Toxic People: How to Spot and Remove Them from Your Life

Hi, my name is Leif E. Greenz and I’m constantly surrounded by toxic people. In today’s episode of Toolbox Tuesday, I’ll explain how to spot and remove toxic people from your life.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel! 

This is a long and heavy video! We’ll go over what makes a person toxic, why we’re attracted to toxic people, how to tell if someone is toxic, and how to remove the relationship from your life. I’ll also give a quick primer on trauma and betrayal bonds and explain the difference between a toxic person and an abuser.

Throughout this video, I reference Patrick Carnes and his book, “The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships.” It’s available on Amazon!

Do you have any toxic people in your life? How does their toxicity manifest? What do you plan to do about it? Let me know in the comments.

Toxic people can be difficult to get away from, especially if they’re abusive. I know that my words can’t stop a betrayal bond from happening — in fact, I myself have been in many situations where people try to help and I can’t or won’t listen. That’s how strong these trauma bonds are. So please be gentle with yourself. This is a long, winding, and arduous process. You’re doing great.

I love you all so much. Be sure to subscribe to my channel for twice weekly updates from a professional crazy person!

Thanks for watching my video about how to spot and remove toxic people from your life. I’ll see you on Thursday for a video about mental illness and language.

xo,
Leif E. Greenz

Website: https://leifegreenz.com
Hire me: https://thewritingleif.com
Instagram: @leifegreenz

 

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I had an enormous meltdown this morning (PTSD episode)

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Hi, I’m Leif E. Greenz and I have PTSD episodes.

Today has been a very bad day and on my worst days, I turn to my blog. There are certain things I can’t say out loud, certain truths that are more easily revealed in silence. Mostly, I don’t want you to see me or my shame.

I am isolating when my arms want to hold and be held. I am isolating because I’m convinced that I’m inherently unworthy of love and that it’s safer for everyone if I quarantine myself in my office.

This really didn’t have to happen, but it did. I didn’t have to get so upset, but I did. And I ruined Sunday because of it. Now I’m doing the one thing I know how to do — I’m transforming my pain into something “productive.”

I feel terrible about what I’ve done today. Forrest is terrified, I think, and he’s glued to his phone as a result. That’s what he does when he doesn’t want to think about/feel anything. I can’t blame him. I was a terror this morning. I still am, really. I can’t feel my body — everything is numb and heavy. My eyes feel empty… like if you looked into them, you wouldn’t see anything.

I feel like I should explain what happened, if only because the origin of this breakdown has its own implications about early childhood trauma and sex work. Basically, I tried to offer my own fucking boyfriend sex in exchange for him helping me with housework. He told me it was bad to do that and I couldn’t understand why. Seriously. I could not figure out why it was wrong to offer sex in exchange for favors within the confines of my own relationship.

After Forrest told me it was bad to do what I had done, I started talking like a five-year-old, speaking only in fragments. “Why? Why is it bad? I don’t understand. Explain it to me!”

“Dude, I did not get out of bed wanting to have this conversation with you today.”

“But I don’t understand. What’s wrong with what I said?”

“I shouldn’t have to explain this to you, Leif.”

Forrest’s reaction set off an enormous amount of shame in me and I could feel it rising from my stomach. I tried to laugh it off at first, giggling in my five-year-old voice, then fell silent, then left the room.

“Sorry I triggered you,” Forrest called as I walked away

“Fuck him,” I thought, stripping off my pajamas and getting ready for the gym. I chugged a second cup of coffee, grabbed my keys off the kitchen table, and sped to the gym, hitting 80 on the small town street outside my house.

“What the fuck is wrong with me?” one part of me said. “Speed into that busy intersection without looking,” another part said.

I was pissed. My muscles were tense. I hated everyone on the road, I hated all the thoughts in my head. I sat in the parking lot in front of my gym sending horrible text messages to my partner about how he doesn’t understand me, how I’m meant to be alone, how I hate him. No response. I got even more pissed, sent another five or six text messages.

