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January 26, 2022
Dealing with Toxic Relationships, Part 2: How to Part Ways with Toxic People

Our talk on toxic relationships continues with a in-depth, step-by-step discussion on how to finally end the cycle of painful and dysfunctional relationships in your life.


In Part 2 of this powerful talk about toxic family relationships, Steve and Mary Alessi dig deeper into the underlying causes of these damaging connections, and share specific steps on how you can distance yourself from toxic people and experience freedom.

If you haven't heard Part 1, it's best to listen to it first.

With authenticity and honesty, this episode breaks down the step-by-step actions that you must take in order to part ways from toxic people and protect yourself from pain and dysfunction.

If you have ever dealt with toxic relationships in your family, this episode (and the one to follow) will help you discover the keys to freedom and a better family life.

KEY MOMENTS IN THIS EPISODE

0:00 Intro: SZN 3, EP 3

0:30 Highlights of Last Episode

4:20 How Jesus Handled a Toxic Person

6:45 Not Their Savior, Not Their Hero  

10:30 Creating Distance 

18:00 Not One More Day

21:30 End The Co-Dependent Cycle 

22:55 Stop Feeling Guilty

25:53 An Intervention Attempt  

29:00 What’s the Payoff


RESOURCES RELATED TO TOXIC PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS


Love Must Be Tough, Dr. James Dobson
5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life, Bill Eddy
Metro Life Church Wellness Coaching Program 

 

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More Resources

Get a copy of Chris Alessi's new book to help you overcome negative and self-defeating thinking, "Clickbait: Win the War for Your Attention in the Age of Distraction" 

Purchase Your Copy of Clickbait

 

 

Transcript

Steve Alessi  

Well, hello, and welcome to another episode of The Family Business with the Alessis. I'm Steve Alessi, and I'm here with my wife, Mary Alessi. And we are looking at a part two of an episode that we started: Having to deal with some toxic people. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Can we just say, "difficult people?" 

 

Steve Alessi  

Difficult people? No. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Because not everybody likes the word, "toxic." It is toxic.

 

Steve Alessi  

If it's difficult, I can live with you. If you're toxic, I can't. 

 

Mary Alessi  

True. Okay. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, we gotta have grace here. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Good point.

 

Steve Alessi  

All right? See, I already had to set her straight. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Trying to work it out. 

 

Steve Alessi  

She's working so good. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's so difficult. 

 

Steve Alessi  

At this new year. The whole theme of what we're trying to say is, this is a new year, and there should be some new opportunities ahead of us. But we've got to be sensitive that the person that has been a negative, toxic, hurtful, drain on us, in the past, can't be brought into this new year with us, emotionally, and mentally, and even spiritually. We can't bring them with us into this new year, if we expect this year to be different. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's true.

 

Steve Alessi  

And this is a big sell. This is a hard deal for people to understand, because we're talking here about things that we will not be able to discuss on Sundays, as pastors preaching from the pulpit. I don't think people will be able to get this if they don't know our heart, and they don't know the spirit of which we try to operate. So, as a family, we're very sensitive about any kind of dysfunction, that we don't bring it into our working relationship, we don't bring it into our homes. We're very sensitive about it. 

 

Because we know how uncomfortable and unsettling that person that is dysfunctional and toxic can cause, even us. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Without giving too much away from the last episode, but it's a snake. We've got to be aware of them, Mary. And for the longest time, I kept saying to our kids, when they were younger, especially working with us, if I hear somebody's name too many times at the house, that you're dealing with, then I'm going to have to take over from here. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Something's not right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Something's wrong, you're not able to handle it. So, I don't want to keep hearing that person's name over, and over, and over again, and you have a problem with it. Because that means you're not resolving it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Whether in your heart, your head, or physically, whatever it is. That's what dysfunctional people will do. They will just overwhelm you in your thoughts, and in your heart. And they're always with you, and you're talking about them. You're complaining. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You're obsessed over it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You're obsessed, you're praying about it, and then you're looking at yourself in the mirror, "What can I do to rescue them, and make it right?" And what we're realizing is there's some people that just don't want to be rescued. They want to stay snakes.

