It’s Okay

… that’s what I always say to myself when I feel so bad I want to give up.

When it hurts so much I literally double up from the pain.

It’s okay.

I tell myself every time I encounter injustice and people treat me bad because of who I am.

It’s okay, don’t cry.

I say to myself when people that matter to me forget I exist.

And I miss them terribly.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay to feel sad, lonely, miserable, isolated and misunderstood.

It’s okay not to sleep. It’s okay not to eat. It’s okay to suffer and it’s okay not to feel safe.

For years I tell myself it’s okay. What’s happening to me is normal. It’s okay.

Yesterday I thought:

NO

It’s not okay.

It’s not okay that I have so much pain physically.

And emotionally I’m empty.

Psychologically I’m a wreck.

It’s not okay that my family betrayed me, my ex abused me and people took advantage of my generosity.

It’s not okay that I don’t see my children much and it’s not okay that the person I care about the most is taken away from me.

NO

It’s not okay.

In fact, I feel bad and some days I want to end it all.

And today I am really convinced that it’s the right thing to do.

I have only one wish:

That I see my Sunshine once more and hold her again in my arms and kiss those soft cheeks.

Then I’m going to sleep.

Forever.

Strong Women Are Molded by the Hardships They Endure

Life, as we all know, can be painfully difficult at times. Many women just can’t seem to endure all the hardships. Some, however, are molded by the challenges and have found a way to deal with things. Strong women never let hardships define them and bring them down. They don’t get hurt by the fire – like a phoenix, they rise up from the ashes and are reborn.

Strong women learn from their mistakes and see them as challenges that will ultimately make them stronger and wiser. They are an example to follow and the inspiration we seek. The strength these women radiate is living proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

They believe in themselves and use pain as a shield. Unlike the rest of us, strong women do things differently in life. They are created by the storms they survive and have amazing traits that define them. Here are some of those traits we can’t help but admire:

They Don’t Fear Emotions

Many of us are afraid of our emotions and showing our vulnerable side. Not strong women, though – they are human after all and not afraid to show it. These women are not afraid of emotions – whenever they’re hit by hardship, they get off the ground, dust themselves, and move on.

They Believe in Themselves

Strong women know who they are and know what they want from life. Their inner voice guides them and they believe it. That’s how they know they’re on the right path.

They Seek Respect, not Attention

A strong woman is not interested in the limelight. She doesn’t want attention, but she surely seeks respect. You’ll never see these women beg for something – they are only interested in respect. They will never ask for it, of course. But don’t give them the respect they believe they deserve and they will walk away from you.

They Always Tell the Truth

No matter how hard it might be too hear, strong women will always tell the truth. Their hearts are always in the right place and honesty is a policy they live by. If the truth hurts someone’s feelings, they’re OK with it. They’d rather say it than spreading lies.

They Wear Pain As Armor

While we all live in fear of pain, strong women use it as armor. These women are survivors and will never give in to fear. They are brave warriors that stare in the face of fear and relish the challenge. Failures are stepping stones for them and that’s exactly what makes them so different than the rest of the crowd.

[Source: QuotesGate]

Infinite Jest

“If by the virtue of charity or the circumstance of desperation, you ever chance to spend a little time around a Substance-recovery halfway facility, you will acquire many exotic new facts […] That certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do. Then that most nonaddicted adult civilians have already absorbed and accepted this fact, often rather early on […] That sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused […] That purposeful sleep-deprivation can also be an abusable escape. That gambling can be an abusable escape, too, and work, shopping, and shoplifting, and sex, and abstention, and masturbation, and food, and exercise, and meditation/prayer […] That loneliness is not a function of solitude […] That if enough people in a silent room are drinking coffee it is possible to make out the sound of steam coming off the coffee. That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt […] That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness […] That the effects of too many cups of coffee are in no way pleasant or intoxicating […] That if you do something nice for somebody in secret, anonymously, without letting the person you did it for know it was you or anybody else know what it was you did or in any way or form trying to get credit for it, it’s almost its own form of intoxicating buzz.
That anonymous generosity, too, can be abused […]
That it is permissible to want […]
That there might not be angels, but there are people who might as well be angels.”

