Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Society labels "Toxic" or "High Maintenance"

This is in response to "Toxic Friendships" and I am NOT totally disagreeing with this entry, nor suggesting this is NOT actually the case for this particular person, but suggesting a  different perspective to this idea in general society today. Some are very harmful & should break up a relationship (friends, spouse etc) but in others there is something else going on. Just think about it! OH NO!
While I certainly do not disagree there are relationships which are not healthy for people (emotional or physical abuse, alcoholism which is not dealt with etc), there is also a tendency in today's society for people to think relationships should just be fun all the time or the majority of the time. "High Maintenance" is another term that is used to label people. Life IS about struggle for each party in a relationship. This is the wonderful part of don't have to walk through life alone. Some of the comments do realize you play a big part in this if you are not happy. You got to this point in a relationship before doing something about it. I get chills to think if Dana Reeve would view her husband as "High Maintenance". So many do have such bigger struggles in relationships than many of us, and yet they get through it by understanding what it is all about and have such a strong relationship BECAUSE of it!

Just because someone comes to you & talks about their problems, wants an empathic ear, does not always mean they want you to fix their problems for them. Even know when someone passes away we say, "Please accept my deepest sympathies". This is lovely. Just because you give someone your empathy or sympathy & say I'm sorry this is happening to you, does not mean the person wants you to solve their problem. It is funny, Dr. Deborah Tannen of Georgetown University says men tend to think women always want them to solve their problems and yet I think it depends on what the task is. I mean if you think about it, women are so nurturing...mothers (many times) and fix the "boo-boos" etc.  Before I get comments on this one...NO, I'm not stating AT ALL men are not nurturing or that someone like me, who does not have children is not nurturing! There are some women who do not have a nurturing bone in their body! I'm not suggesting a stereotype here...just making a point that women also tend to want to fix also!!!! We tend to think we can solve this & just take care of it. We WANT TO DO IT at first, but this is the problem...when we get to a point where we no longer WANT TO & that is usually when it is too late. Why do we no longer want to? This is what should be explored more. Then we instead "cut it off" rather than, again what a relationship is about, discussing it and admitting we may have done the wrong thing for them & lets try this & see if we can keep the friendship.

Again, you can also suggest ideas, but not do it for them. This may be more of the problem of the "fixer" rather than the friend talking about the problem. You may be "Enabling" (another term equally overused at times) them & when the person is weak, helping them & that starts then who is the toxic one.

Again, life is about listening in a relationship, working on things TOGETHER, even in a friendship & not a spousal situation, and "helping" but not "doing" always. The idea of holding the friends hand to go say to AA, but not forcing them to go & telling them they have to go. Providing information or opportunities. At times it is lovely to "do" things for people & there is nothing wrong with that. We do things out of LOVE! Can you imagine not doing for a child...but we have to at times let them do for themselves...same idea. 

Relationships are also about JUST being there when there are "tough times"! This is how a relationship gets stronger over time. We live in a society which wants no problems & fast service & that is not always ideal. People are so fast to say what do "I" need rather than "we" need. So many are ready to just get up and "cut loose" the relationship, whether it is a spouse & divorcing or a friendship. You will BOTH have hills and valleys. Sometimes you are both on the hill, sometimes you are both in the valley & sometimes 1 is on the TOP of the hill while the other is at the BOTTOM of the valley, but you have to say, "Do I want this person to also be there for me, when I am at the bottomof the hill & they are on top of the hill?"

Many times when we say we can't take the person anymore, it means we are not strong enough & that says we have a weakness. When relationships break, it is really us saying we no longer feel the person is worth it. So sad. We also seem to want to impose our own "time table" on the other person. Well they should "be over this by now"...if it was me I would be..... If we do this, then you have to be willing to accept others imposing their time table on you. Hmmm! They are not you, and you may find a situation later in life that you take longer than another will "tolerate" (a word I also dislike!) There are days or moments one will be progressing nicely & other times one will take that 1 step forward & 2 steps back. This will happen to anyone! We each have different paths & lessons in life and sometimes people are going through something not for them to learn but for all of us!!! Perhaps they are not "over something" because someone else needs to learn or someone has still not learned the lesson from them? Hmmm?

Seems odd to quote a movie but it makes "Laws of Attraction" Pierce's character says talking about divorce, "suddenly people find a fight in them they thought they never had....where was that fight to save the marriage (relationship)?" 

Another thought, this is ALL perspective! There have been many times people have made a comment about someone's "problems" and I have thought, not said to them, they have the same problem but apparently they do not see it in themselves. We tend to see things much easier in others than ourselves. "There but for the Grace of God go I?" and "People in Glass Houses" comes to mind to me now. (Yes, maybe me too!)

One last know at some point later in our lives we may be totally reliant on  others to do so much for us? Hopefully, it will be later & not early like Chris Reeve or Michael J. Fox etc. This is what I mean about Hills & Valleys...we help at times & others help us at times. Maybe these are all learning lessons for life. We learn to help others & we are also learning how to accept help for later at another time in our life. If we don't offer help how can we ask and accept any later? If we do not ask or accept help, how can we learn to offer it to others?

I remember my grandfather declining in health. I think at times with my foot injury how it is difficult to not be able to do things for myself  (like now! ugh) but then I think I will get it not be able to drive ANYMORE, for just one example, I know I wouldn't like that. It would really be hard to feel independent, and confident in myself. This CAN BE (not always) another example where we enable. We talk AT elder, we tell them WHAT TO DO and treat them like children or worse. We don't say "Would you like something to drink?" rather than "Drink your milk!" Heck, we sometime treat pets better than people! Sad! I know it is difficult if they get to the point where they physically need to & won't, but this is many times way before this point & there are still ways.

I remember going into my grandfather's nursing home toward the very end & he refused to eat. It was Spaghetti...I'm like "You are passing on spaghetti? Man!" He said it tasted awful. Now, see some would just think "Eat it!" I could force him, but I thought would I want someone to force me to eat something I didn't like. I also remembered elder tend to lose their sense of taste, this is why they use sooo much more salt etc, so if he thinks it tastes awful maybe it doesn't have enough flavor? So, I tasted  the spaghetti. Oh Good Lord! I would have rather died! Ha! It was sooo spicy it could have eaten a hole in your stomach. I think they spice it up so much because they also know many elder do not find it flavorful... but man. He laughed at my facial expression. Needless to say, I was not about to tell him he HAD TO eat it! Ha! We don't ask questions & find out enough.

Ok, enough... I think you get the idea!
Again, just something to think about!

P.S. YES! This is a reminder for me also!

Sorry with the alerts from adding but here is an article today on Dana Reeve which is interesting!


demandnlilchit said...

Thanks for the input.......I know that I am a strong person who needs little assistance from anyone.....but every once in awhile it would of been nice to hear this friend say to me, "Is there anything I can do for you" my response would of been "No.....but THANKS for asking"  any relationship gets REAL old REAL fast when it is only one sided.  Thanks again for always visiting me and I always like to get new perspectives on old thoughts!  

schnozbeary said...

I agree wholeheartedly...I have had to make the distinction between a truly toxic relationship and one where both parties are simply "at the bottom." In my marriage, we have ridden out numerous storms, a few F4 hurricanes in fact, but here we are and I do not regret waiting out the storm....great entry!! Penny

lurkynat said...

Dear Deborah,
I totally agree that we as peopel blossom by learning from our loved ones and friends and especially if they are remarkably different from oneself.
The only troulbe I have comes when one person wants to condemn me or others on a regular basis, due to their beleif about what lifestyle is best for all. That is really arrogance!
great article! truly inspiring.