A good friend is going through a difficult time right now dealing with a toxic family member. I will not be sharing any identifying details, but there has been a life long pattern of narcissistic and downright awful behavior from this family member and there has been a recent chain of events that have really brought this behavior front and center. My friend is experiencing issues in her own nuclear family and her extended family because of this other person as well as the near constant fear of what’s going to happen next. She is at her wit’s end.
Of course she’s getting advise from all corners. I for one am telling her to kick this person to the curb (metaphorically speaking) and concentrate on the good people she has in her life- of which she fortunate to have a great many. Others are telling her that you can’t turn your back on family. My question to that is – why?
Why is it OK for someone to treat you terribly day in and day out just because you happen to share some DNA? Why it is OK to accept things from a family member you would never accept from anyone else? Now, I’m not suggesting you should disown your brother over one argument, or refuse to speak to your niece ever again for one poorly thought out joke. But systemic, long term abuse (be it physical or any other form) is not OK from ANYONE. The fact that you have a few genes in common should not be a free pass. We all have to value ourselves and our own health enough to know when to say when.
Adolph Hitler has several grand nieces and grand nephews who are alive in 2019. Most of them live in the United States. All of them have changed their names so no one knows about their most famous relative. Does anyone hold that against them? Of course not. Yes, I know that’s the most extreme case, but the premise still holds- he’s family after all.
I have a couple relatives that, while I haven’t disowned, I do keep at arms length. I’m not going to expound on that today, but in both cases there are long standing patterns of behavior that make a closer relationship impossible. I have to protect myself and my own mental health. We all do.
If you are fortunate enough to have only loving, caring, supportive family members then good for you. I’m glad you have been blessed in that way. But not everyone is. I assure you the decision to limit or end a relationship with a family member is not one that is taken lightly. We are feeling plenty of guilt already and don’t need anyone else piling on. No one deserves or should have a free pass to abuse you. We are better than that and we deserve better from EVERYONE in our lives, no matter what.