On my way home, I tailgated everyone, even though I constantly complain about how much I hate tailgating. I practiced seeing how fast I could accelerate. I pulled out in front of cars so abruptly, my tires screeched. When I got home, I ran inside and locked myself in my office before my boyfriend could see me.

Forrest heard me come in. He called my name sweetly the first few times. When he realized I’d locked the door, he got worried and then angry and then sad and then angry again. He pounded on the door while I sat silently on the twin mattress with Tallboy (my dog), ignoring Forrest. Tallboy started shaking and I rested my head on him. Midway through this, I realized I was reenacting my trauma. I had built a scenario that ensured events of my past would happen in the present.

Tallboy moved to the closet, which is where I wanted to hide, and Forrest got in the shower, which was my second hiding choice. So, for a while, I just stood by the locked door, listening for movement and trying to be as silent as possible. When I was sure Forrest was in the shower, I ran out and grabbed everything I thought I’d need — my computer, a phone charger, and something to drink. I felt like a little girl sneaking through the house, trying not to be seen.

I ran back to the office and locked the door, then stood listening for the faucet. I knew Forrest wouldn’t do anything once he saw me, but I felt like I was in danger all the same. I BUILT the danger. I designed it, manufactured it, and then reveled in it. During these episodes, it’s like I’m directing an autobiographical play that ends up so closely resembling the original events, even I forget the play isn’t real. I get lost in my own false realties, trying to recreate something I should have processed and been done with a long time ago. What am I trying to prove?

After his shower, Forrest started knocking on my office door again. He said he noticed I’d moved my laundry from the hallway and wondered if I was ready to talk yet. He said he thought it was shitty that I would make such a big fuss over him expressing how he felt about something I’d said.

I opened the door, empty-eyed.

“If your girlfriend tries to prostitute herself to you, maybe you’re doing something wrong in the relationship,” I said.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Empty eyes.

“Are you fucking kidding me? Did you really just say that?”

I took off my clothes and turned the shower on. We exchanged more terrible words. Forrest cursed me under his breath as I engaged in a self-destructive behavior in the bathroom. I yelled something to him and he came over to give me his retort, only to find me engaging in said act of self-destruction. We fought for control over the item in my hand and then I dropped to the bathroom floor and sobbed when he won.

I was a naked madwoman — just as I’ve always wanted.

Forrest went to the bed and I sat on the floor. He said I was being shitty and I started screaming. No words, just screaming. The dogs were barking at me, so he had to calm all three of us. I slapped myself and said I wanted to die, all parts of our routine.

He joined me on the floor when I started slapping myself and then I moved to the bed. He leaned again the wall and cried. I still had empty eyes.

“You should just leave me,” I said. “I’ll kill myself once you’re gone, but that won’t be your fault.”

More crying. Screaming. Empty.

“Are you going to leave? I’m trying to push you away.”

“I don’t want to leave,” he said. “But sometimes you push really hard.”

I nodded. I knew this. Forrest wants so badly to give me love and I keep him at an arm’s length no matter what. The psychic told me I’m worthy and deserving of love, which is something I needed to hear but still don’t believe. I’m convinced he’ll leave me eventually, once he finds someone more normal and better looking. I’m convinced that he’s a better person than me in general — more liked, more talented, more respected.

As my insanity intensifies, as do my insecurities. I’ve learned that at my weakest, people leave. That’s the pattern I grew up with and now it’s the pattern I instill forcefully. Oh, you’re not going to leave on your own? Cool, then I’m going to say a bunch of shitty things and then pretend I’m moving to Colorado without you.

It’s really this same song and dance every time — it’s the same moral played out in different versions of the same story.

I tried, in my haze, to explain my reaction to Forrest. In between incoherent blubbering, I told him that I’d been raised to equate sex with worth. I’ve believed for a long time that the only power I have is my body — sex — and that men will only take me seriously/listen to me when I offer it. It’s a form of psychological prostitution, maybe. It’s definitely a remnant of the industry.

