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Triggers / Boundaries / Toxic People?

Old 06-24-2011, 09:44 AM
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dbh
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Triggers / Boundaries / Toxic People?

I almost posted this on the Adult Children of Alcoholics forum, but then thought this must be something that many people recovering from dysfunctional families and relationships must deal with.

I'm at a point in my recovery where certain personality types are driving me crazy. It's funny, for so many years all my concentration was on members of my family of origin and what I thought they were doing wrong. Now, I've have pretty much accepted my family for who they are and have been able to detach with love.

What I'm struggling with now are random people in my life - people from church, parents at school, and people that I work with.

I have often read that the people who trigger you have more to do with you than it does with them. I can't figure out what to do when I'm around a person that triggers me.

It's usually people that remind me of my pre-recovery self. The mom at the school that overextends herself, joins every committee, and wants everyone to like her. That used to be me, but now when I'm confronted with a personality like this I want to run screaming (or tell them how working the 12-steps have helped me :-)

I'm also extremely judgmental about people who gossip and those that try to play people against each other. That reminds me of my family of origin too much.

I know I can't change anyone and that I can only change how I react to others. I'm still learning how to set boundaries and what healthy boundaries actually are.

There a part of me that just wants to avoid these challenging personalities, but in the past that has lead to isolation. There are days when I find almost everyone annoying; I'd end up with no one in my life!

I think I need to learning how healthy relationships work. When you're part of a community, you have conflicts and you disagree, but ultimately you figure out how to work/live together.

Unfortunately, the family that I grew up in never provided examples of how you go about doing that!

What I'm doing right now isn't working. I tend to give mixed signals to people. I'm friendly some days and give a cold shoulder the next. I want to try and figure out how to be consistent.

Does this make sense to anyone else?

Thank you for letting me share.

db
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:58 AM
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I try to stay away from the toxic people. I also try to remind myself from time to time that I dont like everything about my own children and still love them, so i cant expect to like everything about anyone else. People make there own choices and my choice is to try to enjoy the people I love even if I dont agree with there choices and stay away from the real toxic people.
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:46 AM
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My opinion is as we move through recovery we consciously take more and more responsibility for our actions, words and lives and begin to notice that when people don't. I think it means that your recovery is going well because you can now see the difference between how you are living now and how you used to live. What I am working on is detaching from the old me and realizing that that person isn't me anymore and understanding that what I am feeling about these others is me moving on and growing. In my case what has happened is I don't feel frustrated near as much and see much more humor in what is happening in my life and how I react.

Your friend,
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:50 AM
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DBH - I completely understand this! I was never taught this kind of skill as a kid, and consistently entered into odd/dramatic/eventful relationships (with everyone) as an adult, and never had the time to learn. I was too busy defending myself from the sticky traps I walked into.
However!! Once you have removed yourself successfully from the traps, you are now able to recognize them. Don't be drawn in again! The way that works for me (and I'm very new at it) is to define and refine my core values. Which in turn leads to a common-sense boundary, which is far easier to uphold than a wishy-washy 'I think this is right' response.

Also, I tend to take myself a little too seriously, and have to remind myself daily (or more) to take it easy and lighten up.

A book that really helped me define my values (I'm reading it now for the 3rd time) is the old book, Laws of Success, by Napoleon Hill. It's a huge book, but this is our life!

Remember in The Princess Bride, when they're in the Fire Swamp?
"Buttercup: We'll never succeed. We may as well die here.
Westley: No, no. We have already succeeded. I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp? One, the flame spurt - no problem. There's a popping sound preceding each; we can avoid that. Two, the lightning sand, which you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that too.
Buttercup: Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.'s?
Westley: Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist. "

We have already succeeded.


- Sylvie
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Old 06-24-2011, 11:19 AM
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I'm hoping in time that I'll truly be able to identify toxic people.

It's hard for me to always know when to work on a relationship, when walk away, and when to run!

I agree that having a good sense of humor about situations helps.

Originally Posted by Sylvie66 View Post
We have already succeeded.
I think I'm going to tape that to my bathroom mirror :-)

Thanks,

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Old 06-24-2011, 11:53 AM
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Love this, as I finally feel like I'm "getting it," regarding my responsibility to understand, create and hold my own boundaries, nice like.


I have often read that the people who trigger you have more to do with you than it does with them. I can't figure out what to do when I'm around a person that triggers me.

It's usually people that remind me of my pre-recovery self. The mom at the school that overextends herself, joins every committee, and wants everyone to like her. That used to be me, but now when I'm confronted with a personality like this I want to run screaming (or tell them how working the 12-steps have helped me :-)
Just recently, I started using a new prayer for this, it goes: Thank you for this gift, than you for showing me what my life could be like. Thank you.

