Every few holidays, there are people in this world who are pushing and forcing themselves to be around a toxic parent or family member, just because it is told by society’s standards “That’s your mom,” “that’s your dad,” “that’s your aunt, uncle, cousin,” and it is blood.
The collective humans in the world have these opinions about how humans are supposed to be and react to family, but in many instances, families are the people that tend to hurt you the most. They ride that line of “I’m your family, I’ll do what I want” type of thought process, and many people don’t know how to distance themselves from said toxic relationships.
While some people will be quick to generalize their family members or issues that may lie in wait in the family, some of the indicators of a toxic family member can be any of the following paragraphs.
Using money, guilt, or any other leverage to try and stop you from reaching your goals, potential, or desires. For example, threatening to take away your car in your twenties if they helped you get it, trying to keep you from moving out because they “need you” around for paying bills, using traumatic instances to influence your choices (another family member/parent dying). Tracking your every move or stalking you on Social Media to keep tabs on you, all of these things are forms of extreme controlling behaviors. Take into account what you’ve done to “deserve” this behavior or response, and chances are, you actually didn’t do anything to deserve it.
You’re Always To Blame
Abusive parents or spouses have used the line far too much after a violent act, “Look what you made me do.” Whether it be physical or mental abuse, their reactions are their choice based on how they feel, not anything you’ve actually caused. When arguing, they will turn the blame to you, saying that they would have not reacted this way if you would have done A, B, or C, or say that they are only doing this because you “caused” their reaction. Everyone is in control of their own behavior, and you are not to blame for how they react to things, within reason.
They Threaten To Take Their Life
This one is pretty extreme, but as a product of a toxic parent, I can attest to getting this threat multiple times within my life. That they would “waste away to nothing” if I moved away, that they’d “kill themselves” because they can’t handle their home life on their own. Anyone threatening to kill themselves or harm themselves due to you making life choices is not someone you should be around or spending time with. It is a manipulation tactic 9/10 and even though you may fear they will follow through, that person needs medical help, not for you to stay and reward said threats.
They Dismiss Your Emotions Because Theirs Are “More Valid”
When you have tried to quell a blow, sometimes the toxic person will try to tell you that your feelings don’t count, that they aren’t valid, or that you don’t have a right to feel a certain way because of how they feel. Everyone is valid of having feelings, it’s a matter of working on your emotions to express them in a non-toxic manner.
They Are Always The Victim
You know the type: everything that they do is never wrong. They’re always in the right and everyone else is so shitty or is out to get them. They have a long list of people that they just “can’t handle,” and they are really bad at confrontation, to the point that they are constantly saying “Poor me,” and “Why is everyone against me?” The more you pick up on that pattern, the more it’s a tell-tale sign of their toxic behavior. This may even go as far as them seeking out your friends and other family members to let them know of your “distasteful behavior” in their minds, and try to turn people against you because of their feelings.
If Every Interaction With Them Is A Negative Experience, You May Need To Cut Ties
This may be the hardest part to realize in a toxic situation. Whether it be physical, mental, sexual, etc, if you are experiencing only negative behavior, energy, feelings, emotions, or if being around them causes you severe anxiety and depression, then it might be time to start pulling away or cutting ties with the negative person in your life.
If you are looking to cut ties with a toxic parent that you live with, it can be very difficult, and it can be the same level of stress or danger leaving an abusive partner. Twitter user @DaveVescio posted screenshots of a post he came across (author unknown), about leaving a toxic relationship, and a lot of these can be of use to someone splitting from a toxic family member, especially if you live with them. Not all of them are applicable, but you can view them here if you need to come up with an idea for an escape plan.
The Last Thing To Note:
Please remember, it is not your fault. This is most likely part of an untreated mental illness or years of behavior that has not been monitored or maintained. Society has put so much importance on things like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, all of the milestones that we celebrate as human beings. If your toxic family member or parent is causing you that much pain, agony, anxiety, or depression, you do not have to partake in these holidays or force yourself into those situations because that’s “what people do,” or “that’s your family.” At the end of the day, you are responsible for you and your mental health, and if keeping yourself away or ceasing those interactions helps you mentally or physically, there is no reason to feel guilty for that. You have to live with yourself at the end of the day, so make your decisions based on what is necessary for your healthy and happy survival.