In popular culture, family is like this holy unbreakable bond – we might be taught from a young age that family is the most important thing; and to some it really is. Family does matter. It is important. But what happens when it’s family members that are breeding toxicity – when it’s family members damaging your mental health?
I’ve been meaning to write something on this for a while now. In truth, family issues have severely affected my mental health for years, so it’s something very personal – and something that frankly scares me to finally put into words. I just wanted this post to be a light for those who might be where I was not so long ago.
See, I’ve lived with family toxicity. People hurt me who shouldn’t have hurt me – people that are supposed to love me. They were the people I loved the most in fact, & it was heartbreaking. It triggered my mental health into the worst state it’s ever been and I’ve spent years of my life feeling confused, let down & well… broken. I couldn’t understand. For a long time I made excuses not to stick up for myself, not to speak up – I reasoned that saying something would hurt other members of the family even though I wasn’t the one in the wrong. Eventually I was made to feel, for want of a better phrase, like I was nuts.
In short, it took me an awful long time to realise that, hard as it is, sometimes you have to cut toxic people out of your life for the very good of your mental health, wellbeing & safety – even if they’re family. It can be a tough call to make & an even tougher one to action; there’s history, memories, blood and ties that bind you, & severing them can be traumatic. On a personal level, I lost my sense of belonging when I decided to walk away. I felt hollow & like I’d never heal. I’d lost my identity somehow – I couldn’t see how I could be me without them.
& yet, as time has healed, I’ve realised that I feel lighter; safer. Free. I know I made the right call & I wouldn’t change it. I’ve learnt that, as much as other people might help make up who you are, ultimately you are your own person. You can be whole all by yourself. My mental health has steadily improved over the years – I’ve made small steps and championed the little victories and I’m proud of myself; I know that I wouldn’t be in such a positive way if I’d not been brave enough to make those cuts.
Please don’t believe for a second that I’m saying family is pish and that you should immediately go block annoying Aunt Sue on Twitter. Quite the opposite. Just take note of the people who are constantly judgemental; who only seem to speak to you when they want something; who continuously aren’t there when they say they will be; if they lie, cheat, steal – abuse you in any way. If they feed off drama, if they manipulate or use you, gaslight you, or make you question your worth. If you feel like your physical and/or mental health is made worse by this person’s presence, then seriously consider whether or not you want them in your life.
You don’t have to put up with things just because you’re related to someone – blood doesn’t give someone the right to be a dick.
Have you been affected by a toxic family member?
Please know that I’m here if you ever want to pop me a message – you’re not alone.
Big kisses always,