When I was a sex worker, sex was everything. If I wasn’t having sex, I wasn’t getting paid and if I wasn’t getting paid (or taken care of), I wasn’t having sex. My body was my weapon, as well as my voice. My sexuality was all I felt I had. I didn’t believe I held any worth beyond that.

If I gave men sex, I learned, I could get what I needed. Sex could pay for my survival. Through sex, I earned money, validation, and something that felt enough like love to replace it. So what if I didn’t have talent and couldn’t hold down a job to save my life? At least I could fuck!

I rode on that high for a long time. I felt like I was part of some secret club, which then made me feel special and important where previously I’d been self-loathing and suicidal. Sex work made me — the perpetual misfit — feel like there was a place where I fit in.

This is why so many early childhood abuse survivors are in the sex industry. Chronic sexual abuse leaves many of us with debilitating symptoms that prevent us from surviving in standard work environments, so we often find ourselves returning to what we know best: using/being used for our bodies.

This is such a deeply ingrained myth in me, I couldn’t even see this most recent manifestation of that belief. I could not figure out why it was so wrong to offer sex in exchange for cleaning. Isn’t that what men want? Isn’t that how we get them to listen to us?

“So do you not feel like I listen to you normally?”

“I don’t know.”

“Really, can you name any specific instances of me not listening?”

I couldn’t really. And that’s because it wasn’t about Forrest. I was projecting my past onto him, once again. I’d been driven into chaos and self-destruction by a myth. Forrest is not one of the men who used me for sex, and yet I interact with him like he is because I am stuck in my traumas — because one trigger can lead to a full day of me existing in a past reality.

It’s now 3:30 and after writing this, I’ve stopped dissociating as badly. I took a few breaks from writing to give Forrest hugs. I’m trying to listen to what the psychic said — that I am worthy and deserving of love. I have to stop pushing Forrest so hard because one day he could decide he’s had enough. I don’t want to tempt that fate. Losing him would be the biggest mistake of my life. I’m not sure I could recover from it.

So I’m sorry Forrest. I’m sorry I fell apart instead of articulating myself in the moment. I am trying to be better, but I’m nowhere close to perfect. Thank you for being patient with me. I love you very, very much.

Now if you’ll excuse me… this breakdown has exhausted me and I think I need a Sunday nap.

xoxo,

Leif E. Greenz

PTSD Rage: How to Embrace Your Fury (Toolbox Tuesdays – Trauma)

Hi, I’m Leif E. Greenz and I have a rage problem. My fury is a product of severe sexual trauma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/c/leifegreenz

In today’s episode of Toolbox Tuesday, I’ll explain the origins of PTSD rage and provide you with tools to embrace and channel that fury, rather than turning it inwards or hurting your loved ones.

Rage, once triggered, is difficult to control. I’ll help you figure out how to let your rage out gradually, rather than all at once, so that you can preserve your meaningful relationships while still processing important emotions.

At its core, our rage is designed to help us survive. It is motivating, energizing, and it encourages us to act in the face of danger. If left unchecked, though, our rage can rear its head at inappropriate moments and at people who don’t deserve it.

For those with trauma: your rage is normal. You have the right to be angry.

I love you all so much!

Hire me: https://thewritingleif.com
Follow my blog: https://leifegreenz.com
Follow me on Instagram @leifegreenz

A regular ol’ Big Mouth blog post…

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Hi, I’m Leif E. Greenz and I think I’m back.

Is anyone still out there?

I’ve been wanting to resurrect “Big Mouth” since I announced that I was done with it. I don’t know what happened. Maybe I stopped writing because my life got less chaotic … or maybe something in me died.

I thought I was going to die. I was sure I’d be dead by 27. I said it over and over again, sometimes during breakdowns, sometimes casually, like I was stating the time or commenting on the weather.

“I’m going to die this year, I just know it.”

