12 Ways to Deal With A Toxic Family/Family Member.

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Breaking up with a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend is one thing and there’s a lot of advice out there for doing it, but what about a family break-up?

Most of us are not in a position to “just leave” nor do we feel we want to, or that it’s the right thing to do. So what do we do when a toxic family member (or members) is literally ruining our lives? How do we deal with the feeling of obligation, guilt, confusion and heartache?

It is important to note that not everyone’s family is there for them to lean on, to call on or to go home to. Not every family is built on the premise of interconnectedness, support and stability. Sometimes family simply means that you share a bloodline. That’s all. Some families build you up and some suck your energy dry.

There are relationships and friendships that just aren’t fixable—this includes family. There are situations that you can endure for only so long before you’ve outgrown them. There may come a crucial time when you have to separate yourself from your family in order to do what is best for you and possibly for them.

In many respects, the way we were treated by our family ends up being the same treatment we offer the world.

Often times the signal and energy we put out into the world is similar to or exactly what we have experienced by others. And for most of us, this influential force has been our family. Think about it. Think about just how much the interaction, or lack there of, from our family, sets the tone for the quality of energy we give off during our lifetime.

What is unacceptable treatment?

Rejection, abandonment, not taking the time to get to know you or to be in your life, making you feel unwelcome, someone being competitive or hypercritical of you, pressuring or forcing you to be someone you are not, blaming, ostracizing, manipulating, belittling, neglecting and abusing you…the list goes on and on and on. These types of experiences can make a deep imprint on our hearts and inhibit our ability to react without them being present in the back of our mind’s. Our reactions to life become skeptical, doubtful, fearful and we more often see the dark instead of the light in both people and situations.

These negative experiences can jade us for a lifetime, unless we learn to do whatever it takes to get ourselves into a positive nurturing environment and replace negatively influenced reactions with positive ones.

What are the signs indicating that you could use a break or change?

-Your own health and mental well-being is damaged
-You feel emotionally, physically and/or spiritually injured
-The relationships with your immediate family/spouse/partner is suffering
-There is violence, physical and/or emotional abuse
-There is substance abuse
-There are constant struggles for power
-There is unnecessary distrust and disrespect

What to do, how to get out…

1. Get group help. If it’s possible and your family/family member is up for it, get counselling.

2. If it’s possible move out. Move in with a friend, your partner, an extended family member. Get to a place where people want to be with you, try to move into a nurturing environment.

3. Accept your parents or family member’s limitations. Know that you don’t have to repeat their behaviour. You are not them.

4. Allow yourself to get angry. Use it productively. Exercise. Do sports. Use art and creative expression. Write in a journal. Don’t withhold your emotions.

5. Seek guidance for yourself. Talk to someone, a counsellor, a life coach, your yoga teacher—anyone who will listen, someone you feel comfortable with. Ask for help with change and with taking risks.

6. Limit your time. Do whatever it takes to limit the amount of time you have to spend with the toxic family/family member. Limit visits, holidays, do what you can to prevent as much conflict as possible.

7.  Set healthy boundaries. Try to not allow yourself to get sucked back in. You can love and wish them the best from a distance.

8.  Learn ways to protect yourself. Practice meditation. Learn to be patient with yourself and others.

9.  Become aware of yourself. Observe your reactions. Become more self-aware in order to break negative patterns as much as you can.

10. Practice doing good things for yourself. Do things that build self-esteem. Do things you enjoy. Invite others that love you along.

11. Create balance in your life. Take care of yourself physically and eat a balanced healthy diet. Be aware and be cautious of things you may do compulsively (eating, shopping, drinking, etc)

12. Take charge of your life and your happiness. Don’t wait for others to give it to you.

Is it wrong to hold grudges (is life too short)?

Letting go can prove to be more helpful (even life saving) than grasping at toxic strings, looking for what ifs or chasing disillusioned beliefs. At the end of the day, we are all certainly in this together, but each of us have an honest obligation to do what is best for ourselves. You can be a lantern of hope, you can lead by example but you can’t force anyone to change.

 

Have you experienced a family break up?

Do you have any suggestions?

 

Relephant read:

Why Some Parents & their Children have Great Friendships.

Image: Flickr

Relephant:

Bonus:

The Simple Buddhist Trick to being Happy.

What to do when our Relationships get Tough.

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Laura Dunham Nov 23, 2018 1:18pm

My older sister is the toxic one in my family. My younger sister and I have tried for over a year to get her to go to counseling, to meet us to talk, to move forward. She has refused. The holidays are rough because I won’t see her kids at all – even though I have a good/healthy relationship with all of them and practically lived at her house when they were growing up. But.. the stress of having a toxic person in your family is unreal. My mom does NOT SEE IT or is too afraid to confront my sister who has split apart the family because she is afraid of my older sister’s wrath – which is legendary and unforgiving. With only two sisters and no dad, my family is small. Now, with no relationship with my sister, it’s even smaller. Without a doubt, the worst heartbreak of my life.

My question: what to do when most of the family covers their eyes and refuses to acknowledge the person who is toxic and unforgiving? It’s classic bullying bystander behavior and it hurts like hell.

Elizabeth Thorsnes Nov 21, 2018 3:54pm

Oh! So it looks as if this forum is where comments should go! Sorry!
I come from a large family—sweet father, manipulative and unhappy mother, and siblings always jockying for “position” or favor in the family. A couple of years after leaving home for college, I moved about 6 or more hours away, and there I stayed for many years, coming home only for holidays. I came home more when my father got sick, and after he died, when my mom needed more help. I had decided that I would treat my parents as well as I could until their end, and I did. As my mother aged and finally died, my siblings got crankier and bitchier, and more greedy for the tiny amount of money and few items left after the deaths. As it had been when I was a child, I was the scapegoat for most of the foment, and I took it for a long while, trying hard to keep things together. Finally one day, I had enough. I had been readying the family home for sale (me, alone, with no help from 5 siblings who could have used some exercise, and who lived much, much closer than I did). I just packed up the few items left that I wanted from my family, got in my car, and drove to my own home. Except for some distant cousins that I am close to, I never spoke to any members of my immediate family ever again. And guess what? It was the BEST thing I ever did! I have been free from criticism and nasty comments and coldness and all the other traits my siblings had learned from our mother. When my friends say things like “Oh, don’t worry, you will all work it out one of these days . . . ? I laugh! There is nothing to work out! I want nothing to do with that toxic group! It IS o.k. to walk out of your family, and sometimes it is the most freeing thing you can do! It was for me. Now I have my own little family—son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and dear, dear friends! You cannot fix people who are hell-bent on being toxic! Just let it go!!! Good luck!

Elizabeth Thorsnes Nov 21, 2018 3:05pm

You, Elephant, asked, after the article “12 Ways to Deal With A Toxic Family/Family Member.”: Have you experienced a family break up? Do you have any suggestions? But you provided no way to answer the questions, and that is very frustrating, especially this time of year, when many of us would be interested in each other’s comments on this matter . . .

margit1303 Nov 21, 2018 8:18am

This article hit home. I have a younger sister who thinks of no one but herself. Right now I’m dealing with our 90 year old father who is not well. I’ve had to go back to work (I’m 65 years old) but make an effort to see him at least twice a week (he lives an hour away). I do his grocery shopping and take him to his numerous medical appointments. My sister rarely sees him and has told dad she thinks I should take time off work to look after him. She did the same when our mom was very ill and bedridden 4 years ago (she died). My sister hasn’t worked in almost 30 years. She feels her depression and anxiety is worse than mine (although refuses meds). I’ve dealt with the death of my kids dad and son in law in the past year and was diagnosed with BP 2 (for which I take meds). It doesn’t stop me from doing what I have to do for my family. I’m tired and so angry with her and have told her i no longer have a sister (after receiving abusive text rants). When dad dies it will be her loss and guilt (so I keep telling myself). Still not easy. Thank you for letting me share.

anonymous Mar 2, 2016 3:47am

I have remarried and have 3 sons from my first marriage. I am aged 57, my wife the same age, has no children. It has been a struggle to keep a healthy relationship with my boys. The middle boy, now 28 has been in prison for drugs and assault. He doesn't speak to me at all. I am learning to live with this.
My eldest son, 30, has done well for himself and recently married. He has thrown himself into his wifes' family. He doesn't call me much, I usually call him. He often has to end the call early because of some pressing reason. He has been insulting to me and my wife, publicly on one occasion. He doesn't make time for us anymore. He lives 5 hours away. I increasingly feel like my wife and I are being intentionally forgotten. I'm getting to the point where I feel the need to protect myself and my wife from the negative comments and attitude towards myself and my wife. Previously our relationship with my eldest was very good, he always made an effort and we mostly enjoyed his company. My relationship with my youngest son is and always has been very good. My quandry is around my relationship with my eldest. Do I challenge him next times he makes an insulting comment, do I speak to him about the several incidents and comments over the past 18 months, or do I gently break away and 'manage' my relationship with him. Any thoughts, ideas or stories about similar situations would be most welcome.

anonymous Jan 23, 2016 9:16am

I didn’t like the word toxic at first, I preferred to think of these people as just sick. But as time went on, I came to understand that a sick person refusing to get better is toxic. We’ve had to deal with, several times, my husband’s family’s control issues. If we don’t live or do what they want, they don’t talk to us. The first couple times I was so angry. But after the last couple times, which is going on two years now, i was able to accept my pain and recognize that they are just sick people that want to stay that way. My kids are hurt and it has put additional issues in their lives, but I just tell them that we can’t control other people, and when we’re feeling hurt or mad we should pray for them. Today, my life has much less drama and more peace. I am not being compared to anyone else, and I feel freedom to be who I am. I am thankful for friends and family that lives me for who I am, for relationships where people work on themselves to be healthy for each other, and for boundaries. You never know your strength until you decide to forgive someone who has never said they are sorry for hurting you. And you don’t have to crawl back and let them hurt you again. Codependency recovery, such as Melody Beattie materials, really helps with this. We can break the cycle!!

anonymous Jan 17, 2016 8:17pm

It's a comfort to see that I am not alone to have suffered a toxic family. From a young age I knew my siblings were not people whom I'd wish to befriend, my brother especially. Bully would be putting it lightly, abusive physically mentally emotionally you name it. He is now in his late 30's and has not changed. He also refuses to admit any wrongdoing whatsoever and places the blame on those he injures. I no longer allow myself to stress; I will not allow this toxic person to have power or control over me. For the most part I've blocked him out of my life; I wish I could visit my parents more often, I love them dearly but he lives with them…they are financially stressed and he has been living off their good will for years all the while neglecting his responsibilities towards his child (good thing the kid lives with the mother).
No one picks their family and after a while of trying to make it work you have to face it…it's best to walk away and remain a better person than let yourself be sucked in to their nastiness. Self preservation and survival.

anonymous Jan 3, 2016 11:51am

I recently had a "break up" with my dad. He is an abusive alcoholic. Growing up I would compulsively spy on my parents so I would know whether things were ok or if he might leave us again. By age 10 I recognized that my mom loved him, but his love for her was unequal, he disrespected her, criticized her, and was inconsiderate of her every day. He was living with us, but he wasn't "present." He never did anything with me, though occasionally he would do father-son stuff with my brother. He did get sober for several years when I was a teen, and then life was wonderful. But, when I was 18 my mom and I were out horseback riding and there was an accident. My mom was left permanently disabled and in constant pain (still to this day 17 years later). When my dad realized that she would never be able to work again, that he would need to support her, instead of her supporting him when he retired, he became angry and abusive once more and resumed drinking, and also had many, many affairs (which he had also done early in their marriage). I moved away, married, and had a son before I realised how things stood. At that point I began planning for my mom's escape and divorce, and moved to a larger house with a guesthouse so she would have a place of her own with me. It took several more years for her to be convinced to leave. He flushed her medications or stole them for himself, he shook her to cause her more physical pain, he screamed at her telling her how stupid she was and that no one liked her or wanted to be near her, and many other awful things. When my mom ended up sleeping in the guest room, door locked, and a knife under her pillow because she was afraid he would try to kill her, she finally resolved to leave him. She had been with him since she was 12, and married to him for 33 years. One day while my dad was at work, my husband and I moved my mom out and brought her to live with us. My dad went insane. He blamed me. He made false accusations about my mom and tried to use my kids to manipulate me. When things cooled off I tried to resume a father-daughter relationship, but he couldn't behave himself and we frequently fought. He even went so far as to remove parts from my mom's car engine so she would miss her class reunion. One night he was in a car accident and nearly died. His back and arm were badly broken, his face was crushed and required reconstructive surgery, his skull was fractured, and some internal organs were lacerated. He was in the hospital in the ICU for a month and then moved to a recovery facility for another 2 months. During that time I took care of his house, his pets, and his bills, and kept his boss informed on his progress so he would have a job to return to eventually. His blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was 2.44, more than 30 times the legal limit. The doctor told me that only a lifetime alcoholic could survive having that much alcohol in their system. Thank God no other cars were involved in his accident.
I had hoped this would be a wake up call and a life changer, but he returned to alcohol within weeks and became worse than ever. 7 years later he still raves and rages against my mother and does everything he can to try and destroy the life she has been making for herself. Last September I told him that if he wanted to be involved with me and my 4 kids then he would have to stop trying to get back at her for leaving, and he would have to be sober before coming over. He accused me of "hurting" my kids by making these boundaries. He said he would never contact me again, and then told all of our very extensive family that I had been manipulated by my mom and that I quit speaking to him. At first I was upset, but once I realized that I would never again have to live in dread of the holidays, of trying to make sure that he was either with my brother or with me on special days, nor worry about him showing up to my kids' birthdays hammered, nor hear his lies again, when I realised all this then I felt incredibly liberated. I never ever want to go back to trying to have a relationship with him again. A few days before Christmas he started a fight with my brother and quit speaking to him as well. Of course he blames our mom. But now my brother and I and our spouses and children will never have to be exposed to this dysfunction again, and we are all relieved.

anonymous Dec 31, 2015 3:01pm

My family is a complete mess. My aunt tried to kick my mom’s belly while she was pregnant of me. My mother locked herself in the bathroom and called my dad, crying, saying that my aunt was screaming and threatening her outside the bathroom door. After that, they didn’t speak anymore, and my father hates her deeply. But now she’s trying to get closer to my mom and to me, and keeps trying to buy us with presents. She truly is a horrible person and I completely understant my dad, but my mom doesn’t see it, and fights with my dad a lot over this despicable person. She tries to force my dad to talk to her, and sometimes he does, but he told me that he feels like crying everytime he looks at her. I love my father more than anything in the world, and I hate seeing him like this. I just want my aunt to stay away from my family, but I have no idea how to do that and how to make my mom see who she really is.

anonymous Dec 13, 2015 8:00pm

Hi, so I’m not 100% sure if some of my family members would qualify as toxic or not. I have a Mother who is one way towards me one minute and then acts completely different if certain people are present or if she’s talking about me to someone else. My granny is pretty much the same way except she Vickers about everything under the sun nearly always. Sometimes it’s about how I dress, who I’m with, what I’m doing, what I say, etc. Well, I have Manic Depression and severe anxiety and 99 times out of 10 when I’m around them both together it ends in a horrible fight. They’re quick to talk bad about each other until they’re side by side and then they seem to ‘ team up ‘ and verbally attack me about literally everything. I’m 24 and as an adult I feel like they really over step their boundaries. I’ve tired calmly talking to them the way my psychiatrist has suggested but it never works. They cut me off every time. Well, my boyfriend has offered I move out and in with him so that I’m not stressed out constantly and that’d put some distance between my family and me as well. Any time I’ve ever moved, it starts a fight that is so bad I end up in panic attacks and tears. I have no idea how to even approach them about moving because I already know how this will go down. Any suggestions? It’s so hard because they’re family and they know how to make me feel awful .

anonymous Nov 25, 2015 2:02pm

I have chosen to take a toxic family member out of my life. I have felt a much better life after doing so. The only thing since then is another family not agreeing with my decision and now pressures me to forgive and forget. Which then makes me feel like another toxic relationship is starting. I'm at an age where I can decide who I would like to speak with and who I will not speak with. So here I am feeling down and out over and over again from another family member who just won't give up on this because it hurts there feelings?! I'm on day two of a constant headache from this situation……

    anonymous Dec 13, 2015 12:34pm

    Don't worry, I'm in the same place…I decided to take a toxic felative out of my life almost 20 years ago when I was really young…best decision ever, I couldn't take the abuse anymore. The thing is people think it's somewhat forbidden or cruel or something impossible to think of to decide to remove a relative from your life, but I say go for it, your life and your well being is first, who cares what others think, I bet they don't have to deal with the abuse so it's easy for them to say "You're too sensitive, better forget and forgive". It's not ideal, of course not, but I wish people were more understandating and had more empathy so they wouldn't judge so much. The funny thing is few people seem to judge the abuser but they judge the one they abused for standing up ….Seriously, your are first,always act thinking about what's best for you…I wasnt like that by nature, but toxic people force you to be like that

anonymous Nov 24, 2015 9:42pm

My dad has been toxic to my family for 20+ years. I had moved in with my spouse 1 year ago after my parents had divorced and my sister moved out of state. To this day, my dad still causes problems. I had tried to distance myself but I keep thinking about the past and how we used to talk. I tried forgiving him in the past but every several months, he does the same thing again, so it turns into a vicious cycle. I don’t know how to handle another one of his cycles. It’s so incredibly hard to block out a family member. I try to stay positive but it becomes very challenging at times.

