Playlists are the new tea leaves

On Friday on my way home from work, I was thinking about the removal of toxic people from my life. I know some people don’t like describing other people as toxic. In this case, I don’t mean that the people themselves are toxic, but that they’re toxic to me, or we’re toxic to each other. (But should anyone think that a person can’t possibly be toxic, just look at the U.S. government.)

The one lesson I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t completely rid yourself of anyone who has been impactful in your life in any way. Sometimes this is a wonderful thought, because all those people who influenced you for the better are, in some ways, still with you. But sometimes this is a rather distressing thought, because you realize that the bad shit has influenced you, too, and you can’t fully rid yourself of those influences. Our experiences and our brain wiring make us who we are, and we can’t control or undo either.

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Reasons to not feel bad about cutting off toxic parents

I have a lot of experience with toxic parents…I’ve gone no contact with them a number of times, recently for the very last time. I’ll deal with them if there’s ever a death in the family or some reason why I need to be in their physical proximity, but aside from circumstances like that, I will have no part in their lives. They’re just awful people.

But it took me a while to get to the point where I could break off contact quickly, cleanly, and with no feelings of guilt or regret. Getting to this point was a process. So when I saw this article from Bustle from last year titled ‘5 Reasons You Shouldn;t Feel Bad About Not Talking To Toxic Parents‘, I had to share.

I think the biggest take away for me was the author’s point around not allowing others to pressure you into keeping in contact with toxic parents because family. I’ve always personally said that sharing DNA doesn’t make me obligated to tolerate someone. I also tell people who don’t understand me, who like to give me the “but they’re your faaaaaamily!” line, that if you wouldn’t encourage someone to forgive and forget about abuse suffered from a spouse or significant other, then don’t tell someone to forgive and forget abuse from parents. That usually shuts them up.

If not, just ignore them – because the other part of the article that I was applauding in my head was when the author said that only YOU understand your experiences and how those experiences impact you. Others will sometimes try to tell you all about yourself, or explain your experiences, or rationalize your parents’ behavior. I started shutting this down by pointing out that of course my parents were never abusive when other people were around! Most abusers aren’t abusive when other people are present – so I remind them that they have no idea what happened behind closed doors. They have no idea what my experience was growing up. Only I do, and it’s up to me to decide how I move forward with my life.

One thing this article didn’t get into that I’ve had to deal with (and others, too) is the idea that if your parents spent money on you, they 1) must love and 2) couldn’t have been all that bad.

Yes, financially and materially, my life wasn’t that bad. But as anyone who has ever been abused knows, you pay dearly for any gift or favor an abusive parent gives or does. All the material things they showered me with were thrown back in my face any time I didn’t do something exactly the way they wanted, or failed to live up to expectations, or started to push back against the abuse. Money and material things were used not only to make me feel guilty, but to control me. And when that stopped working, the reaction was viscous. To this day, they post passive aggressive shit all over Facebook about how horrible and ungrateful I am and tell family members all about how much money they’ve spent on me. They just don’t understand why I don’t worship the ground they walk on.

Spending money on someone is not love. I’d rather have had parents who were broke but loved me than the financially stable but abusive assholes I got. But such is life.

Point is, I don’t feel bad about cutting abusive, toxic parents out of my lifeĀ – and you shouldn’t have to, either. It doesn’t matter what relationship someone has to you…NOTHING makes abuse excusable, and you should NEVER feel obligated to tolerate your abusers.