After this early phase, I’d say the next wave of people I learned were toxic and needed avoidance in my life was on the business front. Realizing that many folks doing startups, small businesses, and even leading things within enterprise organizations can be very dangerous and toxic to be around. When you end up working with folks who have gotten comfortable with crazy making, and operating within defensive positions, you can end up coming home pretty spun out, and off balance on a daily basis. Something that will leave you perpetually on unstable ground, questioning personal and professional choices you have made over the years, and unable to make new choices that will benefit you. When I first entered the professional world I had a strong belief that people who were successful in business were somehow better than the people who were often unemployed where I grew up. I quickly learned that there is crazy in both worlds, and just because someone is the CEO of a startup doesn’t mean they have it any more together than someone who is cutting firewood for a living in the small town where I grew up—-they just have more resources available to them. People in the business realm are just as good at crazy making and attaching cords to you for manipulating you down the road as people in small towns or within drug fueled worlds—-it is all about power, control, and manipulation for ones personal benefit.
The hardest wave of filtering people from my life has come in the last five years with the Trump era. Cutting loved ones from your life because they buy into what the GOP is selling right now wasn’t easy. The detachment wasn’t due to their just party affiliation. It was more about them being incapable of compassion for all human beings, and ultimately in the end was about the way it emotionally affected me. I care deeply about many of these people, so when I was physically around them, and exposed to their crazy making of conspiracy theories, fear mongering, and racist denialism, it would extract a massive mental and physical toll on me. I couldn’t see it in the moment. I would carry the weight of the anxiety as my own. However, going on almost five years of not seeing these people, I am operating on much more stable ground. Ranging from being free of stomach issues and allergies, to being more successful in my work, finances, and ability to move through the world. I just didn’t see how the friction from these relationships were actually preventing me from being successful, healthy, and happy in my own life, and holding me back from going places in a both literal and metaphorical sense. Hanging out with druggies, greedy business people, and fearful, racist, ignorant family and friends is just not an option at this phase in my life. I definitely have nostalgia for people from each of these phases of my life, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the stability and sanity I enjoy in this moment. There is more balance in my life not seeing these people in person or on the Facebooks. I do not risk the chance seeing many of these people in the real world because I live in cities where they will not go, but I do see them occasionally in the comment threads of second degree connections I still share with them. These are little peep holes into a much more scary world where the ground underneath you is always unstable. This is by design. The crazy making keeps you in a much more needier position, and much more open for exploitation by local, regional, national, and global forces. In a COVID-19 world I am very thankful to be on such solid ground. I am eating well. I have dependable work that I enjoy, and I am paid well. I don’t have people making crazy in my life, except for the orange dictator and his believers. I can keep this at arms length most days. As part of this latest wave of learnings I have a better understanding the importance of managing my digital intake on these matters, and like with other people in my life, I need to regularly filter exposure to certain people, groups, topics, and perspectives. This is how I am going to continue stabilizing my reality, and empower me to make better decisions down the road.
I am a better person when I am stable. I make better decisions when I am on firmer ground. With each decade of learning I am fascinated by how many people I’ve managed to distance myself from who were in the business of destabilizing me. I don’t think they all consciously were doing it, but crazy makes crazy, and misery likes company, and I think it is what they were taught, and what they had come to expect from me. My anxiety levels on a day to day basis can still be pretty high, but it is nowhere near the levels it was five years ago. When I have high anxiety tehse days I can usually attribute it to spending too much time online, reading news, or getting emotional about something I saw on social media. Which always tells me I need to go read a book, take a nap, or go for a walk. Beyond that I am pretty content. I don’t have people in my life anymore telling me the world will end in three months, or looking to pick a fight with me about some topic they know nothing about. I don’t have people creating drama. I don’t have people guilting me about not coming by, or that they don’t see me anymore. Those days are gone. It is amazing how much instability and waste in your life you can do away with just by being more selective about who gets your time and energy. It is sobering how much easier life gets once you get past the guilt phase of removing someone from your life. It is very reaffirming to realize just how high you can climb when you leave the people behind who believe that the world is always out to get you–the possibilities are endless.