruined it for all of us. So I took one for the team and made a firm decision right then and there that I don’t care to ever see or talk to this person ever again. It takes a lot to get through to my thick head right?
Our Last Morning and it Couldn't go Fast Enough for Me
Sunday morning 6:00 a.m. I was sitting on the screened-in balcony, which overlooked a marsh, drinking my coffee and listening to the crickets. I really loved it out there. Well, wouldn't you know it, guess who comes out there and plops herself right next to me? Diane. She starting talking and had that angel face on again, just like when we had the 2 lunches. She was being so friendly and nice, but at this point I am on my guard with her. At this point she has lost all credibility with me. At this point I really feel that she is a two-faced nasty mean hypocrite (I don’t want to be judgmental but that’s what my feelings were). She starts saying that usually when three women hang out together there is always one who is treated like the outcast but that doesn’t happen with the three of us. There is so much love in our group. Really? It is still dark outside and I am rolling my eyes and thinking what planet is she on? She has been treating me like a loser outcast almost the whole weekend. So JoAnne comes out to the balcony to join us and she proceeds to repeat her theory to JoAnne about the three of us. Remember earlier this is the same person who said she had such a great weekend getaway with Thomas during Easter weekend and then woke up with him beating the crap out of her?
About half hour later, it starts getting lighter and a giant colorful rainbow appeared in the sky. Diane tells us that the reason the rainbow is appearing is because there is so much love on this balcony. At this point I tell them both that a rainbow is a covenant and promise which God made to mankind that He will never destroy the earth with a flood ever again, that it’s in the Old Testament. You could hear crickets. The reason I pointed this out to them is because Diane seems to have a problem with Christians and since I was feeling frisky I decided to take a jab at her, but I’m not sure if she knew it or not. Plus I wasn't feeling any love on that balcony - I was so ready to go home.
She asked me again if I was having a good time and I said to her that "for the tenth time yes I am having a good time". Did she get the hint and stop hounding me? No. She asked me that question two more times before we got back home.
The Beginning of the End
So the weekend is over – we come back home and we go our separate ways. I wish I could say the drama ended and it was all over. But it didn't and it wasn't.
The next few weeks Diane sent several emails to JoAnne and me about "what a wonderful time she had". Her oldest daughter got engaged, and there was that gigantic snowstorm in CT. Then came the email informing us she had to get another surgery on her shoulder and that she was disappointed in her family in CT because nobody would come down to stay with her but she was really glad she had her two favorite girls to rely on. My eyes could not stop rolling.
The weekend after her surgery Thomas emails me and JoAnne asking us to come over for pizza Saturday night. He was in town to be with Diane during her surgery. It turns out JoAnne went over there but I had other plans. I really did. I went on a day trip to hike in the mountains. Besides, this is why I am probably a coward – I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just had a feeling of dread associating with Diane after that trip to Savannah. I feel she proved she doesn’t value our friendship and she got away with her meanness and disrespect 3 times now and it will just continue to get worse. So I didn’t respond and didn’t show up. If she would have showed me and my feelings some respect the first few times she attacked me and at least tried to resolve any conflict, I would not have given up on the friendship. I just wish I would have at least responded to Thomas to let him know, that no, I couldn't make it. I didn't even do that.
JoAnne calls me at work the following Monday. She never ever calls me at work. Never. Ever. She tells me Diane is in the hospital with a blood clot in her lung and she was going over to the hospital. She tells me 3 times that she is going over there to sit with her. JoAnne is subtly trying to get me to go there too. I said I would pray for Diane but didn’t say anything else. I never went. JoAnne leaves me a voicemail later that evening and tells me the doctor said Diane will be fine and will be in hospital a few more days. She also mentions that they missed me that Saturday night. I emailed JoAnne to let her know I have been really busy lately and don’t check my emails as often. Like I mentioned before, all of this is where the coward part in me is showing up. But on the other hand I have tried 3 times to explain or defend myself when Diane attacked me and she will not listen and turns it on me like I’m some loser. So I quit trying.
I get an email from Diane 3 weeks later. She says she hasn’t heard from me lately and she is wondering how I’m doing. She proceeds to apologize to me if she acted stupid by asking me a hundred times if I was having a good time while in Savannah. She said the only reason she kept asking is because I was spending a lot of time alone on the screened-in balcony. I deleted the email. So now it’s my fault for her bad behavior and I guess I’m not allowed to enjoy the balcony that much. I guess she found something wrong with that too. She wished me well and we have not had any contact since.
I spoke to JoAnne a few months later and she informed me that Diane packed up everything in Thomas’ condo and moved to Savannah to be with him once again. Well good riddance. She also told me that she did not believe Diane and Thomas were going to make it together because Thomas does not appear to have any sympathy for all of Diane’s health issues. I personally believe those two will stay together, because they would rather be miserable together than miserable alone. I believe Diane bullies and disrespects Thomas in a subtle way all the time and that is why he doesn't have much sympathy for her.
I have not spoken to JoAnne since then because we both get busy and time flies by. But the end of the story is: I have decided the best thing to do is to never have contact with Diane ever again (or anyone else who is even remotely like her). Sorry this was so long and thanks for reading.
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