Why sometimes you have to ‘divorce’ your parents, siblings

By Nancy Roxane | 4 months ago
A young depressed man sitting outside.

Let's talk about the ridiculous expectation for children to love, respect, and obey their parents no matter what. It is a sad state of affairs when a society advocates for family values over an individual's emotional and mental well-being! I don't know about you, but for me, my mental and emotional well-being takes precedence over being part of a family.

Cutting off a parent because they are toxic is basically unheard of. In my Kikuyu culture, especially, it is instilled in us from a young age that we are obligated to remain unequivocally loyal to our parents, lest we get a 'kirumi' (curse). Never mind that the said parents could be the most toxic and insufferable people on the planet! We are taught that you will suffer great adversities if you don't show love, respect, and loyalty to your deadbeat, abusive and narcissistic parent. Imagine that.

Of all our questionable societal beliefs, I find this to be the most damaging. This 'family is family' bull is trapping people in horribly toxic environments. Unfortunately, we don't get to choose the people we are related to, but we sure as hell can choose whether we want them in our lives or not! Let me tell you something; blood doesn't mean squat.

More often than not, the people we are related to are proving to be invaluable in our lives. Contrary to the popular saying, blood is not always thicker than water. You could be languishing in poverty, and your kin will not give two hoots about it. There is a quote I like that sums it up best: 'Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who will do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.'

You don't have to tolerate someone's toxicity just because they gave birth to you or are related to you. You really don't. That narcissistic mother? You can cut her off! That deadbeat loser that you have for a father? You can totally cut him off. That vile and malicious sibling? Cut him or her off. I know Kikuyu elders are squirming in their seats reading this, but it is what it is. Curses are a myth. Some people are just fond of ascribing supernatural powers to negative events hence the belief in curses, but it is all hogwash. Don't let the threat of a parental curse scare you into tolerating toxicity from a parent.

It doesn't make any sense to stand by people who continually make you feel like garbage just because you are related to them. Family values don't mean anything. Love, loyalty, and respect is a two-way street. Don't feel obligated to give it if you are not receiving it. You don't owe anyone love and respect just because they gave birth to you.

Don't let a toxic parent guilt trip you into staying in their lives by telling you that they didn't abandon you or let you starve to death when you were young. The fact that they raised you doesn't give them the green light to treat you like crap and expect you to just take it. You can, and you should walk away.

Having said that, I want to clarify that I am not advocating for people to start acting callous and rude towards their parents or other toxic relatives. You don't need to pay them back in kind for all the horrible things they have put you through. All I am saying is that it is okay to remove yourself from their lives completely. If it is possible, put some distance between yourself and them. Make sure that they have no access to you at all. Cut them off and remind yourself every day that you have nothing to feel guilty about. This can be hard when you have been conditioned to accept crap from people just because they are family. It is normal to feel some deep loyalty for your parents even if they are terrible people but always put yourself first. Ask yourself if your life would be better or if you would be happier without them. If your answer is yes, cut them off.

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