Saying goodbyeto anyone toxic is always hard on your heart — but when you say goodbye to a toxic family member, there’s a lot of added drama.
Other relatives will judge you over your decision. They know you both. They love you both. So they will encourage you both to hug it out and start fresh. They think they’re helping by telling you to mend fences — but they’re only making you feel worse. They’re undermining your decision. They’re disrespecting your feelings. They’re trying to guilt trip you into making the choice that makes the most comfortable when you’ve been trying to stick to the decision that’s best for your own peace of mind.
When you say goodbye to a toxic family member, you can’t get them out of your head the same way you would with toxic friend or ex. There’s always a part of you that wonders whether it’s time to reconnect, whether you’re ready to let them back into your heart. Removing them from your world isn’t a one-time decision. It’s a decision you have to make over and over again every single holiday, every single birthday, every single day.
When you say goodbye to a toxic family member, you think about them more often than you would like to admit. Whenever you have dinner with a happy family or watch one on television, you get a little jealous. Whenever you tell stories about your childhood, you leave out certain details you aren’t ready to relive. The happiest memories can sting as much as the bad ones because you can’t believe someone who once brought you so much joy could turn into someone who brought you so much pain.
When you say goodbye to a toxic family member, you get guilt tripped all the time. There are certain phrases that will break you down — like when you hear people talking about how family is the most important thing in the world and how no one will ever love you as much as your family and how you should always stay loyal to family no matter what they put you through. You know deep down walking away from this person was the right thing to do, but those phrases still hurt. They make you wonder whether you’re a bad person. They make you wonder whether you made the right choice.
When you say goodbye to a toxic family member, it’s hard to figure out how you feel about them. You hate them for what they put you through, but you appreciate everything they’ve given you. As angry as you are at them, you still love them. You wish you could stop caring about them, but you never can.
When you say goodbye to a toxic family member, the healing process is extremely hard. You can’t remove them from your world as completely as you want. There’s always going to be a party where you’re both invited — or a relative who brings them up in conversation. You’re going to have a hard time escaping your thoughts of them. You’re going to have a hard time getting over what they’ve done to you.
But you’re not the only one feeling this way. You’re not the only one going through this hell.