How To Deal With Toxic Family Members

Most of us purposely try to rid negativity and toxic people from our lives. We go out of our way to avoid those tell-tale signs of a bad influence. We try to surround ourselves with people who uplift us and make us feel good about ourselves. Sometimes we let someone through the cracks that isn’t the most worthy.

Upon finding out the truth do our best to let them go and cut off contact. What do you do if it’s people in your family? You want to give them a chance. We make exceptions because we’ve been told our whole lives that family is the most important. What if the people in your family no longer support and uplift? What if they would rather hurt you and let you down?

Hurt People, Hurt People

I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my own mother at best. She was born in an environment where she was abused. As a result, she never really learned how to love and let herself be loved. I would make excuse after excuse for her bad behavior with friends’ parents and even excuses for the abuse I suffered as a child. As an adult my relationship with her has been off again on again. I sometimes let my guard down and want to believe that my Mom, who I love, loves me and has good intentions. Then I find out, for example, that she had been talking badly about me and every time my heart ended up broken.

Not too long ago I found an article by bustle.com called 6 Signs You Have A Toxic Mother.  I have found that these signs can apply to any toxic family member.

My mom fit 5 out of the 6 to a T.

  1. Dismisses your negative feelings (CHECK)
  2. Thinks you’re responsible for her happiness (CHECK)
  3. Doesn’t respect your boundaries (CHECK)
  4. Can’t deal with not being in the spotlight (CHECK)
  5. Cruel. (CHECK)
  6. Scared to stick up for yourself  (Hell NO)

 

Research. Read. Recover.

I realized that I needed to seek out answers. Reading and educating myself was the best remedy. I focused my attention on as many articles, blogs, advice that I could find. As it turns out, according to Dr. Richard A. Friedman, a professor of psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College, parents are NOT predisposed to love their children unconditionally and protect them from harm. Why are we likely to stick with a cruel mother? “Research on early attachment, both in humans and in nonhuman primates, shows that we are hard-wired for bonding — even to those who aren’t very nice to us.”

Surround yourself with people that love you!

The next thing I did was surround myself with people that loved me. Feeling good is very important and the opinion of one person has nothing to do with who you actually are. I began to make a new family, one with people who were respectful, loving, loyal and kind. A family that would not be hurtful for the sake of being cruel. I started to notice that the cruelness of my mother didn’t seem to hurt me as much. I became happier when I places less value in her company and opinions. However, I also noticed that the more I distanced myself, she became more and more angry and resentful. Sending me nasty text messages about disinheriting me or telling me not to talk to her “family”. But the less I spoke to her, the better I felt.

 

What are your expectations?

This led me to begin to determine what kind of relationship with her I wanted. It was difficult because I felt best when I had no contact. I didn’t want my son to lose out on having a Grandparent close by. At the same time, I was deathly afraid, for instance, that her cruel and gossipy nature would affect my sweet child. I decided to come up with a clear and concise idea of the exact nature of our relationship. I was clear on what my exact expectations of her would be. This, in turn, would allow her to understand the expectations and she could make a choice. She could decide whether or not she would abide by the rules.

Acceptance?!

I’ve come to a place in my life where my relationship with my mother no longer hurts me. I am confident and strong in my own abilities as a woman and a mom. I am no longer affected by her toxicity. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never change her. She will never change and that it is what it sadly is. I can love her and send her all the loving energy that I can muster. Unfortunately, we do not pick our parents or family. And when we are adults we make our own decisions. For instance, who we want in our lives and who we don’t. We can chose to forgive them. In turn, we can have whatever relationship feels the best for us.



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