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. And, you know, something that we've talked about too, as a family, when that conversation is had, one of us will say, "Well, have you dealt with it?" If you have a difficult relationship with someone, have you dealt with it? Or have you just talked about it? Because what happens is, when you just talk about it, you start feeling bad about what you talked about, and then you step right back into old patterns with that person. But if you've dealt with it, then you have to either put up or shut up. And that's what we're going to talk about, is how to deal with it. And not just talk about it and be frustrated. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah, and this is going to be another hard one for us. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Actually, this episode is brought to you by Kleenex. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Is it? 

 

Steve Alessi  

Kleenex, because you just may need some. I have two pieces here, one for you, and one for me, in the event things get too deep and so on. So, there's yours, here's mine. I think we have a few for— 

 

Mary Alessi  

Our listeners might need some. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Ashley, over here to my right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah, well. 

 

Steve Alessi  

John, and Alan, definitely have their box—

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah, we're ready. 

 

Steve Alessi  

— of Kleenex tissues. Here's a biblical example, which I don't try to preach on this podcast much. I try to leave that for Sundays. But there is a biblical example of what Jesus did when he was dealing with dysfunction in Judas, okay? Judas, as we know, was this betrayer. He sold Jesus out for his own good. He was profiting from it. It was making him feel good. Anytime you think of the name Judas, you hear the name Judas, if you know anything about anything Spiritual, scriptural, biblical, you immediately think, "betrayer." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Okay? A betrayer was somebody who didn't care about the person that he was betraying, he was only looking after himself. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

His own self-interests, narcissist, okay? He's around the table, Jesus is having dinner with His disciples. And He starts putting it out there that somebody is going to betray me. And it's somebody here, at this table, that's actually dipping their bread in the wine that we are going to be drinking. And He says, "Someone at the table is about to do that." Jesus knew who it was. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah, He did. 

 

Steve Alessi  

All right. And guess what He didn't do? He didn't try to save him. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

He didn't try to rescue him. He simply said, "Go and do what you got to do." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yep. 

 

Steve Alessi  

All right? That speaks to the person who's dealing with a toxic individual. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You got to stop seeing yourself as their Savior. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

First and foremost, stop seeing yourself as the one that's going to fix them. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Stop seeing yourself as the one that is causing the trouble. They're the ones who are right, you're the one that's wrong. So, evidently, something's wrong with you, so, if you fix it, they're going to love you. They're going to embrace you, they're going to come back, and everything's going to be hunky-dory. Listen, Jesus even realized, a person who is intent on evil can't be fixed. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Can't be rescued. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, you can't. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, the first thing, if you're going to deal with this, you have to realize, you are not their Savior.

 

Mary Alessi  

No, it's not your fault. It's not yours to fix. You cannot save them. The decision that you have to make to believe that, though, is the first thing, order of business, you have to believe that, when we say that in this podcast, we say that because we both, personally, know that that's true. Because there have been times in our lives with people, even, people that we've known, not even people, necessarily, in our everyday life, but people— You and I used to have a hero complex, being pastors, kind of lends itself to that. That, somehow, I'll be the missing link, I'll do something, I'll say something. I'll talk to them. And we're the ones who could save the day. And we realized, probably at about year eight or nine, in pastoring, that we were not called to be heroes. We are not saviors.

 

Steve Alessi  

I think I learned this just yesterday. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, we keep still trying to learn it. But I'm talking about on the grand scale of things, in the big picture. That we aren't more compassionate than God. We aren't better counselors than God. We aren't better healers than God. And when people don't want to get healed, when they don't want to have a conversation with God, when they don't want to do the right thing, and they never seem to do the right thing, it is not on us, nor are we equipped to fix that in them. 

 

So, we have to accept that, first and foremost. Because you have to lay down your cape, when you think, oh, it's a sibling, or it's a friend, or it's a husband, or it's a wife, or it's someone that is not living up to their end of the bargain at all in this relationship, that, somehow, something you're going to do is going to change that. The truth is, in some ways, I had to look at myself, and look in the mirror, and say, "That's pride." There's pride there. 