And it’s hard to blog when you’re pretty certain you’re about to die. It’s hard to invest in anything when everything is so obviously temporary. I mean that’s life in a nutshell, but most people don’t walk around feeling so dangerously close to the edge all the time.

Unless you have PTSD. This apocalyptic mind-frame is common among survivors because we live in constant fear of danger. At any moment, we think, our lives could end or we could be raped or tortured or kidnapped. It’s hard to enjoy hanging out with friends or to even feel like there’s a point to having friends when you’re certain you’ll be gone within the year.

Truthfully, our lives could end at any moment. Folks with PTSD are just hyperaware (too aware) of that fact, so much so that they struggle to stay in the present moment. And that’s putting it lightly. Staying present is like pulling teeth out of the traumatized. It is excruciating. It feels like we’re being ripped from our comfort place — that place where we’re consistently scanning the past for evidence and the future for danger. Both non-realities fuel and feed off of each other and demand far too much for the present to get a word in.

I feel so flighty writing this. I want to get up from my desk and look at the window at the neighbors who just moved in. I want distractions so I don’t have to be real to myself. What is this raw shit coming from my fingertips and how do I stop it?

Another thing: this blog is so dead, I feared resurrection would be futile. But really… who cares. If I get something out of sharing myself, it doesn’t matter who reads it. If someone else gets something out of it, hell yeah! But that’s not my fundamental reason for writing.

I write because I have to. Because it’s in my system. My body screams for it and shames me when I neglect the pen. I’ve neglected it for months…. six months to be exact. I wrote a whole damn book and then ignored it. It remains ignored at the corner of my desk, wondering why I’m so keen on abandonment.

Because writing is pain! Writing is pricking your finger and recording your truth in blood! Writing demands honesty, so if you’re being a fuckoff, you’re going to have to be real about it. And when I’m being a fuckoff, realness is the last thing I want.

There’s a biological piece to this, too. If your body is in survival mode, certain parts of your brain start to shut off in order of importance. Emotions are often the first to go.

I was numb for one year. That year looked like this: psychologically tortured by rapist boyfriend, fled to Arizona, got assaulted in Arizona, moved to Minneapolis, moved out of house in Minneapolis, lost best friends, moved to the country.

I had moments of intense feeling, but they were short-lived and rare. When the feelings did come out, it was terrifying and overwhelmed anyone near me.

My body spent the year fighting and in that fight, I was barely aware of my surroundings. I couldn’t distinguish danger from safety and, frankly, didn’t care to. I was fully prepared to be murdered. If not that, then to do it myself. Nothing mattered. I had no hope, no dreams for my future, no friends. I’d pushed everyone away. I’d scared people. I had been overwhelming.

I somehow maintained a romantic relationship throughout that mess. We’re still together. Forrest is a.) a survivor and b.) a fucking saint. I’ve told him repeatedly that if he hadn’t stayed with me, I would already be dead and I’ve meant it.

It is difficult to write when you don’t have emotions. I’d sit down at my computer to try to edit my memoir draft and … nothing. I felt disconnected from the work — like the words had been written by someone else. I was hyperfocused and couldn’t see outside of my quest for survival enough to think poetically about my past.

Okay, I caved and got up from my desk to shove trail mix in my mouth. I missed writing like this… not giving s shit.

I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m trying, once again, to bring this blog back from the dead. I’ve been living without direction for a long time and I’m finally starting to get an idea of who I am and what I want. I think I want to use this blog again. I definitely want to keep making YouTube videos. I’d like to revisit my book.

Here’s a shameful truth for you! I am a fucking terrible employee. I have, to some extent, failed at every “normal” job I’ve had over the past decade — barista, journalist, corporate sellout, summer camp counselor (don’t get me started on that one). I’ve failed every “PTSD-approved” job I’ve tried — dog walker, Uber driver, clothing reseller. I’ve even failed at illicit careers — prostitute, cam girl, dealer. And because of my chronic unemployment, I was legitimately ready to give up on myself entirely and in a dramatic way.

