Today, I’m happy to present you with Lisa, a cupcake loving, Southern suburban mom and a fellow book lover. We have similar taste in books and after chatting with Lisa on Twitter, she told me she endures several chronic illnesses. She used to blog just about books on her blog and when I asked her to be my guest, she decided to share something deeply personal.
I’m honored she chose my site to share these important lessons she’s learned the hard way from having chronic illnesses. Self-care is important for everyone but for those of us with chronic illness, it’s even more vital to prevent unnecessary additional pain. I’m not here to do all the talking today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Lisa!
Update: I have not provided a link to Lisa’s blog because she no longer blogs at Books in the Burbs or maintains another website. That being said, this post is still very relevant and well written so I’m happy to keep this important conversation going.
Self-Care: Loving Yourself Enough to Let Toxic People Go
By Lisa Salazar from the former book blog Books in the Burbs
I’ve read articles and heard people discuss different vitamins that help our bodies rid itself of toxins and the Liver Cleanse. I am sure you have read or heard the same thing. When you are diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder, it quickly becomes about which medicines are helpful, which vitamins to supplement your body with, exercises, and ways to combat fatigue and stress. However, very seldom do I read or hear about a cleanse that involves eliminating toxic people.
Throughout my life, I have been the caregiver, the person people call when they need to talk, receive emotional support, or get money from. I was the “go-to” person in certain people’s lives. Whatever it was, I tended to take on their problems as my own and do what I could to help them….even at the expense of my own emotional and physical health. While I am a family therapist, it is hard to see the personal sacrifices made when in the midst of the situation. It has taken time, experience, understanding what is most important in my life and who is most important, for me to truly understand what it means to let go of toxic people. There is a saying that I have often heard throughout life: “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.” That is WRONG!! No! Do not keep toxic people in your life.
It took being diagnosed with my illnesses to truly understand the importance and necessity of streamlining my support system and identifying the toxic people in my life. I had to reevaluate the relationships in my life, which included family, and determine if that relationship was healthy and supportive, or toxic and energy depleting. Then, it took a lot of prayer and talking to my surrogate parents (who are also my spiritual advisors), to give myself the permission I needed to let these people go.
12 Ways To Determine if You Have a Toxic Person in Your Life:
• Does this person only contact you when there is an issue in his/her life?
• Does this person focus on his/her issues and seldom (if any) asks how YOU are doing?
• Does this person act passive aggressive with you and make snide remarks that are hurtful?
• Are you excluded from events or gatherings that are meant to be happy events, and then use excuses to explain why you weren’t invited?
• Does drama follow that person-whether he/she creates it or stirs it?
• Does that person focus on every negative issue going on life and not notice the positive?
• Do you feel your issues are dismissed about what is going on with you?
• Do you feel depleted from energy after you talk or spend time with the person?
• Do you feel that you aren’t supported or encouraged and your symptoms are dismissed, so that the person can quickly refocus on him/herself?
• Do you feel that you have to walk on egg shells around this person because he/she will quickly become angry and get defensive towards you? Then, you feel guilty for “rocking the boat”?
• Do you feel that your needs aren’t valued or your opinions aren’t important?
• Do you find yourself simply giving in and doing what he/she wants just to stop the tension?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is time to re-evaluate those relationships in your life. Sure, there are times when a conversation will be about the other person. However, if you find that the person’s needs and interests are the primary focus of your relationship, then it is time to re-evaluate that relationship. For those of us who do have auto-immune diseases: time is important, self-care is essential, and priorities need to be made. This applies to family, friends, and new people who pass by in our life.
Who Should Be a Part of Your Life?
To determine this, it is always important to ask yourself these 3 questions:
• Is our relationship based on mutual respect, unselfish love, and understanding?
• Is this person as invested in my life, as I am in theirs?
• Do I enjoy myself around this person without a feeling of heaviness, fear, or guilt?
If you answered yes to those 3 questions, then these are the people you want to include in your inner circle and invest time, energy, and love to. For all others, I highly encourage you to read the post below. It is perfectly stated, giving you permission to be your own advocate. Who you surround yourself with is just as important as taking your medicines. Why? Because we feed off energy and are affected not just emotionally, but physically, too! We need to be around those who will uplift us, not overwhelm and burden us to the point of exhaustion with every single interaction made (via email, text, phone, seeing them on social media, etc).
When you take care of yourself and eliminate toxic relationships in your life, you make room for those who do love and support you. It is healthy and important to be your own advocate for self-care, which includes removing toxic people from your life. Because your emotional health is closely connected to your physical health, having less drama and more authentic and valuable relationships in your life will help you feel better, be more energized, and feel supported when your illness may not be so visible to others.
Lisa Salazar is a licensed marriage and family therapist and professional counselor. She is also the owner and blogger for Books in the Burbs. Diagnosed with CFS/Fibromyalgia in 1999 and Hasimoto’s Disease in 2008, Lisa has had a long road to recovery. However, the greatest lesson she has learned is that it is okay to seek support, it is important to set boundaries, and it is necessary to say goodbye to toxic people for the sake of her emotional well-being. Lisa’s husband and children have been her greatest joy and support. God truly blessed her with a family that has walked this journey with her, sprinkling angels along the path, who have given her support and unconditional love.
© Books in the Burbs, Lisa Salazar, 2015. All rights reserved.
I love that my book blogging friends are sharing some important messages with us. I think Lisa’s post complements Jennine’s guest post from last week about Relearning Friendships. Lisa tells us how to let the toxic ones go and Jennine told us how to rebuild and recognize meaningful friendships.
What a difficult realization that some people in your life are toxic to you. I had one particularly toxic relationship in my life. Just telling my husband about the upsetting conversations would send pain throughout my body and I’d be unable to move or play with my boys for days. Though I did not classify the relationship as toxic, I realize after reading Lisa’s post that it was. It did not take me long to realize that I could not stay in the relationship, I was letting my emotional stress cause me physical pain and my family and I suffered for it. I have not regretted it once in the past two years since I decided to take care of myself and let that toxic relationship go.
What about you? Do you love yourself? Do you have toxic relationships? How did you handle them? What do you do for self-care? How do you cope with your chronic illness(es)? Be sure to tell us and support one another in the comments!
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