 

Steve Alessi  

There you go. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That makes me really think I have the power over this person in my life. That I'll smile right. I'll say something good. I'll extend some kind of love token. And then, it backfires. Because that's not the way it's designed to be. A good, healthy, relationship comes with equal service to one another, equal repentance to one another, equal forgiveness to one another, and boundaries. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Healthy, solid, boundaries that both can absolutely respect without even having to have a conversation about it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Because normal, healthy, people understand. You don't just come barging in to someone's life and take something that's not yours. Whether it's their emotions, whether it's their things, whether it's upsetting the environment, you know, you're having a beautiful day, it's the holidays, everything's going great, and here comes that person. And it's like they're bound and determined to wreck everybody's experience. 

 

Why are you letting them? 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You can't allow that. You have to back up and say, "No, there's some boundaries." And the rest of us. We're all in unity, and we're all in harmony. We're all sacrificing some things for the good of this experience. And that one person that's refusing to do it, needs to feel that there's boundaries, and that they can't cross them. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, the first thing you got to realize, though, is you cannot fix them. You can't rescue them. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Stop being the martyr here thinking, "Okay, I can just do something, I'm going to fix him, he's going to love me more, I'm going to be the hero." 

 

Mary Alessi  

You get in their storm, and you won't get out. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You won't get out. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You won't get out. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That vortex just sucks you right in, which, then, means this: You're going to have to put some distance between you and that individual. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And if you can do it physically, that's great. You may be living with him. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And if you are, then, you can't physically put distance, unless you're going to take some real drastic steps to do so. But, how about emotional distance? Can you give yourself some emotional distance from that person? So, when they text you? Why do you got to respond? 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

When they call you, why do you got to answer? 

 

Mary Alessi  

You don't. 

 

Steve Alessi  

If they invite you to an event, why do you have to say yes? You don't have to put yourself in a position to where, emotionally, now, you're being drawn back in to their world. Help me out with that a little.

 

Mary Alessi  

Well, I have to just, kind of, compare over the years, to our own story. Because your personality is one that you don't like to be manipulated, you don't like to feel like you're doing something for someone, where there are strings attached. So, if you can do it, you'll do it. If you can't, you can't. You're very cut and dry. Stephanie, our oldest daughter, has your personality. So, in raising her, I realized in, just, kind of, the way both of you approach relationships is, there's nothing hidden there. There's no agendas. 

 

So, if you don't want to feel like this relationship is full of agendas, where you feel hurt, you came with a pure heart, but this person has an agenda, then what you have to keep operating in is the mindset of, "There's no agenda here." If you call me, and you invite me in our relationship, there's a toxic nature to it. If I can go, and it works with my schedule, and I feel like it doesn't set us back, I'll go, if I feel at all like, I'm in a situation with this person, that it's troubled waters, and I need to leave some distance, then I'm just going to say, "No," for the sake of creating a little distance. 

 

It doesn't work with my schedule, I can't go, I'm not mad. I'm just making sure these boundaries are in place really solidly. Because the thing about relationships, that are vital, why they need to be healthy, Steve, and we have to have these rules in place, is because they affect every aspect of our lives. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Those relationships affect the decisions we make. Sometimes, if it's a sibling, it could be the person you marry, or not getting married, the relationships with your parents. There's so many facets to it. Why you have to be strong enough to set the boundary. And no, this isn't a good time for me to pick up the phone. Because I can tell the habitat, the environment, this happened yesterday, that happened the day before, now my phone's ringing. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I'm not picking up the phone. I'm just going to help you help yourself, and not be available. I'm going to take myself out of your crosshairs. 

 

Steve Alessi  

There you go. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Not because I'm mad at you. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

But I have to help you by helping me, because I can't fix you, but I can fix me. So, the way that I do that is, I lost my phone. I can't find my phone. Don't lie. Just don't pick up the phone, and don't feel like you have to give answers. I just have been very busy. I put my phone down for the day. I'm not answering phones. Don't make me feel guilty. You can't make me feel guilty, because I didn't know you needed me. 

 

I mean, there has to be a process, especially for those of us who can be easily targeted and manipulated. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

There's always us. Yep. Okay. There's always people like my personality, that I'm an easy target, because I want everybody to be happy with me. I want to have a good relationship with everyone. And I do have that area of ego and pride that thinks, "If I could just cast my Mary spell, and be funny and sweet and fun, then I'm going to win them over." And I've watched your personality, you don't care who you please, you're a kind person, I don't mean it that way.