― David Foster Wallace

VFS_113aad23154e9abab1338c5e2678ad8a

Let The Sleeping Dogs Lie

Hij werd koel, afstandelijk, emotioneel onbereikbaar. Nooit een lief gebaar, nooit een vriendelijk woord, nooit een compliment.

Let’s translate it in English…

He became cool, distant, emotionally unattainable. Never a sweet gesture, never a kind word, never a compliment.

… and you got the gist of my first marriage.

Add to that violence, deception, cheating, manipulation, emotional physical and psychological abuse and the picture is complete.

Why I’m saying this?

Some of you might think that I’m not yet over it. That after all these years I have not managed to move on despite what I stated in my new year resolution. The answer is yes and no.

Yes, I have moved on but no I didn’t forget. I wonder if I ever will.

No, I’m not living in the past. Not anymore. Yes, I still suffer the consequences of that traumatic experience.

Why not let the sleeping dogs lie.

Instead of digging up old bones.

No reasons.

I just came across that passage (the one in Dutch) and it reminds me of my previous existence. Nothing more nothing less.

Honestly.

Don’t look for further reasons. It is just how my mind works.

Pick The Ax, Chop Off The Anger; Burn The Pieces And Bury The Ashes.

“I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding— certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of other so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.” ― Jane Austen

When You Don’t Realize Or Believe You Are Depressed

There is a type of depression that is called existential depression. You don’t see a purpose in your life, you feel your life lacks meaning and substance, and therefore nothing appears to excite you. In some cases, this existential depression is masked. You don’t believe or realize you are depressed. 

Hmmm… Finally, I found something that might explain why I feel what I feel.

deep reflection and attempts to make sense of four main topics: death, isolation, freedom, and meaninglessness… Why it sounds familiar? Existential depression can sometimes occur during someone moves from childhood and teenage years into early adulthood and during the mid-life crisis as someone navigates the transition and makes sense of what it means to be a so-called “middle age. It doesn’t sound good, does it?

Some believe that gifted people — gifted children, and gifted adults — are more likely to experience existential depression in their lives. Those creative, gifted, and talented people who actively search and question life’s meaning are often thought to be more prone to existential depression. The deep thinkers, the scientists, the sensitive people – the gifted individuals attuned to everything around them. Gifted children may find it especially difficult to navigate life if they have that intellectual excitability or thirst for knowledge, to explore more intellectually than others who may be around them. [source: Depression Alliance]

That might explain a lot of things…

There is also a premise that existential depression may be a part of, or a form of, a spiritual crisis. When someone questions and delves intensely into their overall belief system, or what their soul’s purpose or existence in life is actually for. Existential questions may be explored around faith or religion as a whole, or someone’s previously held beliefs about the existence of god(s), whether there is life after death, or elsewhere in the wider universe. They may question how much it actually all makes sense. [Source: Depression Alliance]

This one as well…

…people, especially gifted and creative people, do learn and grow in a positive way from what they experience through traumatic experiences and life crises.

Oh, that’s why…

Existentialism is a broad philosophy around the idea that life is what we make it. That as human beings we have the freedom and responsibility to choose and create our existence.

Signs of Existential Depression

An episode of existential depression, like other forms of depression can vary in intensity and severity. Signs or symptoms of existential depression may include:

  • An intense or obsessive interest in the bigger meaning of life and death. The interest in exploring this may override a person’s enjoyment and engagement with other day-to-day activities.
  • Extreme distress, anxiety, and sadness about the society they live in, or the overall state of the world.
  • A belief that changes in anything are both impossible and futile.
  • Increasingly becoming, and feeling, disconnected, isolated, and separate from other people.
  • Cutting ties with other people because they feel like connections with others are meaningless or shallow and they are on a completely different level.
  • Low motivation and energy levels to do anything they would normally do.
  • Questioning the purpose, point or meaning of anything, and everything, in life.
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Feelings of Meaninglessness

If someone feels like their life is completely empty of anything meaningful they are said to be in an existential vacuum, an empty place. Anyone experiencing feelings of meaningless is most likely unable to see the purpose of anything they are doing, or feel like what they are doing is worthless. For example:

  • If they have just experienced bereavement, they may question the point of living if you are going to die anyway.
  • If they are in a job they feel is going nowhere or they have no autonomy over what they do, they may become despondent and stop putting in any effort.
  • If they are experiencing difficulties in forming relationships, they may give up on trying to cultivate connections with other people.

