Random Musings, Well being

Ending Toxic Relationships – Even if it is your own parents and siblings

8/4/2022

The purpose of this blog, started over 7 years ago, was to write about my thoughts, the major depressive disorder and anxiety diagnosis, the therapy progress, and facing the trauma that I had endured during my life.

As time has moved on, I had to bring out into the open and discuss difficult, painful, experiences in my life that affected who I was as a person.

It was after one of the incidents within my family history, in 2014, that drove me to the decision to completely cut ties with them. Then in 2015, my niece had a terrible life changing accident, which brought me back in, sort of.

The next 2 years was full of changes for me and my own little family. A divorce and then the death of my ex-husband, forced me to become a single mom to four growing kids. It was tough, I went through a major emotional and spiraling downward into darkness. I eventually came back out of it starting in 2017.

Then gradually over the last 4 years my parents and siblings were slowly coming back into our life again. We started attending more family gatherings when we could.

It was after the second relative’s funeral, that I attended over the period of the last two months, something was amiss.

To give a background as to what happened and what I decided about my relationship with them, the life I had growing up was full of memories of my mother and her husband’s toxic relationship with one another. He was verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive, not only to her but to me as well. I remembered the unexplained bruises, a split lip, and the black eyes hidden behind her tinted glasses. My two half-sisters never had to deal with his behavior directly. He never harmed them.

If there was ever a full-blown argument and fight between them, then I would get the brunt of it. That is how I lived from the age of ten to sixteen years old. I wrote before how I fought back, and the abuse turned into more verbal and emotional abuse after that, until I was eighteen and left home.

When I was twelve, the sexual abuse and assault started, I told my mother. She was planning to leave him. He changed her mind and blamed me. She believed him and protected him after that. I can never truly forgive her for that act of betrayal. She was supposed to protect me. She was my mother. She was selfish and failed. The relationship with them afterwards was harsh. I never trusted them. Even after I had my own kids and was married, I would not let my daughters spend the night with them.

It is now the year 2022. The world is still living through a pandemic, the ideas, and thoughts about us as human beings is changing. The world is still in turmoil. The past 6 months, I started slowly noticing what was really going on between them and myself but was not sure.

That brings us to this recent relative’s funeral. It was my uncle, her brother. He was the last son in the family and now there are only three daughters left, out of the ten children my grandparents had.

We were still in grief and getting over the death of my aunt, her sister, who died the month before my uncle passed away.

It was during this time of grief and sorrow, when I overlooked things, they said or did. I was trying to be understanding of what my mother was going through.

Then on the day of my uncle’s funeral, during the meal after services, is when the realization that they had slowly been reverting to past behaviors with me was in full view.

I was standing there, talking to relatives I had not seen in quite a while, catching up with them and their families. In our traditions and culture, there are certain rituals and processes completed on the burial day. We were all standing around waiting for the meal to be prepared. The relatives started going into the building where the meal was going to be, to include my mother and her husband.

Let me back up a little further into the beginning of that day. My mother’s husband was not going to the funeral according to her and she wanted me to ride with her to the services. That did not happen. When I showed up that morning at the designated time, she was out on her morning walk, and he was puttering about in their front yard. I went into their house and was drinking coffee.

When she returned, the previous plans had changed. Her husband informed me he was going as well. I thought that would be fine but then he started arguing with her about an umbrella while she was changing her clothes.

It was pouring rain that morning. He got her so frazzled and distracted looking for a specific green umbrella, the leave time was getting later and later. I went and sat in their car to wait because it was starting to make my anxiety and stress level rise. That is when I saw three umbrellas already in the back seat.

I believe he purposely did that, starting an argument, so he could hold it over her and control her. I did not want any part of his toxic behavior, so I gathered my things, and left. I called and left her a voicemail that I was driving myself and would meet them there.

I went home, got the debit card to put gas in the car, and my umbrella. I went on and drove myself. It was going to take an hour to drive there. The burial was at 10 a.m. on that day and it was already 9:30 a.m. when I left. We had planned to leave by 8:30 that morning.

I was less than 3 miles from the location when I got a voicemail from her wanting to know where I was. I tried to return the call to her, but it kept going to voicemail, her phone was off. I arrived just in time to be the last car in the procession to the family cemetery, the rain had delayed things.

While at the burial service, one of my cousins approached me and she was surprised I was there. According to her, my mother had already told everyone, that I had gotten mad and was not coming. I corrected that with my cousin and informed her that I just did not want to ride with them because of their arguing.

Afterward, at the meal portion of the services, I am standing and chit chatting when I hear someone say “Sue,” the name only relatives call me. I looked around and did not see anyone. I kept on talking with my Aunt Twila. Then I hear my name again, this time we both looked and did not see who said it. There were groups of people still standing outside waiting to go in.

We continued talking, then suddenly, I hear someone angrily yelling at me, “Sue!” “Get in here and sit down!”  I look towards the doorway to the building; it was my mother’s husband. He was shouting and scolding me like I was one of the grandkids running around. I could feel my face getting hot and the embarrassment was taking over, everyone turned to look at me. My Aunt Twila rolled her eyes and said, “I didn’t hear anyone say it was time?”  I looked at her and said, “I guess it’s time for me to go in.”  We both just chuckled about it.

I walked in, people were taking seats at the long tables and benches. I looked around and saw my mother and her husband at the back of the room just staring at me. I ignored them and went to the front of the room and sat by my cousins and my Aunty Mary. They were still staring at me as I sat down at the front of the room, and I could tell they were angry because I did not sit at their table.

A cousin at my table was talking to me and she too thought that I was not going to be there. I told her the same thing about them fighting before we left. She just rolled her eyes and said, “Well, you know how they can be.” 

The rest of the meal went on and then it was time for me to leave. I hugged all my relatives and told them goodbye. Not once, did either my mother or her husband talk to me the rest of the time we were there. All my relatives, saw their behavior and treatment of me. It just reinforced what I had already been telling them for years.

I thought it was ironic that during the meal, all the grandkids sat at their table with them. No other adults sat by them. It was, in my mind, an acknowledgement of the pettiness the relatives saw at the beginning of the services.

I grew up with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, they helped raised me. As far as I was concerned that was my only family.

It was on my drive home that I thought about what had been taking place over the course of the last year. I began to realize that all those times they included me in things, were nice to me, or helped me financially with a little gas money here or there (I always paid them back as soon as possible.) it was to assert control over me. Every time they were nice to me, a couple of days later, they would ask for a “favor.” This behavior is the same for my half-sisters, they treated me the same way.

This is the same pattern of behavior they used on me growing up and when I was married. They would try to make me feel guilty about anything they provided, because I “owed” them, and should have been happy they were there. During my marriage, my husband was the buffer, but in the end, he started treating me the same way.

After I got home, I talked about it with my youngest son, telling him what happened. He said their behavior at the funeral was appalling and uncalled for.

I then made the decision to cut ties with them, permanently. I sent a text to my mother and my sisters telling them I would no longer have anything to do with them and why. I left the decision about my kids’ relationship with them, to their discretion, since they are all adults.

The sadness, anxiety, and depression I have felt over the last week was not as great as before. It is because the weight of the relationship and involvement with them has finally ended. It is a stressor, lifted off my mind. I feel so much calmer knowing that I will no longer have to see or deal with them again.

In the discussions with my oldest son, I realized that the happiest moments in my life are when I was not around any of that family. They were not there to mistreat or belittle me.

Now, moving forward, I will hopefully begin to heal completely.

I will no longer have to deal with toxic people.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Have a wonderful week!

Peace, love, happiness, and good vibes, always!

Suzanne

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