 

Steve Alessi  

I do, but to people who receive it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I'm not going to, as they say, cast my pearls before swine. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. You're not chasing after. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Which means, I'm not going to take what is precious in me, and my heart, to want to connect. I'm not going to cast that before a person that is going to use it for selfish means. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I'm not going to go there. 

 

And you can see— You have the ability to, kind of, see that naturally where I've had to work at that.

 

No, I had to work at it. I had to grow into that. I think, part of being a man, was me saying, even with other ministers, okay? Who, it would have been cool to say they were my friends. But there was no friendship, being reciprocated at all. It wasn't friendship at all. It was a pay-to-play kind of affair. And I found myself, "Wait, a minute. They don't value me. They value what I can do for them. They value what my money can do for them." So, I had to sit back and say, No, I'm not going to put myself in those environments. I don't care if you know, it comes across like, "Wow, you're important, Steve, because you're hanging around important people." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Heck, no.

 

Mary Alessi  

That's very true. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You don't need that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You don't like pay-to-play. You like equal deposits.

 

Steve Alessi  

It's got to come both ways. 

 

Mary Alessi  

An equal service. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Which, then, here's another thing. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Which is healthy. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes, it is healthy, Mary. That's how it should be. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's how it's supposed to be.

 

Steve Alessi  

You don't need somebody else's reputation to build up your own profile. That's not right. That's using people. You're using somebody else to make you look better. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's not right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, and then you invite trouble, when you do that.

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes, you do that. Because once that person burns out, you're going to need somebody else. And you're always looking for somebody else to make you look better, or feel better. This is what's so important here about talking of all of this. Because so many people are insecure, so many people have been hurt, they're needing to hold on to someone else to make them feel better. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Even if it means paying the price of the pain, the shame that goes with being manipulated, and abused by somebody else. So, they stay connected to toxic people. And they don't even realize it's toxic, because they're in the vortex. They're in the middle of all that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Deep in the relationship. You can't see it.

 

Steve Alessi  

They're in the woods, and they can see the snakes all around them. That's just where they live. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I promise you, there's healthy people out there. There are healthy environments out there that are not toxic. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That are not manipulative, you get away from that toxicity, and that manipulation, and you find good people, the 99 over here that are cool, that are healthy. You're going to be quick to then go back, and find the snake, when you walk into the woods. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's so good, yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Stay away from that ugly stuff, that dysfunction, and the longer you're away from it, then you're going to realize, "Wow, it feels so good to breath this rarefied air of healthy people and influences."

 

No conflict and no strife. That's abnormal and unnecessary. 

 

You don't need that stuff. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, you don't. When you're at the tail end of a good day, and then all of a sudden, it had to end bad, because of that person that just does not understand boundaries, and is hurting, and they keep the cycle, and the patterns going. And until someone says, "I'm getting off this ride. I don't have to ride it. "

 

Steve Alessi  

If you don't get off it, you don't distance yourself, five years, 10 years, down the road, 20 years down the road, you're going to be looking at other people who have moved on, and you're going to resent— 

 

Mary Alessi  

Regret it, and resent the person. 

 

Steve Alessi  

The person that you thought you loved so much. You had to give me a life, and yes, you will regret it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You'll regret it, because you kept buying the ticket to the ride. You know, Steve, I have talked recently, because in the situation that my father passed, it's just so sad to me that I've talked to other women my age, whose fathers passed, very much the same way. They died alone, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and something that I'm very strong, and firm about, after what I've lived and learned with my father— and the good thing about it is, you do become a snake spotter. 

 

I'm not perfect. I don't look at them. I don't think there's a snake everywhere. But I'm aware of when I sense it, and the familiarity is there. And the one thing that I try to say, when it's appropriate, don't give one more day to that pain. You get to decide, I have given my last— 

 

Steve Alessi  

You didn't say, "the pain." No. Don't give one more day to that person. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Explain that. Because that was so powerful when I heard you say that, which really motivated this whole series.

 

Mary Alessi  

Well, because there have been a lot of days, given, wrapped up in that person's feelings, and emotions, and storms, and dramas, and conflict, where you've always got that precious daughter, or sister, or wife, or someone, that just goes along for the ride, thinking the whole way, somehow they're going to bring peace to this troubled heart. And they don't. 

