One of the toughest things to do when you are working to improve your life or start out on a new path is to learn that your friends might be holding you back. Not all of them, mind you. Good friends will support you, stick with you, maybe even be inspired by you to change their own lives. But the odds are good that you’ll have at least one crazymaker among your midst trying to sabotage you.
The problem with crazymakers is that they are usually people we care about (or at least want to care about us), and they can be tough to identify and easy to get involved with.
The idea of “crazymakers” comes from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and reading about them in black and white was a revelation to me. I had just gotten out of a pretty intense crazymaker situation, and it was eating me alive, I felt like I was a horrible person for distancing myself from them, like I was letting them down or something. And then I read the description of crazymakers in the book and it matched up so exactly…I knew that if I hadn’t broken ties, it would have been very toxic for me.
Here’s a bulletpoint list for how to spot a crazymaker:
-Crazymakers break deals and destroy schedules.
-Crazymakers expect special treatment.
-Crazymakers discount your reality.
-Crazymakers spend your time and money.
-Crazymakers triangulate those they deal with to remain the center of power.
-Crazymakers are expert blamers, nothing is ever their fault.
-Crazymakers create dramas, but seldom where they belong.
-Crazymakers hate schedules, except their own.
-Crazymakers hate order.
-Crazymakers deny that they are crazymakers.
If there’s someone in your life that fits this description, it may be time to break ties. This is difficult. Usually these people have their hooks so deep in you, you don’t have much time to step away from the situation and look at it from an objective eye. The way I’ve managed to realize who in my life is a crazymaker is when I try to explain a situation going on with us to a person who does not know the crazymaker in question. Nine times out of ten, as you describe whatever drama or situation seems so serious and normal to you at the time, you’ll start to notice holes in the story or have difficulty describing it in a way that makes sense to an unbiased third party.
Keep an eye on things like this. My crazymakers had me trapped in a house, only leaving when the head of the house deemed it okay, and only for as long as he was comfortable with it. The house revolved around bringing this person whatever he wanted. Whenever I mentioned that I was trying to eat healthy, or picking up a new hobby, or investigating somewhere to travel, his response was always the same: “What for?” Everyone in the house had a slew of addictions and bad, unhealthy habits that they justified endlessly and never made any actions to change. The dynamics of this house were complicated, confusing, and only made sense to the people who lived there (which, for a time, included me). And I actively chose this life. It seemed normal to me.
It wasn’t until I started spending time away from the house that I noticed how destructive it was, and realized I had to make my move to get away. It took a long time for me to finally own up to myself, much less to them, that I didn’t even want to associate with them anymore. These people had become my whole life, I had myself convinced that they were my family, and that they would take care of me as long as I continued to care for them. You can imagine how they railed against me leaving, made me feel like the problems in my life were unfixable and if I left them I would only continue to spiral in my own lack of self-worth.
These are lies. If anyone is trying to keep you involved with them because you’ll be worse off on your own, that should be a HUGE warning signal. You are better than that. If you have even an ounce of suspicion that a person may be destructive to your health or well-being, you owe it to yourself to get away.
If the idea of leaving sounds too challenging or stressful, find someone you trust (someone who is NOT a crazymaker, someone drama-free and non-invasive) to talk to and help you break away. Start slowly. Distance yourself from them one day at a time. Start to notice the difference between life with them and life without them. DO NOT let yourself wallow in any guilt about your decision to break ties.
You can do it. You are worth it.
For more information on crazymakers, who they are, and why we attach ourselves to them, read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.