Surviving a Toxic Family

There’s so much more to life than a toxic family.

Source: Thoa Ngo on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

Surviving a toxic family is only half the battle. Once someone has been realized from their family’s hold on them, their whole life is turned upside down.

Toxic families require a lot of time, with arguments, dismissals, and feuds; it feels never-ending. In a toxic family, you have to be involved; in fact, you are involved one way or another. The specific roles of toxic families and households explain how the family functions.

Sometimes the only way to escape a toxic family is to move out at 18 or cut them off from your life right now. Regardless of what you choose to do with your toxic family, in the meantime, you need to survive.

I have not and will not ever talk to my family again when writing this article. I only have a few people in my family worth keeping in my life. I cut the rest off.

Nobody is worth my happiness and safety.

Effects of a toxic family

The effects of a toxic family can be devastating.

I incurred damaging effects on my social life as I was growing up. When I was in my teen years, I took on adult responsibilities because the adults in my life had caused such turmoil. The adults in the family were wrapped up in their own world that they couldn’t see beyond themselves.

So when I became an adult, I had no friends–not one. I have never felt so alone before. But like most 18 years, I dove in headfirst to try and make up for whatever I missed. And I found some great people and not-so-nice people along the way.

I learned what I wanted in life because of how my toxic family treated me.

I wanted to avoid the experience that I had with my toxic family. If I pretended that it didn’t happen — if the lies my narcissist told me were uncovered, maybe things would have been different.

How a toxic family impacts development

As mentioned before, I had stunted socialization. I was so isolated from my friends because of my family I knew that wasn’t the norm.

A toxic family is broken down into many parts. Each family member serves a purpose — whether they know it or not. It can be hard to understand that, but it is the truth.

But now, I have a new sense of hope. I survived difficult times in my childhood–I’m stronger than I will ever know.

It’s hard to say that there are specific rules and tools that you can use to help you survive a toxic family. Every situation and family are unique and different. With each family posing their own issues and risks. Sometimes leaving isn’t an option.

So I want to give general advice as a survivor of toxic families.

Look out for yourself

You are the most important person in your world. It may not feel like you have anyone supporting you — but you can fill that void. It’s a challenge but start by meeting your needs. Making yourself happy and knowing how to get yourself to an actual calm state.

Everyone deserves to feel happy and relaxed. A toxic family can create a considerable roadblock.

Get time away from them

Try to get yourself out for a walk or some private time in your room. Again, everyone’s circumstances are different, so this may not be feasible. But you should try to limit contact when you can.

Know that this is not forever

The present moment that you are in will not last forever. I wished someone had told me this. I wanted to know that my life would not be stuck in this family. I truly believed that I would never be free.

Learn lessons from your family’s behavior

If leaving isn’t an option, and they have to be in your life, just observe. Learn the patterns of your family members and understand how this situation should be different. What are those lessons from the family time that you have learned?

I saw the narcissist shining clear in my family by observing my family. And how the family surrounded them to help them get away with rude behavior.

I am not my toxic family; I am the seed that sprouts from the rubble.

No matter what, I am strong and capable. My toxic family may have given me a rough start, but I can choose where my life goes from here.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak