grayscale photograph of woman

The Unedited Truth About Having A Toxic Family

Blood is thicker than water—the phrase that means the relationships you hold within your family will be the strongest ones. It means that any friendship you procure outside the bloodline domain cannot possibly compare. Family is forever or family will always love you. Those are some common statements too, but I guess I’d have to disagree.

I think the assumption that your family loves you based on similar genetics and blood alone is juvenile. I think someone who procures that belief may not know what love truly means at all. Love is not ensured; it’s not something you’re born into. Love has to be created; it has to have a purpose, to have meaning. Just because someone holds the title of family doesn’t mean they share the aspirations for your growth. It doesn’t necessarily mean they care.

So we continue to seek out relationships. We raid the family tree with open arms, with unbounded love. We do this because we were told family doesn’t give up on each other. But the truth behind it all is, some family just doesn’t want to be found and they don’t want to love you. They don’t want the burden, the headaches of what it takes to be the person who loves through all things.

I know some of you know this to be true, that sometimes family disappears, sometimes they give up on you, maybe sometimes they were never there to begin with. Family doesn’t mean permanence like the way people portray it to be. Family can come and go just as friends do. Family can abandon you in a split second and treat you worse than a stranger. Because that’s how people are—they leave, and I promise you your family is no exception.

Just because they’re family doesn’t mean they love you. I know this very well. I know this because true love isn’t forced and will always endure.

Love is defined by effort; love means endless endurance, no matter how long the road is ahead, no matter how bumpy it may seem. The people that love you will show you. They will show you not only by showing up, but also by engaging in your world. The people that love you will never have to say that they care because you will already know. There will be no sign of vengeance or jealousy in their heart, and their passion for your success will permeate through and radiate from within. Trust me, you will know when they love you because love isn’t something you can see. Love doesn’t manifest from similar eye colors or last names, because love isn’t visible. It’s something you feel inside.

Love is defined by patience. Love means they will always be there, although not because they have to be—they will stay because they want to. Love doesn’t mean I’m stuck with you, it means I’ll stay for you. Love will not give up on you when things get hard or when life doesn’t go as planned. The people that love you will forgive you and choose to see past your mistakes because they know deep inside that’s not what truly defines you. Love is an unconditional commitment; it’s a river with a never-ending flow of faithfulness and dedication. Those that love you will hold their tongues because their devotion is so deeply encrypted they do not take pleasure in putting you down. The people that love you will stay to lift you up.

Love is defined by reassurance; love means they will always be there to support you. Those who love you are protective, but love does not restrain and control. The people that love you will not hold you back from your dreams. The people that love you will be right by your side watching you accomplish them. Love is encouraging, and love is benevolent. When you love someone, you make it your mission to make it known; you shower them with assurance and care. You treat them with the respect and affection they deserve. Love doesn’t leave you feeling unwanted.

I understand you may love your family and that regardless of the lack of love they give, you will always yearn to be near to them. But one thing you must understand is the blood you share are not chains to imprison you. Relationships are not a one-way street, and you do not have to stay to face the toxicity any longer. It’s tormenting and it leaves you in dismay, to feel abhorred. You deserve the love you give, and sometimes your family will not be the people ready to give it to you.

Just because they’re family doesn’t mean they love you, and that’s okay. One day you will find someone that will be your support system, you will find someone that doesn’t desert you. You will find someone that is patient, someone to reassure you of your value. The truth is, we all need family, because family should be the people to give us this love. But sometimes they don’t.

To the people who feel shafted and unloved, I’m here to tell you it’s okay to stop trying to love them, the family that neglects to cherish your presence and your love.

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to let go.