Toxic Relationships

Sometimes the only thing to do for sanity and to heal is to walk away from a relationship, until you can gather your feelings about whether it can continue.

It is easier with friends or acquaintances, but very difficult with family. Either your own family or your spouse’s family. It is typically met with judgement.  But that is your parent, you cannot walk away!

As I have gotten older, I understand a little better how some families become so dysfunctional. And to me it usually centers around control. Watching some parents manage their relationships with their children as they get older is very interesting. Some parents have serious issues with allowing their offspring to develop minds, wishes, and desires of their own. 

It occurs to me that it may even begin with well intentions, until it is not. Until it is a fear of a lack of control. 

Having been a parent myself, I understand that there are some real difficulties in learning to back off and let your child experience things for themselves. But it is crucial. I recall especially in the teenage years, having to bite my tongue to not offer my take on the choices that were being made, and allowing them to experience the results of their own choices. This is critical to their learning and development. Otherwise, you are crippling their ability to function on their own. 

“Families living in dysfunction seldom have healthy boundaries. Dysfunctional families have trouble knowing where they stop and others begin. – Author: David W. Earle

But not all Controlling parents are well intentioned, and just struggling with their own role changes. Some parents have deep seated issues with control. You have to understand in these cases, that there is little you can do to help them with this. 

There are two different types of controlling behavior. 

One includes physical force, yelling, invasion of privacy and intimidation and threats. The other is passive aggressive manipulation, guilt-tripping, use of shame and playing the victim. 

If the child is forced to comply or manipulated into compliance, and they fail, they are punished for not obeying. 

There are of course, environments where parents do not see their children as equal human beings. They believe that they must be subordinate, even into adulthood. This dynamic inevitably manifests itself into a lack of empathy, respect, warmth or caring for the child. 

These parents may seem themselves as ideal parents, as they are meeting their child’s physical needs. Yet they are emotionally unavailable, overbearing and selfish. This inevitably damages the child’s sense of self-worth and impacts their individual identity. 

Many controlling parents have strong narcissistic tendencies, they believe that it is the child’s purpose and responsibility to meet the parent’s needs, not vice versa. The child is viewed as property and as an object to serve their needs. As a result, sometimes the child is forced to fit the role of parent, and the parent take on the role of child. The child is expected to take care of their parent’s emotional, economic and physical needs and wants. If the child does not want to, they are manipulated into compliance. 

Since controlling parents don’t see their child as separate, they raise them to be dependent. They believe and operate as though they know what is best for the child, even into adulthood. 

It creates dependency and stunts the child’s development because they never learn adequate Boundaries  , self-responsibility or a strong sense of their own identity. 

When we are children, we don’t have a choice as to the environments that we grow up in. As Adults, we have all the choice. We have the right to create a healthy and happy life for ourselves. 

If this person cannot respect you, if you cannot trust what they say and do, if you are being manipulated, or if you don’t have a voice around them you need to remove yourself from this toxic relationship. There will undoubtedly come a time when you are pushed to say “Enough is Enough”. 

As hard as it may be, if we have tried to create Boundaries and they are not being respected, we may have to make the choice to walk away either temporarily or permanently in order to show them how serious we are about creating our own life. 

“You are responsible for your life, you can’t keep blaming somebody else for your dysfunction. Life really is about moving on.” Oprah Winfrey

It’s not easy, but necessary for us to take responsibility for our own life. We don’t have to live in a Storm of someone else’s making. We can create our own Sunshine!

Do you agree? Have other insights?

I wish you the life of your Making! 

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