anonymous Nov 23, 2015 7:56pm

Wow I know EXACTLY how all of you feel! I have a uncle who is very toxic and i have since cut all ties with him. In high school i moved in with him and my aunt ( mother's sister). My dad was sick so i couldn't live with him, and my mom wasn;t around. Well everything started out fine during H.S. years, but then little by little I was restricted. I couldn;t go out after school, i had to come right home, I couldn;t out to the movies, I couldn;t have friends over my house, i couldn;t give out the phone number etc etc etc . Then when i started dating, it got worse! I had 1 boy who was interested in me, and I didn;t dare to tell my uncle about him. One day i didn't care anymore and this same boy asked me if i wanted to go to the mall with him after school i said yes.. I came home"late" like around 5.. and you would have thought i had gotten kidnapped!! All hell broke loose. My uncle DEMANDED that i call up this boy in front of him and break up with him! I was devastated, i couldn;t do i was soo upset, so my uncle calls him up and tells the boy i said said all these horrible nasty things about him. The boy believed my uncle and broke up with me and never spoke to me again! Fast forward to my college years, and another guy comes along and Uncle tries to sabotage that relationship too! Luckily this guy was smart and could see thru my uncle's mind games! 5 years of hell we went thru with to be together! My uncle was vicious!! He screamed at me all the time, called me vile names, threw things at me, nearly slammed a door on my fingers! Called up the guy i was with non-stop and accused him of things too! While I lived with them they also treated me like a maid/slave! I had to cook for them, run out to stores for them, pick up things for them, cleaned for them, all the while being screamed at non-stop! I literally felt like Cinderella!! Finally i had had enough and i moved out! Still to this day, this same uncle texts me on my cell phone and leaves messages telling me what a terrible person i am and how the family is ashamed of me and my actions! I now ignore his texts and have stopped all contact with him. Me and the guy are still together to this day and have since moved out of state away from my CRAZY uncle!

anonymous Nov 14, 2015 1:01pm

The problem I have is that my sister is toxic. It hurts me deeply how ignorant she can be but as I try to explain this she blames me constantly. Since we are both in our early 20's, we still are in uni/collage and visit our parents regularly. It's gotten to the point where I want to remove myself from such abuse and give up on trying to convince her of the err of her ways; mainly not seeing that we are a family and shouldn't point faults in others while avoiding your own faults. My parents, however, who have seen this happen with their own siblings know that this will be the stake that ends our family. Talking about this to my father, he has no solution for the daughter her loves who seems to point out nothing but a horrible situation for herself and the son (myself) who understands that she needs to widen her scope and see things for how they actually are. I'm sick of abuse, I'm sick of stating shes not the abuser, when it actuality its just to hold our family together. What do you do when the toxic relationships ending means the ending to that which is irreplaceable; your family?

anonymous Oct 26, 2015 2:40pm

Yes get as far away from them as possible and never look back. Done it and I have no regrets. I've been able to mend my spirit and reach beyond the limits of what they had me believe I could. That's what walking away does for you.

anonymous Oct 20, 2015 3:48am

My family of origin is exceptionally toxic and abusive. DIvorcing them has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and probably ever will do. The process of extricating myself from them as peacefully as possible began around 7 years ago. I am still grieving the loss though have absolutely no regrets. It has definitely been a necessary and beneficial decision.

anonymous Oct 19, 2015 5:44pm

Waylon’s video is great. <3 Oh, the article is good too. 🙂

anonymous Oct 2, 2015 9:49pm

Great article! I do all those things except one. Get away from them. I have 2 brothers that are just scum. They continually impose on my life. Plotting & scheming behind my back. My mother is the core of the toxicity. I can't get away from her bc she has me in a financial bind. Im stuck & have to endure their bs. Its gotten to a boiling point. For 16yrs my mother used me. I made her over a million dollars. I solved all her problems big & small. Gave up my life for my stupid family. They don't appreciate anything. A couple of years ago i discovered my mother is just a big fat liar. So are both my brothers. Both are losers. I thought i could just find a job & leave but no one is hiring me bc for 16yrs my mother paid me $500/month under the table. I didn't care too much bc i thought i was just doing stuff for my family & thought i would be taken care of later But when i wanted to leave my mother made it impossible. Im stuck. Still need help. But now all 3 are going to be in my face for 3 months. No one i talked to has an answer & the job thing is the biggest hurdle. If i got a decent paying job i could leave but min wage jobs aren't going to cut it.

anonymous Sep 30, 2015 10:45am

soo diifficult is hard to convince abuser / user of the damage that they are doing to themselves and to the people who do care for them its hard to not be sucked in to the blame game

anonymous Sep 26, 2015 11:54am

Been dealing with a negative mother my whole life am 40-years old now my sister just disowned her and left and refuse to help her ever again. If i leave she can't take care of herself and how much negative and controlling she can be i just don't have the heart to abandon her no matter how much i want to my heart denies it. I really hate my mother at times well most of the time all she does is talk about people and puts you down and makes you feel like you can not accomplish anything no matter what you try and do to bring yourself up she takes it away. No matter how much thought i put into myself to make my life better even if it's work or other things she takes it all away and brings you down below her. I feel like just ending my lie why bother anymore it sucks and it's half way over and never had a taste of life because of her.

    anonymous Nov 5, 2015 7:51pm

    Hang in there NXS! It will get better in time! Hugs & prayers to u!!!

    anonymous Nov 26, 2015 6:07pm

    NXS, maybe you need to put her in nursing home or call State social services. It appears u r co dependent n it is causing depression. There are meetings for coDA which may help as others may have ideas of how to lessen ur burden. You need a lot of joy and positive experiences to combat her toxic negativity. She has had her life before u were even born. Now it is time to live YOUR life. Dont give up on being happy. Things can change.

anonymous Sep 23, 2015 1:38am

My sister never used to call me unless she had been drinking. On these occasions I would sit up all night chatting. When her daughter would put the phone down it was I who always was there to listen
Sometimes she would just not call for months at a time. She’s moved back nearer her family and all my nieces don’t talk to me. My parents died a while back and as my sister and i was so close in age (I’m older) but that even worse as I cant share my late parents birthday or Christmas by having a nice talk. My sis lives by the sea but she is always busy going places I summer. But the last time u saw her in march I helped her decorate and pain her new house.
Wr also watched the lunar eclipse. Since then up to now she has disowned me. She always runs me down and mt grown up children as they still live with me. She boast hers have all left and shed free now. Also told me my kids be living with me until I’m 90. She last text me in April and said I’m good ad dead to her. So after 6 weeks i still called her to make friends again but she started calling me names so I changed my.mobile number. Its been over 6 months shesr not even written. But she can get on a train to visit her old school friend who she has just got in touch on facebook. She I votes her to stay in summer. We are both single. I was upset and lost for losing my sister. But I have moved on I stll start thinking why she hates me and my family. csnt think I did anything major to upset her. I just think my sis mo ed to a nice home and near her daughters. Then left the past including me on purpose. Horrible having it done to me as we are both carers and when she was stressing out she would always call me and i would sit up all night talking about her feelings. She will miss me maybe not now but one day she will realise she lost her soul mate her best friend and the one person she could confine her problems with.

anonymous Sep 3, 2015 10:05am

Carol Hyde,

Same situation here. Sister who causes a problem then plays victim but was caught on social media in her lie and still not accepting responsibility for it. Blames "something dark" Hello? you are the dark one! Same behavior all her life and will never change and sees nothing wrong with how she is operating. Worked on our mother when her husband passed a few years ago to gain control of her through lies and mother does not want to "rock the boat". I only communicate through email now with her and its to say hi. Oh, and now she has been baptized as if to say that she is not liable for her behavior that caused pain for others and continues to do so. I am glad to be free of her and that the Universe/God takes care of it in her lifetime.

anonymous Aug 3, 2015 6:52am

Well the lesson I'm learning now, at age 50 with both parents long dead and 3 surviving siblings (none of us are close), is that we as a society place WAY, WAY TOO much emphasis on "the family", as if it is some sanctified entity: IT IS NOT. It is not at all worth carrying around guilt or hope of reconciliation with negative, passive-aggressive, back-stabbing family members. Don't waste your time trying to make nice or visit at Christmas. They are not at all worth it. Completely divorce yourself from such abusive family members. Life is too short to carry around guilt and blame about bad family relations. Better to dump them completely and make a fresh start. Your mental well being is much more important than trying to 'make nice' with crap siblings.

anonymous Jul 28, 2015 11:54pm

I want to get out of my family. They destroyed my life.
I want my life back.
I want to get out of my family

anonymous Jul 9, 2015 5:00pm

My sister is a shallow, vicious, bullying, lying narcissist, or to use the short version, a psychopath. Her technique is to tell lies, which she then believes herself, to convince other family members that I’m the one who’s harming her. In this way, she’s convinced her empty-headed meat-puppet of a daughter that I’m a monster. Her son, thankfully, has got more sense than to believe her vicious propaganda. Our parents, sadly, lack the courage to stand up to her. Although I’ve not suffered physical abuse, her bullying was such that I have been plunged into depression. When I stood up to her bullying, her response was not ‘my sister is in great distress of mind, what can I do to help?’ but ‘how dare you criticize me, you evil madwoman’. Standing up for yourself is essential, no matter the apparent cost. Counselling is also helpful – being able to vent and cry in a non-judgmental atmosphere makes a big difference. I also challenged my parents for effectively enabling her by not criticizing her bullying behaviour. The initial effect was negative, as they were shocked that I thought they were in the wrong. Denial is a major part of their worldview. However, after some time, my mother, who has a long history as a passive-aggressive control freak, has finally grasped that constantly needling and belittling me is not acceptable behaviour. People who want to change, and care about you enough to make the effort, can. I’ve binned my sister and her daughter. I have as little to do with that venomous harpy and her mini-me as I can. She’s still resident in my head, but I hope with the support of my friends and anti-depressants to evict the loathsome piece of sub-human filth in time.

anonymous Jul 8, 2015 7:15am

Great advice. It has always been difficult watching my mom being a ‘victim’ to my money hungry paternal aunts and uncles who I believe will never change. Honestly speaking my mom has turned into a bitter woman but I bet any person in their right mind would when faced with a gang of siblings who always manage to turn any conversation into something about money. And to make matters worse my dad always manages to side with his ‘loving’ siblings and it’s so frustrating. I don’t think I’d ever be able to reconnect with these aunts and uncles and I know it’s a horrible thing to say but the day my dad dies will be the day we’ll be finally free of this toxic greedy group of relatives.

anonymous Jun 16, 2015 12:58pm

i am in a relationship with a boy for five years. but we are other caste so that my family is not ready to get marriage with him..they always abused me and behave like i am animal..i have no emotions or feeling at all. my parents always give me an offer for marriage to other boy..but it is so painful to me..after giving pressure i agreed to marry with other but this it was not good family so its all over now…but my parents did take a rest they always search a boy and press me to marry.but i denied so they always abused me and dont give me a value or respect..it made me so depressed.i have headeak and feeling unhappy all time..how can i be happy? please help me.

anonymous Jun 10, 2015 8:19am

I will do the 12 step. But my situation is I work for a family member for years now and all of sudden he doesn't want me to work there he says it's because he has to downsize. I'm the only employe he letting go. I have try to ask him why me I'm the lowest paying person here. For the last 20yrs of my life I have done what ever he had asked for I have put his happiness first. I have never felt this kind of hurt I can't describe it. I can't get a handled of my own life I feel my heart beat so loud. I'm shocked he knows I'm paying for my child college education. I have cried my eyes out to him nothing seems to faze him all he says is oh well I'm not responsible for you. Someone please give me advice. Thank you for listening. Oh by the why my work and child has been my life I don't have friends that I can turn to and he is my only other family members besides my child

    anonymous Jun 10, 2015 11:25am

    I should have mention he is married to his 2nd wife for 25yrs. She has never liked me from day one. I don't know if she has something to do with him letting me go after 20 yrs working for him. He is 25yrs older than his wife. I feel she may has something to do with this even if she does have something to do with this I feel he needs to explain why this only be done to me. I have a lot of emotion that I have never had before can't eat sleep crying my heart feels broken it hurts. I'm 51yr old and I completely lost and hurt. I would love to hear any advice you may have for me. Thank you

anonymous Jun 8, 2015 5:38pm

I just recently cut ties with my father and stepmother, and their entire side of the family, after suffering in silence for most of my life (I'm 48). How absolutely liberating! A giant relief! I keep wondering why I didn't do it sooner, but perhaps I was still holding onto some hope after all that time. But things never changed. In fact, things just got worse and worse over the years. I think I held on because that's what we're "supposed to do". We're constantly bombarded by these sayings, that "family is everything", and the like, so there's a level of guilt that comes into play when we consider breaking off. But if these toxic people are hurting us, I do not think we need to feel guilty about protecting ourselves. Finally understanding that just because I was born into this family did not mean that I had to put up with their emotional abuse, that I could move on, and live my life free from all that stress, was a huge epiphany for me.

I put up with this poison family for far too long. I dealt quietly with the pain they caused, and for many years, I thought there was something wrong with ME. I moved far away, which helped a bit, but there was still this niggling way they got at me, day after day. I kept trying to ignore it. However, when they began their vicious gossiping, backstabbing, belittling, rumor-mongering, name-calling, lying, deceitful, hurtful, manipulative ways with my daughter and granddaughters (seriously, who trash talks a sweet ten year-old girl? their own grandchild, even?), I decided that enough was enough. They could mess with me, but there was no way in hell I was going to let them hurt my girls. So, I cut them all off in one fell swoop, and anyone connected with them, and have had no contact since. It was a long time in coming, and I know it was the right thing to do, to protect myself (finally) and my daughter and granddaughters.

I'm sure that side of the family has spun their warped side of the tale to any and all who will listen, but you know what? I don't care. The break has been incredibly freeing, and I feel like I have a new lease on life. My entire outlook has changed. I feel stronger, more healthy mentally and emotionally, and free to concentrate on the people that truly matter to me, the people that truly love me in return. As that popular quote goes, “Letting toxic people go is not an act of cruelty. It’s an act of self-care.” If you, yourself, are suffering from toxic relationships, then I wish you the strength to choose a better life. I wish you the strength to choose to save yourself.

    anonymous Jun 10, 2015 8:37am

    I wish I could have the courage to do that. I'm So proud of you I don't even know you your in my prayers

anonymous May 28, 2015 5:18pm

I am so happy I found this article. I had been suffering from a toxic family since a child. Now on my fifties is when I am deciding to cut this cycle. Never is too late, isn’t it? My sister and I are like oil and water… we never mix. She talks bad things about me, making me look like the crazy and awful one. I know this, because when those people get to know me, they tells me they didn’t think I was a sweet and marvelous person. We can’t even talk, because that will warrant a war. She has turned my nephews and niece against me, and that hurts me a lot. But I need to do this right now because I am seeing my niece turning like her, or even worst. She lives in my mother’s house. Although my sister children were raised there, my mother was a silent lamb. Never dare to say anything because she is afraid of my sister. My mother is part of the problem because now she keeps complaining how bad they treat her all the time. I had beg her many many times to come to live with me, but she wont move. So that is it! I am tired and sick of this situation. I starting to move away of my toxic family! I will take care of my emotional and physical health away from their drama. I won’t cut communication with mom, but as soon she starts complaining, I will tell her to talk about other things. This will take some time… I will still have nightmares with my sister… but soon they will be gone… Thanks for bringing up this theme!

anonymous May 25, 2015 10:58pm

Thank you for your article. It has made me feel not so alone. I come from a family of 6 including my parents. By the age of 29, my father, sister, and one brother have all passed away. Starting when I was 12. I though dealing withy he deaths of 3 immediate family members was hard. Honestly dealing with my only living sibling, my brother has been harder. I learned at a young age that life was fragile and to treat you loved ones with kindness always. My family, except for my living brother, have been more than supportive and loving.

I’ve been crying a lot in the last few months and came across this fantastic article. After my eldest brother died in an accident. It quickly became apparent that my living brother wanted nothing more to do with our family, I think all the losses were to much for him. After a couple very hard years of detaching from him. I was okay. Until recently. He has become very cruel towards my mother. She is almost 80 and works full time. She has financial burdens and I have helped her what little I can. I didn’t expect my brother to help. But my mother asked him for a small loan, less than $1,000. Neither of us have asked him for help financially. (I might add he lives in Upper Manhattan and is the 1%). Anyways he tore into her and severed ties. It’s not so much me, I’m sad for, but I weep for my mother. She has already lost 2 children and my dad. Never remarried and is probably the most generous person I know. Spiritually, and emotionally. This situation has brought up emotions I had thought I worked through. But It’s become quite apparent that I need to do a lot more work. This sure is hard.

anonymous May 20, 2015 4:28pm

I completely agree. Even though I love my sister(albeit in a more detached way)I feel like I can't continue a relationship with her. Although my parents never paid any mind to it, I always felt like she belittled me to build herself up. She claimed superiority academically, socially, and eventually held herself up as the poster child. I would be lying to say that this didn't take a toll on my self esteem. I started to internalize all our problems and blame them on my own shortcomings. Eventually, however, I stopped spending time with her and discovered that I am a more productive, happy, and confident person when I'm not around her. That's not to say that she brings out the worst in me. . .there are aspects of her personality that help display my good qualities. For example, while she is mostly introverted, I am more extroverted, and being in her company helps me reflect that. . .to the point where we actually foil each other. However, the cons of her personality don't outweigh the cons. At the end of the day, she will always be snide, self-centered, and egotistical. I don't think I'll even attempt to reconnect with her until she can work on her own issues. Thanks for the article!

anonymous May 17, 2015 7:40am

Great piece on the lacking of familial peace…. I’ve saved this article the past few months now, to re-read as needed.

Moved away from a toxic family situation 26 years ago. Found peace, mended some bridges where I thought it appropriate, only to have a dramatic flare~up of those good old family hostilities again, after our mom’s passing and the handling of her estate. Some people are just so F’d up, and to recognize the old jealousy, spite and hatred, just for the sake of their own issues, well, I guess I could see it coming from a mile away as mom lay there all morphined out in her last days. Visiting mom on her death bed was hard enough…… not that she was free from creating so much un~necessary drama during her life…..having to spend that time with a sister who just may be the illegitimate spawn of Adolph & Ava certainly was unpleasant in it’s own regard.

