Family Estrangement…removing yourself from your toxic family

I read this article in a psychology magazine about being estranged from your family. It sounds crazy, right? I mean when your family, or certain members aren’t physically abusive, you sort of turn your head and just accept the emotional bullying. After all, how many times throughout life have you taken those punches to your feelings or your ego, and then told yourself, “that’s just how it is, whatever”?  Well, the article confirmed that it is not acceptable to endure such treatment so distance may be the only healthy answer. Plus, in this new glory of self-care, why should we still take that kind of bullshit?? We don’t tolerate from friends, coworkers, significant others, or spouses. Why should we take this abuse from family? 

I remember when my therapist asked me why I allowed my sisters to hurt my feelings repeatedly, I had responded with, “That’s just how it is, I’m the baby of the family”. She was floored. Here I was a forty-something year old with a damn masters degree in psychology, taking shit from my sisters just because I’m the youngest. She replied, “Fuck that…and fuck them. You’re a damn adult. They’re just your sisters! Who the hell do they think they are telling you that your decisions have to involve them because you’re the baby?!! You don’t need negative people like that in your life”. That was my last appointment with her. Not because I was angry at her, but because she was absolutely right. Both of my sisters criticize the way I parent, the choices I make in men, how I handle my health, and everything else that requires me to make a decision. I also realized whenever either of my sisters needed me, I was there. The dog dies…I rush to my sister in California to console her. My oldest sister and her marital problems, I rush to her house to get the kids so they didnt have to hear their parents fighting. Then I finally remembered me. When I was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery, then radiation, I didn’t get one visit from my sister in California. No help from my oldest sister who lived 3 minutes up the street either. Just texts asking how I was feeling…I have cancer…I’m fucking over the moon. Sheesh. How the hell do you think I feel??? My teenage kids took care of me and our household. I’ve got great kids (despite the fact that my sisters think I should parent better). My sisters did not go to any, I mean, ANY appointments with me. My friends came…even when the doctor thought the cancer had spread. My friend took the day off and held my hand while I was having needles placed in my neck to get biopsies. My sisters said, “keep us posted” in a group text. When I got the negative results back, my friends and I celebrated. My sisters never even asked about them…daily life just continued on. 

I was constantly treated like I’m a problem. Honestly, I think my one sister is an ass and injects her opinion where it’s not welcomed or asked for. Especially when it comes to my kids, oh mind you…she doesn’t have children. She always has something to say like she is some type of wise owl or guru. My oldest sister allows her husband and his family to rule over her. And of course they all have something to say about the way I raised my kids…usually to the tune of me being too lenient for their standards, or I’m not guiding them properly. My kids are beautiful human beings with good hearts and very well mannered, strong willed, and independent. They’re confident, and make sound, well thought out decisions when necessary. We are the Power of 3…we have a bond, and I wouldn’t have done a damn thing differently in raising them. 

My sisters had always made me feel like I am an inadequate individual as a child and as an adult…plus a half-ass mother. But my therapist made me remember what I truly already knew…I am one bad ass motherfucker. I singlehandedly put two good human beings into society as responsible adults. I bought a house to raise my kids in on my own. I have a successful career. I obtained a bachelors and masters while working full time and being a single mom. Let me add that I held a 4.0GPA in the masters program while I was going through my cancer journey. I am pretty. I am intelligent. I am funny. I care about others. I am a good person.  My sisters are the problem, not me. They made me doubt my self worth by constantly throwing punches with their opinions, their rules, their bullshit. 

I rarely speak to either of them now.  I moved across town so I don’t need to run into my oldest sister at the grocery store. I don’t visit my hometown anymore where my other sister still lives. Their thoughts, opinions, words, and actions are toxic. And I don’t need that in my life. Nobody does. I mean, what makes anyone think they should have such power and influence over your life and over your children just because of birth order???  My answer: my sisters are sibling bullies who are toxic to mental health and overall well-being. I need peace in my life. My family are my two kids and my friends. My chosen sisters may not be blood, but they are my lifeline…my barkada.