Living with a toxic family member is often not a choice you can make because you can’t choose the family you’re born into. But as you grow older and more aware of the impact their toxicity has on you, you realize that you can no longer be around them if you want to live an emotionally healthy life. It is not an easy decision to make, cutting out someone so close to you, and it takes a lot of time and internal conflict before you finalize your decision.
Once you come to terms with the fact that you need a clean break from all the manipulative behavior, the deceit, the backstabbing, the slander, the infidelity, and the gaslighting, you’re willing to let go of your toxic family member if it means that you can find happiness for yourself. Here’s what to expect when you cut a toxic loved one out of your life.
1. You might regret your decision
Even though cutting off your toxic family member was the best decision you could make for yourself, you will still be plagued with doubt over whether that was indeed the best thing to do or whether you could have somehow made things work out. You may at times feel guilty for your decision, but it’s important to remember why you made the decision and all the experiences with them that led you to this point. You took a stand for yourself because you realized you deserved to be treated with kindness and respect, and that’s something to be proud about.
2. They may find ways to retaliate
It’s never pleasant for anyone to be cut out of a family member’s life, so expect a response from them once they discover that you’ve decided to stop talking to them. Your family member may have some scathing words for you, and they may even deliver them to you through another loved one. They may start nasty rumors about you just to spite you, or they may do something drastic like cut you out of their will. No matter what happens, silence is the best defense. Make sure you talk to your loved ones and close friends if their behavior starts to upset you.
3. You may be tempted to reconnect with them
Since you may feel guilty about stopping all contact with your family member, you may feel sorry for them and try to reach out to them. You may attempt to reconcile and maintain a relationship with them, merely because they’re family. However, you need to remember that for you to truly break away from their influence and heal from the wounds they inflicted on you, you need some time away from them to truly heal.
4. Things can get weird at family events
While you may have decided to cut your toxic family member out of your life, other family members may still keep in touch with them, and this can often lead to awkward situations when you bump into each other at family events. You may try to avoid them, but there are times when you inevitably meet them, and it’s then that you need to make sure you keep contact to a minimum. You don’t have to talk to them beyond a greeting if you’re not comfortable with it, so make sure you do whatever is best for you.
5. They may try to use family members against you
A manipulative person may attempt to get through to you by using other people in your family. They may either convince other family members to talk to you and convince you to reestablish ties with them, or they may even make themselves out to be the victim and turn the family against you, and you won’t be there to explain yourself. Make sure that your family knows about your decision and the reasons why you decided to cut the toxic person out of your life, so you won’t have to face angry questions from them.
6. Your family may try to force you to reconcile
No family wants animosity between its members, so if your family members take offense at your decision, they may attempt to get you to reconcile with the toxic person you cut ties with. They may argue that “blood is thicker than water,” or they may try to make you feel guilty about your decision. They may even try to trick you into meeting the family member you cut out, and this can be frustrating to deal with. Remember to stand your ground and assert that your mental health takes precedence over any illusion of “normalcy” they’re trying to maintain.
7. You’ll finally feel free
Perhaps the most important thing for you out of this whole experience is being freed from your family member’s toxic influence. You will no longer have to shoulder the burden of having to constantly deal with their lies and toxic behavior, and you will feel liberated and much happier. As you heal from the wounds they inflicted on you, you will start feeling more confident about yourself, and you will grow in your self-respect and self-worth. Make sure you keep your loved ones updated about how you’re doing and reach out to them if your feelings overwhelm you so that you have a support system to help you as you heal.