But they are your family – Okay, but I don’t care
What Really Happens When You Cut Off a Toxic Parent?
Growing up, many of us were taught that you put your family above it all. Family first, then the rest. When no one else has your back – family will.
As I have become older, this line of thinking has significantly changed. If that truly is the case, and family does come first, then shouldn’t both sides of the relationship have the courtesy of, at bare minimal, acting like a decent human being towards one another?
What happens when they don’t?
At that point, doesn’t it kind of negate the whole superficial “we gotta put up with bull shit behavior from our family members – because you know, blood is thicker?”
It seems to me that if the relationship is oozing with toxic behaviors, then by all means shouldn’t we peace out on a relationship that is serving us in this manner?
One might say “Oh, but what happens when YOUR kids feel this way?? ” As the great Elyse Myers would say… “Great question, I would love to tell you”
I feel like a major purpose of me being a mom, is to create an environment that a. my kids feel comfortable approaching me when I have some off-the-wall, negatively-impacting, bullshit behavior and b. that I continue to work on myself enough, so when that time comes, I am healthy enough to recieve what they are saying and we work through it either together or alone.
In short, I plan on being openminded and willing to change when that time comes between myself and my children. Because lord knows, I’m far from perfect while doing this parenting gig.
Here is my experience of what really happens when you cut off a toxic parent.
Deciding It Was Time |
I have many memories that elicit some not-so-great feelings in regards to my toxic parent. The first time I felt like I needed to cut my mom off completely, I was pregnant with my second child. My mother had come from out of town to stay with us to help out with the new baby. I remember being grateful for the help I was going to recieve but also very weary of this extended period of time together.
There were a few rough moments leading up to the birth of out first boy, but nothing out of range for our typical mother-daughter blunders.
After the two (required) days in the hospital, we arrived home to a decorated mailbox and a fridge full of food from our amazing friends. (You know who you are, and to this day we are grateful for you all.) When I walked into our home, baby in hand – I remember the whole vibe of the house being off. My mother didn’t say hi to me, to us, or even at all. In fact, she barely acknowledged us (read: me) walking in the door (a distantly familiar feeling).
Some time had pass and I started to nurse the babe.
The details of what happened next are a slight blur, yet vividly jump out in my mind.
I remember saying “I am nursing the baby and I can not physically stand up and leave the room, could you please go away, I don’t want to be fighting over my baby like this” or something akin to that.
Flustered, she walked to the back room.
A few minutes went by and I heard the back door shut.
Several minutes went by again,
then a bit more
and then I got a text from my step dad, letting me know that they would be getting my moms items later that week.
She had decided to drive back home.
15 hours, to be exact…
She left, no words exchanged and drove 15 hours to her home in Texas.
I didn’t hear from her after that and honestly, it was never brought up again…
The pain and hurt I experienced during that time is hard to describe. It’s difficult to accurately articulate how one can feel so ecstatically elated at finally having the babe that was prayed so hard for, while simultaneously be completely heart broken and devastated that someone who is supposed to be taking care of you, just up and left.
( … anannnd whyyy yes, the abandonment issues do run deep)
Eventually I reached back out to her and we slowly began to rebuild our relationship. With much effort on my end.
| Here + Now
There have been many other times throughout my 35 years on this planet, that have funneled me towards the path of cutting off my toxic mother.
Don’t worry though, I’ll spare the sob stories.
Very much like an abusive relationship, there was always hope. A hope that, deep down this person IS who I think she could be, someone that I need her to be. Hope that there would be a magical day where this person was no longer who they were but instead a healthier version of themselves. That maybe, if I just did the exact right thing, they would maybe show up differently in that relationship. So I would give chance, after chance, pain after pain.
What I thought was me being a kind, compassionate, and caring person, was, in reality, me being a clinically insane person. Insanity, by one definition, is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
I choose to no longer be insane.
I decided that I only have one life. My kids only have one childhood. It is not my job to carry the weight of others’ unhealed versions of themselves. I refuse to hold space for those who consistently steal the peace of my space. The space I’ve worked really hard to create.