And then I woke up covered in sweat and self-hatred one morning, grabbed my old cam girl webcam from a drawer and sat down to record my first YouTube video without even bothering to put pants on. That’s right, I was so depressed, I wasn’t wearing pants in my first few videos. It’s only been a month since I started my channel, but it has already done so much for me. I have a routine again. I have something I look forward to. I feel like I’m making a difference. Most importantly, I’m transforming my pain into something productive — something that helps people and doesn’t eat at me like bacteria.

Wallowing alone got me nowhere. I am happiest when I’m letting others learn from my mistakes — when I’m exposing myself so that others may relate. I feel best when I’m making art. My depression has lifted to an astonishing extent. I’m realizing that my voice is my best medicine. When I’m not using it to express how I feel, my feelings express themselves in destructive ways. I let the pain build like bubbles in a pressure cooker and when the lid comes off, everyone around me gets burned.

That’s why people find it so difficult to stand by me. I’m unpredictable. I project one thing when I’m feeling the opposite. When I was younger, I tried to be bubbly and people-pleasing. As I aged and faced more abuse, that “sweet” coverup turned into rage. Neither approach was more or less authentic than the other — they were both equally false selves. My true self, buried somewhere unreachable, is heartbroken and scared.

It’s seemed easier — safer, even — to mask that truth with aggression. But honestly, it’s just gotten me in more trouble. I spent months looking for people to scream at, people to fight with. I wanted them to confirm the things I already thought: that humans are scum, that no one is trustworthy, that life inherently sucks.

That’s about when I started smoking weed again, lol.

I developed “angry Leif” in my teens. She’s a very distinctive personality. Her blood boils and she operates on uncomfortable levels of adrenaline. She was born around the time my family fell apart and I realized I would have to fend for myself. If you’re a very traumatized person walking around looking heartbroken and needy, you’re going to have a bad time. That’s how it was for a while… sad Leif was easily taken advantage of.

I created my angry self in an attempt to protect myself from that. The thing is, most abusers can see through the masks anyway, so I would still get raped, even at my “most powerful” place. Case in point: I met and moved in with my worstabuserever just a few months after I published my story about beating up my rapist. People read the article and thought I was strong, which is exactly what I wanted them to think. My reality just the opposite: the feigned strength drained even more of my energy, weakening me further. As a result, I got severely abused and was too afraid of ruining the “badass” image to actually open up about it. The abuse continued for seven months. When Jefferson got arrested, I went fully numb.

That numbness finally ended when we moved into our new home in the country. After two months of decompression, I’m back to a place where I can be creative and feel my feelings again. A lot of weird memories are coming back, which is usually what gets me to start writing in the first place.

So here I am!

I hope to keep up with this blog in addition to the YouTube channel. It feels good to return to my standard mode of expression. I’m thinking I’ll shoot for one post per week, but we’ll see!

Hope you enjoyed this rambling.

xo,
Leif E. Greenz

Feel free to follow my YouTube channel to keep up with me throughout the week: https://youtube.com/c/leifegreenz

Btw, the other major development in my life is that I am now addicted to Kpop. I will leave you with this.

How to Stop Falling Apart For Stupid Reasons (DBT Chain Analysis)

Hi, I’m Leif E. Greenz and I’m constantly falling apart for stupid reasons as a result of PTSD. In today’s video, I’ll walk you through the dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) chain analysis skill using my recent episode as an example.

Subscribe to my channel: https://youtube.com/c/leifegreenz

A chain analysis is a way of looking at “negative” events (or non-events, e.g., forgetting to complete an assignment) and figuring out where things went wrong. Chain analyses involve looking at vulnerability factors, biological changes, action urges, problem behaviors, and consequences. If you use this skill regularly, you’ll learn how to stop falling apart for stupid reasons, too!

