You don’t have to be a parent to have an ounce of empathy for those who are. We all know that nobody takes you aside at school and teaches you how to bring up kids. Certainly, none of us get it right all the time.
But there is a big difference between good people getting things wrong now and then and parents who make their kid’s adult lives an utter misery.
As a child, your parents are the first people you fall in love with. This makes it extremely painful when you realise they can also break your heart.
When you are on the receiving end of unreasonable behaviour or words and actions that hurt so much they sting, it kills you inside that the people you should respect most in the world make it impossible for you to love them.
You end up feeling guilty for not wanting to spend time with your parents. Their damaging behaviour can make you feel like they are manipulating you in some way or you feel like they don’t know you at all as they stir up issues and problems in your life.
If your relationship with your parents has become an emotional and physical burden for you, it could be time to inject a bit of distance between you and them. If the relationship has become toxic and unrepairable, then you might need to break contact completely.
Growing up, the majority of us never even consider the prospect of our parents not being a part of our lives. It’s unthinkable that they could ever do or say something so dreadful that you would even consider cutting contact with them.
Sadly, for some of us, there comes a moment where the pain and trauma of not having our parents in our lives becomes less than when we keep them in it. If you feel a relationship is just too toxic to maintain, what can you do to eliminate contact and minimise the damage?
It’s Not Just You
We often look at other people and assume they have perfect lives – even more so in this digital age. Remember that those perfect people you see online sharing their perfect lives are far from perfect and are certainly not living the carefree life they portray. They will throw in the odd humble-brag or share some attention-worthy bad news to throw you off the scent.
But they never share the real hurt and pain they suffer just like you do. Even the most perfect of blended families who are nailing it on the surface have their underlying issues rumbling away. You are not alone.
Strengthen your Mind
If you are going to cut ties it’s going to feel wrong in your head and your heart. Parents are supposed to be the people you turn to, not turn away from, so this is going to be hard. Strengthen your resolve any way you can. Mindfulness, relaxation or even a mood journal will help you struggle with your inner turmoil.
If breaking ties completely is too hard for you, look at how you can simplify contact. You will never feel guilt-free if this is really hard for you, but you can minimise your pain by changing your relationship with your parents. What can you stop doing?
Maybe you can slowly re-programme your mental and physical relationship with your parents so you just see them as an acquaintance or neighbour. You are already able to speak to many people on a limited basis, share a few pleasantries and politely walk away with no feelings of shame, after all.
Don’t Feel Guilty
They raised you, fed you, clothed you and kept a roof over your head. They might have helped you with your homework or taught you to ride a bike. There will be some happy memories, even if your childhood was tough at times. Or maybe the issues you have only came about in recent years as an adult.
Either way, you will feel guilt that you should be showing loyalty to the person who provided for you. But remember this; they chose to bring you into the world and were therefore obliged to do all those things! Instead, turn that emotion around and feel grateful for what they did for you. Bringing you up is not a debt that you are responsible for repaying to them for the rest of your life. You owe nothing to toxic, destructive parents at all.
Just remember that this is all about setting clear boundaries. Ask yourself why you are looking to let go, and if the answer is not so you can move forward and live your life, stop. This is going to hurt and you will feel anger and pain … you probably already have. Make any decisions with a clear mind and not out of spite or to cause damage. Let go so you can live a better life and for no other reason.