A lot of massage therapists are into cleansing and detoxing. Some of the more scientific minds I associate with think that’s hocus pocus, so before they get their panties in a wad and don’t read any further, this is not about cleaning out your bowels. It’s about cleaning the toxic people out of your life.

We all come across toxic people. Most of us have at least one or two in our own family tree. Some of us have toxic friends. Maybe they weren’t always toxic, but something happened to them along the way, and they became like a nuclear cloud hanging in the sky over the reactor. I’ve always thought it’s funny that one of the nuclear power plants here in the Carolinas is located on Lake Toxaway. Sounds like an oxymoron! I used to date a fellow who lived down there, and the route to his house was confusing…back in the days before GPS…I learned to just follow the mushroom cloud and I could get there.

Toxic people are negative people. They always see the glass as half-empty. They take everything personally. If it’s not about them, it doesn’t exist. Tell them your plans and dreams, and they’ll shoot them down.  Tell them some accomplishment you’ve achieved, and they’ll tell you what you should have done instead. If you praise something they did, they’ll tell you that nobody appreciates it while you’re standing there telling them that you do. If you praise something someone else did, they’ll turn it into a personal attack that you’re complimenting someone else instead of them.

In all fairness, sometimes toxic people are genuinely disturbed. One of the most toxic relationships I ever had was with a woman who was my closest friend for many years.  During the time we were friends, she had a few failed love affairs (and so did I, including a devastating divorce). Then she developed some health problems…nothing life-threatening, but she did have to make adaptations. She never had another positive thought or said a positive word. Over the years I watched as she became more angry and bitter at the world. I spent years trying to comfort her, say and do anything I could to make her feel better. After I left my life as a chef and became a massage therapist, she was very critical of my new career…she couldn’t believe I wanted to touch people for a living, because she had gotten to the point where she didn’t want anyone to touch her. She eventually became a hermit and refused to leave her house except for dire necessities, like buying food and going to her doctor’s appointments.

Our relationship ended one Christmas. For 17 years, she and I had gotten together on Christmas Eve to share a bottle of wine and exchange gifts.  A few days before Christmas, I received a letter in the mail from her–she only lived about ten miles away from me–and it said she didn’t want to see me on Christmas Eve, that she didn’t ever intend to celebrate Christmas again, and it was a long diatribe of her trauma and drama. By this time, she was on a lot of medication, and I knew that it was not my old friend talking but the person she had turned into.

I had already purchased her Christmas present. It was a 6-foot tall concrete angel statue for her yard. She had commented once on wanting one, so I bought it. Since she was in the state she was in,  instead of delivering it personally like I had planned to do (with the help of a pickup truck and a couple of strong friends), I paid the statuary dealer $120 to take it up to her house.  I wrote her a letter that I would always love her and that I would always have fond memories of the many Christmases we had spent together, and taped it to the statue. The day after Christmas, I went out shopping, and when I got home, it was standing in my front yard with the letter still attached to it, unopened. She couldn’t accept friendship, love, or compassion anymore, and I knew I couldn’t do anything about it. I decided to let it go. I had to.  For about 15 years until she passed away, I continued to send her a birthday card every year and a Christmas card with reminisces about some of our wonderful years together. She never responded.

Sometimes the toxic people in our lives are people it’s hard to avoid, like a co-worker or even a parent or sibling. If you can’t stay away from them, surround yourself with a bubble of white light and don’t let their negativity get to you. It isn’t about you. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. It is about them and their own perception of their misery. They can’t smell the roses that are right under their noses–that they have a roof over their head, enough food to eat, friends and family who would love them if only they would accept that and stop looking at the world through the black fog. If it’s your spouse that’s toxic, you’re going to have to make the choice to stay and let that kill you a little bit at a time, or if you’re going to get out.

When a person is genuinely suffering from clinical depression or other mental or emotional disorder, I certainly feel sympathy and compassion for them, and I make allowances for that the way I made them for my friend for many years. But when it’s just a plain old case of “I’m going to rain on your parade,” guess what? They aren’t going to rain on my parade, because I refuse to let them. I cleanse them from my mind, even if I have to be in their physical presence. I detox them right out of my psyche and don’t allow their trauma and drama to affect me. I can still love them, but I don’t have to like them.

Toxic relationships keep us from reaching our own potential and interfere with our own emotional and spiritual growth. If there are people in your life who are toxic, let them go. Detox yourself and bless them on their way.  Sometimes its better to love people from a distance.


Laura Allen

One thought on “Detoxing

  1. Rebecca Adams

    The last sentence says it all! Some people you have to love from a distance, and find compassionate ways to be unavailable. I am learning that “no” is an answer – and it doesn’t mean I don’t love them. It just means I also love myself..
    It is never easy to cleanse distance someone you care about. But many times, being involved in their drama feeds it, and it enables them. Many times it’s like dealing with a low-grade tantrum. Any attention you give it, simply perpetuates it..
    Tough love is tough – that’s why it’s called “tough love.”
    A dear friend/sister/mentor once told me “You cannot save anyone – the only person you can save is yourself– and in doing so, you show others how.” That little piece of advice has served me many, many times…
    thanks for the validation, Laura!

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