Toxic people. The never have anything nice to say to you, always putting down your dreams, harshly “honest,” judgmental, make your heart beat fast and your stomach get nervous, toxic people. They are the worst, and yet, we often don’t just get rid of them. Why?!
I have been asking myself that exact question lately. While I was extremely fortunate throughout my infertility battle to have a group of supportive friends and family, not everyone was kind—especially when my husband and I decided to stop trying to conceive and embrace our childless life. In fact, the harsh criticisms that I received from two individuals (family, no less) brought me to tears and caused me to question the decisions I had made.
Although I didn’t think so at the time, I was fortunate in that one person cut herself out of my life. She unfriended me on Facebook. While you might think this is silly, I was shocked that one of my own family members would disagree so strongly about my embracement of our exchange daughter that she would unfriend me! We live halfway across the country, so it was the main way we kept in touch. But, she disagreed with my claiming Bruna as family so much that she told me, “You need help. Get counseling and accept your infertility like an adult.”
I had no words. I simply told her that I couldn’t talk about this with her anymore. And next thing I knew, we were no longer Facebook friends.
The other person who has been more than a little judgmental about my life choices (including a disgust for my starting this blog) is still a part of my daily life because we are still connected on social media. As I fretted over why she didn’t even like the “Happy Birthday” post I made for her daughter, I began to wonder…
Why am I so worried about what she thinks of me? Why do I need her approval? She has talked badly about my husband (and my late Dad), won’t return my text messages, never likes anything I post on social media, has been blunt in stating that she believes I post an “unhealthy” amount of pictures of Maddie, and has expressed her disapproval of Not So Mommy…™
Why am I seeking approval from the toxic?
So, why am I still seeking her approval? Why do I allow her to sneak into my thoughts? Is it because she is family and I think I must? (We only see each other a few times a year.) Is it because I haven’t accepted my life as much as I like to think I have? (Now, that’s a scary thought!) Or is it because I see her posts on social media and therefore have a daily reminder of her?
I’ve mulled over these questions for a little while now, and I have made a decision. I’m no longer going to allow this person to take up space in my thoughts. I’m going to hide her posts from social media and whenever the doubts and negative thoughts creep in, I’m going to change the channel. I’m going to focus on the people who bring me joy, support my journey, and encourage me on my childless walk. I’m going to choose me, not her.
Bearing my soul because I want you to know…
Why am I bearing my soul and sharing something so deeply personal–something I struggle with and question? Because (whether you are infertile, childless, childfree, or not), I want all of us to understand…
- You deserve for people to say nice things to you and about you.
- Your dreams matter and no one should put them down.
- People can (and should) be honest without being rude.
- No one deserves for his/her life to be judged. It is simply not our place to judge.
- If someone causes undue stress in your life, then perhaps that someone shouldn’t be in your life.
- Don’t question decisions that you know in your heart are right for you, even if others don’t understand them.
- If someone who was causing you pain cuts you out of his/her life, let them.
- If you need to cut someone out of your life who is causing you pain, do it.
- Don’t allow the negative to take over.
- You can (and should) choose to surround yourself with loving, positive, supportive influences.
While I cannot control everything in my life, I can control who I hang out with (in real life and in virtual social media life). So, from now on, I’m going to have a little bit of grit and a whole lot of grace. In other words, I am going to avoid toxic people and spend my time with those who build me up. I hope you do, too.