When we see how each component of the chain analysis connects, we can learn to soothe ourselves earlier in the chain so that we don’t lose control of our words and actions later on as a result of past traumas and PTSD.

In this video, you’ll see me falling apart over something EXTREMELY stupid and embarrassing on the surface. Using that episode as an example, I’ll guide you through three DBT worksheets and a simple chain analysis to show where I went wrong and what I can do differently next time.

Click the links below to access the worksheets and follow along!

The following worksheets are from “DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition” by Marsha Linehan:

“Observing and Describing Emotions” (Worksheets 4 and 4A) — https://tinyurl.com/y85y774b

“Figuring Out How to Change Unwanted Emotions” (Worksheet 6) —
https://imgur.com/NBMMtq9

Simple chain analysis layout: https://imgur.com/mqqGeXs

I hope you enjoyed today’s video! Try out the chain analysis exercise and let me know how it goes in the comment section!

xo,
Leif E. Greenz

Hire me: https://thewritingleif.com
YouTube: https://youtube.com/c/leifegreenz
Instagram @leifegreenz

BPD Stigma: When Misogyny and Mental Illness Collide (BPD vs. C-PTSD)

Hi, I’m Leif E. Greenz and I think borderline personality disorder (BPD) is often a sexist, scapegoat diagnosis. I am tired of the stigma and misogyny and I know many of my BPD-diagnosed loved ones are tired of it, too.

Instagram: @leifegreenz

I made this video at a viewer’s request, as BPD stigma is something that most people with the disorder deal with.

Borderline personality disorder IS about gender. I normally wouldn’t make such an assertion, but based on my own experiences and research, I have found it (over and over again) to be true.

In this video, we’ll explore different aspects of BPD stigma and how it relates to other mental illnesses. We’ll talk about alternatives to the BPD label, namely C-PTSD. My ultimate suggestion to mental health professionals is to drastically change the criteria for BPD or eliminate the diagnosis completely.

To my point about BPD vs. sociopathy: I understand that, because we are all so drastically different, some sociopaths may experience what could be called empathy. However, a lack of empathy is one of the defining characteristics of ASPD (anti-social personality disorder), whereas TOO MUCH empathy is a defining characteristic of BPD, which means the foundational attributes of the disorders are complete opposites. For that reason, I believe they need to be in wholly separate categories.

Note: I realize that not everyone with BPD has been traumatized. My point in this video is that traumatized people need different resources than non-traumatized people and that putting us in the same category can have dangerous consequences.

Have you faced stigma because of your BPD diagnosis? How did it make you feel? Let me know in the comments.

Here’s the article I mentioned, called “Embrace the Benefits of Borderline Personality Disorder:” https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/bo…

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PTSD Anniversary Effect: 15 Coping Strategies (Toolbox Tuesday)

Hi, I’m Leif E. Greenz and I’m in the middle of a trauma anniversary. Today, I’m going to share 15 coping strategies for surviving the PTSD anniversary effect.

Subscribe to my channel: https://youtube.com/user/leifegreenz

Instagram: @leifegreenz

As most people with PTSD (and C-PTSD) know, trauma anniversaries can be devastating. There are even two terms for the phenomenon: the anniversary effect and the anniversary reaction. Both refer to what happens when an anniversary day/month/season rolls around and can be broken down into four main symptoms: intrusion, avoidance, arousal, and mood changes. (From the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs)

In this video, I’ll share some of my personal experiences with trauma anniversary reactions, since I happen to be going through one as I write this. In the second half of the video, I’ll share 15 tips and tricks for surviving your own trauma anniversaries. This is Toolbox Tuesday, after all!

If you enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel for regular updates. I post mental health videos every Tuesday and Thursday, so hit the bell icon to make sure you get a notification every time I post!

How do you cope with the PTSD anniversary effect? Let me know down in the comments. If you try out any of these tips, I’d love to hear from you about how it went.

Thanks so much for watching my video! See you Thursday.

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Mental Health Blog: https://leifegreenz.com

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