Why Being Related Doesn?t Excuse Toxic Behaviors.
Ben White: Photo Courtesy of Unsplash.com
When did the homophobic Uncle at the Holiday dinner become a cliche?? I mean, it?s something I realize is more than real ? but why do so many people experience this? Culture? Society? Religion? Politics? None of that matters, not really, not when you can block him on Social Media and avoid Thanksgiving Dinner for the rest of eternity. And of course, I?m sure your mom or grandmother will call and complain that you don?t love them anymore? Yeah, but you know what? You don?t have to love these people just because you?re related through blood. You don?t have to hold back your criticisms, you don?t have to bite your tongue when Grandpa makes a racist comment about your Jewish husband. You don?t have to love these people, if they don?t love you and give you the same courtesy and respect.
Love is something you don?t put to condition. And you shouldn?t put conditions on love.
Toxic people hold you back, and you are less productive, and less successful when you?re being held under deep waters by the anchors of self-loathing, emotional abuse, and someone else?s conditions for you.
Still don?t believe me? Here are 10 reasons you do not have to love your family.
Reason One: Toxic People Do Not Deserve You.
That?s the truth and I promise you it is. Not one single toxic individual in this world deserves you. We don?t live in the times where men could sell their daughters into marriages for political or money reasons anymore, and thank god for that!
You don?t have to listen to Grandma tell you, ?you?re too skinny?, when you finally lost all that weight and are getting to a healthy place of acceptance, or when she goes off with, ?You?re too fat? when you maybe gain a pound or two.
No one gets to tell you, ?Don?t be an archeologist, you?ll just be playing in the dirt and never make any money!? and no one gets to tell you your worth but you.
Toxic people will never deserve you and?
Reason Two: Blood Doesn?t Equal Love.
I haven?t spoken to my father in nearly five years. There are lots of reasons why we don?t communicate, none of which are my hang ups. He could call right now, I?d pick up, so long as he responds to my hello with: ?Sorry I?ve spent the last few years being a jerk.? Or some variance of that.
You don?t love people if you can?t accept them. If they do not accept you for your life, your choices (even the stupid ones, they can be disappointed and still support you, or be there for you when you get your head out of the black hole behind you), and what makes you happy ? then they don?t love you. They love an idea of you that they created.
Too often, parents, siblings, and so on, create this image of who they believe you to be. This is normal. Even your friends don?t think of you in the same way you think of yourself. However, the problem here is that these family members hold you to their expectations of you, and lord knows, you probably can?t live up to the image.
Reason Three: You Didn?t Choose To Be Born (Especially, Not Into Expectations.)
I?m not saying don?t be happy you?re alive ? rejoice by all means. Just don?t let people guilt you into their desires, wants, and expectations of you just because they birthed you, parented you, or were there for some part of your life and happen to share a genetic sequence with you.
You know the saying, ?Blood is thicker than water?? Well, people try and use it all the time as a way to say, ?don?t betray family?. And while I don?t suggest you betray family, that?s actually not the correct phrase (and some of you have been burning to correct me, feel free to sigh with relief now).
The real phrase is, ?The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.? That means, those you make bonds with are more important, and will never leave you, but family tend to bail out when you don?t fit their expectation of you. Pretty rough, pretty true.
We get to make our own ?families?. People who accept us for how we are, and support us even when we?re doing something stupid. But even more so, love us enough to say, ?Hey, that?s stupid.?
Number Four: No One Reserves The Right To Abuse You.
A lot of people confuse affection and abuse. This happens more often than not, because that person (maybe you reading this now) was abused in one way or another by family. Much like an abused dog who never gets attention unless it?s negative will act out and be bad just for that attention.
Neglect is a form of abuse ? and it?s shocking how many people don?t realize the damage it does. Kids and animals can?t just be on their own. Many animals, and we are animals, require affection, attention, and hate the feeling of loneliness.
No one, regardless of their ?claim? to you as a parent, or whatever, reserves the right to do this garbage to you. No one. And this is something I wish we could express to children (before we become damaged adults) because I am aware of how dangerous some situations can get.
That being said, this brings me to my next point:
Reason Five: Emotional Manipulation Is Still Abuse.
In case you aren?t certain what emotional manipulation is:
?Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the behavior or perception of others through abusive, deceptive, or underhanded tactics.? ? wikipedia (there are plenty more sources as well)
Guilt trips.Ultimatums.?the list goes on and on?
Mind you, this is something that happens in some romantic and platonic relationships with non-relatives, as well, but specifically, let?s stick to my point.
It is still abuse when people try to use shady tactics to get you to be or act the way they want you to.
Reason Six: They Don?t Always Have Your Best Interest At Heart.
