May 31, 2009

Don't be a sucker

Sommer sent me an article the other day about eight toxic personality types to avoid. I am neurotic enough to have read the piece hoping I didn't fit any of the write-ups. Oh, look, I'm not that one. Whew! Or that one. Awesome. (Or as The Mighty Charlotte Stein says, "Orsum.") Their list hit manipulators, narcissists, downers, judgers, dream-killers, false friends, rude people, and time drainers. All of those types are annoying—but since I don't work in an office, and I have a very select group of friends I see regularly—because you all live so fucking far away—I can mostly avoid the toxic list.

But the one type that affects me most didn't make the line-up. I don't even know the name. My pet name is "sucker." Not like "a sucker is born every minute"—but someone who sucks all the living energy, creativity, and desire out of you.

I lived with a roommate like this—a single-white female type who started to dress like me, to go to my favorite bars, cafes, salons. She tried to peel my friends away from me, asking my very best friend out on special private dates. (Elizabeth refused, of course.) She spread gossip at my number one hangout. (They didn't believe her, of course.) When she tried to bang my boyfriend, I moved out. Her excuse for her attempt at seducing him (because he told me immediately) was that it was a test. And hey—he passed! Like, I was supposed to be pleased. If he'd fucked her, he would have failed (in her thoughts) and—come on, man—she was willing to sacrifice her body to help me out in that way.

Honestly, she was stunned that I didn't see things from her perspective.

I've had 25 novels published. But The Lizard Queen, which is the one I wrote about her (in which she is a half reptile who consumes her lovers), has sat on my computer for well over a decade.

Since then, I have run into a few of these types. Often, they start off as your friends. Then they slowly begin to copy what you do—how you wear your hair, what boots you favor, the authors you like, your style of talking, the way you gesture, the way you breathe. I can shut down the friendships pretty quickly now, because I know the drill. I've seen their Queen.

Do you know anyone like that? Is there a name? Or better yet, will you help me give it a name? (Yeah, ER, I'm talking to you.)


P.S. Ha! You type in "toxic" on ETSY—and you mostly get non-toxic items! But this fierce piece of art is called "Toxic Stroll."


EllaRegina said...

Oh, I know this type well. It's odd that they weren't described in the piece you found.

I'd call them "life-suckers" or "soul-suckers." I saw a movie once -- don't remember the title -- where there was a character like this and someone says to them "You take all the air out of a room." Or, how about the "consumers," in homage to your ex-roommate, The Lizard Queen -- sounds creepily similar to that movie called Single White Female.

I've gotten to the point where I've had to deliberately eliminate these "toxic types" from my life, and with their expulsion from my kingdom likewise the bullshit they carry. The problem is that there are SO FUCKING MANY OF THEM it's left me with very few people with whom I can deal. But that's OK. I enjoy the peace and quiet.

EllaRegina said...

Oh, but wait -- the whole copying thing... "The Replicators"? "The Personality Stealers"?

Yeah, I knew someone like that. She tried to turn herself into her close friend, after that friend died. She wore her clothing, tried to sleep with the dead girl's previous lovers. .. She clearly was not successful. It was just sad and weird and in this case particularly creepy.

Alison Tyler said...

it's weird because sometimes you really want to share stuff with a friend. Like, I love that I have the same leopard-print fleece hoodie that Georgia has. And sometimes we wear them on the same day. And sometimes we have jeans on, too, and the same type of clogs—and it's totally unintentional—and I love it.

But that's different from what I'm talking about. And I think the "suckers" are more like vacuums. They are empty inside and need to fill themselves up.

With you.


EllaRegina said...

Yeah, that's exactly what it was with this woman, only in her case she was filling herself up, or trying to, with the trappings of a dead person, who couldn't say/do anything or feel creepy and personality-molested because she was no longer alive.

Do you say anything or would that be too strange? It's a form of envy, or imitation to the nth degree but I do agree that it's about something deeper -- filling an emptiness. I'm no therapist but it sounds like people whose own personalities are not sufficiently developed so they have to try on those of others.

Renae said...

I believe there's actually a mental disorder by this discription. Borderline personality, I think?

Shanna Germain said...

"...because I know their Queen."

That was just fucking fantastic!

It makes me think of, what was that roommate movie, where she copies everything until she looks and acts like the main character. Creepy, creepy.

And, damn it. I read things like that the same way, hoping it's not me. Even your post, I was thinking, "Gods, I hope I'm not one of THOSE... that would suck."

EllaRegina said...

