Artwork by Kendrick Daye

HealthRadical Self Care

fuck your family: boundaries save lives

May 16, 2019
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I’m not here to tell you that your family is trash and can’t tell you to want to do. I’m here to help you set healthy boundaries so you can be the best, truest version of yourself.

To get us started, let it be known that you don’t belong to your family. Like, yes, you are your parent’s child; but you’re not their possession. Especially if you’re grown and don’t depend on them anymore. So hear me clearly when I say you are not obligated to fit into their idea of who you’re supposed to be. Whether you love people of the same sex (or no sex) or choose a career they don’t ‘believe’ in. Or you’re trans and they can’t accept you. Who you are and what you want is worthy of respect. And you deserve to pursue that shit without naysayers and saboteurs.

Familial dynamics are some of the most complex relationships we experience during our lives and, for better or worse, we can’t change the people who are related to us. But in the most extreme, toxic situations, stepping away from your family might be the best, healthiest decision that you make.

So, how and when do you know its time to cut ties with family, mentally or physically? The litmus test for me is when you’re in an abusive and/or toxic situation. No one’s opinion, input, or commentary about your life, who you are, or what you want should come from an abusive place. This includes gaslighting, projection, close-minded ideals, that oppress you.

How does your family make you feel? Do they make you small and unimportant? Or loved, respected, and cherished? Do they make you feel ugly? Or do they celebrate your unique beauty? And do they inspire you to be strong and brave, or do they knock you down and make you feel weak? Or, worse, does your family make you feel like you don’t deserve to be alive in the first place? These are all really important questions to ask yourself about your family. Toxic situations can appear in many different ways. Be it bullying, belittling, verbal abuse, neglect, anger, violence, gaslighting, non-acceptance, and more. Looking inward and unpacking how our interactions with people make us feel can be a solid indicator of that relationship’s health.

It’s not selfish to take your mental health seriously and to prioritize it above everything else. If you’re a boy and you like to wear makeup but your family doesn’t like it….fuck them. If you have a narcissistic parent who projects their insecurities on you and makes you feel like you’ll never be good enough…fuck their bum asses. Seriously. You deserve better than what they can give you and that’s not your fault.

It is your responsibility to protect yourself where you can by being proactive.

Disconnecting with a toxic family completely might not be an option for you. Not depending on your family for survival is a privilege. And if that’s not an option for you, consider compartmentalizing your life in a way that protects what makes you happy. Build your own family made up of supportive friends who love and respect you.

If you can step back from toxic family members, do so! Set boundaries that minimize the risk that you’ll be put down or hurt by having only the types of communication you feel safe with. Even if that includes not talking to certain family members at all. Prioritize your wellbeing, because you deserve it.