The Actual Cut Off |
I did not come to this decision lightly. I reached out to many peers and mentors, meditated, and asked for guidance. All the things to check my role and see if I was being extra, dramatic, etc.
Shocking to none, I was not.
Telling my toxic parent that I would no longer have them in my life for the time being was what felt best for my situation. I informed them that I would be blocking them because I would want the courtesy of knowing.
This approach seems to be better in the long run and just overall. There is no room for error in communicating when clearly expressing your intentions.
What Really Happens When You Cut Off a Toxic Parent |
It Is Hard
The things that have come up since “cutting off” my toxic parent have been nothing short of absolutely painful. The gut wrenching type of emotional (and spiritual) pain, that sneaks up and makes you crumble into pieces on the floor. Many realizations have crashed over me since the “cut off”. Things that I knew were messed up but never really realized HOW messed up they truly were.
I was not prepared for having such a surge in anxiety and depressive episodes. Little to my knowledge, this is a common occurrence.
You Will Miss Them
Sometimes I feel like missing someone who has passed would be easier than grieving the death of a living relationship.
The idea of a relationship can look a lot better than the reality of one. Good times sprinkled here and there can give the illusion of a “good” relationship but it is a far cry from a healthy familial bond.
Missing the idea of someone is painful. Remembering that reality is just as, if not more painful doesn’t making the missing feeling go away but it does make it easier to move through it with a little more acceptance.
Navigating Life with Others
It is your choice whether or not you tell others of your decision.
You can explain to loved ones, why you made this decision – most won’t get it. Especially the older generations. Or you can not explain anything to anyone. You have that right.
No one else lives your life, so why should they get input on how you live yours?
Letting family members know that the relationship between you and them doesn’t have to change negatively because of this choice, can be helpful.
You Question Your Decision
Maybe you were just being “too sensitive“, maybe you should give them ANOTHER chance, maybe it’s not that bad, maybe I was wrong. Maybe…
The self questioning, doesn’t stop. Our society only fuels that firing of questions.
But as I recently read (and loved so much);
“Fuck That Noise”
Just as I kindly remind those who suggest that we should have more children simply because we make gorgeous offspring, THEY are not the ones up with said cute babies at 2a.m. to nurse (read– 5 is Magic)
The same applies to those who say that you should just “forgive and forget” about that toxic behavior.
Maybe, they are right…
BUT it’s not them that has to deal with the emotional wrath that the shitty behavior evoked.
It’s something that you have to deicide for you.
The biggest thing to remember, is that those who question whether or not they are narcissistic or abusive, are like 99.9% not. The fact that there is awareness in the form of questioning, only indicates that you are not the toxic person. Toxic individuals never think they are the problem.
You Will Have Immense Relief
While most of what happens when you cut off a toxic parent is actually quite painful, it is also the most relieving thing ever. The night I blocked all the things that gave my toxic parent access to myself, it was like the biggest weight was lifted. I felt like I breathed for the first time … ever. It is so strange how something so painful, can give you so much relief.
Most of my relief stems in the awareness that I wasn’t and haven’t been this skewed version of myself, but instead a victim to someone’s ill managed mental health.
There is immense relief in knowing, that unmanageability, is no longer my weight to carry.
The Bottom Of It |
If I had to sum it up what really happens when you cut off a toxic parent, I would say that you will experience grief, guilt, and relief. Sometimes it’s all at once and sometimes it’s just one feeling at a time.
For myself, another overwhelming and powerful thing happened. I felt like my inner child rejoiced the night I finally said, absolutely not. No more.
“Yesss. Thank you!
Cutting off my toxic parent allowed me to realized that I wasn’t ever going to truly heal from all the painful things that happened throughout my life until I fully let that person go. I realized I had to let go of this lingering notion that they were genuinely a good person who wanted the best for my well-being and instead, accept my reality that this person was extremely toxic and unhealthy.
Being able to identify and label that, while keeping my distance, allowed me to truly feel ALLL those feelings.
And as the saying goes;
You gotta Feel it, to Heal it.