advice, blog, blogger, growth, heartbreak, help, life, love, opinions, parents, personal, sad, sadness, self help, self love, therapy, toxic, toxic parents, toxic relationships, understand, understanding life, why, young adult
I’ve been debating writing about this subject because not only is it difficult for me to write about, but because it might be even more difficult for the people I love to read about.
Some people may or may not know this about me, but I am in college. I am almost considered a junior and I study social work with an emphasis in child and adolescent services as well as criminal procedural law. So, basically, I have gone through my entire program either thinking about being a police officer and following my family roots through that profession or becoming some sort of crisis counselor and/or maybe working in a short term group home for kids… I have all these dreams and plans of wanting to help children, I just don’t know where to specialize or even how to get in because this is a profession where it is all about connections.
Is it necessary to know that about myself? Probably not. I’m sure you hear young people like myself say all the time, “Oh, I want to save the world! I want to help children! I want to be the change, blah blah blah…” But why? Why do they want to be the change? Do you think they have gone through abuse themselves? Do you think maybe they had a perfect life and want to help others who did not? Or maybe they just find it fascinating that humans are such resilient creatures and can go through so much and still come out the other side alive.
Growing up I was not a perfect child… I know I made a lot of mistakes that hurt my parents. I made a lot of mistakes that hurt me. But, I think that’s part of growing up… My dad always used to tell people how lucky he was to have such a great teenager who isn’t an asshole… And now he tells people he’s lucky to have an adult daughter who isn’t an asshole. And it makes me laugh as I am writing this because I was an asshole and I still am. I make mistakes and I am sure I hurt people’s feelings all the time. I’m an asshole in my own way and I’ve totally accepted that. But, I think what he meant is that I am not an asshole in society. I never did anything radical or stupid like my counterparts. Mainly because I lived my life in fear of actually living it.
My step-mom is more than amazing… She’s been in my life since I was four. She is the epitome of what every mother should be. I used to not understand her and my dad’s logic about parenting until I took parenting and child psychology classes… Now I understand and see the amazing affects of hands on parenting and how awesome my siblings are being raised. They’re so lucky to not only have a mother who is there physically, but emotionally tact, as well.
I’m sure some of you reading this have separated parents, such as myself. I’m sure some of you have never even met your mom or dad, or both. There was always one parent missing and that has probably affected you in more ways than one. My parents were divorced, but I was lucky that I had a dad who took care of me, stuck around and didn’t abandon me. My mom was what you call a serial-monogamous dater. She had long standing relationships, but was always in a relationship. Throughout my whole life I’ve never known my mom to be single. That’s not a chip on her, because I am exactly the same way. I think we both crave that intimacy and love that relationships can give to us- except she was looking for love in all the wrong places and that severely compromised everything she worked so hard to build.
You would think as you get older the relationship between you and your parents would strengthen. You go to college, move out, get a job, meet a partner, get married, have kids, and so on… There are all these amazing things that are going to happen and you never know when it’s going to fall into your lap and you just have to embrace life and it’s ever-changing glory. Your parents are usually there for all those moments. And they’re usually happy for you and ready to help you with whatever obstacles you’re going to face. And I never really understood the complex dynamic that I have with my own parent until I started going to therapy and realized I have a toxic parent and it is more than OK that I distance myself, even if it hurts them, because my sanity is something I have to live with everyday.
“You’re so selfish.”
“How could you be so cruel?”
“Where is your logic?”
“Why don’t you suck it up for the sake of your sisters?”
“Why can’t you let the past go? You can’t change it?”
“You push everyone away.”
And my absolute favorite, “Tread lightly, because one day you’ll need us and we won’t be here for you.”
These are words that I have heard from people I trusted and my toxic parent about my situation. And, at first, these words really affected me. While this year has been one of the most amazing years of my life, there has also been a season of heartbreak and constant pain in my soul. I never thought I’d be the person who cuts off their parent. I never dreamed of anything like this ever happening because I didn’t think there was anything I’ve done so badly that I deserved the type of ridicule and hatred that I was receiving.
These words have stuck in my head almost every day since they’ve been spoken to me. And it might be easy for some to just cut people off and go on with life, but it’s one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done, not only because I have lost a parent, but because I feel like I’ve lost one entire side of my family.