 

I don't know if I said it in the last podcast, but if I did, I'll say it again: Thinking that we're going to turn that corner, and there's going to be equilibrium here, he's going to see right, he's going to say, "Oh, you've fought for me all this time and, you were so good to me, and I've been so bad to you, and I got it now, and I'm going to fix it." Meanwhile, that day never comes. Because that's not how the relationship has been set up. The relationship is one-sided, you just fed the dragon. 

 

So, what you have to determine is say, "Okay, what I'm doing ain't helping. As a matter of fact, this is hurting, because I'm propping up terrible behavior that's only hurting me. It's not hurting this person, it's hurting me." So, you have to decide, don't give that person one more day. I mean, today's the last day that you get to do that, that I am quick to answer your calls, and I'm quitting. 

 

"Well, I've got to go bail them out." Or, "I've got to have this battle," or, "I've got to be the one." No, take me out of your story. This drama ends with you. I am not your Thelma to your Louise, okay? If you're going to go down, you're going to go down all by yourself. I am not going to be the one that continually plays into this, and keeps this pattern going. 

 

Because if I am, then I'm a crutch. And it's not helpful to me. And it's okay to say, "I have a life, too." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes, it is. 

 

Mary Alessi  

"I have a future, too. I have a promise, too, and I'm sick of hiding my blessings. Because God's been good to me. And I'm hiding them because I feel bad for you. Because you're going to get jealous."

 

Steve Alessi  

This could go on and on, Mary is about to preach. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It can't, I've got to remember where we are. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I remember this. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Stop me.

 

Steve Alessi  

I remember this, Mary, a word that really hit us. A right smack in the face, when we were dealing with it, was the word codependent. What people don't realize is, if you stay around that influence that's hurting you, you are giving that influence permission to hurt you more. You've actually— You're not helping them. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You've become a codependent. They depend on you to prop them up in their dysfunction. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You don't realize that the best thing you can do for them, is to bail. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Let them come face to face with the reality of being alone the rest of their life. Sadly, they won't, because there's somebody else that's going to come into the world. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's what hurts the most, is when you see that happen. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But you've got to walk away, distance yourself. So that you're not a codependent, whether it's an alcoholic, a drug addict, whether it's somebody who just wants to stop sleeping around, and stay true to their moral values, whether it's an abuser with their words, or with their sexuality, don't stay in an environment where that toxicity, that negative spirit that judgmental spirit, don't stay in the environment, because the longer you stay in it, and don't distance yourself from it, you're giving them permission to stay the same. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Which then brings me to this, maybe, what you need to do, as you move away, is stop feeling so guilty. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. Wow. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Stop feeling so guilty that you want to be happy. That you want to be healed, that you deserve a better life, and that it's better to be single, and healthy, than it is to be connected and yoked with someone, and unhealthy, and toxic. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, it's better to be single. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Just walk away. It's not your mistake. It's not your fault, okay? You're not the one responsible for their decisions. Some of you just need to give yourself permission to be healthy and happy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Somebody says, "Well, you deserve to be happy." No, you deserve to be healthy. And when you're healthy, you're going to be happy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes, you will. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And healthy, sometimes, means, I'm alone, away from this joker. 

 

Mary Alessi  

But man, I'm happy. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But I'm happy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And it's okay, you know? It's okay to be alone, and be healthy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And happiness is going to come. You're never going to be happy, though, when you're unhealthy in toxic relationships. And so, you're going to have to, emotionally, and mentally, move away from it, and then give yourself permission to be happy and healthy by saying, "I'm not going to feel guilty anymore." Do you remember feeling guilty about not reaching out to your dad when the holidays came?

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, every Father's Day, what I would hear is, "A good daughter would reach out and call her father. It's Father's Day, Mary." And I would see Hallmark commercials, and I'd see all these daddy-daughter imagery, and, "Oh, I should," and I will say this, though, something that my sisters and I agreed to, years on in this battle was, we could not call the other one and say "Hey, did you call dad? Have you reached out to Dad?" 

 

Steve Alessi  

You have to stop that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

We had to stop saying that, because it immediately ramped up the guilt. "Oh, did you call him? Yeah, I talked to him. And now I feel like a horrible daughter. Now he's mad at me because you call him and I didn't." And then, all of a sudden, the cycle just goes crazy. And for three days, I'm frozen, and then I don't call it all, and then, okay. "Ugh," you know, and it just heaps this feeling of condemnation and guilt, and now, again, it's my fault. "If I call, maybe things will be better." 

