Have you ever felt like you want to be with someone but everything around you points out away from that person?
Have you ever been with someone that you want to believe all they say, but you find yourself having a hard time putting all the lies together?
Have you ever felt like something inside of you cries out for that person’s company, but after being with him/her you feel like you are running on an empty gas tank, as if you had just been drained of all your energy?
Maybe, it is because you are under the effects of invasive species, a toxic relationship.
You feel like you are running on an empty gas tank
A couple of weeks ago I volunteered at the New York Botanical Garden, and the task we were given was to remove invasive weeds. Before we started, the employees gave us a brief lesson to explain the negative effects of these species and how to identify them from the native plants.
I am not sure if this happens to you, but when I go through my day, I analyze most of the experiences I go through, and there seems to always be a deeper life lesson or revelation that I am blessed with. Well, this volunteering was no exception.
The more I worked that day on the task assigned, the more I started to realize how similar these invasive weeds were to toxic/ unhealthy relationships. I could not help but to observe its trends and its tricks, but even more, how it was affecting the native plants. This brought me back through memory lane to relationships I've had which were based on lies and dishonesty. I felt as if I was a native plant overwhelmed and tangled by an invasive plant.
I felt as if I was a native plant overwhelmed and tangled by an invasive plant
Digging more into what is an invasive plant, according to the National Wildlife Federation, these can be any kind of living organism that are not native to an ecosystem and which causes harm to environment, the economy or even, human health.
After my volunteering time and analyzing the trends of these invasive plants, I would like to share with you 10 behaviors of invasive plants that I identified as being similar to behaviors that happen within a dysfunctional and toxic relationship. I will refer to a man because that was my case, but this applies also to women. While going over these, if you feel they apply to you, please don’t lose hope. You would be identifying the behavior and that would already a winning situation.
I have also included at the end of each reason a comment or action from one of those men, and I have called it the invasive species because that would represent best that kind of person and their behavior.
#1 Makes You Think It Is Your trustworthy Companion-
As an invasive plant starts to grow right beside the native plant, the first step of a toxic partner is also to gain your trust and to start tangling around your life. He will tell you sweet words, beautiful compliments and allure you into a whole banquet of false promises. He will make you believe that you need him, and that he is doing you a favor by spending time with you. Nevertheless, something inside of you starts to feel a bit of discomfort, as if some weight is building up on your shoulders.
Invasive Specie: “You are special to me… this is why I take all the love you give me but give you none in return”
Example of how cute and nice it feels to have an invasive plant crawl next to you at the beginning
#2 It Chokes You With Its Lies-
According to the USNA, an invasive plant ruthlessly chokes out other plant life. A dysfunctional partner works similarly. Someone who lives a life based on lies will start covering you with a mantle of leaves and branches that will feel warm at first, but eventually these will start feeling as if they are taking the breath away out of your lungs.
Invasive Specie: “I am in a relationship, but I want to get to know you better”
#3 Steals The Light From You-
Invasive plants are so aggressive that they will not only grow over the native plants, but will spread on multiple layers, leaving the native plants completely in the dark. As we all know, plants need the sun, and by stealing the light, the native plants will grow weaker to the point of dead. A toxic relationship blinds you from the ultimate truth. We tend to become so dependent on that person’s company, hugs, kisses, and physical affection that we start to be deceived. A person looking from the outside of the relationship can clearly see how you are being suffocated, but because you are in such depth, you won’t see the damage. The most unpleasant part is that you will probably feel it is actually love…
Invasive Specie: “I won’t be able to commit to you, but let’s keep on enjoying the moment not worrying about the future”
#4 It Alters Your Habitat-
“Ultimately, invasive plants alter habitats” USNA. Invasive plants have the power to alter the ground with their roots; they will alter the lighting as we mentioned previously, and they will have many more effects to the surroundings of the native plants. This is similar to what we experience when we are in an unhealthy relationship. Our usual plans or routines start changing, but you will know it is toxic when you find yourself changing all your plans to be with that person no matter when, where or how. It does not matter if he texts you at 2 am, you will put on your clothes and go wherever he tells you to meet him. You find yourself compromising your values, your schedule, your hobbies…your entire life. A healthy relationship expands your resources and embraces what you enjoy, but a toxic relationship exhausts your resources and pulls you away from the things you enjoy.