I have people in my personal life tell me all the time how proud they are of the decision I made and that my toxic parent will regret everything she’s done throughout my life, especially in my adult life. But, maybe I regret some things, too. I’ve never been the child to stand up to either one of my parents. I don’t think they can tell you a time where I was vulgar or talked back to them. I really was a good kid, not perfect, but good. And in my adult life I can’t find that balance of freedom of speech and respect that they’re still my parents.
But, the day I finally spoke my mind to my toxic parent was the day she decided to cut me out, as if I was some toxic waste that was detrimentally exploiting and ruining her life. And then I made the mistake of going back and trying to apologize… And that just opened the flood gates for even more hurt. For the past three months I’ve been dealing with the loss of a toxic parent. And every day I have this hurt in my chest because even though I am the victim I feel like I put the gun to my own head. And maybe I should’ve just stayed quiet and not said a word. Because then my life wouldn’t have turned upside down and I would still have my parent and most importantly, my sisters.
If you’re still here, thanks for going through my pity party. If you’re still here you can probably really relate to my story and sadness. So, I am going to write some advice and what you do with it is up to you. Maybe you can’t relate this to a toxic parent, but you can to a toxic friend, sibling, relationship, or profession.
My first piece of advice: You are NOT ungrateful.
I think this is the most important thing I’ll ever say in my life. You are NOT ungrateful for walking away, you are NOT ungrateful for cutting toxicity out of your life, and you are NOT ungrateful for doing what is best for your mental. Just because someone has occasionally loved you, stood up for you, or maybe even quasi-respected you doesn’t mean that you owe them anything. Love and respect are emotions that don’t need to be matched because it is based upon how one person feels… Doesn’t need to be reciprocated, especially if it is only done with the intentions of some sort of ‘payback’. You do NOT under any circumstance owe this person anything. So they gave you life? Well they spent X amount of years of your life trying to make it complete hell for you. They helped you out financially or got you a job? Well good on them, but aside from the money you might owe them, you’re not indebted to them for the rest of your life or career. Humans are supposed to help each other, not tear each other down, and the second that someone starts tearing you down more than lifting you up is the second you decide that they aren’t good for you. You can’t grow flowers among weeds and you definitely can’t be successful when a toxic being is constantly telling you that you don’t deserve it. Gratitude does not translate to obedience.
My next piece of advice: Don’t listen to everyone’s opinions about what is best for you.
I am constantly riddled with the term, “You only have one set of parents. Don’t ruin that.” Actually, I have multiple sets of parents. Only one of them are genetic, then I have my step parents and the rest are people I look up to and treat me as if we have that ‘parental’ bond. I am very lucky to feel as if I have multiple sets of parents because that means I have a strong support group around me.
What baffles my mind is that if I was in a terrible, neglected relationship with someone, everyone would tell me to leave. Everyone would say how abusive and disgusting the relationship is and that I don’t have to stick around for it, so I shouldn’t. Please enlighten me on why it shouldn’t be the same for parents. If someone is abusive or just toxic to you, regardless of what ‘title’ they hold in your life, you need to walk away. It probably will never get better unless there is some sort of intervention, but even then it is not guaranteed AND you don’t deserve that pain everyday. But, because this toxic person might be a parent or relative you should just suck it up or YOU must be the problem… YOU must be doing something wrong or not trying enough. Nonono, no. A relationship takes two like-minded people to work. You must respect each other and understand that you might not always see eye-to-eye. It demands love and nurturing. You can’t not talk to me for months and expect me not to think I did something wrong? Or that taking ten minutes out of your day to call me is too much time wasted… Think about it.
In my opinion this called projection. A person is projecting their personal feelings upon your fragile situation with someone and giving you shit advice that might not work. Personal feelings shouldn’t be projected onto YOUR issue. It is all yours with its own problems and feelings. Nobody can 100% relate to your problems and that is something that people need to realize. Every situation is different and should be dealt with such care because of that.
The people telling you about what is best for you in a negative way are the people who probably are the toxic ones in their own relationships.
Third piece of advice: Boundaries.
