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Letting go of toxic family members

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi, I am really struggling with a decision I made about eight months ago to cease contact with my sister. She has been cruel and dismissive of me for decades but I have always overlooked her bad behaviour in order to keep the peace within the family. Recently I decided I had had enough and let her know that I could not take anymore. She turned it around to make out that I had the problem as usual. I don’t regret my decision to walk away but at times it is so painful and I cry for hours. Friends tell me it will get easier with time but sometimes it feels that the pain will never go away. I have tried so many times to forgive her but it started to affect my mental health and I had to cease contact. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Does anyone have a similar experience and does it get easier. Thanks

6 Replies 6

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion
Hi, welcome

Yes, I've had 2 toxic members I've broken all contact with, my mother now 89yo and second of two daughters now 27yo. I'm 65.

I held a lot of guilt over both decisions for a few years but as time progressed I regurgitated the toxic events that like you, went on for decades with my mother and 14 years with my daughter. This helped. In addition my sister also 10 years ago removed our mother from her life the same time I did. It has helped by talking to her about mother.

You said you don't regret your decision which means you know where you stand and is comfortable with that decision...good, then your reaction ongoing is purely grief.

Grief has no acceleration pedal. Your friends are spot on there, time is the healer. However you can sooth your sadness by-

- allocating a period of time to grieve e.g. when your loss is felt, say 20 minutes and expect to be upset

- avoid the above by distracting yourself, hobby, sport, movie etc

- ring a friend for comfort

- write it down. E.g. your feelings. In my case I do poetry.

I hope that helps.

Also Google this

Beyondblue topic distraction and variety

Beyondblue topic emotional blackmail likely extreme BPD

That last one I added to show you of the complexities of toxicity


Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Peacock,

I broke all ties with my eldest brother and parents now for over 40 years....I could never forgive my brothers actions towards me...a couple of years ago..he contacted me to apologise about the things that he said, done and the way he treated me...I tried hard but couldn’t forgive him.. his only reason to seek my forgiveness was that he told me he had a terminal illness....turned out he lied about that....Even though I have not forgiven him....I have forgiven myself for letting him treat me that way...so in a way I feel some sort of peace within myself about him...

My parents are another story..and I’ve kind of regretted that decision and tried to re connect with my mum after my father passed away....We really only stated to connect..when my mum passed away a few months later....I feel still bad about that..I wish things were different between my parents and myself...I wish we took the time to sort things out even though they hurt me badly as I was growing up....

I’m wondering if you and your sister have sat down together and be open and honest about how she’s making you feel..If Nothing eventuates from your talks, then to protect your mental health and you...then you really need to break contact and care for yourself.

Many people..including myself have ceased contact with their siblings...because of cruelty and mistreatment..and have managed this very well...If your sister got really sick and needed you...Would you drop everything and go to her and try to help her..if the answer is yes, then you still love and care for your sister...Maybe not ceasing all contact, but putting some boundaries up, to speak only what’s needed to be said...and if she starts to be dismissive or cruel...end the conversation by telling her how she’s making you feel..

Many people, have totally disconnected with family members...to protect their mh.....and it has worked for them...it has worked for me with my brother...but I have regrets about my parents...

I’m wondering if ceasing all contact can be done if their is still a sisterly bond, love and care for each other.....which it sounds like you still have that bond because of your tears for her......just something to think about....

So really sorry if I’ve confused you anymore then you was....Just don’t want too see you do something that you might regret in years to come...Of course the decision is yours....It’s an incredibly hard decision...I’m sorry your going through this..

My kindest thoughts.


Community Member

Hey peacock.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. In my opinion, I think you're doing the right thing by cutting them out of your life. It sounds like it's just upsetting you and they're being quite toxic in your life and you don't need that.

I have cut out many "friends" (and they cut me out, sigh) and "family" because of how toxic they were.

I have an Aunty who doesn't give a crap about me but cares about her nephew who also has mental illnesses, although she calls him a narcissist.

I try so hard to be good enough for her but nothing I seem to do seems to be and nothing is right for her. It's like I have to compete and I'm not worthy of her love, time, and so forth.

I cut this person out of my life. It still hurts because I keep asking what have I done wrong, why aren't I good enough? but at the same time it can help.

Best of luck.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member
Hi mb20lover, thanks for your reply to my post. I think you are right that I just have to grieve over this situation. Some days are easier than others but on bad days I doubt my own sanity and wonder if I’m the one with the problem. Today was particularly tough and I find myself crying a lot when I think back on her treatment of me. I just hope it will get easier with time. Thanks for caring. Xx

That's ok

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

hey there 🙂

from my experience it absolutely does get easier

u cut them off for a reason and u are allowed to choose to do that. it's okay. Believe in ur choices - you are entitled to make them