My Post-Divorce Advice? Quit Hanging Around People Who Suck

by Martha Bodyfelt
Originally Published: 

When you’re working to get your confidence back and build boundaries after divorce, there is one “hiding in plain sight” barrier that will keep you from reaching your goals.

And that’s surrounding yourself with shitty people.

You know exactly who they are…

The pushy one with unsolicited advice that makes you doubt your decisions.

The catty woman with snide comments and back-handed compliments.

The one who blames you and makes herself the victim when you call her out on her crap.

Sound like anyone you know? Is this a sister? Your mother? Your adult daughter? That “friend” who says she’s “only trying to help you?”

Literally every woman deals with these shit-heads on the daily. And his/her comments are so hurtful because they know which button of yours to push. They’ve known you for a long-ass time, and know your sore spots, triggers, and vulnerabilities.

That’s why just one of their comments can leave you devastated for days.

The secret about toxic people in your life…

100% of that criticism has nothing to do with you. She is projecting her own insecurities onto you, and she’s not taking responsibility for her own issues.

Remember the time your sister said, “That dress looks a little snug on you, don’t you think?” even though she knew you were counting calories and going to yoga three times a week?

Remember that time you got that promotion at work and instead of congratulating you, your mother said, “Oh, so I guess that means you’ll be spending even less time with your kids.”


So, what do you do about this person? Continue to let them walk all over you, saying “that’s just her”? This option is risky as shit, because you put yourself at risk of continued frustration and hurt feelings.

Stand up for yourself. This doesn’t have to look like a Jerry Springer fight. But it takes courage.

“Hey [insert person’s name], it really hurts my feelings when you do/say [insert harmful action here]. I would ask that you keep those comments to yourself.”

“Hey [insert person’s name]. I notice that you’re always commenting or giving me unsolicited advice on my divorce/looks/weight/recovery/insert whatever they’re always commenting on. I would ask that you don’t do that anymore unless I specifically ask for your advice.”

So, a quick heads-up when you stand up for yourself, and if the person has any amount of emotional intelligence, they may take a step back and say, “Oh, wow.. Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad,” or something along those lines.

Or they may get defensive. They may turn it on you. They may say,“I’m only trying to help you. If you don’t want my honest opinion, then fine.” And then they might stomp away or hang up the phone or stonewall you or some other 5-year-old-at-the-playground BS.

If that reaction occurs, that is a HUGE RED FLAG that this relationship may be unhealthy. This ain’t the end of the world–it’s just an opportunity to set up healthy boundaries.

Oh, and I get you may not just be able to walk away from that person so easily. She might be a relative or close friend.

Still, remember — being related to someone DOES NOT give them carte blanche to treat you like crap.

It takes a Herculean effort to be confident enough to speak up and stand your ground when they push back. But until then, remember:

Some of the most toxic people may be the ones closest to you.

Their trash-talking has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with their own insecurities.

You have the power to speak up for yourself.

Family members and close friends do not get to throw shade just because they’re in your life.

We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners,) daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook page is here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all.)

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