Existential Crisis Definition

The term existential crisis usually refers to the moment when a person metaphorically hits the wall. During a full-blown existential crisis, everything may be too much and seem pointless – from getting out of bed, to basic personal hygiene, to turning on a TV or radio and hearing what is going on in the outside world. Someone in existential crisis may experience existential aloneness, that there is no one else who can relate to how they feel in their lives. An existential crisis may occur during life stages where there is a change in, or loss of self-identity, such as adolescence, or seemingly come on suddenly. [Source: Depression Alliance]

That’s it! That’s it! That’s it! Finally!

Treating Existential Depression

Talk and seek help: Seek a psychotherapist or similar type of therapy that can help with ways of exploring the search for the meaning of life in a healthy way. Many health professionals and therapists already use an existential approach as part of treatment or a method to help people in their lives. There are also therapists who specialize in existential psychotherapy. Existential therapy may help you to:

  • Focus on what is possible: It may not be possible to change everything in the world that you would like to right now. Break it down and start with baby steps to move forward into what is possible.
  • Process grief: If you have been through death or experienced some other kind of major loss of something big in your life, find ways to work through it. Grieving is progress that involves stages of working through acknowledging, accepting and moving on to a different reality.
  • Find your passion: If you have lost interest in things you used to do, explore something new. Think back to what you loved doing and creating when you were very young. It might have been something like learning to cook something new, and something you can do right now. Alternatively, follow up on something you have always had a slight curiosity about but never quite got around to learning more.
  • Accept yourself and others: If you have become disconnected or have feelings of isolation from others because you feel different, accept that people can be unique. Find things about yourself and others that you can celebrate, embrace, and learn from.
  • Think about it as a journey:  It may sound cliché, but one of the key things about existentialism is that we make our own path or journey in life. If you are overwhelmed or stuck with where you are and what to do next, accept that you may have hit a road bump before you take your next small step.

Existential Depression: Bottom Line

The bottom line with any form of depression, existential depression included, is that there is hope and a way out. This form of depression often comes from a very deep place within very sensitive and gifted individuals and existential therapists are out there to help.

[Source: Depression Alliance]

It is certainly educational and definitely worth keeping in mind. I will contemplate it for a few days and I might incorporate these rules in my habits and thoughts and see what happens.

To be continued…

An Appetite No Misery Satisfies.

It’s how I fill the time when nothing’s happening. Thinking too much, flirting with Melancholy.

Is it possible to feel sad all the time?

Someone said to me (a long time ago) that it’s okay for people to feel down once in a while but not all the time (note that this person only knows me online via my blog) as is the case with me. She said that all my articles tend to lean more on the dark side rather than on the sunny side of life. Always rain, no sunshine. Too heavy to consume and digest on a daily basis, she said.

If she means I’m pessimistic and negative, I disagree. I’m always positive to the point of I tend to see bad days as ordinary days and learned not only to dance in the rain but make the most of it.

A little bit of storm will never stop me on my way. I’m used to getting wet.

So, why my blog posts are mostly not everyone’s cup of tea?

Maybe that’s why.

I don’t find happy times worth mentioning. They are few and far between and what is happiness anyway? If you don’t feel like killing yourself today, are you happy? If you smile because something touches your heart, are you happy? If nothing out of the ordinary happens and life goes on the way it was, are you happy? If you had sex after three months or longer without and feel no different than yesterday, are you happy?

Whatever happiness is, I don’t do happy. No happily ever after in my fairy tales. I detest happily ever after, that’s why I don’t read chick-lit or light-hearted fictions. If you know already that whatever might happens in between those pages prior to the ending will nothing but a diversion because, in the end, they will ride into the sunset, why bother?

I find it a waste of time.

