Let’s say you are in a group of friends who go out together every weekend and have a great time. But suddenly, you begin seeing photos on social media of your beloved group without you in it. Why weren’t you invited? Surely, someone noticed you weren’t there, right? You feel hurt, left out, alone, confused and angry. You ask the all-mighty organizer-slash-head-diva and she tells you that you’re not her friend anymore, so you’re out of the group.
This has to be a flashback to grade school or junior high, right? I mean we’re adult women with careers, homes and real issues. Why on earth would anyone intentionally behave in a way that caused so many heartaches and tears growing up? What happened? Why didn’t she tell you if you said or did something that upset her?
Here’s the deal. Women who behave this way are feeling insecure and threatened by other women who seem to have it together. Whether you really do or not doesn’t matter. We see others as a reflection of what are — or are not. Your toxic friend feels powerless, seeing you as a reflection of something she wishes she was or had, and is choosing this emotionally and mentally abusive behavior to feel powerful again. Does it work? No, because walking away from the mirror doesn’t change your appearance. Her power-fix is temporary like a drug fix, which is why (like every verbal, mental, emotional or physical attacker) she will keep doing it with you or someone else she feels she can bully.
How do you manage this behavior and avoid getting your hurt feelings? As ridiculous as it may sound, it’s not personal. You are simply the lowest hanging fruit and easiest to reach because she believes you will stick around and she can abuse you again. Sounds personal doesn’t it? Let me simplify things: It’s all about her. She is so lacking in the self-esteem department, she’s not thinking of anyone but herself. That’s why I always say, “In order to have healthy relationships, you must have a healthy relationship with yourself first.”
Since self-esteem is an inside job, you may not be able to help her much. So you get to decide whether to wait it out (now that you understand her mindset), or let her go and focus your friend-energy on people who will not be threatened by you and who will respect you for who you are.
You also get to decide if you want to be friends with the others who are condoning the bully’s behavior by staying in the group. I would guess they either don’t see what’s happening or may be afraid they will be the next one kicked out if they stand up to her. It happens in schools, business and relationships. Self-esteem plays a vital role in our emotional health and relationships, and those play a huge role in our physical health (hello, extra weight and illness). Decide what’s best for you, and if you need to upgrade your friend group, do it.