Reason Seven: Some Parents Want To Live Vicariously Through You.
I?m going to just go ahead and put these two together. There are a number of parents and family out there who ?had kids and ruined their futures? and now want to see you, their child, live out the life they had planned for themselves, but they tell themselves they just ?have your best interests at heart?.
People are incredibly selfish. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
Unfortunately, some people are worse than others. You have to analyze what they?re saying and if it goes against what you want or need. If someone says, ?I?ll pay for your college tuition but only if you get a degree in what I want you to.? That?s bribery, manipulation, and just plain disgusting. You do not need that kind of selfish behavior, trust me, just go into debt instead.
Also, don?t listen to family who try to dangle ?prizes? in front of you so long as you do what they want, because the moment you do ?wrong? in their eyes ? it?s gone.
You don?t have to love these people, because what they?re doing is not love nor is it affection. If you have a mother or father who believes that you are the reason they never fulfilled their lifelong dreams ? that is not on you. That is not your baggage to carry. So, let it all go? they are not worth your misery.
Reason Eight: They Might Be Holding You Back.
Know what you want to do with your life? Does someone keep telling you that won?t make you any money? That?s not reliable. That?s not a good career. You should listen to your old mother, listen to her, she just wants you happy!
You got that monster crying in your ear? Tell them just where they can go. Hint, starts with ?H?.
Success and productivity are strongly based around our personal self-discipline and self-drive. If you are not personally driven, you will struggle to find ?motivation?. If you feel like garbage because people keep telling you how wrong it is to feel the way you do, you?re going to lack self-drive, and you are going to be less successful, and less productive.
You may even say that people hold you back because, misery loves company. Just because they?re scared to do anything with their lives, that isn?t your problem. Just because they don?t believe in your ability to do something great ? not your problem.
A lot of your family is going to pass this off as ?just looking out for you? or ?I don?t want you to be sad and poor forever?, and so on, so forth. They think this way, even have themselves convinced, but it is going to sound to you more like: ?You?re really not a good artist, give up painting and become a doctor.? Or, ?No one reads books anymore, writing is a hard business, barely anyone ever gets big. Give it up and become a nurse!?
That list goes on forever too. It impacts the arts a lot, and the reverse may even be true. Maybe you?re born with a natural gift to play the piano, but all you really want to do is open your own cafe?. I?d bet money your family would anger at you ?wasting your God-Given Talent?.
Humans are pack animals. Trust me. A family that isn?t freely open, is likely going to hold you back.
Also, not everyone who does this ?doesn?t love you?, but it does mean they think you are ?lesser? in some way, it is their personal, garbage bias ? unfortunately, you?re the one dealing with it in the end.
Reason Nine: Sometimes You Have To Find Your Own Path.
People can be toxic. And no matter your blood relation or not, not every personality should be around one another. This is sometimes called being the, ?black sheep? of the family. (Give me a clap if you?re the black sheep!)
If your family cannot handle your political differences. Your sexuality. Your happiness (whatever it may be). Then, you have to find your own path.
Perhaps old Pa, wanted you to take over the family business, but you would rather do something else. Pa may get angry ? he may feel disappointed. But life goes on, and he can get over it. Pave your own way, because?
Reason Ten: It?s Your Life, And Relation Doesn?t Change That.
In the very end of it all, it doesn?t matter what they want. This is your body. Your life. And these choices only impact YOU and YOUR life. Your parents may think it impacts them, but it in no way changes their life. If you?re gay, and you come out, get married to someone you love, and your family thinks it will ?change the way people see them?. Tough. That isn?t on you. That is their bias, their problem, and you?re already dealing with enough on your own! (You know, all that sneaky homophobia from your family is worse than what the neighbors think!)
You are more than welcome to love your family regardless, but you are not obligated to keep toxic people in your life. You don?t have to call everyday, and you don?t deserve to be treated like trash, just because they want you to be a certain way.
You have to learn to be happy. They aren?t the ones living your life or dealing with the misery you will have to endure if you follow someone else?s path laid out for you. So, keep that in mind. You may love your crazy, homophobic uncle, but that doesn?t mean he?s good for you (especially if you?re gay!). You don?t have to return love to people who don?t give you love. You don?t have to accept toxic people in your life because, ?well, they?re family?. It doesn?t work that way.
Cut toxic people from your world, before they seep in and destroy it.
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Johannus M. Steger is a Dallas, Texas blogger, vlogger, student, and fiction writer. He has a love for all things Fantasy and coffee, and leads a successful group of like-minded individuals in goal-and-task setting every Friday. He is published through The Huffington Post and a horror anthology, ?Infinite Darkness?.
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