Families are intricate and complicated relationships in our lives. No family is without their share of flaws, arguments and disagreements. Sometimes it can be very difficult to get along with family members who are a constant stream of stress and upset.
I want to discuss the pros and cons of breaking contact with a family member who has caused a lot of issues in your life. 3 years ago I broke contact with several members of my family who were a constant source of arguments, stress and anguish.
My family has always been a complex situation and when my Father died the whole dynamics of the family changed, in my eyes for the worse.
I tried to be there to support my Mother and Brother, but it became evident that I was in fact sacrificing my own families happiness and stability as well as my own sanity in the process.
There was much point scoring, deceit, gossiping, and pot stirring going on at that time with my family and there was always drama.....always. It was never done in fact. Every week there was something else. My Mother was a huge controlling personality and the older she got the more controlling she got. I was expected to do as she said and be there when she said, otherwise 'What will the rest of the family think?' was always her favourite guilt trip line to make sure I complied with her decisions.
I Felt like I had to put up with it out of a sense of duty. I felt obligated to comply, feeling like I owed her for raising me, even though my childhood had been filled with mental and physical abuse.
I felt like I had to keep trying to keep the family together and bought into her theory of "What would the rest of the family think?" Feeling ashamed and guilty that I should even consider breaking off contact! After all families are supposed to stick together no matter what right?
Wrong! The mental abuse did not end when I left home. It didn't end when I married and started my own family. It continued in the form of gas lighting and devious ways causing so many arguments with my husband. I really believed I had no choice. I had been told over and over that families stick together no matter what so I thought I had to put up with it.
I was expected to put my children second to her. I was expected to play happy families for the world to see. I got to my breaking point with the stress. Then I discovered that my mother had told some other family members that I was depressed! I had never been diagnosed with depression.
She was covering her own ass in case I tried to extract myself from the family, so that she had already planted the seed that it was something wrong with me. People had no idea what I had endured. People had no idea what she was like behind closed doors. She was like a Jekyll and Hyde personality.
She portrayed herself as a charitable, church going upstanding example of the community who would do anything for her family.
Eventually my husband had also had enough and he received a job transfer offer 5000 miles away from Scotland in Houston, Texas.
Long story short we decided that we had been given an opportunity to cut ties and break off all contact. We spoke about it for a while and I decided that I would lay it all out for her in an email and ask that she and my brother leave us alone.
The email was met with strong resistance from her. She tried writing back, she tried to call. She called my husband at work several times. She tried many, many ways to give reasons we HAD to stay in touch. She said she wanted our address to send the kids birthday and Christmas presents, we stayed strong.
We stayed united. My husband and I were determined to see this through this time. We had already tried several times previously and she always managed to find that chink in our resolve and worm her way back in and within weeks the drama would start again.
It was by no means easy. I had many doubts along the way. I felt like I was being unreasonable and felt terrible that we could not keep our family together but I knew it had to be done. She was never going to change. She was always going to cause stress in our lives.
She tried other ways to pressurize us into staying in contact. She gave some family members a sob story, so that they would contact us by facebook and tell us how 'upset' she was at what WE were doing. I know can you believe it?? Some believed it. I got told that she was so worried about me during the recent Hurricane Harvey. Judged for what I had done but you know what it was WORTH it!
I did miss her in someways. It felt like I had been orphaned in a way. It felt like I had lost the whole family because I knew she would be telling the extended family all sorts of lies but I knew that we had to stand strong for the sake of our kids.
Now that we are 3 years on and have I would say it was one of the BEST decisions I have ever made. One of the best things we have ever done for our family. In the times I wavered my husband strong and encouraged me when it got tough.
I was honest with my children why their grandmother and uncle had to be removed from their lives. They were appalled when I revealed the real reasons behind why we couldn't be in touch with my immediate family. They supported me too.
My hope is that this can give some people in the same situation the courage to do the same if they have been thinking about it. I wanted to show that it is possible but it is not easy.
If you are considering doing something similar whether it be a friend or family member there are some things to consider:
The person or people will resist. They will try many different tricks and strategies to get you to do what they want you to do. You will need to be strong and determined. Backing down is not an option if you want to see it through.
Lies will be told as a leverage to try and shame you. They will try to shame you into giving in. You can't enter into this. If you enter into this then it will erode at your soul. You have to accept that lies will be told about you and you will not have the chance to defend yourself. You have to accept that as part of the deal. You have to believe that you do NOT need to defend your decision or yourself. The truth always comes out in the end remember that. It may take weeks, years even decades but it always comes out.
You have to be prepared to stop talking and thinking about this person, and all the wrong they have done you. Every time you talk or think about this person you are re-establishing the connection. I believe that we are all connected. For example this works very much like the way you are thinking about someone and then they call you. Every time you give that person energy you are keeping the energetic connection there.
You have to be prepared to lose other people from your life. If there are people close to the person you are breaking contact with you have to accept that they will probably not be aware of the real reasons behind your decision. Chances are they can't see beyond the facade.
You have to be aware you will be judged by people who have no right to make a judgment and that there is no point in trying to tell them your side. Take the higher ground and don't talk about it to others. You cannot put people in the middle and expect them to choose a side. People hate conflict and will see you as the problem if you try and push them to take a side.
If you commit to doing this then you have to see it through. If you don't see it through then should another time come when you need to do it, the person will know that you didn't see it through last time and that means the chances are you won't be able to see it through this time. Every failed attempt at no contact gives the person less reason to take you seriously when you say 'no contact.'
I would say 3 years on it was one of the best decisions we ever made for our family. We have no stress in our lives and as a family unit we are closer and stronger. I am so much happier and confident now. It made me feel empowered and strong managing to get through it and managing to stay the course. I have written a book and started a business since moving on.
I certainly don't regret what I have done. My kids now have the chance to have a normal childhood without ever experiencing their mother being mentally abused or the risk that the same might happen to them at the hands of their Grandmother. For me it was the right choice.
Only you can decide if ultimately it's what you need to do. Only you can decide what's best for you.