Simply Nerdy Mom: The Toxic Family Dynamic

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Toxic Family Dynamic



We have all had toxic people in our lives at one point or another, and I bet a lot of us still do. Sometimes it's easy to cut those people out of your life, but when it ends up being family that poisons your quality of life, it can become much more difficult. 


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There was a time when I was the glue that held things together during family fights. If two family members were at odds over something, I was the one who mediated and brought to light that we are family and we should stick together. I was a lot younger then and I honestly believed that. However, as I got older I realized that sometimes we end up with family members who are always going to be poisonous to us in some way and those people a lot of times just need cut out of your life in order for you to survive. 

I've had my share of toxic family members. Actually, I've had more than my share, but I'm at this age where I've decided if it doesn't help me grow in some way then I don't need it. This goes for drama, narcissistic behavior, abuse, and various other negative things. I want to surround myself with people who don't use me or expect anything from me. I want to surround myself with people who can acknowledge the feelings of others and admit their faults and their wrongs. I want people who can sincerely apologize for their actions and want to fix cracks in the relationship. 

I've dealt with family members who exhibit clear cases of narcissistic personality disorder as well as histrionic personality disorder, and trying to have any kind of relationship with these types of people is difficult, or just plain impossible. They will never admit their wrongs and never apologize when they've hurt you. Instead they pull the victim card and place blame on everyone around them. You'll have other family members who will make excuses for their behaviors and tell you "That's just how they are. You have to accept it." But the truth is, you do not have to accept it. By making excuses for that person, you are showing them that their actions have no consequences. This allows them to continue mistreating you because they know they will get away with it. When you try to express your feelings to this type of person, they get angry and place blame on you. this results in a build up of tension in the relationship because you can no longer share your feelings for fear that the other person will make you feel even worse or at fault somehow. 

In my experience with this, I have sat down and considered that maybe it's me that needs to change. So I started working on myself and worked hard to better my relationships with loved ones. Despite the honest effort, things never changed. Think of this situation like a broken down car. The car has a problem that prevents it from running smoothly. You might consider that it's a specific issue so you work on it and repair it, but the car still has problems. Do you continue trying to fix the part of the car that isn't really broken, or do you look at the car as a whole and try to pin point the exact issue? Maybe it's a completely different part that needs fixed all together, or maybe it's a combination of parts that need fixed. Either way, that car will never run smoothly until you find the exact problem and do a full workup on it. Unfortunately sometimes you'll find that the problem can't be fixed and the car just is never going to run properly. Most people would scrap it and get a new car instead of draining themselves and their accounts to fix it. You see what I'm getting at here? Sometimes you have to be able to realize when the whole thing needs scrapped and replaced. Sometimes you have to be able to realize that it's more beneficial to let it go than to waste time and energy on something that will never get better and may possibly just continue to get worse. 

When you give energy to these people, you are not only depriving yourself, but you are also depriving those who truly deserve your time and energy, You've heard the saying that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Well it's true. Toxic people will habitually and selfishly drain your cup every chance they get. 

Ultimately, you have to realize that no matter the relationship to you, sometimes it's best to cut off people who do not contribute positively to your quality of life. You should not be expected to accept these people just because they are family, especially if they hurt you in any way. If it becomes too much and you need someone to talk to, I recommend trying out online therapy sites. 

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