 

So you don't ever get out of this perpetual cycle of guilt, and then I'm mad. "Well, I shouldn't have to call him, because he didn't call me for my birthday." Well, I'm having this silent conversation, and this battle with my father, who I still haven't heard his voice in a year. But I'm still— 

 

Steve Alessi  

He never called you on your birthday, never sent a card on your birthday.

 

Mary Alessi  

Never acknowledged my children, none of them. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Oh, my gosh. 

 

Mary Alessi  

None of the...

 

Steve Alessi  

I don't want to go back to too much pain, and I don't want to dump on your father. I want, though, somebody to see how severe this was. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because you guys tried, over and over again, 

 

Mary Alessi  

Over and over. 

 

Steve Alessi  

To the point that, and this was, sadly, this was a minister. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And this is why sometimes I just don't play. You're not going to mess around with ministry. If you are going to play games in the ministry, don't get in it. Okay? I'm not going to do that. But, he's in a ministry night. He's at his sleeping facility after the evening. They tell him they're going to pick him up the next day, to take him to the airport, or whatever. 

 

Mary Alessi  

They left him a car to be able to drive out. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Drive out. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And never happen. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Never drove. Nobody heard from him. Somebody, finally, somebody went in, found him, laid out on the ground. He had passed out, because he was mixing alcohol, and— 

 

Mary Alessi  

Prescription drugs. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Prescription drugs, that he was addicted to. And then, he ends up being hospitalized. And now, the family rushes to him. His daughters rushed to him. And one of your sisters took him in. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah.

 

Steve Alessi  

Opened the door again to a relationship, thinking, "This is finally what's going to get him fixed. We're going to finally reach him. We're going to touch his heart. Everything's going to change." And then— 

 

Mary Alessi  

We were hoping. 

 

Steve Alessi  

He was there for a few months. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah, he was there 30 days. 

 

Steve Alessi  

30 days. And then— 

 

Mary Alessi  

They had a baby monitor in the room, because they had a little baby at the time. And they could hear him in there, talking to his wife, at the time, terribly, about them. Now, they've taken him in, and he's in a hospital bed, in the room that they had cleared out from one of their children, so that my dad could live with them. And they were basically helping him nurse himself after several months in the hospital, where he almost died. And so, they didn't want to—

 

Steve Alessi  

The guilt y'all felt, you had to rush in, rescue him. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Who else but us? 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Who else but us? 

 

Steve Alessi  

And then, your sister opens the door. And he turned, they hear him in the other room.

 

Mary Alessi  

Saying horrible things about them, and all of us, but them specifically. And my brother-in-law, God bless him, walked in, and said, "This far, no farther."  

 

Steve Alessi  

"Hit the road, Jack!"

 

Mary Alessi  

"Not one more day," and made him get his stuff, and leave. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Leave. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And, honestly, there were times I struggled with that. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Like, was that the right thing? 

 

Steve Alessi  

Guilt. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And whatever. Looking back, now, I see that being tough, all it did was get us all to a healthier place. It didn't get us to a less healthy place. Being strong, and setting boundaries, made us all healthier. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It really did. And it brought the healthy ones to a place of peace, and unity. Because we were coming together, saying, identify the unhealthy behavior. And none of us can allow it. We all have to say, individually, that we have a right to say what works for us. So, my sisters and I say that. My sisters and I, didn't come to an agreement to kick that out. My sister had the right, with her husband. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That was separate from mine and Martha's opinion. She had the right to step up and say, "That does not work for me. We won't work as a group anymore." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

We were working as individuals, embracing healthy behavior, and rejecting unhealthy behavior.

 

Steve Alessi  

Which, then, brings me to this: You have to ask yourself, What's the payoff here?

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Why am I still in this relationship? Why do I still allow this person to treat me this way, and hurt me? Why? 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because there's a payoff for them acting the way they do. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

They're moving forward. There's something that makes them feel good, whatever that is, as sick as it is, okay? There's a payoff there, for them. What about for you? Why do you allow that toxic relationship to stay in your circle of influence, when you're asking for a new year, new bucketlist opportunities, that's going to make your year better, new experiences, and new diet, new workout routine, new budgeting, new home, new car, new job, new—? You're asking for all this new to better your life, and then, yet, you're still holding on to something that's so old, and hurtful.

