In the midst of the festive season, navigating toxicity is paramount. It is essential to surviving what should be “the most wonderful time of the year” with your mental health in tact. Christmas seems to egg on those festering fakes to slide into your dms with a patronising “glad you’re doing so well”. Why don’t you just fuck off?
Maybe it helps them to gloss of the years of bullying and manipulation: despite what they did – you’re still doing well. So the bullying can’t have had that much of an affect, right? Maybe it led to the success, the ‘doing well’, and it’s all just self-congratulation. I wouldn’t be surprised. Everyone has that person who pops up, uninvited like some meandering fuck boy, with a self-interested congratulatory or well-wishing address. Let’s forget, in this moment of congratulation, in grossly misjudged well wishing, that you persistently undermined my intelligence over a period of years, that you said I didn’t deserve my job, and as a result of working would fail academically (BA, MA and 4 promotions later…). I don’t know how people can have such a selective memory.
But for some reason, an occasion, be it Christmas, graduation or an engagement, prompts people, who haven’t spoke to you for 5+ years to appear, congratulate, and disappear into the abyss from which they came. Or even worse, they attempt to continue their misjudged interjection past the “glad you’re doing so well” into an actual conversation. Brushing under the carpet years of non contact, years of escape.
“We really need to catch up sometime soon – it’s been forever!!” No we do not, and forever has clearly not been long enough.
People are so quick to support the ditching of shitty boyfriends – “DUMP HIM!” they shout profusely, but when it’s a friendship a certain unjustified leeway seems to operate: “But you were SUCH good friends! You can’t end all that over something so … small”. Yes I can, and I will. Any relationship can be incessantly toxic, not just those that entail romantic entanglement. Sometimes friendships can be the most noxious of them all. Some friendships are run like a mini-dictatorship, one self proclaimed “Queen Bee*” running an authoritarian regime Kim Jong-un would be proud of. “Queen Bee” creates arbitrary circles of power, themselves centrifugal in the operation of a friendship solar system. Sorry, Pluto. “Queen Bee” ensures total loyalty by the simple fact that anyone can become Pluto, that individual on the brink of – “Can we talk to them, can we not talk to them?” Not quite an outsider and not an insider either; which is possibly the worst place to be. I’d much rather receive The Phonecall when “Queen Bee” states: “None of us like you and you can’t be friends with us anymore,” move over Gretchen Weiners. Of course, “us” means “I”, but what’s really the difference in a friendtatorship? And the worst part is not knowing what you’ve done wrong – how the fuck have I gone from Mercury to Pluto in 0.00001 second?
This is when the real bullying comes in – the arbitrary will of the “Queen Bee” is relentless. Apparently she has exclusive right over more things than the actual Royal Family. Buy a pair of shoes she likes – PLUTO. Talk to someone she knows without permission – PLUTO. Kiss a boy without approval – PLUTO. Have a personality – PLUTO. Have any non-state sanctioned fun – PLUTO. And then comes in the lying, the desperate plea to imagination to certify “I AM COOLER THAN ALL OF YOU” the only real claim “Queen Bee” has to authority. And to maintain this status she ensure to play off one friend against another, again, a tactic which exercises an over-indulgence with lying and exemplifies her joy in watching human suffering. What riles me the most is the denial of autonomy, the literal dictatorship of “this is the regime and you must follow it, and if you think outside of my fallaciously designed parameters, you’re out.” For too long, I tolerated it, I’d been bullied, slut-shamed, humiliated, undermined, ridiculed, lied to, and I got off pretty lightly. I’d been Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and finally liberated. I will not tolerate this shit anymore – neither should you.
*DISCLAIMER: Purely fictional and totally not based on any person living or dead, but if you think it’s about you it probably is.