I’ll spare you, (and myself thankfully), any further details but wish to say that Time heals all, and helps you to forget that which festers and scars if you can maintain your own peace and joy of life…….. Time is short….tick~tock…… Some of us may have been born into some pretty shitty situations,completely and totally out of our control, but we CAN find our way out.. and try to live our own lives….. the life we know in our hearts to be true. Ahhhh Sweet catharsis…… Peace!!!

anonymous May 14, 2015 7:31pm

My oldest sister is very toxic and has turned my other two siblings against me. Now said oldest has posted pics of herself on FB partaking of her "New Hobby" of target practice. With a large sniper gun no less. And then she adds that it's not to shoot coyotes. It's me basically. She is trying to scare me and I guess it is working because I am scared. The only thing that makes me feel better is that I live a couple of hours away from her but wish it was further. Definitely too close for comfort.

anonymous Apr 28, 2015 3:06pm

I'm now free from my family. Free as in guilt-free, emotionally free, lots of free time, lots of headspace. It's great! I recommend.

Start slowly. Don't give them any clues that they bother you or they will cling to you. Read the book "Art of Seduction," particularly the chapter on anti-seducers. This will help you to understand exactly why you are so repelled by them. Take on anti-seductive qualities in your dealings with them. They will be glad to be rid of you when you finally do disappear.

I think my family is relieved I'm gone too. We are just really different. Now I see them as a part of my ancestry, like a part of me that is ancient history. It's like watching The Vikings on the history channel. You can start to distance yourself and have an appreciation and respect. You can be yourself. It's worth the trouble.

anonymous Apr 23, 2015 4:24pm

Thank you for this page, i have been in a unhealthy family for ever and i need to get out!

anonymous Apr 18, 2015 1:58pm

Thank you! Thank you! This was a wonderful article. It was of interest to me because I separated myself from my two sisters. It was very difficult to do, but I managed it. It has been several years for one sister and one year for the other sister. I can't even begin to describe the blessed relief this has given me now. I can honestly say I don't even miss them anymore. I don't ever talk to them. I don't attend any family functions. I have an excellent relationship with my brother and he and I get together frequently and talk nearly every day through texts and facebook. That you for wanting to help others by talking about an often unmentionable subject.

anonymous Apr 8, 2015 3:06pm

Wow…..this is what i really needed….i thought i was alone….but now im more than ready to disengage with my family i.e my younger sister .mother and her sisters.they only value me when i have money.i guess its me and my daughter..thanks alot for the enlightenment and it feels better to know that im not alone

anonymous Mar 19, 2015 11:51am

@ Grieving, Thanks for your post on THE INVITATION by Oriah Mountain Dreamer . I am 53 and a caregiver for both of my parents. My Sister will not help. She doesn't want to see the ugliness of Alztimers. Great to know this blog exists. I feel less painfully alone, now. Hang in there elephantjournal brothers and sisters.

anonymous Mar 8, 2015 6:07pm

Hi all, I never really comment when I look up articles like this, but I would like to contribute because of everyone's personal stories about their own experience.

I'm in a family of 5 including me, + a sister-in-law. My second brother moved to another state for work, and is now living with his fiancee. So in my house, there's my parents, me, my oldest brother, and my sis-in-law. Now let me get this straight, I just turned 25 a few days ago, graduated from college in 2013, and am now working as a contractor (and this company has been amazing to me). Everything's good, except my personal life at home.

All my life, I've been the outcast because I'm the youngest and only girl in the family. There have been obligatory small talks between me and my oldest brother and sis-in-law ever since they married (and get this, they "married" via Vegas, no ceremony took place whatsoever). Sometimes she's okay, sometimes she's not. She doesn't have a job for a couple years now, and don't intend to work ever (because she's living with us, and my oldest bro is supporting her). I don't care, whatever, that's fine. But I absolutely hate it whenever my oldest bro and sis-in-law has something against me, and they tell my parents and somehow get my parents on their side as well. Yet here's the irony: My parents talk sh*t about them too, because of her laziness and untidiness at home (for example, leaving used napkins around our tables/counter). There is so much hypocrisy at home, and I have to say, it is "toxic" as well. I hate it the most when my oldest bro and sis-in-law talk to each other loudly in the house about me, but saying it like I'm in third person and I'm not there. It's like, HELLO, I can HEAR you??! If you have something to say, say it to my face!

One last thing I need to vent is the fact I've been out of college. I still don't have my own car, and share the other car with my dad. I have money to get my own, but I'm also afraid to take that next step. I don't think I am mentally prepared, let alone move out of this house. All my life I've been treated like an outcast (I'll always remember they took a family photo + other guests/relatives when I was still around middle school age at a(n) park/event, and they didn't bother looking for me to be part of the photo). I hate how in the next 5 years, I'll be 30, and I sure as hell better have my own car then. I hate asking to use the car. I also hate how my family has issues with me seeing my bf, as he lives an hour away. I hardly see him anymore, and it pains me every now and then. I always wonder to myself how other people do it; I'm just not as powerful as they are I guess.

I just hate how my family seems me as a 15 year old, not a 25 year old (because guess what? I also look like I'm still in high school). But here's the funny thing, I have never been a troublemaker at school; never late to class; never need to pull all-nighters. So why is my family treating me this way? I just don't get it. And knowing them, you can't change their views. At their age, nope, never.

anonymous Mar 6, 2015 3:11am

Thank you for another great article. Where else may just anybody get that type of info in such a perfect approach of
writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such information.

anonymous Feb 23, 2015 8:08pm

I was adopted so family was never about “bloodline” to me, it hurts me so much to even think of getting rid of them. They are so hurtful, so careless, so unloving and I really don’t have anyone else in my life that does love me. I love them so much and family means the world to me, I have a hard time accepting that our family is not ideal. I try so hard to fix it but it’s getting more and more obvious they aren’t willing to change. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong. They are completely oblivious towards the harms they do to me. I couldn’t survive without them physically, my financial situation and living situation has me completely trapped and dependent on them for my survival.

In my recovery my family fell apart, my sister moved away and doesn’t have any contact, and my parent’s don’t want to have anything to do with us. They are really mean and verbally abusive towards me. My own mother told me to kill myself once and that hurt still remains with me and always will. I understand they went through a lot when I was mentally ill but the whole family is dysfunctional and that only became noticable when I recovered and I was the only one that ever went to therapy. They refuse to go to mediating, they refuse to go to therapy.

I really wish I could live without them but I don’t think it’s possible for me. I just don’t understand how… how can I go on living alone, without a family, without anyone. I don’t even think if I was to replace them with another family or friends or join a commune that it would make that feeling of great loss and mourning any better. Because I love my family more than anyone else in the world and we’ve been through so much together, I can’t just fucking cut them out and I sort of feel like it would be psychopathic to even be able to just leave someone you love so much like they are just a peice of garbage. I can’t do it. But I can’t go on living like this either.

anonymous Feb 3, 2015 8:55pm

It has taken me sixty years to disengage from a toxic relationship with my elder female sibling. After no contact in four years, I have become a more grounded, balanced and peaceful person. I am sad for my sibling and my nephew, but I have accepted the fact that their lives and mine are made up of choices. I choose to consciously live my life. I would be mentally ravaged if I were to return to a relationship with either of them. After this time, I can truthfully wish them well and simply allow them to be. In so doing, I allow myself to be.

anonymous Feb 1, 2015 8:35am

I have a reaally toxic mother in law…but the problem is my husband loves and respects her and she does love her children a lot…its just me she has a problem with…i cant avoid her…i have to make phonecalls to her…because i owe that to my husband coz he is more than a son to my parents….he knows his mother behaves like that with me…but as time is passing i am getting used to her and she doesnt affect me as much…and negatvity she put inside me i am trying to get out it….

anonymous Jan 28, 2015 2:59am

This is all well and good, but how does one handle a toxic family member who's out to get you by spreading lies and rumour such that it can affect your respect in society, damage career prospects and relationships with clients etc. How can I get them to stop the abuse? I just want to be left alone.

anonymous Jan 20, 2015 11:58am

I truly wish all of you the best . Keep the kindness and love in your life. Release the poison.

anonymous Jan 12, 2015 10:41am

MY girlfriend is going through this and I am supporting her every way I can. Her family are abusing us and we're trying to get by. She sent me this article and I am so Glad she stumbled upon it. I am so happy there are a lot of people this way, and people overcoming it. It gives me hope. I love her so much and I wish I could just take her away from all of this.

anonymous Dec 30, 2014 10:15am

I'd like an advice to pass on to a friend who had a toxic sister (verbal/emotional abuse) who wouldn't hesitate to use her children to 'punish' my friend. My friend is hurting because she loves her nieces and nephew to pieces but it's the toxic sister that's creating a wedge. How does she go about this?

    anonymous Jan 4, 2015 3:11am

    Your friend probably needs to see a counsellor I'd suggest which is a quicker way of dealing with it rather than trying to sort it out in her own head. I tried that for 12yrs with my sister who also power played me with my nieces and nephews and it was a massive struggle.

anonymous Dec 23, 2014 8:36am

I stopped everything this morning while reading the article when I started reading the comments. I went through approximately 50 comments. All so sad, yet enlightening. I marvel at those who have been able to work through the difficulties of separating themselves from toxic family members. Especially at this time of year when it is almost a sure thing some families continue to get together even though the burden of toxic people come with it. I too have toxic family members, close and extended family. It's very hard to disengage from the need to smooth things over for the sake of the holiday, yet harder still to stuff it all down when there are children involved in the mess of the toxic family. I have 3 people in my life I choose not to see or contact this Christmas. My choice. One is by her choice, a sister who completely cut herself off from me and my family over a year ago. Another is an extended family member who is a Narcissist and is completely and totally a person whom I cannot repair a relationship with. Married to my son, who is a drug addict, she enables. I cannot enable him any longer, or her. This year I am thankful for my youngest sister who is now 2 years + clean and sober. We have been able to repair our relationship and that makes up for those I cannot help or even consider "family" at this time. It will be a good Christmas season, I have chosen to take away all the drama of these family members who I would always suffer anxiety attacks over if they were to appear on Christmas day (only to get their gifts and leave in 10 minutes). This year I am unburdened from them. They will never understand why I disengaged, they are toxic people, family or not. This article helped me so much this morning to realize I have not lost anything but gained everything by putting my faith in God to help me focus on doing good for those who truly care.

anonymous Dec 11, 2014 9:52pm

I have a toxic sis who uses her son to do whatever she want an get away with it whether it be stealing from me an my husband destroying our property an lieing about doing . just recent she got pregent 3 month or so she say an she said she lost it with a guy older then our dad choice the guy over her son an family..but keep on her about coming back an she did an I made her take a pregnancy test came back negative.. The same day she left the guy older then my dad she got with another guy an I told her to get on birth control she didn’t an know is pregent again ..tired an feed up with her she hasn’t spent one night here with her son an only come back when he working an this boyfriend tried to tell me how I should treat my sis an get Into our family buissnes . So when I move she will not be moving with me an will not talk to her for a while because from all the things she has done over the years I am done with her an also our other sidling don’t talk to her either because of what she has done to them over the years.

anonymous Dec 5, 2014 1:13am

HI EVERYONE. THANK YOU FOR BEING BRAVE ENOUGH TO SHARE. I DIDN’T SPEAK TO MY MENTAL/PHYSICAL/VERBAL ABUSIVE FAMILY PERSON FOR MORE THAN TEN YEARS. I AM NOW A YOUNG SENIOR CITIZEN. I AM CHRONICALLY/ CRITICALLY ILL. DISABLED. WHILE HOSPITALIZED THAT PERSON WENT INTO MY HOME UNDER THE PRETENSE OF HELPING TWO OF MY FRIENDS CLEAN AND GET THINGS READY FOR ME. MY FRIENDS WERE DOG SITTING. THIS FAMILY PERSON STOLE A BLANK CHECK BOOK AND LEFT MY ACCT. NOT JUST EMPTY BUT IN THE RED. I DID PUT THIS PERSON IN JAIL BECAUSE OF AN A CHILD WHO WAS ADOPTED BECAUSE THE BIOLOGICAL PARENTS WERE CONVICTED FELONS IN AND OUT OF JAIL. I HAVE INFORMED CHILD SERVICES AND OTHERS WHO ARE TRUSTWORTHY TO KEEP THEIR EYES AND EARS ON THIS FAMILY PERSON AT ALL TIMES. AND I HAVE INFORMED THIS FAMILY PERSON OF THIS.

anonymous Nov 30, 2014 12:53pm

I have been trying to hold on to the myth that my family comprises of normal genuine people with human flaws,but the truth is that I come from a dysfunctional family. It has been too much, to hold on and to cope with so far, in every possible way, when you are buried in miserable emotions of those around you, self pity, demotivating talks and communication, not to miss the unbearable dose of sadness n emotional drama… have tried so hard to be there help, give solution, but am tired, i give up and all i want is a way out- quietly with minimum damage..

anonymous Nov 27, 2014 8:43pm

The hardest thing about dealing with a family "break-up" for me was dealing with the guilt. I viewed myself as "the bad one", the problem. Then I had my AH HA Moment – I wasn't being difficult or bad – I was protecting myself by refusing to live in a denial system that no longer held things together for me. It wasn't ME who didn't invite family members to weddings – it was my family members not inviting me. It wasn't me who forgot to send birthday wishes to his twin brother – it was my twin brother who didn't send them to me. And it wasn't me seeking to continue living out my life ignoring abuse, neglect, and pain – in fact, there was no abuse or neglect because my family said there wasn't any. My advice: Trust in your truth. Decide what the groundrules are going to be with your family members. And, if they cannot deal with those groundrules, remind yourself that it is YOU that needs protection; they are a colossal ball of dysfunction that you no longer play along with,

anonymous Nov 27, 2014 1:03am

My mother physically and emotionally abused me and my younger sister for years. I got it worst. I didn’t tell my Dad until second year of university.

He cried. But he doesn’t talk about it. She is vile to him- he’s lost his spirit.

I started having panic attacks two months ago. I told my dad I’m being tested for a disorder of the mind similar to what we expect my mother has. I also told my sister.

No response.

So last week I contacted them again, said I wasn’t coming home for Christmas, and that I was done pretending I havenr suffered enormously at the hands of my mum. I said she needed professional help and until they do something about that, I’m not bothering with them. I’d rather have no family than continue suffering like I have all this time.

Still no response.

It doesn’t matter. They were never there-only my youngest sister trusts and acknowledges me. The middle one is cold and competitive, also pretending none of it happened. And my Dad has always responded to the things mum has done by saying ‘So? She does worse to me.’

Where’s the adult here?

In order to release my youngest sister from the guilt, shame and self hate I have endured, I’ve ended my relationship with them. She needs someone to set an example- to show her this is wrong. And I need to get well again so I can continue with the rest of my life.

Food for the soul- LIVING your TRUTH.

anonymous Nov 21, 2014 8:40pm

After 44 years of trying to fit in with my crazy, conservative, overly religious family, they completely disregarded my children by not inviting them to 2 of their cousins weddings(within 2 months of each other) while all the other 12 cousins over 13 were invited- even the ones who lived so far away there was no way they would attend- I cut them off. My 3 brothers and their wives and their kids could not find it in their heart- if they had one- to stick up for me and my kids and say that this was wrong. Apparently money is more important than family. I'm glad though that this happened now so my kids don't fall for any of their lies and fake care and concern. This has actually liberated me from having to keep trying to have a relationship with any of them. It feels like a a huge weight lifted but it's also a heavy sadness because all those years I trusted people who didn't really care as much for us.

anonymous Nov 9, 2014 10:53am

My family uses me as a "whipping person" many times, and are not very nice to me. So last Christmas, and last summer, we did not go up to be with everyone else when my sister from out of state came to visit my parents.. Three siblings, and their children, but not my husband and me. I really have no other family. What no one really goes into is, when you separate yourself, how to deal with the extreme sadness and loss of people that are your closest family. I'm in my 50's and I never expected to have no family at this age. The sadness is very hard to deal with. It is like they all died.

    anonymous Nov 27, 2014 6:49am

    Linda,

    I have been thinking the same thing. After closing ties with my family, whom I always adored, and would (did) do anything for, the feeling that they have all died and the feeling of being completely alone is challenging. I personally feel as though I am an orphan…

    in those moments, I remind myself that we all (even our family members that we have disconnected from) have a divine beauty within. That we are deserving of love, and I try to remember to ground myself and feel my energy rooting through the soles of my feet to the top of my head. That my love will never stop for any of them, but to honor my body, mind, and spirit, they cannot be in my life right now. I remember that it is a choice that ** I ** have made.

    As it is thanksgiving and being without family around the holidays sometimes is more difficult, (although in all of our cases, probably a blessing), I am so thankful for everyone who has shared. It reminds me that it isn’t just happening to me, and that we have virtual families, and that we are very able and deserving to create families that our not blood related but choosen, because they are loving, supportive, those that are happy and willing to see our divine light and see the dark but love us to pieces either way.

