- Of, pertaining to, affected with, or caused by a toxin or poison
- Acting as or having the effect of a poison, poisonous
- Pertaining to or noting debt that will probably not be repaid
In the right (or arguably, wrong) circumstances, almost anything can become toxic to us: iron, certain vitamins, glucose, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, medications, iodine, oxygen… Trust. Thoughts. Good intentions… Family. (and almost certainly, to most people I encounter – me).
You’ll note that pretty much everything that gives us life or happiness also has the power to take it away, or at least significantly change it (in the case of glucose, ask any of my fellow diabetics how they feel when there’s too much of it in their blood). The point is that before I go on with the rest of this post, I wanted to highlight the fact that we need most of the things that could poison us. We can’t live without them, and in some situations we can’t live with them. When they work with us, we can function. When they become toxic to us, they bring us to our knees, they tear our worlds apart, they rob us of our health. So I try to limit my exposure to toxins. I tried to limit my exposure to toxins. And then I came back to the place I used to call home, the house that has always felt like a bit of an alien planet where my every move destroys another eco system. Here, I am surrounded by toxicity – poisonous words leak out of mouths that don’t mean them (I hope) but can’t take back what they say; the situation needed for the people in these walls to become toxins (which only I am susceptible to) seems to be my presence. Without it, I am assured, they are happy. With it, I’m not so sure.
When I am present in this house, I also find the conditions are those necessary for myself to become toxic to those around me. I am a neurotoxin. I cause seismic shifts in their moods, warp their personalities. I also seem to irritate eyes and do something to the muscles in my mum’s neck that stiffen with stress so much she can’t move her head. I infuriate them, by accident, sometimes for no real reason other than the fact that my health has pushed them to breaking point and they can’t hide from the reality of me any more. And I eat them alive. She breaks down. She shouts and I let her because I know I am toxic, and I know her words aren’t the antidote but I hope they are enough to kill the vector that carries my poison into her heart.
I guess most of the time here I feel like a toxin, like something they want but are unconsciously and instinctively trying to push out in order to save themselves. So I distance myself from them. I distance myself because the toxins they accidentally spew hurt me more than they could ever comprehend; I distance myself because I myself am a toxin, and I want to remove the source of their pain.
I shut off, shut down, withdraw. I close down any operations non-vital to survival such as maintaining social skills and wearing that stupid false smile all the time, and I retreat into myself, trying desperately to shut everyone else out, trying desperately to pour the antidote of truth over the burning feelings that being here can induce. I give up on myself, and try to do what they ask, to save them. But that always seems to make the situation worse, and I end up feeling like I cannot win.
At one point I was told I couldn’t be here over summer, that it would rock the boat way too much. Now they ask why I don’t want to be here over the summer. I don’t want to be here because I am killing them, and they (and that knowledge) are killing me. One thing seems to make all of this possible – their love. Her love. A mother’s love. I need my mum and under 99% of circumstances I love to have her around (she’s my mum, for goodness sake) but seeing the effect that I have on her is often toxic to me, especially when she has an outpouring of love and my heart just sort of shatters. Like oxygen, I need her, but if I don’t treat her right, things get (totally understandably, and beyond deservedly) unpleasant.
One minute I have to deal with my health issues by myself, the next I’m an awful individual for not letting anyone else be involved, and then I’m even more awful for being the source of their worry and stress once they are involved, so the whole cycle begins again.
My heart broke a little today at lunch when my mum started making plans for them to go to Thailand this summer without me. Of course I want them to have everything they deserve and still be able to go abroad when I’m not well enough, but it hurt that my feelings weren’t even considered. I was treated like a child over the course of the meal (I think my parents forget that I’m 20) which after being an independent adult at university made me want to explode. I annoyed my stepdad – can’t even remember how -but when he closed his eyes and angry-sighed on a few occasions when I was trying to help him but wasn’t the person he wanted a response from, I was finally angry for once at the way he was acting, instead of deeply ashamed at myself (ok so there was a bit of both). A few comments made my self hatred return a little bit; however, in response to this, I firmly decided that this wasn’t a helpful way to spend my entire summer (every cloud and all that).
But I can’t cut them out. I can’t stay away. I feel utterly toxic when I am around them but I now hold onto the hope that one day that will change. After traumatic events, I’m not sure how to trust, and in my eyes love is the sincerest form of that… But I’m hardwired to keep coming back to this house – an inherent drive always pulls me back to this doorstep and occasionally I leave again in tears and stay away for weeks or months until the same drive drags me back again.
I made this mess in their lives and in our family, and sometimes (ok always. ALWAYS) I feel a huge responsibility to deal with the consequences of it rather than stay away (I make things so much worse, and most of the time make problems where there are none because I’m an idiot). Nobody tells you when you are diagnosed with something you will never overcome, that it’s going to destroy the lives of the people around you even if you learn to live with it, that it stands just as much chance of killing them too (just not physically, which in my mind is worse because they are left behind).
In light of my efforts to be someone different, to stop letting the toxins of other people’s expectation (and my desire to do right by everyone) burn me… I’ve decided that after my heart is sorted, I’m going to have a summer of AWESOME. This is probably a result of my motorway musings earlier today. I’ve already messaged around a few of my uni friends that invited me to stay with them and their family (at various locations all around the country) and my fellow banana (long story) who was totally up for the idea of a road trip. A couple of my friends from sixth form are also up for the idea of doing something this summer. I have learned that instead of waiting for awesomeness to come to me, I’m just going to have to generate it. Thankfully I have the world’s best friends, so it won’t be difficult!
One day, I will stop mentioning the amazing impact of my furry rock, but until then, you’re just going to have to deal with seeing pictures of him in my posts because now he’s my antidote too… How could you not love that face?!
(On a lighter note, I just realised that according to the third definition of the word ‘toxic’ my student loan is also totally toxic. I don’t think my dog can override that one unless he wins the lottery).