Yes, Renae, Borderline Personality Disorder. I just looked it up but didn't mention it cuz I wasn't totally sure. It seems to involve other pretty serious stuff.

EllaRegina said...

Shanna, I think it was Single White Female, with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda. Unless they made another similar movie.

I read those articles the same way. I dunno -- I think *everyone* has a little bit of all those ways of behaving; it's when the behavior becomes dominant that it becomes a problem. I think human beings, just by nature of being human, can be manipulative sometimes, or judgemental, or rude, et cetera. But when you meet someone where that's their total schtick: horse of a different color.

Ditto for the official psychiatric personality disorders. You can read them and think "Oh, yeah, that's me!" but then you realise that these are basic human behaviors, but normally not to the extreme degree where they take up your whole way of being, and define you. Also, I think to be "officially" diagnosed you need to possess a certain number of the listed issues, like 4 out of 5 or like that.


EllaRegina said...

Testing time! ;-)

Smut Girl said...

If you read some of the books like I do (the woo-woo spiritual books that i love) they are called Psychic Vampires. And I know a ton. Which is why I wear my psychic garlic :)

I had a few in high school that sidled up to me. But now my radar goes off.

And I run. And wave my invisible garlic ;)


jothemama said...

Ahh, psychic garlic. I was wondering what the invisible smell was...

That's so creepy Alison. Yick.

T. Elle Harrison said...

I had a friend like this once. My husband and I jokingly called her the succubus because she sucked the life and joy out of everything that she touches. I guess, she would also fall under the false friend category also because she could never be happy or supportive in anything I did or wanted to do. Since breaking off my friendship with that woman I have become much mor diligent in removing this sort of toxic relationship from my life.

Cora Zane said...

Can I admit I panicked when I saw the initial list? Would that make me sound too neurotic? It's kind of like when flipping through a medical journal - you're perfectly healthy, but you read a few pages and suddenly feel like you've immediately contracted half the things listed in there? *_*

As for the soul-sucking person, people with such little disregard for their own personal karma scare me. And as much as I hate to say it, the whole "I was just testing your boyfriend" thing would've gotten her ass kicked with a swiftness.

Thankfully, I don't personally know anyone like that, although I did once have a "friend" who was only happy when things weren't going very well for me. That was a total bummer.

She was the type that when I failed miserably at something (although I was trying my best), she'd hear about it somehow and come to me, "Oh, I'm sorry. I know, let's get ice cream!"

It's hard to describe, but they make it their sudden personal goal to let everyone you know - and even people you don't - how big your fail was. And it always comes in the guise of, "Oh, stranger, did you hear what happened? She looked like a total idiot! Isn't that"

Yeah, so terrible, she wants to plaster it on a billboard and throw a party. And I'm secretly hoping something heavy drops out of the sky and lands on her head.

Okay, that was probably more than anyone wanted to know. But I couldn't help it. ~_~' Sorry, sorry...

BTW, the artwork is gorgeous! I lurve this one:

I have a thing for groovy trees.

Erobintica said...

People like that give me the creeps. Love the name "Lizard Queen" - and succubus is pretty good too. As for the movie mentioned by Shanna & ER, I know I haven't seen "Single White Female" but the premise sounds like something I have seen - it's going to drive me nuts till I remember - but I do remember that it creeped me out to the goosebump stage.

JM Stone said...

Yup. . .have definitely known people like that!

I think the false friends are the worst, for me. But then, I'm a very devoted friend, so when I find that someone wasn't the friend I perceived them to be, it's heartbreaking.

Love the Lizard Queen though - wish we could read the book, AT!

Charlotte Stein aka The Mighty Viper said...

"Can I admit I panicked when I saw the initial list?"

You ain't the only one. I always think I'm evil and toxic without knowing it.

Though I think you'd have to be pretty dense not to know that you're a Single White Female. I'd have been terrified if I were you, Alison- in the movie, she puts a stilleto through the boyfriend's eye, I seem to recall.

And yeah, life isn't a movie. But you'd still be wondering: when's my eyeball going to be in danger? Even one step down from that - poked in the eyeball with a chopstick - is not what you want.

Ah, so glad that orsum is catching on, too! Soon we'll all be talking nonsense gibberish in a far too excited sort of way.

Alison Tyler said...

My guess is that truly toxic people never believe that they are on lists like this. Only nice sweet kinky souls (like us) would worry that we might be unintentionally toxic. And then, of course, my brain goes to what alliteration someone would give me?

I don't know that Anal Alison is such an insult...