    Oriah Mountain Dreamer wrote the Invitation, one of my favorite poems- a quick and powerful read, that may bring hope and strength for all of us who make these hard decisions to release from our blood related families.

anonymous Oct 27, 2014 3:40am

WOW!!!!!!!!!!! I'm glad I found this article! I felt like it was me against the world and no one understood why I don't want to see or hear from my family again. My mother and adult kids have mentality drained me. My mother not only deliberately destroyed my relationship with my kids but she destroyed my relationship with my siblings. She is a control freak! If it doesn't go her way she destroys it with no remorse. She has breast cancer now and I feel no pity.

anonymous Oct 11, 2014 3:23am

And through much dullness and despair, this rock turned into a diamond. For times such as these it's bets to develop or[han psychology. Autonomous. Detached (does not mean uncaring I am caring just selective because I am a limited resource). I couldn't have done it with ought therapy though… so if you are in trouble get help asap. Psychoanalysis helped me the best. It helped me detect, and rewrite my responses. Bets of luck ppl send love to everyone stay strong, do what you must do and live. It is your life, you matter, what you do matters has importance and can make a difference so get the toxicity out.

anonymous Oct 5, 2014 2:30am

I feel better knowing I am not alone I am 52 my mother is 70 and I have cared for her most. Of my life. She’s all about her an does not care who she walks over to get her way I have had a life time of this. But she all ways manages. To suck me back in. I an full of hurt and anger at the moment and I am walking away for good the last straw was I bought mums car off her for a 1000dollars it’s just a little bomb for a to b paid her the cash in front of family and she came back and stole the car in the middle of the night.

anonymous Oct 3, 2014 10:25am

This is good advice for anyone, even if they don't live in a toxic situation. While this is good advice, I'm witnessing a situation where an adult child is living in their parents home and is seemingly destroying the harmony in that family one day at a time. She needs to move out before her damage is irreversible (if it's not too late); however, how do you force your teenage/adult child to move out? The reality is that nobody else will take her in. She is aggressive, verbally abusive, depressed, and downright mean, keeping everyone on pins and needles when she is in the house. I've offered suggestions to the mother on how to get her child out, but it seems that if she does something that drastic, she's concerned that something even worse could happen. This child has put her whole family through the wringer for the past 5 years and is lucky that her mother has managed to keep her out of prison and alive. Any suggestions?

anonymous Oct 3, 2014 7:32am

i lived it for 45 years, all i can say is there are other ways if you haven't found them , thats a shame. i got out of being toxic, when one family member does that the rest get jealous and try to match or beat youth it, so i shared how i did it,,viola! massive release of family toxicity, not quite there yet but vastly improved. i just call weak ass bull shit on the duck and run method. face what makes you toxic and use it to detox, end of story.

anonymous Sep 28, 2014 5:50am

I have a toxic sister who lies about me. It seems to be jealousy. I am 7 years older than her and I am not into family drama and she stirs up all she can.
Her business partner sent me a disturbing message on Facebook this week. I didn't know who she was until my Mother told me that she is a family member.
This is a copy and paste of the message:
"You should be ashamed. I'm going to pray for you. That you will find peace in your life and let go of all the bitterness. Good day."
I don't have a clue as to what this is about. She set the link so I could not respond back.
After this message, I found out that this person and my sister started a business. Apparently the health department received a call from someone and they probably think I'm the one who called. I did not know they were starting a business and if I did, I would not take the time out of my life to do such a thing. Also, my sister is telling people that my husband and I foreclosed on our home and that is why we moved back to our home state. I can not get my sister to respond to me as to why she would tell such a thing. I can not go on any longer with this between us. I would just like to know the reason for this.
My sister also has nothing to do with our Mother. It really doesn't matter about me not being invited, however they did not invite Mother which hurt her. They invited a former baby sitter and treated that person as as "grandmother of the bride". When one of my sister's daughters had a baby, they kept mother out of that too. Now all of this started before I moved back to my home state. The problem is, we live in a small town and word, truth or not, gets around very fast. I hope people will notice that I'm not the one spreading lies, and I know that will take time. Just hope I live to see it.
A true Christian would want people to know why they're mad at another person.

anonymous Sep 6, 2014 12:48pm

Excellent article. I "broke up" with my family about 30 years ago. I stopped talking to them and seeing them. It was far from easy, but it was the smartest move I ever made. Once this negativity was removed from my life, I began to see other things, observe other ways of being in the world. I observed real love in families and love of children. The path has been very bumpy but so worth it. I have surrounded myself with people who care for me and who are happy to be my friends and I avoid toxic people at all costs. Life is too short.

anonymous Aug 23, 2014 4:31pm

I’m late to the party, but I’ll throw mine in. I need to break up with my mother. She has borderline personality disorder, but has refused to get treatment for it. Instead, she’s hated from before I was born, blamed me for every problem that she’s ever had, and purposefully destroyed my life, forcing me out of school at 13 and then basically holding me like a kidnap victim, not allowing me to leave the house or talk to anyone or do anything for years. Everyone knew what she did, and no one did a thing about it. Unfortunately, because I knew I’d never have a relationship with my father (addict, alcoholic, physical neglect) and the rest of my family was so bad (full of addicts and your general apathetic people), and that I heard all my life that everything was my fault (you believe that when you’re young and it’s your parents), I lived in denial with my mother until I was 20, and by then it was too late. I’d developed severe agoraphobia as a result of PTSD, had panic attacks every day, and couldn’t function on a basic level. She knew I had agoraphobia and used it to her advantage to control me, would even scream at me until I would have a panic attack on purpose to show that she was the one in control, not me. On top of that, she remarried, and her husband also used me as a scapegoat, blaming me for his financial problems (when it was actually that he’d been having an affair for years and blew all of his money on his mistress), while also being a total pervert with me (had an affinity for going through my clothing and fondling my underthings). I’ve gotten better with the agoraphobia, somehow, and am trying to get together enough money to leave. I don’t have any friends or family to stay with, and a shelter isn’t really an option with my condition, so I have to grin and bear it.

What gets me through is the fact that I’ve already successfully broken up with the entire rest of my family, many years ago, and gotten past that. But the hardest is this last, and I turn 30 next year, and could not feel more pathetic.

    anonymous Sep 6, 2014 12:32pm

    Please don't feel pathetic. I am just now breaking up with my mother at 49. It's very confusing while she chipped away at me little by little, until she finally made it easier for me. It was her own toxic behavior without any help from me that finally gave me the "ah ha" moment. It still hurts though but not so much anymore. peace be with you…

anonymous Aug 19, 2014 11:24pm

I need to shut up. One last thought. When your family or a relative becomes so toxic your mental or physical health is being affected, you need to start distancing yourself from them. If the situation can't be repaired, distance yourself from them greatly. If they begin doing real damage to your mental health, finances, reputation, etc., break off the relationship completely. Whenever my siblings come to town and request contact, I meet them at IHOP. If that. They visit with me for an hour, and then they're gone. My phone, fax, and email work for me, and not the other way around. Restrict access whenever necessary, or use your delete button. I have found some of the attempts to "get at me" to be bizarre; there was a line of gossip for a time suggesting "my problem" was that I'd been molested as a child by another family member. It was all vicious lies, intended to provoke responses and create communication. I failed to respond to it. That was the correct course of action. Bottom line: most of these people aren't worth having as tenants in your head. Shove them out of your life, and let them feed on each other. Engage them, and you end up in an endless cycle of conflict, debate, and drama, none of which are worth your energy. LOSE THEM. If they earn their way back into your life later, that's a different matter. But be aware many people do the latter, in a cyclical manner, repeatedly entering and leaving your life. After a point, what's the point?

anonymous Aug 19, 2014 11:02pm

What made the biggest impression on me was how the vicious bunch of vampires I was born into reacted when I finally stopped appeasing them and reacted to their viciousness. I immediately became the monster, not them. And I became the one who needed to be rejected, shut out, rebuked, etc.

They distanced themselves from me. And I have concluded, despite overtures, that I would be out of my mind to let them back into my life. When it becomes necessary, I yank out two important words: "Restraining Order."

anonymous Aug 19, 2014 10:21pm

I came from a history in which there was horrific physical, emotional and sexual abuse. At a certain point, you have to say to yourself, "This person will not change, cannot change, is unwilling to change." Then you disconnect from them. Their correspondence goes unopened into a paper shredder. Their calls are dodged with caller ID. If I get ambushed by them and discover them on the end of an active phone line, I hang up. I want to do NONE of these things. But I must foremost protect myself and my children. Face it, when the people around you are all damaged goods (to put it nicely), their pathology becomes and remains infectious. You can be left with no other choice than to shut them out.
If that's what it takes……DO IT.

anonymous Aug 11, 2014 8:09am

I thought my sister and i were almost alone about these kind of problems. My sister cutted all contact to our father around 1 year ago, and i am thinking about doing the same. I'm 20 and she's 15. I really don't know what to do.. The last time i was talking with him was before my graduation. I didn't wanted him to show up the day i finished my last exam, which i told him. I had invited him to show up at the graduation where everybody gets their certificate.
At first it was his girlfriend who asked what day i was finishing my last exam, but i didn't wanted to tell her and she reacted like i had slapped her in the face.. It had nothing to do with her first of all and for second of all, it wasn't towards her, but she understood it as was it personal. The day after, my father called me and we talked calmly to eachother for around 5 minutes until he asked the same question as his girlfriend had done the day before; What day do you finish your last exam? Again, i didn't wanted to give the date and he accepted it at first.. Then suddendly he went really angry and said it wasn't my decision, but i was my mom who had told me to say that. When i said to him, it was my own decision and had nothing to do with my mom he said to me we could talk some other day, where i would be able to talk with. (He blames my mom for everything that goes wrong when it's about my sister and i. It began after he got the girlfriend.) I was so frustrated because he just wouldn't listen. I know him well enough to know, that he doesn't trust me and therefore i haven't trusted him for.. I can't count how many years now… He hasn't really been there for me and he has rarely trusted me – it's a very long story. When i'm around him and his girlfriend, who btw. always has to be near him, it feels like being with strangers. I can't really be in the same room with my own dad anymore. It's so awkward; i don't know what i can say or how i can act. I'm scared of meeting him and when i'm waking up in the morning, i've begun to think "he might call today." It gives me stomachache. Last week i went over to my best girl-friend, who lives in the same city as my father. When we went down to the store to buy some food for dinner, i kept looking over my shoulder thinking; "Is he there..? If yes, did he see me?" It was horrible.. I can't really take this anymore.. This article and the comments below has helped me getting the strenght i need. Hopefully, within the end of this month, i no longer have to fear getting a phonecall from my father.

anonymous Jul 29, 2014 1:03am

I have read this article several times (normally after I have yet another falling out with family members I shouldn't still be talking to or even trying to help but I feel obligated to) and I've finally worked up the courage to post. My mother, my brother, his ex wife, and his present wife are all very toxic and my father is just downright violent. My mother has been abusive since I was little and informed me it was my job to watch my younger siblings and I was punished when they made mistakes or did poorly in school. My brother quickly caught on to how "the game" worked and would actively blame me for his failings and get me in trouble. My mother told my husband and I this joke on our wedding day: What did the geek do with his first 25 cent piece? He married her. My own mother called me a whore, in so many words, on my wedding day. And, when my daughter died (my firstborn child), she informed me it was God's way of saying I wasn't meant to be a mother. These incidents are 20 years old and still sting like it was yesterday. I've been able to completely cut my ties with my brother (even though my mother intentionally brings him around when I am required to see her without telling me he's going to be there in some warped attempt to make us get along). However, I am finding it impossible to completely cut ties with her and she's much more poisonous than my brother.

I have also done most of the steps listed and they do work, but it's hard when the toxic people literally show up at your doorstep and accuse you of not "being there" when they needed you or accusing you of helping someone more than you've helped them. I'm one of those people who feels obligated to help anyone in need–especially family and it's tearing me up inside. I've already bailed my younger sister out (she was living with our mother) but now she's living on my husband's and my dime like a queen and refusing to find a new job. There are days I truly wish I could just walk away and not feel any guilt about them suffering, but it's not who I am. So, I'm torn between the knowledge of what I need to do and actually being able to do it.

I am so sorry to see so many other people here struggling with the same issues I am. To top everything else off, my extremely sweet and understanding In Laws are getting very old and sick and I have to spend time helping them out as I deal with the rest of this. I don't mind helping them. In fact, I enjoy spending time with them, but the added strain is starting to make my physically ill. I hate telling my father in law what's going on because he feels sorry for me and I break down in tears when he hugs me and tells me it will eventually be ok.

If anyone has suggestions on how to just stop caring or at least not feel obligated to help those who have hurt me my entire life, I would be appreciative. I don't know how much longer I can keep my sanity. We don't have the money for counselling (not included in our insurance) and paying my sister's rent is starting to drain us. I'm very sorry for the rant.

    anonymous Feb 26, 2015 11:23pm

    Please try Jesus. I’m going through something similar. I’m wanting to separate myself from spiritually toxic people so that I may fulfill the call of God on my life. Sometimes we have got to consecrated ourselves and step away so that we can grow strong enough to be in their presence and not feel agitated. We’ll get there! But not without the Lord’s help.

      anonymous Jun 14, 2015 12:04pm

      Please pray that I may have that balance with family with the Lord’s strength. Thank you and thank you for your post!

anonymous Jul 26, 2014 10:45pm

I have successfully and rightfully severed all ties with family members who have alienated and manipulated me for years, on top of breeding and spreading brutal lies about my character and my life (about which they know almost nothing, and never cared to know). Feels good to live in truth without such disgusting and immoral people constantly back-stabbing.

But there is an issue. They attempt to track me, to spy on me – either digitally or otherwise. They try to reach out, but not directly. Not sure if they are spending all kinds of money or what, but they seem to pop up and purposefully try to continue their malicious ways by contacting people in my life presently. It is embarrassing and I have had enough. It is hard enough to build trust again and then I must deal with an inability to just get rid of their lies and B.S. Please help me I cannot keep dealing with this, it is harassment and I cannot keep moving around, changing phone numbers and addresses. I am thinking about getting rid of all my electronics and living in the wilderness without human contact for the rest of my life. How do I get rid of this poison?

anonymous Jul 10, 2014 10:48am

I am happy this posts exists!! Feels like I am not the only one 🙁

    anonymous May 20, 2015 9:56am

    Yes. It has been an emotional rollercoaster for me with my family ( sisters, “mother and father”) They used to blackmail me when they couldn’t find something out that really had nothing to do with them because I would do everything for myself. I feel like they do it to make a point or make me look guilty. They are sick and that’s something that we have to understand when people are toxic, manipulative or suffered something in their childhood and its now making me sick. The difficult part is severing ties and dealing with the projective feelings that I have from my family effecting new potential relationships and hopefully recovering from it all.

anonymous Jul 2, 2014 2:11am

I so needed to read this today, over the last few months I've been dealing with a toxic member of my family and it has been tearing me apart little by little. Now I know what I must do I must move on and do better for myself. Thank you for this and it's so nice to know I'm not alone when dealing with something like this.

anonymous Jun 25, 2014 10:10am

This was very helpful, thank you! <3

anonymous Jun 17, 2014 2:23am

A beautifully written article. I recently divorced my family (aka the Cuckoo's Nest) and it's still a mind-bender but I value survival more than being uncomfortably comfortable with the idealism of family.

anonymous May 20, 2014 10:33am

I am going back and fourth with my family.. my parents, siblings, aunts, cousins.. etc. They have been so negative all my life. I am so over being part of the negativity. they are always so concern but other people's problems and they are so caught up in the negative events and gossip. I am so different… every time I say I am going to stay away to help myself I feel guilty because they are my family and they always find a way to suck me in again. This article made it so much more clear. Thank you!!

anonymous May 19, 2014 1:19am

This article is amazing and heaven sent. I have been destroyed with this conflict for many years with some family members, and the constant need of battle, compete or so much more. This made me feel lost, confuse, and or disppointed with never arriving to my purpose simple due to my family structure. I move out of state, where I grew, and today I am a better woman. Now, living in the same state or even in the same home with my family has been extremely complexed. Thank you for your incredible article.

anonymous May 13, 2014 12:39pm

I needed to find this thread.
As I am getting married in 5 months I have found what was already a toxic family life become more of a hardship for me. The day I have been dreaming of and waiting for my entire life is approaching and
1. my identical twin sister has pulled out of my wedding because I refuse to support her having a relationship with a basically married man
2. my mother refuses to be of any help or show interest and tells people shes not even sure she is invited to the wedding after I have begged for her attention
3. my father clearly favors my sister and just avoids me all together unless he needs me to do something for him

I've always known my family life was toxic but I never thought it would be as bad as it is now. And it is really hard for my fiance to understand, but I am going to share this article with him and I am sure it will be very helpful.
Thanks for writing this and thanks to everyone who posted comments, because I am now sure that I am not alone in this and its good to know people out there suffer over the same thing I am.

anonymous Apr 7, 2014 11:39am

I am an adult struggling with self doubt and a mother that is too controlling and critical. She is toxic to be around, but I feel guilty and wrong to say so and she makes me feel bad about it, while still wishing I would stand up for myself. I’m so lost and confused, and we recently had a fight because she has been snooping in my journal, found some less than pleasant sentiments, and was angry at me for them. I feel like she doesn’t empathize with me or try to understand where I’m coming from, and other friends and family are only so much help. I don’t want to poison them against her, but I wish she would admit she was wrong and for once in her life act like she was sorry about it. She’s admitted doing things wrong in the past, but in a “get over it now” sort of way. It’s frustrating and feels so toxic because whether she knows it or not she is very controlling and manipulative, and I’m a grown woman that needs space

anonymous Mar 27, 2014 7:17pm

What a great article. I finally drew a line in the sand with my mother yesterday over her continued inability to accept me as I am and her inability to accept my new wife (she won't even look at her). I wrote a letter saying that the term of future contact were very limited if there was to be any. It was really hard, but I feel much better having sent it off and knowing that I've tried my best at all the other options listed above before taking the steps to remove myself from the relationship. It's great to know that I'm not alone in this journey.

anonymous Mar 18, 2014 7:09am

Im so glad I came across with this article. Somehow it helps to know that there is people out there going through the same situation . I live abroad with my youngest sister. She is 23 and I’m 27. We both decided to go to college abroad and since then it has been a horrible nightmare. We use to be very close. I was probably her best friend. She was a difficult teenager and I was the only person who could help her with her alcoholism. At that time I thought it was just the age and I didn’t believe it was as bad as everyone said. Now I know! For the last 3 years I’ve been feeling physically, mentally, spiritual and emotional exhausted. Living with her has been the biggest challenge of my life. She drinks and cheats on her boyfriend all the time, she hides my food, takes my money, she doesn’t clean, she leaves all her stuff laying around for me to clean. The first 2 years I fought back but it was actually worse. Multiple times she has insulting me and once she tried to hit me (sober) … Anyways I decided to reinitiate my Buddhism practices to try to overcome my emotions because I know she won’t change. At least not for now. For the last 10 months I decided not to say anything else and let her be herself ( untrusted, manipulate and yeah toxic) I know she is unhappy because I know a happy person wouldn’t do what she does. We have another sister and she doesn’t talk to her for 3 years because of the reason. And our parents don’t do anything about the situation because they think if they do she won’t finish college. I just feel trap. It’s one more year to go before I can go back home but as now I still feel powerless and affected like depressed, anxious and stressed and it worries me that this will give health problems or a permanent effect in my life. It’s been 3 years of continuos stress from her. I’m so glad I found this blog and I hope some of you can reply to me and give advices because I live with a constant pressure on my chest.