I'm also extremely judgmental about people who gossip and those that try to play people against each other. That reminds me of my family of origin too much.
I had the honor of following my mentor around the state in May, and she was surrounded by gossiping, fighting women that were really seriously driving me crazy. This is what she did: as we were loading up for a four hour drive to the next stop, she pointed to the other car and said, "Transform is riding with me, everyone else goes with Jamie in her car." I laughed when we got in the car and noted how their idiocy had seemed to go unnoticed by her. She said, "they'll either sort it out or not. We have work to do," and we did work our butts off while she was here. She, her assistant and myself put our heads together and worked non stop.

After, I put this to work in my life. I ignore all gossip, in-fighting, sexism, racism, and BS and keep working.

I recently "found" myself having a hell of a time with my landlord. I knew I was creating the problems and needed to change myself to be happy, but it took awhile to sort out why and how.

I should have created a clear boundary after I got the first manipulative email from her. I should have looked at this relationship and figured out what I want it to be. Not what she wanted it to be.

So, I recently re-established that boundary. She is my landlord, not my mommy. We have a contract. It is my job to fullfill my legal obligations to her, nothing else.


Just keep staying aware and in focus when you're uncomfortable. Keep looking at your actions, your boundaries and how to do it differently next time cause if you're anything like me, you'll get another chance to get it right!

Hope this helps, even though I just realized it's not written in first person, but rather bossy stuff. Feel free to create a better boundary with me!
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:13 PM
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Here's something I stumbled on today while looking for something completely different. I don't know if it appeals or applies to you, but it sure as hell smacked me over the head like a two-by-four today:

Anytime I am looking to somebody else as my source, I'm coming from scarcity. I am no longer trusting God, or the Universe, for my harvest. It's reasonable for me to have expectations based on what somebody I trust has committed to. And it's natural for me to feel disappointed when that somebody doesn't come through. But when I feel more than disappointment, when I also feel anger, it's because I deviated from my truth. It's because I compromised my truth to get what somebody else promised. Because when I'm really following my truth, I will be at peace with the consequences whatever they are. I can accept somebody else's truth, but I must live my own truth. And sometimes that means walking away from a relationship. (Jan Denise)
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:44 PM
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jds, I totally relate to #5 on your list. I actually told the RAH that trying to have a relationship with him is like trying to hug a porcupine. I like the barbed wire reference on your list - also very descriptive.

I've been reading a book titled "Dealing With the Crazy-Makers in Your Life" by David Hawkins. Some good tools in this book that I have been able to employ with success. I've also developed a higher level of tolerance as I have worked the steps in Al-Anon. I let things go far easier than I used to. I think a lot of "oh wells" in my head. And I like what Darklight says about praying for someone - sincerely and genuinely - it helps take away that sense of self righteousness that I slip into if I am not paying attention.
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Old 06-24-2011, 04:53 PM
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It's probably because people, including myself, can often be really annoying. Especially when they don't do things my way.
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Old 06-24-2011, 05:30 PM
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Cyranoak, I've been working hard on keeping thoughts, words and deeds in alignment which has totally cut down on my sarcastic responses. So think up one of your own along the lines of we would never thing such a nasty thing about you.

Your friend,
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Old 06-29-2011, 06:15 AM
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Thank you everyone who responded to my post.

My children are out of school and I've been running around with them for the past week. This morning I finally had a moment to sit down and truly read everything that was posted.

Such great ESH!

I think part of my struggle (I have so many struggles! :-) is that I'm changing, so the people that I want to associate with is changing too. I am noticing unhealthy behaviors more, but I need to work on accepting people for where they are in their own life journey.

It's sort of like when you go on a diet or quit smoking. All of a sudden you think EVERYONE needs to be on a diet or stop smoking. On an average day, I can identify at least 5+ people who need to be in a 12-step program :-)

I need to work on being non-judgmental. I need to learn to "Live and let live."

I love the idea of saying a genuine prayer for people. That actually helped me a lot with my codependency issues with my family of origin. Instead of running and trying to save, I now say a prayer for them. It helps me feel like I'm doing something. It feels healing for both me and them.

I definitely give too much trust to people. Since I spent most of my life as a people pleaser, it never learned to hold back and wait. I would plow into every relationship full force, determined to make everyone like me. Didn't stop to think whether these were people that I had something in common with. It didn't matter anyway, I was always good and being whatever I thought others wanted me to be.

It's sort of nice to realize that I can actual choose who to spend my time with. It's nice to realize that I can be me and let others accept me for who I am.

Okay, I'm starting to ramble.

Thanks again,

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