I am in the process of detaching from a toxic person with whom I worked for over a decade. Our relationship was always lopsided. She was one of the people i “pitied” and took under my wing out of “kindness” but when I really look at it I can see that I was using her to feel better about myself. I was not in a good place.
The primary basis of our relationship was gossip and commiserating about our toxic boss and co-workers. Our boss was very abusive and those of us who worked for him for all those years developed an unhealthy ecosystem of bitching, complaining, commiserating, and ultimately doing nothing to stand up for ourselves or improve our circumstances.
I quit the job in 2018 but stayed in touch with her. We shared some degree of emotional closeness. Overall, however, I felt like a dumping ground for her complaints and negativity. She truly drains me. I finally hit the wall a couple of months ago and stopped replying to her emails and calls. Every time I articulated a boundary and a need for space, she violated it.
In a text exchange, I said I am taking time to take care of my mental health and will be back in touch when I am ready. Her response was to call me later that day. She then invited me to lunch with some mutual friends/former colleagues. I declined, wishing her well and saying I needed some space and will be in touch after the summer. One week later she emailed me asking if I have time for a call … “Just wanted to ask a question.”
I like to think of myself as a kind person, and I am at a juncture where I am asking whether I should continue to respond to her. Am I forced to choose kindness to myself or kindness to her? Or is it a false choice and can I give her some kind of response without betraying myself? Really, I just want her to leave me alone and let me live my life in peace. I know I don’t “owe” her anything, and even the fact that I am pondering this and agonizing over it is a source of resentment.
If I take her call, she will try to emotionally manipulate me and extract any last bit of energy she can get out of me. She craves drama so she can FEEL something. For many years I gave her her fix. But it came at my own expense. Gossiping, bitching, complaining, and commiserating are not good for me or my mental health. I have my husband and healthier friendships that are based on mutual respect, positivity, and love.
Just decided – I will not reply to her email. Tough, but healing means showing up for myself over and over.