anonymous Mar 18, 2014 6:41am

Im so glad I came across to this article. Somehow it helps to know that there is people out there going through the same situation . I live abroad with my youngest sister. She is 23 and I’m 27. We both decided to go to college abroad and since then it has been a horrible nightmare. We use to be very close. I was probably her best friend. She was a difficult teenager and I was the only person who could help her with her alcoholism. At that time I thought it was just the age and I didn’t believe it was as bad as everyone said. Now I know! For the last 3 years I’ve been feeling physically, mentally, spiritual and emotional exhausted. Living with her has been the biggest challenge of my life. She drinks and cheats on her boyfriend all the time, she hides my food, takes my money, she doesn’t clean, she leaves all her stuff Laing around for me to clean. The first 2 years I fought back but it was actually worse. Multiple times she has insulting me … Anyways I decided to reinitiate my Buddhism practices to try to overcome my emotions because I know she won’t change. At least not for now. For the last 10 months I decided not to say anything else and let her be herself ( untrusted, manipulated and yeah toxic) I know she is unhappy because I know a happy person wouldn’t do what she does. We have another sister and she doesn’t talk to her for 3 years because of the reason. And our parents don’t do anything about the situation because they think if they do she won’t finish college. I just feel trap. It’s one more year to go before I can go back home but as now is still feel affected like depress and stress and it worries me that this will have a permanent effect in my life. It’s been 3 years of continuos stress from her. I’m so glad I found this blog and I hope some of you can reply to me and give advices because I love with a constant pressure on my chest. 🙂

anonymous Mar 17, 2014 10:16am

My only sister is 4 years older than me. She has always been a source of anxiety, arguments and upset for me. We had a major fall out 7 years ago when I lived very far from my home town and we stopped talking, but as usual I forgave her to call truce (she has never once apologised for anything she’s done though). There has always been issues on her side to do with me, jealousy, competition and always very hypocritical. I am always to blame for her malicious nasty actions. Then at the end of last year I found out she’d been poisoning my best friend against me & that they’d both been incredibly duplicitous & betraying towards me so I stopped talking to both of them. My sister couldn’t cope with this so when I wrote a letter to explain my side she managed to twist everything to suit her & make me the bad person in it all (again, like she always does). I’ve been with my husband for 12 years & he wants me to cut all ties. My parents are completely brainwashed by her & won’t stay neutral. They all live in same city and are always together so they only hear her side. They used to always stand up for me with her but since she had children a few years ago that’s not the case now. My sister is now also using her young kids to portray me as a selfish nasty aunt who doesn’t want to see her nieces&nephews which of course is not the case and is heartbreaking for me. So I’ve tried several times to patch things up (for sake of peace & rest of family) but she throws it back in my face. But my parents know I’m always the one who is the bigger person & solves it so they are constantly on at me now to make it up with her. Lord knows I’ve tried but I know there’s no reasoning with her & she twists everything, never taking responsibility for her actions. I am a very family orientated person so this whole thing is so upsetting for me. I never thought she could hurt me so much -it has been a nightmare. I’m tempted to forgive & forget just for an easy life but I know she will continue to walk all over me and I don’t want anything like this to happen with my children involved.

anonymous Mar 13, 2014 6:02am

I am the fourth youngest in my family. I am not perfect and understand about silent blocks of time, but life is way to short. A Sister lost her husband suddenly, and now 9 months later a brother(s) has stop communicating with her, I don't understand. She has the hurt of losing her partner and now more hurt by family who should be there for her and supporting or calling. What is wrong with them?

anonymous Mar 9, 2014 5:37pm

My mother-in-law has always been difficult, but since the birth of my daughter 14 months ago (her first grandchild), my MIL has become unbearable. She is an incredibly selfish, negative, and jealous person who says and does unbelievably rude things. Among other things, she trash talks my husband (her only son) to other members of the family for no reason. When she said my 5 month old was "too fat", my husband told her if she has nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. She has taken that opportunity to not speak to me for nearly 9 months now.

We recently discovered that she stole my husband's identity and opened accounts on his social security number. That was the line for me and my husband. When I messaged her about that being illegal and not tolerated, she and my sister-in-law called me, screaming, cussing me out, and calling me names before hanging up on me. I'm beyond ready to cut these women out of my life. My husband alternates between cutting them from our lives and still having hope that his mother will actually be a "mother" to him. It breaks my heart. Hopefully we'll get through this soon and our marriage will be stronger for it.

anonymous Mar 9, 2014 2:29pm

Great to have these blogs to vent anonymously. Family dynamics can be so difficult and being single and childless with a very manipulative in-law and mean sibling makes for a pretty lonely existence. Ageing parents add to the conflict and I fear for what is in store. Although I have a large extended family, their means of support is to pray about it yet give not phone calls or relief and all busy with their lives competing with their friends and other relatives. What a muddled world we live in. I tread lightly since my in-law has cut people out of their lives already and their other in-laws all have deep depression and also hang by a thread from their controlled contacts. Makes for a pretty lonely life. Thank-you for 'listening'.

anonymous Feb 19, 2014 5:53am

Why do people now use the word toxic to describe people. It used to be used to describe poisonous chemicals. Does it not by definition mean the instant I condemn another person as poisonous, that my judgement and blame implies my own behaviour is poisonous also.

I wish people would stop labeling people who behave badly or who thwart their own desires as poisonous in their very being.

    anonymous Mar 15, 2014 1:00pm

    Actually, the definition of toxic includes: "extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful" (according to Merriam-Webster) and "Very bad, unpleasant, or harmful" (according to Oxford). So describing a person who is destroying aspects of your life as "toxic" is very appropriate.

anonymous Feb 17, 2014 4:50pm

My husband's Family is extremely toxic . His father has really poisoned the well and while I feel bad for my husband I am REALLY tired of bearing the brunt of the toxicity in silence. I don't want my children to be around their grandfather who is an alcoholic, probably borderline personality disorder ( but is asshole really a diagnosable disease) , their enabling possibly alcoholic grandmother and sister who never says anything to her parents because the free babysitting might end and then she would have to watch her own children *gasp* .
My poor husband is suffering because he realizes that his father is lying to him about me ( just caught him in one whopper of a lie about me ) and that he is telling the rest of the family that I am the cause of the family breakdown ( sorry refuse to leave my kids in the care of drunks and liars) but conveniently leaves out lots of pertinent details like never calls or visits the grandkids he supposedly loves so much who live 70 SECONDS away . Now it's apparent he has started lying to his brother ( he may also be a drunk ..I don't think you are supposed to get shitfaced when you are on dialysis are you ?) because of some public Facebook comments he has made to me.
I would say go to hell to them all if it weren't for my husband and kids, I have zero use for them.
The worst part is that my husband has repeatedly asked me to "take" it and I have but that is making me sick . No one should be asked to be attacked in silence. One of these days i am going to tell them what i really think because I can't take any more.

anonymous Feb 14, 2014 8:24pm

Glad I ran across this article but it’s the comments especially that are so validating. It’s sad so many of us experience these things with people who are supposed to love us and care about our well being. People who have not gone through this look at you like you are crazy or a weirdo for coming to a point in your life when you have to break ties and get away. I am helping my husband deal with this for his mother. It was extremely painful to both if us to do it but for his entire life I believe she has emotionally abused him. We now have a son and unfortunately something happened and we realized we didn’t want our son to know he was loved less by her because of her lack of love for my husband. She has always been incredibly toxic in his life but his father never had much of a relationship with him so she is the one he had around growing up. We are dealing with so much in our lives right now and this is one added stress we did not need but it happened and I believe now it wasn’t such a bad thing. People always say you get a second chance at things. I’m fairly certain she believes she will be able to walk back into our lives at any point. I don’t believe she realizes there won’t be a second chance with my husband. He finally decided she needed to go out of our lives because it wasn’t healthy for him and it was impacting his own family. The down side is we have to move half way across the country. My guess is only then will she realize he’s serious and there’s no going back. She will never be a part of this grandsons life. I feel so sad for her, he is truly a gift. But then again, so is her own son and she NEVER saw that in him. He is nothing like his family and for that, I thank god daily.

anonymous Feb 13, 2014 4:06pm

My younger sister and I used to be very close. We are in our 40s now and eight years ago everything changed. After she hung up on me and screamed at me on the phone, I stopped taking her phone calls. I stopped riding in the car with her after she abandoned me several miles from our parents' house. She has told lies to her children about me and, when called on it the next day, said "I can't remember what I said." I talked to her about these things recently. She admitted she had done some of the things, denied others, and continued lying about what she had said to her children. She gave me a limited apology and then wanted me to apologize for "being part of the problem." When I asked her what I had done wrong, she said she couldn't remember but that both people are always at fault.

The whole thing is a mystery to me. The abusive incidents are isolated (I stopped talking to her on the phone after one hang-up and one screaming session, for example), but none of them involved arguments. They happened in the middle of normal conversations. I've spoken to the other people in my family about this. My father says that she hung up on him once, but apart from that no one else has had experiences like this with her. My other sister points out that these events are isolated and that they might not be part of a larger pattern.

I have tried to think of how my sister would describe my role in these incidents, but I can't come up with anything. It is more like a switch flips inside her, she goes out of control, and I am just a bystander. But from my other family members' accounts, it doesn't happen with them.

She has done some odd things in the past when she felt that "life" was treating her unfairly, but those things were never directed at family members. Up until eight years ago, we were on great terms. She is very smart and fun and was always super-supportive and trustworthy. She has a wonderful relationship with her kids, who are terrific. They are college-age now. She has no physical health problems and has always been very fit and active. Her family doesn't have financial stresses. She doesn't drink or take drugs. In recent years she has started describing herself as a "people-pleaser" (which makes me incredibly angry, given the way she's treated me).

Does anyone recognize this behavior? I have looked at borderline personality disorder and some of the symptoms fit. What other possibilities are there?

Thank you.

anonymous Feb 8, 2014 4:22pm

I am glad I found this article. I have a sibbling that goes out of his way to make every interaction a power struggle and emotionally abusive. I have limited my contact with my brother, but for my mother's sake I would like to make it work. I now realize that I have to assert myself in a positive way and accept that he wont change. I hope he will understand that bullying people at his age is not acceptable. Thank you.

anonymous Jan 31, 2014 12:00am

i have been cutting family members from my life since my teens. physical, emotional, and mental abuse was my daily diet from both my parents. i was very fortunate with lots of strong support system from school, government, and friends. after i left my parents, i had only my siblings left. even though they were not the most supportive of people, i thought they we on the same boat as myself. so i clung onto them until my 30's. when i finally realized that they were as toxic as my parents, one after the other, i cut off ties. sometimes i second guess myself. maybe i was too harsh and nobody was perfect and everybody deserves a second, third, forth, chance. cannot choose family, blah blah blah. but then i talked to people who go through similar experience and realized that true self preservation comes from within. i cannot keep making excuses for bad behavior. at the end of the day, i have a choice. do i keep myself swimming in a toxic pool, and thereby contaminating my environment that includes my spouse and friends, or do i get myself out of poison and do a deep cleasing? i choose survival and cleansing. reading articles like yours help to reinforce my decision. i thank you

anonymous Jan 9, 2014 12:15pm

After my mother passed away, my brother and I felt this underlying tension with my extended family and didn't feel supported or loved. We kept trying to connect with them but always felt belittled and ignored. Years later, I learned it was because of a favoritism my grandmother had with my mother and my brother and I. At a recent funeral, the tension was unbearable and I overheard a family member absolutely tearing me apart and making up lies about me, and later was absolutely sweet to me giving me no clue there was a problem! My family is not terrible, but they have aweful coping skills, and are constantly unhealthy and miserable. There is an underlying family dysfunction that goes way back, and no one is willing to talk about it. Now that I have my own daughter, I fight this obligation to have her get to know her extended family, but I don't want her to witness this behavior and treatment towards me. I don't accept this in my daily life and I can't accept it from my family either. Letting go of this family, has freed my time to focus on other more positive family members who will be supportive and caring towards my daughter – a good role model for her. Thank you for the article and reinforcing my decision!

    anonymous Jan 18, 2014 10:25pm

    Hi Sally Jo,

    Wow, your situation is so similar to mine. I have a small daughter too and I don’t want her exposed to such negativity either. It seems many famillies suffer from dysfunction. I don’t know if it’s a modern disease – probably not.
    Anyway, it was comforting and inspiring to read I’m not the only one with this situation.
    I wish you luck with your quest for a positive family environment – I know my life is much less stressful now than it was 2 months ago when I was putting up with my mother and brother’s abusive behavior.

anonymous Jan 7, 2014 9:26am

I’m filled with sympathy and support for so many of the contributors here and a great admiration for the sensitivy of many of the respondents. I understand that the general aim is to uplift and encourage others in coping with emotional upheaval, trauma and pain, that’s admirable. However, so many of these comments do not stress the importance of self examination. Sadly, I speak from personal experience. With the benefit of hindsight and a maturity I should have shown years ago, I now recognise that I allowed pride, stubbornness and to an extent my own inability to accept well meaning but I’ll timed advice as genuine to influence past decisions with my FIL. Finally after 8 years of estrangement from him, we have been able to lay down ‘arms’ and my daughter is able to enjoy hours in his company. It would appear she has inherited her incredible musical flair from him and our joint pride in her achievements has forged a bond that I hope will now before keeps. Times and dynamics change, we are so blessed by this once unlike change. Be happy within yourself, do what is right for you and those that are dependent on you, make sure that your physical and mental health are a main priority. But and it is a BiG but, don’t let bitterness take hold. Clinging to old prejudices might well wipe out a wonderful future…

Anyway, I thinks that’s maybe enough positivity for now! Having been there and done that, I’m sure there are many of you nursing a strong urge to thump or argue the smugness out of me. Please don’t, I changed me and I’m happy. I like this new me. So does Grandad 😉

anonymous Jan 5, 2014 11:40am

My mother and my brother behave disgracefully towards me. I’m 34. We don’t live together. I have a partner and a toddler.

They both shout and swear at me when I try to bring up an issue which needs addressing. The last and final time was a month ago when I confronted my mother for telling my personal business information to her entire family . I

had asked her many times over the last year to keep my new business a secret ( it is

experimental and i had wished to keep it away from the critics and negative naysayers in the

family and anyone else as well who may try to shut me down emotionally and damage my dreams.). Nevertheless she told them all behind my back then let it slip in conversation with me. I was stunned so went to her house to try and calmly discuss why she broke my

Confidence. She very quickly got to a shouting and abusive state and my brother (older than me) put himself between us and screamed and shouted at me the most vile abuse I’ve almost ever endured. He supported her betrayal. I left almost in tears. I just can’t believe my brother who preaches confidentiality and honesty etc doesn’t extend these values to me. My only guess is that my mother is a very poisonous person and my

Brother has some serious emotional problems I haven’t realized. Anyway that was a month ago and I’m done with them. I replied short and sweet but firmly to both their provocative nasty email that they are not welcome in my life or my family’s life until I believe they will treat me with the respect and kindness I deserve. My mother constantly uses guilt tripping and the “family card” to try keep ne in the fold. Well im no longer up for more of what they dish out. They are shitty souls.

Thanks for your article! It gives me strength and conviction that I’m making the best choice for me and my family.

anonymous Jan 2, 2014 4:39pm

My sons partner is toxic in my life she's a drunk and treats his children bad

anonymous Jan 2, 2014 4:30pm

My sons partner is toxic in my life she's a drunk and treats his children bad, her own child to him is treated better, she gets drunk at family parties and starts talking badly about myself and my husband to my other daughter in law, she talks about myself Nd my husband with such contempt when all we have done is help,her ..she's jealous that the kids have.a closer relationship with me their nan but she has done nothing to help create a good relationship with them herself they hate her , she recently took my son and her son on holiday to Spain and left the other three kids with me and grandad, she got drunk and physically attacked
My granddaughter by grabbing her throat becUse she wanted to get in her bed After having a nightmare , she screamed at her not to effing wake the baby up, we used to be a loving happy family who always had lovely get togethers at our homes but no one will invite her because she gets drunk and bullies the kids and acts disgracefully, our family cannot be all together in the sAme room. Our parties and get togethers have gradually ended, she has driven a wedge between me and my son and his brother, she puts negative thoughts into his head about his family, our family is broken because of her, I could go on but it would take too long, my relationship with my son is damaged because of her when we were all so close, shes manipulating mean spirited and a drunk, her family life with her parents and siblings revolve around alcohol I'm soon sad.

anonymous Jan 2, 2014 4:15pm

Just on time for new year

anonymous Dec 30, 2013 8:57pm

Beautiful article ..and speaks directly to me, after years of enduring ostracism, abandonment , criticism and belittlement from a sister who unfortunately hosts all holidays for extended family. I feel wooden inside when I attend, awkward, afraid to say anything, This Year I decided that it was the last time I will go anywhere like that – out of obligation, or with the pathetic hope that it might be different. Thanks for saying out loud what many of us have felt ashamed to say or afraid to address.

anonymous Dec 30, 2013 1:14pm

Family breakups- not an easy task to come to the conclusion that you are better off without.

I let go of a toxic relationship with my mother, and I’m not sure if we’ll ever talk again. I miss her some days- as any child would miss their parent. But when it benefits every other part of my life- from my relationship with my child’s father, to my own personal growth- that’s what keeps me going. That’s what keeps my head above water.

