Maybe you’ve felt it too, this shift in the promotion of self-worth. Now more than ever, I see a great amount of encouragement to leave toxicity behind and build happier lives. In this shift, many of us have gathered the strength to step out onto our own and find our path with or without the family we grew up with. This can be a breakthrough for anyone who has been held back by toxic standards, abuse, or neglect in their childhood family life.
The truth is that leaving these negative family members behind is only the first step. We deal with the grief and shame for some time after the split, no matter how abusive or toxic the situation was for us. If someone you love has made the difficult decision to cut off toxic family, there are three things we want you to know.
1. We still grieve them, even though we are the ones who cut them off.
To some, it may seem cold-hearted to break contact with the people who raised us or grew up with us. Truthfully, it is extremely painful to lose someone so significant to our bloodlines. One of our most primal needs is to have a relationship with our families. No one wants to bear the loneliness and pain of losing these relationships, so please rest assured that it is not an act of aggression but rather self-preservation. We hurt when we first cut them off and we still hurt weeks, months, even years later.
2. Telling us to patch things up with our toxic family is not helpful.
It’s all too common in these situations for the victim to be told things like, “But that’s still your father!” or “Blood is thicker than water!” Believing that family comes before everything is not healthy for people with toxic family members. Despite your good intentions to bring peace to us, please be sure that if we cut them out of our lives, they handed us the scissors. We have moved on for good reason, and encouraging us to backtrack can be very detrimental to the progress we are desperately trying to make.
3. It’s hard to trust anyone — even you.
Please, show some grace and patience while we navigate through this hard process. We love you and appreciate your support. However, we may not be able to trust you with our whole heart. It can be hard to understand and empathize with this for people who grew up with supportive family. Our version of “normal” did not include trust and support. When the people you loved the most as a child turn into the people who hurt you the most, it tends to make trusting anyone else very difficult. Please know that we are trying and we are healing. Please know that we see your support and it means more than you know. Learning to trust again takes time, and the love you show us can help us get there.
At the end of the day, we are not bound to our bloodlines. Leaving behind toxicity opens up some exciting doors to building our own family, free of judgment and full of unconditional love. The process can be daunting, but it is worth every bit of hardship we may face.