 

Mary Alessi  

That affects all of that. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That affects it all. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It affects all that, because it affects you at your core.

 

Steve Alessi  

So, what's the payoff?

 

Mary Alessi  

I think, and I don't want anybody to... Okay. Here's the payoff, in my mind. There's a part of us, that we are naturally martyrs. And that bad behavior with that person, we can become so familiar with it, that it's our excuse. It's our excuse not to do those things. We say we want them, we write the list, we make our New Year's resolutions, and then I couldn't, because I've been dealing with this all this time. 

 

So, when do you say, "I want to be more committed to myself and the things I say I want to change in my life?" And if that's what's got me locked up, where I can't, then I've got to do the hard thing to, really, truly, mean, "I'm going to do these things I say I'm going to do." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

So, I think that at the end of it all, the reality is, if we really strip it all away, and we look deep in the mirror— I'm not a counselor, not a licensed one. But I do know, from my own personal experience, it's an excuse to not move forward. It's an excuse not to do the hard thing. Because the hard thing is hard. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's very hard. And I'm sorry that you have to do it. If you're listening to us today, I'm sorry, you have to put up these boundaries. I'm sorry that you have to walk away, that you're struggling with the guilt, that you have to look inwardly and question, "Why do I allow this person to do this to me?" I'm so sorry, that you have to experience this, but this is big boy and girl, real-life issues that you got to contend with. 

 

This is the real world. And I know that, as I trust God, and believe in God, that He sends people to bless me. And then, I know that evil influences will send people to curse me, and hurt me. And it's up to me to know the difference. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And there is a phrase that says, "You'll know them by their fruit." And if you look around, and all you see is isolation, aloneness, broken relationships, broken marriages, nobody's healthy around them. If it's surrounded by brokenness, be careful that you don't yoke yourself up with that thing. It's not going to bring you any help. So, once you ask yourself, What's the payoff? If you find that there's some dysfunction and some hurt in you that gives way to the dysfunction, and toxicity, of somebody else to come into your life, then, maybe, your next step needs to be, go see a counselor. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Go find some more literature. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yep. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We're going to try to put in the notes, here, of this, a website, or an e-mail, that you can reach out to, because we have some mental health coaches that we're working with, within our Metro Life Church, that could, at least, give you direction to some more professional counselors that could help you. I would tell you, go download this book, right now, Five Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life. It's written by Bill Eddy. E-D-D-Y. Identifying and dealing with narcissists, sociopaths, and other high-conflict personalities. 

 

You may hear Mary and I talk about HCPs on occasion. Those are high-conflict personalities. And one of the things that I love, that I'll close with, today, Mary, is that, when you're listening to that book, they're going to tell you, "Don't confront the HCP." The conflicting, toxic, abuser. Don't confront him. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because if you confront them, then you become in the crosshairs. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Of their instability, of their anger, their rage, their dysfunction, and their toxicity. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Which means, the crosshairs is, if you're aiming at something, the perfect aim is right in the crosshairs. You don't want to be that person that now is at the end of their gun, that's going to get all the forces of that anger, and hurt, because they'll come at you. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Absolutely. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And so, you can't think, "I'm going to go at it, and just tell them like it is." And think that that's going to be fixed. No, the broken person is going to feel that rage, and come at you even more. And it only causes you more pain. So you have to be... Oh gosh, I gotta be— There's a thought going into my head, but I can't say it, because pastors and Christians don't talk this way, but just don't be as the BSer.

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah, that's right.

 

Steve Alessi  

You can't fight fire with fire. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, no. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You better be a little more wise. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

At this one. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And, sometimes, it's best just to drop off the planet. Have them lose your number. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's it. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Don't respond, move forward.

 

Mary Alessi  

Just even for a little while. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Oh, I hope we've helped some people today. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I think we have.

 

Steve Alessi  

This is not easy. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I know this would have helped me. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I know that. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. Well, we're here to help in the best way we can. So, thank you for joining us for another one of our really tough episodes, but it's a great way for you to start your year. Thanks for being with us. For the family business with Steve and Mary Alessi.