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Breaking out of toxic friendships is hard. Recognizing when something is toxic when it looks different from what we’re used to is hard too. Below are some “not always obvious” red flags to help you identify and escape groups that are unhealthy for you.
These three signs can also help you know when to leave the Church.
It can start subtly or even happen in a sweetened, gentle way that makes you feel guilty for saying no. Little nudges here and there that you feel too polite or awkward to mention, where someone crosses your boundaries. When it doesn’t look like the classic authoritarian boundary stomping it’s hard to notice. We tell ourselves not to overreact, or downplay the situation but that creeping sense of discomfort? It’s because your boundaries are being crossed all the same.
Toxic groups or people love to speed through the process of getting close. Perceived intimacy can make it hard to step away or air any criticisms because we feel bad about bringing negativity into an intensely positive environment. But so much of that positivity is manufactured to do just that. They make us feel so entangled so early to keep us close and keep us quiet.
Your time is being dominated by the activities, plans and social calendar of another person or group. You find yourself taken out of your usual context and suddenly your support system IS that group. But leaving the group or person means you'll be alone…
These signs usually are hidden by positivity, socialization and community. You might ignore them out of fear of being alone. They're the kind of things that kept me in the church for 30 years. Do you recognise any of them?
The NakedPastor community has grown over the past few years to be a positive, affirming space. If you're afraid of the loneliness that comes with deconstruction, you might find comfort (and maybe even some new friends) in my comment section