This is a guest post submitted by Chloe Smith, a cycling enthusiast, writer and book worm.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, said Leo Tolstoy, and he was right. It seems that today there have been established certain requirements for family happiness – emotional and sexual fulfillment, parenting, financial stability, religion, etc.
But the thing which is neglected the most is the fact that families consist of individuals, so there are many ways for a family to be an unhappy one outside these requirements. You think you know your family members better than anyone else in the world, but every personality evolves and changes. Families maybe are the pillars of society, but they’re not impenetrable bubbles. Each member is influenced by the world around him in a different way (according to a chosen path) and over the years some closest to you can become almost unrecognizable.
Of course, these changes don’t need to be big. People become estranged because they lose the will to adapt. Even the smallest thing like your partner snoring can produce a strong toxicity in your family life. He knows how hard for you is to fall asleep in the same bed, he knows the damage he’s doing to the sexual appeal, but he’s unwilling to try to get rid of snoring. We don’t mean to say this is the end of the world, but to point out the variety of ways in which your family relations can become toxic. It’s hard to deal with a person being careless and cold if you grew up or spent a great part of life together, sharing everything from laugh to tears. You feel shut out and rejected, unable to find a reason, and eventually start blaming yourself. How did this happen? Why haven’t you noticed it earlier? Is there something you can do or is it too late? There is no singular answer to these questions, but there are ways to get to your own.
Look on the Inside
In order to find the right answer, you must be fully aware of the question. As we already pointed out in the snoring example, there are a lot of signs of a toxic family member. Every person changes gradually and in most cases, the reason can’t be seen on the surface.
The best way to find the cause of this toxicity is to observe your close ones and determine their patterns of behavior and then ask yourself how they affect you. You need to become aware of the effect of their behavior on yourself in order to pinpoint the toxic one.
Pay close attention to the changes in your mood, energy levels, a piece of mind, body language, and self-esteem. Through the effect of this toxic behavior, you’ll discover the source of toxicity itself which will help you to understand your feelings and give you the strength to deal with the situation at hand.
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Know How Deep to Dig
The fact there are a lot of people on an ‛unending therapy’ shows that not all things can have a clear answer. Digging too deep for a cause of a certain family member’s behavior can sometimes do an additional damage.
Due to my line of work I’ve spent several years traveling, away from home. During that period my younger brother was in high school, which is one of the most personality-forming periods in life. Naturally, when I came back he was a different person, showing the characteristics of a very unpleasant behavior. The in-depth questioning I performed on him trying to find the cause of this behavior only made the hostility between two of us even greater. The reason is simple – this change didn’t have to do anything with what I’ve done, it was simply the way he responded to his own life experience. You need to accept that you may never find the true cause.
Know Your Brakes and How to Push Them
Although you need to accept that every person changes during their life path, that doesn’t mean you should look at the toxicity as something that simply exists and something you should be getting used to. Just because you didn’t do something to influence that behavior doesn’t mean being inconsiderate, negative, or hurtful is normal. When it comes to our loved ones we want to avoid conflict, forget, and forgive. But that can make us bottle things up inside us and allow the toxicity to spread even further. We need to communicate, but there are also situations where the only solution is to cut ties.
Love is forever, but if forced it can turn into a poison. Keeping a relationship with someone who thinks it’s a matter of past can be very emotionally exhausting. There are a lot of times when people don’t have enough determination to end things, especially when it comes to marriage where that act includes going through legal and bureaucratic hell. That’s why it’s important to have trusted and experienced divorce lawyers who’ll make it easier for you to go through this already enough difficult transition.
But we all know that not even a legal end of a relationship means you’ll never see that person again. There will certainly still be some encounters at family gatherings (especially if you have kids) so you must decide how much space are you willing to give them in your life from now on.
Although it is possible that you’ll have to cut off things completely, you should be aware that true bonds never die. Brothers and sisters will always be brothers and sisters, parents will always remain parents, and your ex-partner will always be a person you’ve shared some of the happiest moments of your life with. Love changes, but it never dies.
About the Author
Chloe Smith is a cycling enthusiast and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success. When she’s not working, she’s probably somewhere cuddled up with a good book, and a cup of lemongrass tea (or more honestly binge-watching the newest Netflix hit show).