If you decide that you’re not ready to let this toxic person go, set boundaries. They don’t always need to know every detail about your life, your relationship, or your personal business. You don’t need to discuss finances with them, do them any favors, or engage in deep conversation. If I ever have a relationship with my toxic person ever again, they won’t get the deep, realness that everyone else in my personal life gets. They’ll get the tip of the iceberg and that’s it. It is totally OK to cut off your own feelings and emotions towards them… Limiting what you give them or what they see means that you probably won’t be hurt as badly the next time they decide to cut you off or go on an abusive tangent about your life and how crappy it is going. And I can see where that would be so heartbreaking… I am in a relationship that is so perfect and I can seriously see the rest of my life with him. But, my toxic person wouldn’t be the first person I’d run to and show off my engagement ring. She wouldn’t even be the third or fourth… I wouldn’t even show her. Because you know what a toxic person would say? Aren’t you too young? I think this a bad idea. You’re crazy if you think he loves you. Why can’t you just wait? How much did he even spend on your ring? Is it even a real diamond?
And I know how RIDICULOUS all of that sounds, but if you have a toxic person, you can totally relate to those words.
By setting boundaries YOU are in control of the relationship and have the power over how much they can hurt you, or if they can hurt you at all. Some people’s boundaries are just having the toxic person be non-existent in their life. And that is OK.
Fourth piece of advice: It is OK to be upset.
I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I’ve cried in the past few months. I don’t think I’ve ever contemplated my life as much, either. And not in a suicidal way… Contemplated as in, how the hell am I supposed to live the rest of my life with this big, gaping hole in my heart?
It is OK to cry and be upset… My dad is such an emotionless person, which is great because I am full of emotion. So when I cried on the phone with him for two hours, he didn’t judge me. He didn’t tell me to stop, he just listened and did the best he could.
It is OK to feel like you’re going to be missing out on so much stuff. I feel like that constantly. I don’t see my sisters anymore, so I feel like they’re going to forget me. They’re not going to know who I am, and the memories they will have of me will be one-sided and the ones my toxic person tells them. I love my sisters and my brother more than anything on this planet, and I would do ANYTHING for them… Except accepting a toxic relationship. And so by walking away from my toxic person, I was kind of left with no choice but to walk away from them, too. I talk to one of my sisters weekly and check in on her and I am even going to see her this week, but my younger sister doesn’t have a say in being able to see me. She can’t. And that sucks. I feel like I am missing out on so much stuff… But I’m not. I didn’t make this decision, my toxic person did. I am not held responsible here, and I know that. Doesn’t mean that I still feel bad about it… I do.
You should realize you aren’t missing out on anything… If anything, if you were there, you’d probably end up in a really bad situation with your toxic person and those memories would be painful. They are missing out on YOU. They won’t be there when you graduate school, or when you get engaged, married, find out your pregnant, or even if you get a new job. They won’t be there for small laughs and everything in-between the big things. And that is not your fault. There are so many websites dedicated to parents who have had children cut them off, but not dedicated to children whose parents have cut them off. Like it is our fault.
It is their fault. Even if you are an adult, remember they are the parent and you are the child. THEY had control and ruined it. Not you.
Last piece of advice: Acceptance.
Accept that life is going to throw you curveballs. I am an open book in every sense. I have had to deal with so much shit in my 21 years of living that I sometimes feel like I am 80 years old and have lived my life fully. But, I haven’t. And these shitty parts aren’t all of it… They’re just fillers. Because ultimately, all the good in my life outweighs the bad. And I’m hoping it is the same for the person reading this.
Accept that not everyone is going to love you. Accept that not everyone is going to see your views as their own. Accept that toxic people will hurt you. Accept that sometimes things are going to happen and they are completely out of your control. Accept that it is OK to move forward and to not feel guilty about it. Accept life as it comes and just go with it. When you try to divert life or make it go in a direction it isn’t supposed to, THAT is when it goes all wrong. Just let it happen and you’ll be happy.
Accept that you are strong, resilient and independent. You do not need that toxic person nor do you deserve them. You deserve the world and everything is has to offer. Accept that you are doing what is best for your life and NEVER feel bad about that. Accept that your toxic person is probably going to never change and that your life will eventually, if it is not already, be better without them.
Never in my own life have I felt so at peace with my decisions and powerful. I’ve always felt so helpless and used. Now, I feel like I am in control because I conquered the one thing in my life that always got me down… And here I am accepting life for what it is. And I can truly say I am happier this way. It is what it is.
To anyone who can relate or has read this far… Thank you. I started this blog in an attempt to help other people understand some of life’s challenges, but it is also therapeutic for me. Feel free to share and comment your own opinions below. I love bringing similar people together to help one another out.
Thank you for reading.