Also, knowing I have the love of my son, fiancé, and my grandparents who helped to raise me when things got really rough as a child- helps me

anonymous Dec 30, 2013 8:50am

I have not seen or spoken to my Mother,and two sisters for 13 years after a financial business failure in which all blame was placed on me. I have been osteracised from all Uncles, Aunties and cousins as well, so I have no Family whatsoever. I am also divorced with two young kids under 6 as of three years ago. It is very upsetting to go through forced separation. In the present moment I am stronger, more at peace with myself, and believing that I will be better off with all this negativity and hatred behind me. I love my children and I know they love and miss me. I will always be their Father, and will always fight to be with them as much as I can.

anonymous Dec 29, 2013 4:47pm

I think this article is helpful. However i feel the author should spend a week as a fly on my wall during the holidays then re write it . lol its that bad in my family. its sad.

anonymous Dec 29, 2013 4:35pm

Hi, thanks for this very helpful article. I have a toxic family member and reading this I realised that I have already taken many of these steps unknowingly, such as moving away, limiting time spent with the person, meditating, practising yoga, avoiding anger and not holding grudges. Unfortunately the person in question does not understand my reasons for doing most of these things as he does not realise that he is the source of the problem and therefore does not understand why I have distanced myself from him. So now I have feelings of guilt as I struggle to protect myself from further emotional damage whilst also trying to limit his hurt (because, despite everything, I love him and don't want to hurt his feelings). I don't know how to reconcile my need to distance myself from him in the name of self preservation with trying to maintain some semblance of a normal relationship with him.

anonymous Dec 28, 2013 8:25am

Great article! though im still learning and practicing dealing with this situation…and it sux

anonymous Dec 23, 2013 12:39pm

Awesome!! Good to know.

anonymous Dec 23, 2013 7:50am

Thank you for this.

My toxic, life long battle has been with my mother, of all people. She has been removed (once again) from my life just 8 months ago. This last break has been nothing short of a blessing, but it’s still hard. I have no family left. It’s hard and scary, but as a result my health and spirituality have flourished. This Christmas has been especially difficult, but there’s just no taking back a toxic person who acts as if their soul purpose in life is to destroy you and your spirit. Thanks for the the post, it came at a good time for me.

~Namaste

anonymous Dec 23, 2013 6:33am

How do you handle it when it's your adult child and his spouse? When their bad decisions have created havoc with your other children (who give you no grief)…..when the adult child then withholds visits with your grandchildren (and you only live 15 minutes away? It's awful driving through town and seeing the child you raised walking with your grandchildren and you KNOW you cannot stop. No hugs. No "I love you". It's awful to hear your other children say…."I want nothing to do with them." It's awful to love someone so deeply and yet know it's best to stay away from them. I just fear that when he comes to his senses, it will be too late.

anonymous Dec 22, 2013 9:24pm

A week after my mother died , while I was still bereft and exhuasted from being her main care giver while she was dying of cancer, my sister and uncle and aunt from my father's side of the family attacked me for financial reasons. It was so horrible that I decided that to continue to have them in my life would not be loving my self at all. I have not seen or spoken to my aunt and uncle since that fateful day five years ago, and have seen my sister only once then. I don't miss any of them, and actually it has been a relief to have them out of my life – they were always negative influences. Sometimes you have to let people stew in their own juices and not get all their toxic mess all over you. If you can do it, disconnect as much as possible. While I feel sad that I am basically out of three family members, when the family was small to begin with, those particular people were never up to any good and I feel much more positive being around loving friends at this time of the year.

anonymous Dec 17, 2013 6:58pm

I hope this helps. I have an older sister that is just a complete witch. I don’t really know her but she talks about me like she knows me and she doesn’t. She moved when I was 9 and I’ve been to her house twice in my life. When I was 13 my younger sister was kidnapped from the school bus stop. I was in junior high and she was in elementary school and she rode the bus while I walked because my school was down the block. Every day I walked with her to her stop and then went on to school. One day a man stopped and asked for directions and while the kids were telling him he grabbed my younger sister and fled. Luckily she managed to get away and is safe. I have always felt that they blamed me most of all my older sister. I’ve tried to talk to her but she just yells and belittles me to the point I just wish I was dead. When my second older sister died from cancer I overheard her telling my brother that she wished it was me. It crushed me. I have never done anything but be nice to her and all she does is spread lies about me and talk horribly about me. People listen because she’s older, more established and from what I understand a good real estate broker in southern Florida. But she doesn’t know me and has never even attepted to get to know me. My mother tells me that I need to get along with her and she’s always taken her side. I just want out !! My older sister has saud many horrible things about both my mom and my step mom and she has both of them thinking she’s this great person. If they only knew the things she said. When I was 22 I tried cocaine 3 times, 3 !!! But according to her I still do drugs and I’m a horrible person. I’m 46 now I barely drink and my daughter is an A student but mist of all I haven’t did drugs since I was 22. I’ve offered to take drug tests but get told that I would find a way to cheat the test. Seriously I’m beyond sick of it and apparently my family believes her. Way to stick up for me family !! I’ve never asked for ANYTHING ! I take care of myself & my daughter. I don’t understand why this has been going on for as long as it has and when I ask I hear there’s nothing wrong. I can’t help but feel that I hope karma catches up with her. Isn’t Family suppose to be loving, stand together, not judgmental & mean to each other ??? My blood mom has Christmas eve and for over 30 + years now I’ve hated Christmas eve & hated being around people who judge me based on false truths. This year I’m doing what I want. My younger sister and I used to be close now she doesn’t talk to me and I don’t know why. I’m so confused and when I ask I get told there’s nothing wrong so I have learned to keep my distance and this is the way it is and the way it has been for a very very long time. My

family is my daughter & my step mom. After all this time this has been going on and finding out I have cancer I do not want any of them near me. U just hope that if I pass they treat my daughter better than they treated me.

anonymous Dec 11, 2013 12:04pm

So glad to have read this comment. I have read the other comments, and can totally relate. On a social media, I have been attacked, viciously, by a cousin, my sister my brother in law, and brother. I have purposely stayed out of he lives of these negative, toxic, individuals, however, one false, comment from a cousin triggered an avalanche of negative comments ( all having to jump on the bandwagon. I have spoken to other family members and friends, who have told me to keep staying positive and to ignore what these individuals say. I decided to “lay these family members to rest.” I would rather have it this way, instead of dealing with the painful interactions I have with each and every one of them.

anonymous Dec 11, 2013 9:26am

I can't thank you enough for this article. I wondered if I was being too dramatic in thinking of breaking ties with my family, in this case the extended family. Then I saw the word "competition" and realized that this was exactly what I need. Everything in my life has been a competition between me and some of my family members, and I'm tired of it. I never wanted to compete and I don't want my kids to feel they have to compete. I finally have come to the realization that I shouldn't allow people to treat me poorly just because we happen to be born into the same family. If I don't like them, and they don't respect me, they don't need to be in my life. If they can't give me anything but criticism and negativity then clearly they aren't good people to be around. Thank you, again, for helping me realize this and for the advice.

anonymous Nov 29, 2013 12:23pm

Exactly what i needed to hear.

Ive been dealing with my parents who have been very unsupportive and always forcing their ways on me since they found out that i am gay. Since the day that they found out, everything had to be done their way for me to cleanse and “change’ to be what they define as normal again and this involves using a lot of guilt, fear, emotional and physical abuse. It has affected the person i am and also my long term relationship with my partner. My sister who was once supportive has become quite toxic too. I lived with this for two years and finally, i am moving out in two days. I am only 20 and i am nervous for the challenges ahead but also excited to finally have a say in things. But i know that even though im going to be physically distant, theres always that emotional distance that isnt broken.

anonymous Nov 28, 2013 5:57pm

So glad I saw this, perfect timing….

anonymous Nov 28, 2013 9:02am

nice timing to find this! I am working with a 13 year old orphan who is so confused and challenged! your info has given me more tools to be useful than i had a week ago! more hopeful and still holding my breath! Thank you and happy day of Thanks

anonymous Nov 28, 2013 1:38am

A very enlightening article, I found much of myself and my current situation mixed within it. Unfortunately, I was left with, what I felt was no other choice, leaving them all behind me, cutting all ties, and communication with them. It’s been over a year, I’ve since moved out of state, and while I have yet to really get settled, ultimately I know it was what I had to do. Thanks for at least validating some of the key points for me.

anonymous Nov 27, 2013 7:54am

Thank you for this. My sister used to be an incredibly positive person in my life, and protected me and took me away from the craziness of our parents a lot of the time after she was married, also beforehand sometimes keeping my parents separated physically. It is so disappointing that she has become full of the same anger management issues and mental unbalancedness we saw at home, and is now doing similar things, but not to the same level thankfully.

I just don't know what to do because I'm terribly close to her daughters and want what is best for them, but how do you make that happen if the adult will not take mature actions, get help, etc? I wish so much that she would get help. I wonder if there is some way that that might happen still. In the meantime I am trying to juggle what way I can be the best resource or influence in order for her daughters to stay on a well-adjusted path, the possibility of me or possibly all of us convincing her that she could benefit from help, and also worrying about being in the line of fire because I don't cope too well during and after her outbursts of craziness. It's so confusing. And somewhere in the midst of that do I grieve that I've lost a wonderful sister, or do I still see how things go, what do I do? It's so confusing. It's very sad.

Compassion and love to all of you with a worse or more confusing situation than me though. I am so sorry.

anonymous Nov 26, 2013 11:16pm

Thank you –
I absolutely needed this, as I was just contacted again by a family member I had to cut ties with. It seems that every time I get my life together, they begin to interfere, always trying to make me feel bad somehow.
The person has been violent, manipulative, and un-trusting to the point of insanity – and it wrecked my self esteem for my entire life, made me practically unable to live my life at all. I still always hear those hurtful words and assumptions going through my head all the time.
Recently they contacted me, not to ask how I am or be friendly, but to guilt me about them having to get tested for cancer. This person is a total hypochondriac and pretty much constantly thinks they are dying. I feel so bad, but I just can not respond. So many times in my life, they have put me in situations where they did not care one bit whether I lived or died, and gaslighted me threatening to put me in a mental institution and pull strings due to their job to make me committed against my will.
When a boyfriend committed suicide years ago, they actually disowned me on the way back from visiting with his family because I was crying that he was gone and she said that I should not be sad because it is not MY family, and that I needed to stop showing sadness or else I'd upset my brother (in his early teens).
And now I am supposed to get reeled in, by a possible cancer test – not a diagnosis or anything? They kicked me out after beating me for not getting my brother ready for school in some particular way that made no sense and I was homeless. After beating me one day (again for no reason) I actually found pictures the person took of their face to persecute me if I were to ever say anything. To this day, they tell everyone I attacked them and had I actually told someone at the time to try to get help, they would have tried to frame me as the violent one.
This is the game these people play. They may be related, but they are certainly not family. It is dangerous to keep ties with them, do not do it just for the sake of guilt or tradition – it is not worth it to ruin your life over someone who does not care about you or truly love you at all.

anonymous Nov 26, 2013 9:19am

After giving everything I owned away, putting it on the street and watching it all get carted off from an 8th floor apartment, I put my dog and 2 cats into my Ford Festiva and drove 1600 miles away, south to an unknown city. That was almost twenty years ago and I never looked back. Although there is distance, I am still dealing with crisis and manipulation, criticism and sarcasm, but I am here and they are all up there with their bitterness, bad health, and ill will. Two recent incidences have given me cause to really put the breaks on. I am still affected, and there is work to do around that, but my obligation is finished, and although it is painful and the reach is still internally disturbing, I am out of the way and now say, "gotta get off the phone", and can protect myself on social media by clicking 'delete' when they poke a vicious finger at me with a snide and sarcastic psyche zinger. I recently even posted, "thanks guys" to a nasty comment on a project near to my heart, hopefully so they see who they truly are– brutal bullies. Crushing, but also satisfying. I know that's not particularly elevated, but it is helpful….

    anonymous Jan 29, 2014 12:56pm

    I totally agree with your decision to cut ties with people like that those of the type of people you don’t even want to have know where you live or how to get in contact with you by phone mail email anything.

    I have a grandmother that is very similar when it comes to accusations I cared for her and her husband when her husband and was dying–I was there through it all, putting my career in hold to administer their affairs and close the eyes on his corpse upon his demise.

    Afterwards I watched your fire the home health aid who had helped on-demand it any hour for stretches of time that were unimaginable– well actually she screamed and yelled for days in person and on the phone for days and made me do it. She didn’t even want her to get unemployment, but I superceded her on that– one of our many power struggles.

    As I started to realize she had some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s and tried to get her help I taking her to the doctor she began fighting with lawyers and accusing me of all types of outlandish theft like using my day grandfathers credit cards to buy stock in foreign companies and own it in her account and all these crazy things. She had always been very controlling making me come home at 11 o’clock when I was 25 years old and calling me throughout the day every day, but once she started to lose her mind she became truly unadulterated evil.

    She threatened me with this disinheritance ,theft charges, lawsuits, complaints against my professional license and even had people coming to my house that appeared to be process servers or private investigators. My wife and I had to move three times because she step she kept finding ways to contact us through email or phone or having people show up.

    We now live in a *wink undisclosed location wink* and are at the moment out of fear.

    In her case she may truly be suffering from Alzhiemers as these type of behaviors are symptoms but she still was toxic before and at best of the Alzheimer’s has accentuated her evil ways.

    Your relative with the threats of commitment sounds very similar. I’m sure my grandmother is saying all kinds of crazy crap about me but I’ve chosen to let it go because she particular has a problem I think your family members due to the did that to you when you were a child. We all want to assume other people are family are normal but they aren’t always normal sometimes they do have afflictions and mental disease that we don’t know of or don’t recognize because that’s the situation were born and we find ourselves in. I would move far the hell away from people like that I was my plan to probably get out the state or find a location very very far in the states and deliver large state that is far away and unknown to any family members I’ve had to cut ties with even the family members that were good to me with the exception of emails that contain no other identifying information (phone numbers, address, etc).

    Good luck and do yourself a favor, act like you’re in witness protection– ANY THREAT TO YOUR LIBERTY IS UNACCEPTABLE!

anonymous Nov 25, 2013 8:30pm

This is a brilliant article. My sister is 4 years younger than I and has always caused me to feel on the outside of the family as a result of her bullying ways. I have just recently had a fight with her that has not ended so well and I now keep my distance (not geographically as I have been geographically distanced since I turned 17, but more emotionally distanced)
As a result however I am distanced from my 2 beautiful nieces (10 & 4) sadly 🙁
However the fight this time was not as devastating as it has been in the past because I was prepared and now after reading this article I am confident in the path I have chosen to remove my self from such a toxic life.
Thank you for the inspiration and strength.

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 10:42am

I could not agree more than I do with this writer, however I would like to make yet another point. Very often young people think their parents are "toxic" because they see a child, because of immaturity, making bad decisions for themselves. There is some normality between parents and children to start to separate and grow in some different directions ,but parents still have the responsibility to warn their children when they see danger in their children 's lives.
I have a child that I love who is influenced by some who do not necessarily care about her and they ,at this time, have a stronger hold on her than any of the things she was taught by those that have loved and cared for her. It is a difficult time to find the balance of letting her grow and find herself and protecting her from causing larger bumps in her life. We have always been there to help her through the small bumps and she does not seem to realize that some things even we cannot fix. Yet I am sure ,she would tell you we are "toxic", because we still have rules in our home and some of her new found friends do not.

    anonymous Dec 23, 2013 3:11pm

    They sound like free spirits to me. Maybe they are making 'bad' decisions – but you should feel confident in yourself. If you have raised your child with awareness, then trust that they will choose ultimately what best works. Perhaps your child needs to experience life for himself/herself in order to challenge those rules and come to his/her own conclusion.

    Rules are important, but so is freedom. We each need to express who we really are and often it takes a few rides down those very bumpy roads before we start to truly know how to do it with ease and comfort.

    Be patient. Offer trust to your child. Look at your child with warmth in your eyes, not worry, fear, anger. This will only drive your child away. Let them know you believe in them…but really mean it. You can try and manipulate through these actions to draw your child back, but not being authentic will only push your child further away.

    Have faith and be kind, not judgemental. The best thing you can do is be a friend to yourself, love your child unconditionally, and provide a warm and loving shelter for your child to come home to. And if he/she chooses something different, then learn to let go. We don't own our kids…they come through us, they're not ours to keep.

      anonymous Aug 19, 2014 11:07pm

      There are nuances to different situations. One size doesn't fit all. It can take decades to figure things out sometimes. I spent 25 years trying to make things work in my family. It wasn't worth the investment. Putting someone out of your life should come only after many sincere efforts to make a relationship work. But then, if necessary, do it.

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 10:03am

I could not have read this at a better time. i just lost my greatest friend, my 8 year-old black lab succumbed too quickly to lymphosarcoma. My mother makes everything worse, and though I've known my whole life that I needed to separate from her, in my hour of need it's ultimately SO taxing. You relieve my awful guilt and self-doubt with your confidence in what you say, and I am eternally grateful. Thank you much. <3

anonymous Nov 13, 2013 7:45am

Fantastic article…..how I wish I could have read this when I was 17!!

anonymous Nov 12, 2013 9:24pm

my therapist says "go in clean, and come out scrubbing" when meeting with my family. This can mean actual dietary cleansing, emotional purging, spiritual strength training before and after. If I am visiting the family for the holidays, I schedule five days before and after for prepping and debriefing, which usually includes major self-nurturing in the form of yoga, meditation, extra sleep, walks in nature, writing, green juice, etc. and actively negating internalized depression (fighting the "pig").

anonymous Nov 12, 2013 8:52pm

This is so overly simplistic it is close to being wrong in ways. I must add too that if someone is abusive, manipulative, etc….then the option to sever ties with the person who is being abusive should be included. We don’t get to handpick our families and nobody is obligated to remain tied to a person who is abusive to them simply because they share the same bloodline.

anonymous Oct 29, 2013 12:46pm

Thank you. Dealing with an abusive brother was making me go suicidal. Your article came as a pill of faith and i hope to improve my life and not get bothered with negative beings around me. I really needed someone to calm me down. Lots of thanks.

anonymous Oct 27, 2013 12:58pm

My adult daughter hates me. It is tearing me up inside. I think we should have no contact as nothing has worked to date. Am I wrong?

    anonymous Jan 1, 2014 2:51am

    I don't think so. I've had no relationship with my son for about 10 years. He's a slowly recovering drug addict—gave up the drugs before the thinking, won't attend meetings, etc. He hates me for not accepting his behaviors, but they're toxic and sometimes threatening to me, so I can't… It's hard to lose relationships with our children, but we can and actually must move on if we're to be whole ourselves. I'm sorry for what you're going through and hope for you that some healing will occur down the road, but live your life for yourself until or unless that happens.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 5:27pm

Since my parent's death, some of my siblings makes me feel like they just don't care about me anymore. Like the great Billie Holiday's song « God bless the child that's got his own » 😉 !

