Category: Family Values Written by Sofia Falcone
Upon my return from the Island, I felt lighter and happier…one would say recharged. My days there not only allowed me to reconnect and align my body but also my mind. I went there with no other expectations than to de-stress a bit, and came back with a clearer mindset. Being in nature, surrounded by people who also seek peace and tranquility of the soul, while enjoying the exhilarant options an island offers (swim, hike, surf, camping), more often than not, does wonders for the soul.
During my short but sweet trip, I got to think more about what is important to me and why. One of the biggest things on my mind lately has been family ties; specially considering there has been a lot of judgement since I started cutting off family whom only contributed abuse to my life and unnecessary drama. I want to make something clear, I am not one of those people who considers toxic or dramatic people who are depress or having a bad day; I am referring to people who more often than not, hurt you with a smile on their face and whom always want to put you down, or use the old adage “we are family” to tolerate behavior that is damaging to your mental and/or physical health. I don’t cut people off simply because they disagree with me, that would be immature from my part–it takes a lot for me to give up on someone; as such, I know the rare times I choose to sever ties, I am not one to ever look back.
It is interesting how we find it easier to sever ties with just about anyone who is not family; when it comes to this, we often tend to stress out–many times even self punish for feeling the need to walk away–old programming based on hierarchy over love and justice. I just want to share with you, the feeling of peace I got when I accepted; not based on anger; that I had every right to walk away from a family tree that was hurting me and those I love–for I do not want those I love, to ever have to sacrifice the best in them, for the worst in others. I want my daughters, to grow up making better, healthier choices–choices that no only help them expand their wings but which honor their individuality and uniqueness.
Not all families are what they should be, much less are they the image they sell us–every family is dysfunctional, this doesn’t mean they are toxic. Psychologists define a family as toxic… “when there is a power struggle, a dynamic between the members that damages meaningful relationships: there is no communication; there are no displays of affection or false ones… comments that belittle other family members or behavior that covers up hurtful or traumatic actions imposed by abusers while demanding the silence of the person who was abused”–We have always been told that family is family and that we have no choice but to endure it. However, the truth is that if a member of your family is hurting you openly or through covert actions, breaks your mental balance and even violates you physically or emotionally, you can and must walk away without any problem and without any remorse.
Just because you are family doesn’t meant that you should bottle things up to help others maintain the false illusion of a “good family”–again, experts agree the more a family seems “perfectly functional”, chances are the more secrets, trauma and dysfunctionality there is hidden. No group (specially family) should have as “price of admission” your unconditional vow to keep silent about toxic and cruel behavior.
Having the courage to confront our family is not a bad thing; rather, there are times when it becomes necessary–specially if you want to help create a healthier family tree. You have to be attentive all the time about how others treat you and how you treat others–if the relationship is not organic and depends for both sides to pretend, then perhaps distancing oneself is best.
Set clear boundaries….identify what you want, as well as what you can’t live with and express it clearly. Make sure to check with yourself and a neutral professional party, that you are being reasonable and not simply demanding. What you want is for others to meet you half way; if however those others think that it is you who needs to give in, or you who is being dramatic for simply not wanting to bury the hurt and trauma that may still be active within your family–then those people can be cut out of your life. It is not always possible to reconcile some wounds; where there is or was physical or mental abuse, it is best not to be part of it. If there is a constant desire to protect some and violate others simply based on congeniality, false diplomacy and popularity, then it is best to walk away.
We have been taught family comes first…“always and at all costs”…. whatever happens, it should be loved and respected–but love and respect are something that take place naturally, it cannot be imposed or demanded. As such, although it is always repeated to us that family comes first, we must never ever forget, that in reality there is our health, our integrity and our well-being that need to come first.
Breaking toxic family ties may not make you popular, more often than not, the ones who are offended by your desire not to continue being part of a toxic family tree, will end up making up “excuses” which set the blame on you–remember, it is all about “false reputation”–so be prepared. Do not get involved in a back and forth with them, you won’t win and it will only trigger you more and more , which they will only use to fuel their argument against you. It isn’t about winning the game– it is about winning yourself, your peace of mind and your right to be free from being attached to people and actions which only hurt you, and which on top expect your “love” and “loyalty” back.
Never close yourself up….if someone is genuinely trying and willing to work on your relationship, then meet them halfway. Listen to your essence and make decisions based on that–honor that. Some people may not understand why you keep some ties and sever others; it is not your job to go around explaining. As long as you are listening to your essence, that is what matters most and the one thing which will bring you peace of mind. Let others live, more importantly, give yourself permission to exercise your right to live in a way that fuels your spirit–it doesn’t matter if others get it or not…it is your life, not theirs. Remember blood isn’t thicker than peace of mind!
I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges and hopes, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves.
Reprinted on crystalwind.ca with written permission from Sofia Falcone.
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