I don’t particularly want to go into extreme detail, but I’m sad today. Sad enough that even though I didn’t get to sleep until 2:30 A.M. I’m up again at 8.
I think I was born to teach, sometimes. So I’m taking my personal pain and using it as a teaching lesson about relationships. None of us are taught the skills necessary for forming, caring for, and communicating in relationships. I’ve had to learn it through therapy, because I definitely had nothing like a good role model to base anything on.
I strongly feel that Basic Communication 101 and Basic Relationship Navigation would be two very valuable additions to public school curriculums. How to not be a treacherous bull-pizzle would probably be cool, too.
Some people who called themselves my friends decided to start talking negatively behind my back.
Some folks don’t care about gossip. To me, it’s rank betrayal and pretty damned dishonorable. I don’t let many people get close to me because I’m so freaking head-shy about people doing this exact bullshit move.
If you’ve got a problem with someone, and you’re safe, obviously, you take the problem up with that person.
Running around flapping your pie hole, spreading bad information influenced heavily by personal bias is, to be frank, the act of a coward. Trying to break up friendships over your misunderstandings is a huge red-flag for a toxic, emotionally abusive person.
Some red flags to watch for in relationships.
When they set rules, often times after you “break” them. If someone begins to set rules on where you can be, who you can hang out with, and how you’re supposed to act, changes the rules just for you, or treats you worse than everyone else, I suggest finding a way to safely escape because what they’re really doing is beginning to take away your free will.
Who you can hang out with: If someone is trying to strong arm you/your friends/anyone into not hanging with someone they feel is a friend, that’s an emotional abuse red flag. It’s shitty behavior too. No one has any right to try to dictate another person’s friendships. I can’t even begin to get into all the reasons this is toxic. Like, there’s whole dissertations written on the subject. It’s fine to express concern to a friend about someone else. It’s not okay to force the issue or bamboozle your friend because they like someone you don’t.
How you use social media: this one is tricky, it’s really freaking common for neurotypical and ablest people to insist neurodivergent and/or mentally ill people confine their speech, thoughts, reactions, selves… in a box that makes them (not the ND person) comfortable.
How you use social media: it can also manifest in a person insisting that others leave or join groups, delete things like facebook/insta/tiktok etc. Huge, huge red flags.
They try to isolate you from friends and family: Isolation is how an abuser thrives and they’re so subtle in how they begin to push you away from your loved ones.
- If you ever get in an argument or fight with a friend or family member, an abuser will turn this into something bigger and try to convince you to remove that “toxic” person from your life
- They’ll request you spend time with them rather than your other friends or family
- Alienate you from coworkers by not allowing you to spend time outside of work with them
This is one of the scariest red flags of an abusive relationship because without your connections to the outside world, an abuser is free to treat you how they please because they’ve alienated you from everyone who could help.
Another thing abusers will do is blame you for their abusive behaviour, and tell you it was your fault.
Overly controlling behavior is a common red flag. People that try to control your movements, decisions, or beliefs are more concerned about what they want than what is best for you.
Emotional, verbal, and mental abuse are often much harder to pick up on than physical, but all types cause trauma and can result in PTSD. No one has the right to use another as a scapegoat for their problems. Those should be dealt with constructively and fairly. Abuse is never an acceptable response to a problem.
An inability to resolve conflict: conflict-avoidant people often think they’re doing the right thing by avoiding conflict, but they aren’t. Without constructive conflict, no relationship can be healthy.
Gaslighting: this is when someone tries to convince you that your lived experience isn’t really what happened. That what they think is correct, and you’re just confused.
It’s an incredibly common abusive tactic. Victims of gaslighting often feel guilty, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s a clear red flag in any relationship. You can provide proof, reasons, explanations as to why they’re wrong to a gaslighter, but they’ll still insist they’re right.
Avoidance mixed with silence is a classic passive-aggressive form of relationship toxicity, one that often gets progressively worse over time.
So what do you do about it? What is healthy, anyway? A healthy relationship involves acknowledging your needs first, and having a self-care plan in place. More importantly, you engage in that self-care.
Communication is so important. It’s at the center of every healthy relationship. And just for the ones in the back of the class? Talking with people other than the one you have a problem with (and a mediator, if needed/wanted) isn’t healthy communication. People can have no clue you have a problem with them. If you don’t communicate, they can’t even decide whether they want or can change their behavior.
Emotional regulation: Communication doesn’t work well when your emotions are in the way. There’s nothing wrong with having and expressing feelings. Feelings are always valid. What one does with those feelings can be healthy or toxic, but the existence of the emotions isn’t a bad thing. It’s just wise, for effective communication and conflict resolution, to wait until you can successfully regulate your emotions before discussion. If you’re talking negatively about someone you know, it’s probably because you’re letting your emotions control you vs dealing with them in an effective and healthy way.
Setting/violation of boundaries: We all need boundaries to protect ourselves and keep our relationships as sustainable as possible. You should clearly state your needs, boundaries, and deal-breakers with a loved one. If you haven’t done that, you’re not communicating well.
Trust: there can be no health to a relationship without trust. Once trust has been violated, it often needs to be earnt back.
And no one owes you an acceptance of your apology. Nobody is required to give you a chance to explain why you broke their trust, or even allow you back into their life.
In the personal realm, I could’ve done better at communicating my boundaries and deal-breakers. Such as, if you talk shit behind my or anyone else’s back, you’re a dishonorable fuck-weasel and I want nothing to do with you.
You don’t need to take my word for it. All the signs of emotional abuse and toxicity in relationships were found on these sites.
Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship
I’d never considered some of the people involved friends. I’d long since consigned them to ‘friendly acquaintance I don’t want to be closer to’. The word friend has special meaning to me and because of the amount of abuse I’ve lived through, you have to earn it.
But I didn’t expect them to act in such a dishonorable manner either.
I read psychology dissertations for fun, so it’s not hard to figure the soup and nuts of it. Person X has a personal beef with me stemmed in ableism. Person X decides that *I* am evil incarnate rather than accept they’ve got some pretty severe ableism issues and dealing with those. Person X has heavy, revolting levels of bias against neurodivergent and mentally ill people. So much so that they formed an echo chamber with another in a professional setting not at all appropriate to the conversation. Person X then shit-talks behind my back instead of constructively dealing with their dislike/bias. Person X then tries to convince my friends I’m awful and make them drop me. I didn’t even know they had a problem with me.
Despite their own neurodivergency, they’re still stuck in the part of their journey where they feel that if they just try hard enough, or amuse people enough, they’ll be accepted because their neurodivergency ‘isn’t that bad’. Neurodivergent people can be really ableist too.
Something I’m starting to suspect is that the more autistics and ADHDers mask, the more burn outs we’re likely to experience.
Every time I burn out, I come back less able to do things I could before. Masking is absolutely something I’m losing ability with.
It could also be a factor of age, exhaustion, lack of fvcks left. The point being that we don’t have a lot of research about the aging autistic/ADHDer because they’re always doing studies on how to get rid of us, vs studies that would actually help us.
My hypothesis that it gets harder to mask as we age and deal with the fall-out of being an autistic or ADHDer in this world may prove accurate for many of us. It’s definitely accurate for me.
But what does that mean? If I can’t mask as easily as I once did (for whatever reason) I’m going to slip into autistic speech patterns and excited emphatic language more often. I’m going to meltdown more in places I can’t control. None of that makes me an awful person. But it does make people insisting I control and hide my autistic/ADHD traits ableist.
I’ve rambled enough, so I’ll close with this; nobody is required to like someone else. Everyone has the right to leave an unfulfilling relationship. No one has the right to abuse you or your friends.
And using abusive tactics to justify your desire to leave a relationship is all kinds of messed up. So many people need so much therapy. 🥴
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