06 May 2010

Toxic People

Toxic usually means something that can severely sicken you or kill you. Toxic people usually have no clue that they have a problem – YOU have the problem, other people are the issue, surely not them. They tend to be heavily "defended" and have little to no insight into their own issues. When they do get an idea about their own weaknesses, they quickly cover them up, gloss them over, or run from them.

Yesterday I had another glass object break and it reminded me of toxic people and situations. I chose the glass because it was quite heavy; substantial I thought. It did not seem fragile, despite being made of glass. The tumbler was a lovely dark cobalt blue and the bottom was weighted. I am not sure if the outside of the glass became slick and wet from "sweating", as it was hot here, or if my hands were damp, or both. I went to move it and it slipped, with a large shard cutting my finger. Pieces of glass had flown everywhere. My husband bandaged my hand and helped clean up the remains of the once-beautiful glass.

Toxic people are often deceptively competent on the surface. They certainly will not admit to their own defects, so others will assume that this must be someone who really knows what they are doing. The toxic person uses a lot of double talk so that the listener may stop and say, "I can't believe she just said that!" The sly comments and insults are built into the conversation to have whatever effect the toxic person wants – to embarrass, to show their own knowledge, etc.

The toxic person may have rages which seem out of the blue but to them there is something quite specific that you have attacked, in some way. Like the glass slipping and the resulting cut I had, you might never see the explosion coming but if you really understood the inner world of the person, you might have been able to anticipate it. Living with them is often like walking on glass (vs. the bipolar person whose swings are uncontrolled - it is like walking on eggshells).

If you have no choice but to live with a toxic person (or more than one, heaven forbid!) you now live in a toxic environment. Unfortunately, it would normally be the weakest persons who would be stuck in such a place. Sickness/death of various aspects of self will ensue, short of a miracle from God.


Next post: Fragile + Toxic = Disaster



  1. I know someone who is just like this, save for the fact that rages are not a part of her repertoire. Thank the good Lord I am not married to this individual! She's bad enough in the workplace...I cannot imagine how this personality at work translates to interactions with family and (if any) friends.

    Thanks for posting this. I've feared it was "all me" and now I understand it's only part me...and part her.

  2. Deb, It is so hard to work with someone who has these issues. Sometimes, especially as Christians, we just think that somehow we are supposed to be able to love and influence people who are just in such a bad place that only God and those professional helpers He puts around them are going to be able to start the process. Thanks for your comment!


Google Analytics