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 10:51am

What a great article. I have a brother with a special needs child with daunting needs. Because of this, my mom sways in their direction all the time despite the fact that my sis-in-law is just toxic. No other way to describe it. You get to the point where you’re like ‘I can’t sacrifice my life and peace for this’. I have to wonder – if I have no trouble with long-term friends, in-laws, hubby, kids, colleagues at work, am I at fault or is it that I’m just not accepted or celebrated for myself by one or two people? Talk about a wake-up call alright! One breath at a time is sure the thing to do.

anonymous Oct 23, 2013 7:40am

I feel like my family prevented me big time to achieve my potential while I lived with them. Parents totally absent, brothers and sisters pointing fingers and saying stuff like I was dumb, a rebellious by nature, I always blamed myself. Big family, older had difficult life in the countryside in the military years of Brasil, and always made me feel like I came when they weren't so miserable anymore so I should thank them for having house in a city, food, etc. Always had to work to sustain myself, started at 14, in the family businesses, always being the youngest who was never heard, but ignored and manipulated. And criticized a lot and having everyone sticking their fingers in my poor affairs…Yes, had to get out of their environment, in order to be my fully self, and still suffer to get their approval…it's a high price, to away from the thing that identifies that family represents, but I guess, we have just to get used to it.

    anonymous Dec 26, 2014 12:08pm

    No we don't have to get used to it. Step back and let them learn how to respect you.

anonymous Oct 22, 2013 9:51pm

Amazing. Stunning. I can’t express how deeply synchronizing this is for my life right now. Thank you!

anonymous Oct 22, 2013 8:13pm

I am currently going through a family break up right now. They are so toxic in so many ways, that it's not healthy for me to be around them or interact with them. A couple of Christmas' ago, I basically mourned the death of my family. Now, there is a huge void in my heart. I work on that daily; some days are better than others. The worst part about it, is that now I feel like I have lost who I belong to. I don't have anywhere to call home, no where to run to when I hurt, and no one to hold me up when I've fallen down. It is lonely; that's for sure. I question my identity regularly because I don't have a pack that I belong to. Anyone else go through something like this? Something this tragic?

    anonymous Dec 23, 2013 3:04pm

    Maria, you'll be the leader of your new 'pack'. You will travel solo for a while..until you find yourself again, and that's okay. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself permission to meet good people, to do good and happy things. Be ready for a new beginning – be prepared now to heal and no longer live in misery.

    You cut ties but now you must remove yourself also from the suffering and begin empowering yourself with positive thinking and action each day. Get your life on track, find a job that you love, do yoga or a sport that excites you…and travel! Be a darling to people you meet everywhere…allow the true you to shine through.

    Sending you love and healing and letting you know you are not alone. I feel your pain…am going through something similar myself xxx

      anonymous Nov 5, 2014 10:25am

      I walked out on my family in 1987 after a vicious fight with my abusive mother, and after a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse … I was 30 years old, she accused me of being a thief and slapped me (the item I was accused of stealing was later found under a bed!) I could not bear her abuse any longer. I left and lived in another city, and for 10 years even in another country. Through a series of misfortunes (including illness) I came back home. I hoped the 23yrs apart from my family would mean a fresh start. But within a year, if not from the very outset, the old toxic and abusive patterns were already evident. Worst of all, she uses my older brother and sister to abuse me; she rewards them for abusing me. The other day I overhead a conversation between her and my sister, slagging me off. She's always stirring and causing conflict. I get excluded from family functions, such as one coming up this weekend – my brother's 60th birthday party, when even strangers and even my friends are invited.Now, three years since I came back, my life is intolerable, and it is seriously hampering my recovery from illness. It is so hard, leaving your family. I cannot even describe the ways! For instance, a form would ask for "Next of Kin", and I would literally weep. But leaving them is the only way. We're all in our late 50s now, my parents in their 80s. No one is going to change. They are all benefiting from the toxic family dynamic, I'm the only one getting ill from it. I'm glad I came back, if only to discover that leaving had been the right thing to do. Take the advice in the 12 Steps above, that's the answer. Get a life outside your family.

        anonymous Dec 26, 2014 12:04pm

        Rest. Don't be weary. If no one cares, know that GOD does. We have similar stories. Broken down by family when someone who doesn't understand that abuse may come from family. They flash that sign "FAMILY" to excuse bad behavior. If love ain't around me, I don't want to be around. Get to a place where you can get well. Love you.

    anonymous Dec 26, 2014 11:58am

    GOD sends angels before we see them. Just know you are on the right track.

anonymous Oct 17, 2013 8:28am

Hei Tanya,

I absolutely love the article. It’s really helpful :). Unfortunately in the past few months my husband and I are going through a really bad experience with his family and we reached the point of not talking to each other anymore. I really want to help my husband through this and sometimes I just don’t know how. He’s a very caring and kind person and have always been helping his family unconditionally. But after they’ve been taking advantage of his kindness forever he got enough and put an end to the relationship with them. Honestly I believe that ppl who are poisoning your life should be out of it. He feels way better now but sometimes I see how sad and disappointed he is and it breaks my heart. I’ll have him read your article and hopefully it will help him overcome the sadness.

    anonymous Jan 17, 2014 8:39pm

    Stani, my husband and I are going through something similar; he has always given above and beyond to everybody in his family (my husband has the biggest heart and is kind to everybody; it's just his nature) whether help has been requested or not. They have taken advantage of his kindness, and his 2 sisters and mother have banded together against him because of a financial matter. He is at the point where he wants to maintain his position even at the cost of ending our relationship with them. I'm wondering how best to support him and wonder how you handled that. In your opinion, is your husband glad he made the break from family-is the cost of gaining peace in his life worth the guilt or sadness he faces because of the loss? Andrea

anonymous Oct 16, 2013 3:56pm

This is good article. But not everyone is same. I want to punch my aunt. I can not because i stay at her house in foreign country. One example of her insults “If you were not son of my brother i would cut your head”… How to deal with such aunt? I want to beat her so hard

    anonymous Oct 11, 2014 3:16am

    get a job move out… seriously you don’t need that sh*t.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 1:59pm

Toxic parent, disabled sib. Forty years of hell–bickering, being blamed and blocked, being undermined if you call a doctor or having no followup which is why you (I) start to "intervene" (HELP) in the first place.

And that 86 year old embittered hateful manipulative–crushed, afraid, confused–blaming, dismissive, abusive parent continues to suck breath out of a sunny day, even when helping.

IT IS SO HARD TO FIND SOME KIND OF BLESSING, GRATEFULNESS, I'm filled with poison just being near, yet am prevented in EVERY way from interacting or helping the disabled sib unless it goes through the steel jaws of that parent's bear trap poised seething razored black pus and poison.

I cannot imagine what it is like to be that parent, I ONLY know that even the car I drive, the soup I make, the offer to buy groceries is EXACTLY LIKE Danny DiVito's experience w/his ma in Throw Mama from the Train. THE ONLY way to deal with it is avoidance. Seriously, did anyone ever give a sermon on how to bring Christ into Danny Di Vito's character's life?

anonymous Oct 13, 2013 1:13am

Great post. I have two sisters who are abusive towards me. My Mom told me its because they are jelous. (sp?) The last straw was at Thanksgiving last year, my older 43 yr old sister was screaming at her 13 yr old son in the bedroom at my parents house and all 25 of us (the rest of the family) could hear it and were very uncomfortable, the inlaws were nervous and the kids were shocked and scared by her screaming. I went to the bedroom to ask her to calm down or take it outside and she flew into a rage and started screaming at me like a crazy person – this went on for a good 10 minutes. I vowed to never again waste my precious holidays with her or her family. She has terrible anger management issues and ruined thanksgiving for 3 families. I decided to cut ties with her and my other sister who is not as toxic but very negative to be around. My mom said I dont offer forgiveness, but is not that I don't forgive them its just that the pyschological abuse is too much for me. It causes me to have bad insomnia, stress and anxiety. So I guess I look at it this way, I would rather sleep and not suffer from anxiety then be their friends. Being in a relationship with both of my sisters causes me a lot of stress/worry/anxiety/insomnia. Is having a stressful relationship with them worth it? Not if I can't sleep – no. It upset me that I could not focus at work and would only sleep a few nights a week. I am a high strung sensitive person, when people are hyper critical or abusive towards me I suffer. My younger sister told me to get over myself and that I was too sensitive, but I am 42. I can't change the fact that I am sensitive to screaming or drama. I can't take it. I like calm friendships. Is that wrong? No. Life is too short to be stressed out by relatives. I would rather just see them at weddings and funerals. Thats enough.

anonymous Oct 12, 2013 8:59pm

This describes my brother in law and his wife perfectly. My marriage is suffering because of the way they ignore our kids, including the infant since the day she was born. They infuriate me, and my husband gets angry at me when I try to discuss or even if he sees that something they had bothered me by the look on my face. It’s affecting me to where I want to treat their child that way, and that’s not who I am. 🙁

    anonymous Oct 11, 2014 3:15am

    I do get why your husband would get angry because you will never change them. What you can do is what you teach your kids and raise them with. There will be thousands more and worse of these people around your kids and I believe energy is better spent teaching them valuable things that cancel the crappyness that they do. Don't fall on their game, on their trap/web, don't inhale their toxic poison. In other words focus on your kids. Don't focus so much on outer matters.

anonymous Sep 29, 2013 7:54am

Thank you so much for this article. I am going through this exact thing. Last year about this time, I was violently attacked by surprise by my younger half sister as I was trying to leave my parents’ house. Since then, the family relationship has been on the edge of a cliff. Within the past month, I cut ties with my own mother. She enables my younger half sister as well as she has shown great disrespect and embarrassed me in front of friends and my in laws. It’s like when I’m in the room, I’m the elephant in the room. It hurts to cut ties with family but I’m sure I’ll be ok later when I see the impact of them no longer in my life. I will be sharing this on my blog!

anonymous Sep 27, 2013 4:17am

2 years ago I took the decision to disconnect myself from my father. He has emotionally and mentally abused me my whole life. It took a long time to realize that this kind of abuse is just as valid as physical abuse. My sister and mother really struggle to accept my decision and we have decided to go to family therapy together to try and figure it out. My life has been absolutely for the better since I made the break. I have more self esteem and confidence in myself where there was always self doubt and degradation. I refuse to allow myself to be manipulated into feeling worthless anymore. I am so very thankful for the many friends who I have discovered have also had to make decisions to cut toxic family members out of their lives, for the better. They have shown me I am not alone and it's ok to take this extreme stance. There is a lot of social pressure to accept abusive relationships within family. One needs a lot of strength to stand in the face of it and do what is right for oneself.

    anonymous Nov 26, 2015 1:49am

    ''this kind of abuse is just as valid as physical abuse'' =best sentence ever. you have to experience and feel it, until you discover this.

anonymous Sep 26, 2013 11:28am

Sweet holy mother of life, I really, /really/ needed this. I had been contemplating writing about my experiences with a toxic family member and serendipity floated this into my life. Thank you, so much. Blood makes relationships so very muddled sometimes and its difficult to get a clear view. I think the only thing on the list I've yet to employ is therapy and moving. Letting go is something very hard to do, and that is also something I'm struggling with—this family member has been mentally, physically, and emotionally abusive and forgiving is something hard for me to do under the circumstances.

    anonymous Nov 26, 2013 3:10pm

    Letting go and forgiving is the hardest bit but its essential for moving on in life and experiencing joy. I struggled for three decades to forgive my parents for the way they treated me all my life. I think what helped most was when I start seeing their behaviour as a result of circumstances they've been thrown into. There must be a reason why they act the way they do. I tried to imagine them when they were little kids, innocent pure souls.Then probably mistreated, hurt, unable to cope with the pain and eventually spreading the negativity onto their own children. Now I understand they suffer deeply themselves and that fills me with compassion! Forgiving is much easier to do from distance, when you no longer have contact with the person involved. Good luck!!!

      anonymous Aug 19, 2014 10:53pm

      The burden of forgiving does not rest on the victim. If it is possible, it is desirable, yes. If it is not possible, it is not a moral imperative. Sometimes the moral imperative is simply to write them out of your life. And to move on with your life. Yes, it's very hard. Do it anyway.

      What I loved in particular was that I was the person painted as dysfunctional, evil, vicious, vindictive, etc., by the damaged bunch of vampires I grew up in. I tried again and again to accommodate, acquiesce, adapt, and tolerate. You just end up being a doormat. At some point, you have to walk away. If anyone were to come and say, "I made mistakes, I'm sorry, forgive me," I would work with them. That almost never happens, except in the movies. What they want is to come back into orbit (because they need a loan for a new hot water heater or something), and then they kick your teeth out again when the correct moment arises. After you pick up your teeth a few times, you need to get the message, and get out.

anonymous Sep 26, 2013 9:46am

Thank you- it is comforting to know that I am not alone. I have not seen my mother for 12 years. I know I am judged by other family members but I am healing myself.

anonymous Sep 25, 2013 8:27pm

I think that too much emphasis is placed on our "blood" families. I do believe that we choose to whom we will be born, however, Ialso believe that sometimes they are just the vehicles we need to bring us to the earth plane. We can choose our own families..those people who teach us, support us, and love us unconditionally without all the toxic games, etc. Let go of those who breed hostility and choose again.

    anonymous Apr 28, 2015 6:02am

    There's no way I chose to be born into a sexually, physically and emotionally abusive family who cared more about money and ego than anything else, but I learned from them. I stay away from fake Christians, Jr. League types, Republicans, and military officers.

anonymous Sep 25, 2013 5:37pm

This article is heartbreaking and full of so much truth. Sometimes all we share as families is a bloodline. I finally get that … took a long time but I get it. It took letting my family go and wishing them well for me to move on with my life.

anonymous Sep 25, 2013 2:26pm

I broke up with my parents more about 10 years ago. It have been hard and heart breaking at times but it is also the best decision I could have take for myself. My father was abusive, my mom choose to not see it even after I exposed him for what he was. At some point I realized that I would never have a “normal” family, mine was toxic and I had to let go of anger, grief what would never be and moved on with my life. The best decision I ever took. I’m happy theses days, most important I’m at peace and know that I’m a good person.

anonymous Sep 20, 2013 12:22am

What about when your teenagers are toxic? My daughters are little fricking brats that suck the life out of me. I know that sounds terrible but I could be having a wonderful day, then when I’m around them I feel the negative energy, moodiness, sulkiness, brattiness, negativity, ughh!!! And I’m widowed so there’s no where else for them to go.

    anonymous Oct 11, 2014 3:11am

    I am sorry but this is on you. I know it’s not easy and to loose the other pillar of a family is very tragic, but if you hope to keep it together, and do what you are supposed to do in the name of love you shared with the person who has parted you you gotta see the reality and not your pity. If your teens are in a “bad” energy perhaps it is maybe them reacting to your bad energy of lack of self esteem, hopelessness etc. It is very common for people who have suffered such loss to be in this mental and emotional state. And it is natural as humans to be selfish. And just focus on ourselves but shift for a moment if you care about your kids at all: They also lost some one. They are not as old and wise and need guidance and parenting, a source that will let them know things will be ok because things must go on. A source if strength. You do not know how string you can be until the only option you have is to be and there is no room for conformity and lack of motivation. Your kids’ lives and futures are in your hands dependent on how you handle this and it can start as simple as just talking to them about it and telling them how you feel and asking them if they notice and if it makes them uncomfortable (which they will notice and find uncomfortable more so because they also don’t feel too well about it) So just get talking, normally no control, no pity partying for anyone just sympathy and the sense that it is a team and as a team everyone must support each other, cheer each other up and get the ship sailing again. My best regards.

anonymous Sep 16, 2013 6:05pm

This is a great article. I feel like it's time to do this with my family. My older sister is great and amazing, I would never break apart from her. But the rest of them, parents and other sister, are so wrapped up in negative, hypocritical and judgmental feelings. When I'm around them, I change into this ugly person and get so negative.

It's going to take some effort, but I need this to happen. Thank you for this article, it had helped me immensely.

anonymous Sep 14, 2013 6:28pm

Wow, this is so good and so true – thanks for sharing this! You have no idea how much others need to hear this. I myself needed this. I grew up my whole life in a VERY toxic, abusive family. My dad had rage issues & was physically & emotionally abusive to my mum & older sister, & after my parents split when I was 6, it seems both my mum & sis turned all their unresolved negative emotions/energy towards me, possibly due to resentment at the fact I wasn’t treated badly by him (I think because of my age). Both my mum & sister became emotionally & verbally abusive towards me, my mum became neglectful of her relationship with me all the while seemingly favouring my sister (who’s 7 years older). I’ve never had a good relationship with either of them, never had any real emotional connection with any family member really. I grew up feeling blamed & scapegoated for all the problems & fighting within our family. I even at times felt like even extended family members thought of me as the “black sheep” of the family. Ever since I was about 7 I grew up with generalised anxiety disorder & depression, chronic stress, & now dealing with digestive problems that seems stress-induced. I’ve cut myself off from my mum but still have some contact with my sister (who seems to have “grown out of it”). Occassionally I have bad dreams about fighting with my mum, in fact I just had one last night.

