“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” – Richard Bach
Born in a big traditional family, I was conditioned to believe in the power of blood bonding. Since childhood, my only dream had been to live in a joint happy family where all generations would unite to create a loving and supportive environment. This dream was shattered when I moved to the United States to live with my paternal family. I learned the biggest and toughest lessons of my life during my teenage years and early twenties. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and mere hopelessness due to all the broken expectations I had. For all the pain I endured during the past decade, here are some of the lessons and insights I have to share.
1. Foster Self-Awareness
A healthy mindset goes a long way when dealing with difficult people. As a teenager, I lacked awareness of how I was treated, and so I continued to accept the degrading treatment until it damaged my self-esteem. Finally, I gained awareness about how I was as a person as opposed to how I was treated. The constant disrespectful and demeaning attitude from the elders of my family affected how I perceived myself. This changed as I became more aware of my own personality and behavior outside of the family. I learned that how someone treats me reflects their own insecurities and a lack of love and respect for themselves. Self-awareness was the first big step to saving myself from toxicity.
2. Love Yourself
Branching from the lesson of self-awareness, self-love is the next step I proceeded to. Despite all the emotional and mental distress some of my family caused me, I reminded myself to pour love into my mind. I reminded myself of everything I am and everything I have to offer the world. Although it was a battle more challenging than the one with others, I managed to stay true to who I am. Apart from all the hatred and negativity surrounding me, I stayed strong enough to spread only love and positivity.
3. Be Your Own Hero
After dealing with my internal battles, I was ready to fight the external one. I cut off the emotional attachment from the toxic family and stood up for myself. I began rebelling and speaking up against their negative behavior and dared to warn them that their behavior was unacceptable. This caused heated arguments and enforced anger in them, but I became even stronger on supporting myself than ever. After all the arguments, fights, sleepless nights, and exhaustion, I was finally able to physically move away from the toxic family.
4. Own Your Story And Own Your Worth
This one is really important for me to open up about. Throughout all these years, I have encountered countless judgements from friends and family. From being judged as a boring and shy person for having emotional pain and mental stress, to being seen as the guilty one for experiencing the stress, people have found ways to express their opinions without any knowledge of my story.
This is a challenge I still face today. People do not know and understand every detail of what I have been through, so they are quick to judge my decision to cut off the toxic family members. The controversial situation of being the target of gossip and false rumors caused many people to change their attitude and tone towards me. They are likely to pass comments and unsolicited advice on how and what I should have done. They easily say things like “you have to respect your elders and stay quiet” or “you have to be nice no matter what because they’re your family.”
The key here is that I am confident in my decision, knowing that I am doing what is best for me and my well-being. At the end of the day, only I am there for myself, so I have started to own my story and keep my head high knowing what my worth is.
5. Forgive, Because You Deserve The Best
This is the last and the most difficult lesson I have learned and accepted from this experience. Forgiveness is not about others, it is about oneself. I was only hurting myself more by holding on to the anger, resentment, and hatred toward others. I reached a point where I felt tired of still being captivated by this negativity, which led me to allow myself the process of release. I am currently in the process letting go of the negative emotions and forgiving them not because I am okay with what they did, but because I know I deserve to be free of anything that holds me back. I deserve to apply all the lessons I learned into the new phase of my life and live with peace.
I hope that sharing my story has inspired and motivated you in some way to lead a positive life. It is so crucial to set healthy boundaries and prioritize your emotional and mental health. If you are dealing with such challenges, then I encourage you to take steps to free yourself and allow positivity to flow into your life.