Invasive Specie: “You want movies, museum, and nice dinners…sorry baby, I just like to meet in your apartment”
#5 It Overtakes Your Identity-
As we mention on #3, invasive plants grow to a point that they cover the entire scope and dimension of the native plants, but even worse, it gets to a point you can no longer identify the native plant. This is similar to a dysfunctional relation in the way that it overtakes your life and world in such a way that you can barely recognize yourself anymore. You start behaving and doing things, in the name of love but that in reality, it has become more like an addiction; an addiction for that person’s company. You start doing things and compromising until you feel you are no longer yourself., and just for an ounce of his attention.
Invasive Specie: “I know we have been intimate for a couple of weeks, but when you see me in public, please pretend you don’t know me”
PHOTO: STREAMINSPECTOR / FLICKR
Example of invasive plants covering entire areas of native plants
#6 It Isolates You From Those Who Really Love You-
As Invasive plants start to cover the native plants, they also start to isolate them from their sister native plants. This is the same as toxic relationships. They start to separate you from your real family, from your real friends, and from the people that truly care about you. You start becoming entangled in a web of lies and secrets, and sometimes the best solution is to isolate yourself to avoid questions and claims that you prefer not to answer because they confront you and remind you what you should not be doing. If it feels wrong, most likely it is wrong. Don’t let anyone turn you against those who love you. Secrets are toxic. Sometimes we may feel so ashamed of the things we have done for this person that we feel embarrassed of sharing the experience with anyone who we love.
Invasive Specie: “Don’t tell your friends about me, it is better they don’t know”
#7 The Roots Are Deeper Than What The Eye Can See
As I was working that day removing those invasive plants, I realized the roots were extremely hard and deep in the ground. No matter how much of the branches I removed, it seemed that unless it was cut down from the root, it would just keep spreading out. Even when you think it is ok to keep on going further and you believe you will be able to end this at any time, please remember the longer you stay in the relationship, the stronger the roots will grow. Not only you will develop physical attachment, but also a soul connection will form and grow stronger. If a kiss creates a soul tie, imagine what days and days of intimacy can do. And when you finally make the decision, remember it has to be cut down from the root. Even if it hurts at first not to having that person next to you, you have to cut all ties. It will take time to get used to breathing clean air again.
Invasive Specie: “I feel such a strong energy when I am with you, I can’t explain it, but I just want to be with you”
The longer you let it go, the stronger the roots will grow
#8 It May Be Attractive But It Is Deadly
These invasive weeds we were removing were beautiful. They had shiny leaves and the fruits were like purple and blue berries. They called that specific species "porcelain weeds" because they were shiny like porcelain. But… its intentions are not good. Even when we are deceived by its beauty, charms, sweet words, we need to be alert.
Invasive Specie: "So talented, so charming; He knows exactly what to say to me to make me smile"
#9 It Will Go Far Up For You But It Will Never Change Its Ways
These invasive plants will go up to the sky following the native plant… but the only purpose is always to suck the life and nutrients out of that native plant. We cannot be deceived by the “sacrifices” or efforts someone claims to be doing for us because at the end of it all, all they do is just for their own benefit and selfish motives. Even when we believe they are doing it for us…
Invasive Specie: “I could be with any other woman but I’m here with you; can’t you see how much I care for you?”
Example of the height the invasive plant will reach, but it will always be putting its weight on the native plant
#10 It Will Always Be Invasive To Your Heart
No matter how deceived you are or how deep in this relationship you are, you will always know deeply in your heart that this is not giving you peace and that it is not healthy for your heart. It feels heavy and consuming. It is invasive to your heart.
It is invasive to your heart
From my past experiences with these kinds of toxic partners, I would like to share with you some healthy suggestions to your heart protected if you feel any of the latter behaviors are applicable to where you are now:
- Don’t isolate yourself from those who love you.
- Don’t keep secrets for too long and share them with someone who you trust.
- Accept healthy advice or counseling even if they are not what you want to hear.
- Reach out to a Pastor or someone of faith who can provide you with guidance based on love and wisdom, and also pray for you.
- Even when you want to believe everything, be cautious and listen to your heart. Usually what longs for the person is your soul, but your heart could be crying out for you to turn the other side and walk away.
- Don’t condemn yourself or go through a guilt and shame trip. Always remember that God loves you and He wants to guide you towards the solution.
- You are not alone!
- You are strong beyond measure!
We believe in you!
Have you had anything similar happen to you or someone you love?
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The United States National Arboretum
National Wildlife Federation