I’ve had to deal with making the rough decision to cut my mum from my life & most people who I’ve told about it usually don’t get it nor agree with it. They seem to think that because she’s my mum it’s somehow blasphemous to cut her out of my life like it’s wrong for me to do that. That’s also something I’ve had to struggle with, is what if it’s wrong to do so….for the longest time, I felt like because she’s my mum I’m supposed to just put up with it & take it. Same as with my sister’s negative behaviour towards me. Only now have I begun to put up boundaries with what I won’t allow from my sister.

Thankfully I’ve learned to surround myself with good, supporting friendships, & I do notice positive effects of cutting my mum out & limiting time with my sister, & had gone through some major healing, but it’s still a long process of finding full healing. I’ve had to learn a lot of things for myself, & the points in this article are things I’ve unfortunately had to learn the hard way. I wish someone had told me years ago that sometimes it’s ok to make these kinds of decisions I had to make. So I’m very relieved to see that there’s others out there who have come to the same conclusions I’ve had, to see positive affirmation of the choices I’ve had to make and I’m very encouraged by this. Thanks so much for writing this. Bless you.

    anonymous Dec 23, 2013 2:55pm

    Carla, that's awesome, and a tough decision. I am also in your position – only yesterday my sister (who is on holiday from abroad and I haven't seen in 5 years) came into my home and swore at me in front of my 4 year old. Both parents said nothing and allowed the bullying to happen. Through tears, I stood up for myself and asked them all to leave. I'm not sure I want to spend Christmas with them but am afraid they'll turn my boy against me in the future telling him that I'm the one who stopped them from seeing him.

    I think you've done the best thing. Your Mum is attached to the drama…the pattern, the cycle. When we keep ourselves connected to that pattern, it doesn't help them to grow. Sometimes good love is hard love. Saying 'no' to that treatment, as you would if it were a stranger instead who was treating you that way. The lines are blurred when it's family, but it's still not acceptable.

    You've taken a courageous step forward. You'll find your way and in time, will feel so detached from those emotions, you'll eventually be able to come back in and show them the way through too. By not subjecting yourself to it all now gives you space to breathe and find your true self without them telling you who you are (not)…and through that, you'll transcend the pain and go beyond what they've told you about yourself and most likely create an awesome, fun, successful life.

    Thank you for sharing and inspiring. This Christmas will be the last of it for me for a while too…I'm done!

    anonymous Aug 19, 2014 10:41pm

    Yes. Heal yourself. Make your own life. When necessary, shut them out. Slam the door on their fingers. Figuratively.
    Don't look back. If they ever become worth reclaiming, resume the relationship cautiously.
    In my infrequent contacts with relatives, we meet in restaurants.

anonymous Sep 2, 2013 8:06pm

My relatives treat me like a "nobody" on social media, so I've resorted to ignoring them to where I cannot see anything they share. I've found the only way to cope with such toxic hostility is to make them invisible and pretend they do not exist.

    anonymous Dec 23, 2013 2:47pm

    Alternatively, you could choose to remove them completely, take a stand, and say no….you get to seriously choose who can be on your friends list. Family don't just have a right for no good reason. Either they deserve to be there by respecting you, or they don't. Their call ultimately in that regard, and yours too based on how they're acting now.

    anonymous Mar 30, 2014 10:43pm

    I totally understand how hurtful that is. Being dismissed—whether in person, on the phone, in conversation, or online—all feels the same: painful. If you feel that cold ache in your chest and gut, it's because you've been hurt. I have had to do the same thing lately; when I pointed out how I felt, I was told that I was creating it all in my own imagination. That was the last straw. Removing from social media is the first step.

    anonymous Aug 19, 2014 10:37pm

    You are a smart cookie.
    Live your life free of them.

anonymous Jun 17, 2013 2:44pm

Thanks for this article and blog. At 52, I too am dealing with this devastating issue right now. It's my mother's 70 birthday TODAY. We've always had a pretty good relationship, and I had plane tickets to be there for her, couldn't imagine not being there. My younger half-sister and I have always had a toxic relationship, as she has with the rest of our family. In fact she was estranged from my Mom and our whole family for almost 10 years for causing a huge breach in what was once a very close-knit family. But…she just had a grand-daughter, making my mom a great-grandma. So my mom and sister started patching things up, which I applauded. When I invited my sister to be with us and mom for her birthday (we all live in separate states far from each other), she was clear she did not want to come. Now, today SHE is there and I am not. Somehow she got my mom's ear, started pouring accusations and lies about me, and my mom is listening. My Mom's younger brother has been receiving hateful stuff too suddenly; with her rage, profanity, etc. we're worried she's showing signs of dementia…and it appears my half-sister is taking advantage. In a very short time she's convinced my mom to will everything to her great-granddaughter AND to be angry with me, even telling me to stay away and don't come home. This is sudden, shocking, devastating. They've both been sending me nasty, even profane texts. Have never seen such rage from my mom. I'm prepared to end the toxic relationship (finally) with my sister, but don't know what to do about my mom. Any texts or emails I send trying to reason with her are immediately forwarded to my sister, then my mom responds simply with "Bye." My biggest fear is my mom will pass away before all this can be resolved. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

    anonymous Jun 18, 2013 10:38am

    Devastated today — I just read this article and also your post. I, too, have a toxic sister who spews hateful comments about me to anyone who will listen — my children, coworkers, church members and of course our parents. I has occurred to me that your half sister could possibly be controlling your mother's communication systems (phone, text, email). Don't assume all that stuff is coming directly from your mother. Maybe you should fly out there to be with your mother and just spend some time with her. Even if she IS now spewing hate at you because she believes your sister, you owe it to yourself to see your mother for yourself. Even if she treats you like ____ for the (hopefully) short time you will be there you can at least know that you tried. It may be the only little bit of loving attention your mother gets. I am not trying to get into your business just putting this out there as a thought. Bless you and I am thinking about yu on this day.

anonymous Jun 10, 2013 8:04am

me and my girlfriend dealing with this as we speak, im trying to find ways to work it out with my family its important they support me and my girlfriend because we are planning to get married …it really do hurt to have toxic family trashing you're relationship. i catch my self, not sleeping good

anonymous May 27, 2013 12:27pm

I have a toxic family member who was using his elderly mother to get back at my family – got himself on her account after she went into the nursing home, moved her money out, refused to pay her bills, lied to the nursing home, tried extorting my parents to take her in or pay him back the money she lent them years ago… it was exhausting. He's manipulative, neglectful, and very narcissistic. He tried pitting me and my siblings against our parents, so when we told him our perspective he swore us off and said we're dead. I'm so glad he did. It's like this huge burden was lifted off of my shoulders. I didn't know what to do for the longest time, but I now I know I should've written him off a while ago. It would've saved a lot of stress and anger. Some people are just not worth your energy.

    anonymous Jan 10, 2014 4:30pm

    Similar situation with a sister who lived in home of mother, running up caregiver costs, draining accounts, & confounding any financial clarity – hid it- until after death of loved one. Her "game" was to take the max, and stir up legal workings, in order to remain in the deceased home – like she had/has squatters rights. Dishonesty and concealment, plus puzzling financial losses will be part of conundrum of events I must face over time waiting for living trust to begin to settle-after a first legal issue she began must go before a judge. My widowed Mom and I thought that the live-in sister would become responsible; use some of her skills on the families behalf (she is Trustee), but nope… She is still out for herself big-time, and has spent years perfecting an act. Eventually, I believe, the truth or the law will get her. There has been complete lack of empathy, or ethics.

anonymous May 19, 2013 4:12pm

I've made successful exits from two toxic family member relationships. I still have one that needs addressing and I think I've been putting it off for a long time. I hope I can find the strength to let go of it as I have the others.

anonymous Apr 28, 2013 2:06am

<3

anonymous Apr 25, 2013 11:19pm

Actually mate I am so pleased and can say that it would come to help us more in the future. Thanks for the share.

anonymous Apr 14, 2013 8:46pm

I needed to stumble over this today… thank you for existing. Suddenly I feel understood.

anonymous Feb 18, 2013 6:20am

Unfortunately, my toxic family has played a big part in a rift between me and my oldest son. I pray everyday to be able to forgive them. It’s so hard. He blames me for everything because he doesn’t know the truth and if I would try to tell him everything they’ve done, he won’t believe me because he knows I hate them so much.

    anonymous Nov 15, 2013 7:21am

    Hi Stacie, I am experiencing this same situation right now. My family is trying to create as large of a wedge as they possibly can between myself and my oldest son. They are succeeding in some ways and hopefully failing in others. He knows the past pain I have endured with them but refuses to learn from it and is now being treated the same way and manipulated emotionally in the same way as well. I hope you find peaces in knowing you (and I ) did not fail as parents but rather nurtured our children to think for themselves and hopefully that nurturing will win out in the end. Thank you Stacie for posting your comment, I don't feel so alone on this journey. Namaste

    anonymous Dec 22, 2013 9:26pm

    just tell him. He deserves to know and will appreciate the honesty

      anonymous May 29, 2014 6:52pm

      I have the exact same situation – only it is my daughter. I realized I hide from the world and have lost my self confidence through all the negative things that have been said to me and posted publicly on forums where old friends and family can read them. This is a very scary and lonely time.

    anonymous Nov 18, 2015 8:01pm

    cheers to you, I hope to adopt your strength

anonymous Dec 27, 2012 6:35am

[…] your childhood was abusive…did therapy play a role….and when did you learn about most all families being dysfunctional on some […]

anonymous Dec 24, 2012 5:48pm

[…] […]

anonymous Dec 11, 2012 9:46am

[…] […]

anonymous Nov 11, 2012 4:42am

I have woken up this morning looking for advice on toxic relationships with family members. I am so pleased to read this post as we are all too well aware the subject is normally taboo. My story is of two siblings in a very small family. They have throughout my life ganged up on me with emotional abuse and sabotage and my desire to better my life and future. They have deliberately stopped talking to me after the death of my parents to make me feel I am the bad person. This has always been a control tool. I have decided this time not to go back and try and repair the relationship, they left me alone to deal with the clearance of my parents property and all the financial but where quite happy to take thier equal share. I have a very good life which I have worked hard for and that is always a source of jelousy for them both. Their lives have definately not turned out well. I am now taking control of my life and concentrating on my immediate family. I now see I am not bound to put up with emotionally abusive behaviour for the rest of my life. This will be done by distancing myself and realising its not my job in this life to change them. Its thier Karma not mine. Love and light X

    anonymous Nov 5, 2013 4:50pm

    I totally get where you are coming from. My husband died and I was left to raise my kids by myself at a young age – my parents really helped me then two years later my parents died. After that my sister whom I was so closed to turned evil. There was fighting over property and I liked the property and she knew it she turned the entire big family against me. One by one my siblings stopped calling me. I really did nothing but she was building a case against me over little things and because she is so controlling and a very good leader and my parents were no longer the center of the family she became the center. Its been such a hard road with no emotional support I desperately need for my kids and me. I would really like to feel connection but I no longer trust her anymore. I used to watch her kids when they were little I did fun things for her kids but there is no one doing that for my children. I am so hurt and I wish I could get over it. I wish I knew how to forgive but I feel like if I let her into my life she will again be critical of me and my children. I don't think I will ever trust her again. Ever. She tends to have drama all the time. Spin the dial of who she has issues with. Wish I could forgive. I'm just too hurt. Having them out of my life is enabling me to be strong by myself but it hurts for my kids not having other people who care about them.

      anonymous Jan 10, 2014 6:24pm

      My situation is so different, but the experience you have suffered is almost identical. For me, there was a positive experience, in hearing your story. I do have healthy relationships which have enabled me to survive true abuse- largely passive aggressive- from my sister. Sometimes, these situations are deliberate; a family member can decide to "throw you under the bus" if they can, & senselessly.

    anonymous Apr 11, 2015 4:11pm

    I agree.

anonymous Oct 14, 2012 4:54pm

[…] 12 Ways to Deal With A Toxic Family Share this:PrintEmailFacebookDigg Posted by Shock Girl on Oct 14, 2012 in Not Otherwise Specified | 0 comments […]

anonymous Aug 29, 2012 1:26pm

Thanks for sharing. I've been struggling for 29 years with 3 toxic family members (everyone in my immediate family). I'm just now taking the steps to remove myself from this toxic situation. I struggle with not allowing them to make me feel like I am a bad person for being true to myself. Thanks for sharing your experience. I think those 12 steps will help a lot.

    anonymous Oct 4, 2013 7:00am

    Look into "the family systems theory". I feel as if I am the white sheep of my family, this theory names the role as "scape goat." Be proud you are innately different and have the opportunity to become a whole, productive human being!

    anonymous Apr 5, 2014 2:54pm

    Katie, I know this was posted a long time ago but maybe you will get a notification for my reply. You described my thoughts completely. My immediate family members (mainly my mom and sister) are so delusional and psychotic. I finally pushed my sister out of my life about 4 months ago and I don't miss her at all, only the old her. Now I have distanced myself from my mom because they are the same person, and my mom will tell my sister any information about my life. She is manipulative. We moved and havent told anyone where we live, but I caught my mom trying to get information out of my THREE YEAR OLD daughter. It was creepy and I hardly talk to her anymore. And they make me feel like I'M the one with issues. They treat me like i'm emotionally diseased because i'm being distant. That's the hardest part! I so feel you on this and since your post was almost 2 years ago, I sure hope you have come a long way since. I hope you have successfuly removed toxic people and come to a better place in your life.

      anonymous Jan 2, 2015 11:10pm

      Sounds like a similar situation, except helping care for my aging father is in the mix, making it impossible for me to cut ties right now. I love my adult nieces and nephews dearly, and also fear that I will end up losing my relationships with them to a certain degree, but I get knots in my stomach just thinking about dealing with my mom or sister. There is never a pleasant conversation, and I have just shut down completely around them over the past year. Even in situations where I try to make peace, I am torn down. I feel like I have given and offered so many favors to them with nothing expected in return, though I also lack the feeling that if I ever asked the same of them, I would literally be scoffed at. I have brought up things I've heard they had said about me that have never happened and been told I've hurt someone whether the situation was "real or imagined." How am I supposed to combat imagination?!? They are downright nasty to each other, and one even said it is impossible for her to be nice to the other just a few days ago. I hope and pray every day that I can fade away from the whole mess, but location is everything, and I can't uproot my own family because of this. Good luck to you and hopefully you can rid yourself of all the toxic people in your life and live peacefully.

anonymous Jun 11, 2012 9:23pm

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anonymous May 16, 2012 10:14am

[…] 12 Ways to Deal With A Toxic Family/Family Member. […]

anonymous May 8, 2012 12:25pm

This piece is stocked full of excellent, thoughtful advice. I have been here and done this. I am thankful and blessed to have moved through each of the 12 steps you suggest here, and still feel saddened at times that every single thing on the list of "things to indicate" can apply to more than one member of my family. The great part is that having left those relationships behind, my relationships (including those with 'non-toxic' family) are better, stronger, more loving and joyful. I hope people struggling with toxic family and the decision to limit contact with them can find your article- maybe it will help them to move through this part of their lives with greater ease.

    anonymous May 14, 2012 1:43pm

    Thank you for taking the time to share this, Rebecca. It is really sad, but like you say, when you remove yourself from a toxic situation, the consequences are so much more positive than staying. It's like that saying sort of goes…accept the things you can change, accept thing the things you cannot. 🙂

      anonymous Sep 7, 2015 12:13pm

      You mean "Change the things you can, Accept the things you cannot change, and have the wisdom to know the difference"

anonymous May 8, 2012 7:14am

I was on Skype talking with my girlfriend about the chat I had the morning before with my mother and this article pop up on my laptop. I know that my parents and some of my brothers are toxic and even knowing that after more than 5 yrs of treatment, sometimes I find myself still in anger and with an armor when I chat with them. I know that I’m not going to change them and try to accept it but some stuffs still hurt. Nice to read an article like this. Fully identified. Thank you

    anonymous May 14, 2012 1:41pm

    Thank you for sharing, Javi. I know what you mean about the anger bit – it's hard to deal with, but having clear boundaries has worked for me. Thank you for being here.

    anonymous Oct 3, 2014 8:27pm

    I completely understand you, seems like we have been both thru very similar situations. It is still hard.

anonymous May 8, 2012 2:33am

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anonymous May 6, 2012 9:12am

I was just having this conversation with my husband over morning coffee. How to we deal with the negative, disrespectful and overly critical siblings that constantly drag us into their blackhole. One breathe at a time! Thank you for this piece….perfect timing. Namaste.

    anonymous May 6, 2012 11:56am

    Hey Melody. It's a tough one, isn't it?! Trust your instincts and do what you have to do!! Yes, one breath at a time. Thanks for being here. xoxo

anonymous May 6, 2012 7:04am

I am going through a family breakup right now – I think. The emotional see-sawing back-and-forth has been the most draining. Thank you for a much-needed article.

    anonymous May 6, 2012 8:02am

    You are welcome and I'm sending you a ton of strength. You can get through this. Do what's best for you! xoxo

    anonymous Sep 17, 2013 7:32pm

    I could have written this exactly. It is so hard to understand why i am not loved by them. I know they will never change yet it still hurts. I am so angry. I am moving soon and never looking back. My sister broke all ties except with me and she says she is so happy ever since without the drama. I sure hope I will be as happy cause now i am miserable around them.

anonymous May 6, 2012 5:26am

thank you for this timely article…story of my life.

    anonymous May 6, 2012 8:01am

    You're not alone sister. 🙂 Sending some love. xoxo

anonymous May 6, 2012 5:15am

Yes. I know this to be true.

    anonymous May 6, 2012 8:01am

    Hear ya, Roo. 🙂 Thanks for being here.

anonymous May 5, 2012 2:29pm

I love you my sweet girl. Unfortunately you have unlimited expertize on this one. I love you to the moon and you are always in my heart!

    anonymous May 6, 2012 8:00am

    Love you, home base. 4-eva. xoxoxoxo

anonymous May 6, 2012 11:56am

Thanks girl!