Besides, it doesn’t mirror the reality of life.

In reality, the story only begins when happily ever after has ended.

But yeah… As someone said:

“I strongly believe that we must tie our sanity around something (or someone). May it be your dog, a future event, past regrets, or current obligations. We must keep ourselves anchored so we don’t easily drift away into nothingness.”

To each his own.

Whatever floats your boat.

But pessimistic I am not.

Melancholic perhaps.

But never negative.

I prefer to be called realistic.

How’s that?

Fair enough?

New Year’s Resolutions

Cliché? Passé?

Whatever.

I’m going to make a list this year.

What is going to be?

Let’s see…

Avoid consuming meat products.

Global warming climate change related? Absolutely! But that is not the reason why I’m doing it. Animal abuse is the propeller behind my motive. How many times I saw fragments of animal cruelty in the news and vowed not to eat meat again but time after time failed. Don’t get me wrong. I am not carnivorous by far. I preferred seafood than anything else but still… I consume meat products at least once a month. This year I will do an extra effort to ban it altogether from my menu.

Doing only the things that nourish my soul.

Done with keeping the church in the middle and duty calls. From now on, I will not be bullied/ forced/ propelled for whatever reasons to do things I don’t want to do. Yesterday I attended a Christmas brunch with people that either there because it was expected of them but clearly wanting to be somewhere else or they are there because of some obligations. A duty of commitment. That was me included. What is the point for crying out loud? I also found out that (as if I didn’t know already) whatever I do, people will never change their initial perceptions of me. Why bother then? Better stop pretending.

Concentrate on improving the quality of life and focus on personal growth and development.

My aim this year is to live the good life and practice self-care creating an environment that best suited my needs and follows the path towards not happiness but satisfaction and contentment. I want to be in touch again with my surroundings and myself, clearing the mind of unnecessary baggage and carry only those that are essentials to my being. Back to the basic is the road I wish to take which hopefully leads me to a more peaceful existence.

Listen to my body.

In an attempt to silence the chaos in my head I tend to ignore what’s my body is telling me. I go on and on till I’m so exhausted I can’t sleep nor rest. Of all the things I want to change for the better this coming new year, this is probably the hardest to do. I am used to this kind of method, torturing myself in order to feel alive, diverting myself from the chaos in my head so I can go on not living but existing. I never face my demons, I have given them free rein, carte blanché to create havoc in my thoughts forever inhabiting the corridors and rooms of my mind. To banish them is to feel empty, alone and lost. In fact, that is assuming from my part. The truth is I don’t know how it is to be without these familiar companions for they never leave. Even in my sleep, they populated my dreams or it is more appropriate to call them nightmares because that’s what they are_ miserable monsters.

But I will try anyway. Sweep away the cobwebs, open the windows and doors, let in the light and purge the air. Get rid of the skeletons, remove the clatter clean the place thoroughly disinfect the wounds and let them heal. Stop scratching go out more and smell the flowers.

That’s it I guess. I will add more if I think of some crucial changes that have to happen in order to lighten the burden of this existence most people insist to call living.

Here’s to another year!

P.S.

I decided not to sweat the small stuff so I’m adding Don’t sweat the small stuff to the list.

Let go.

…of the things that burden me, weighing me, stopping me reaching for the light. Time to fly, time to soar, time to reach my destination. Be free, be light, be enough.

Stop living in the past. 

I always did that. One foot of mine is firmly planted in what had been, always looking back, stubbornly holding on to memories. It’s time to let go,  live in the present and forget the past. Okay, forgetting is maybe a long stretch unless I suddenly get amnesia but not live there anymore. Let bygone be bygone. A very hard thing to try since it’s really a dilemma_ you can’t go back to the past but you can’t escape it either. I will give it a shot anyway. Nothing to lose everything to gain, right?

Wish me luck.

ritual burning 2e

Tangoing On In The Rain

“I strongly believe that we must tie our sanity around something (or someone). May it be your dog, a future event, past regrets, or current obligations. We must keep ourselves anchored so we don’t easily drift away into nothingness.”

Empty nest loneliness the importance of purpose faith human contact and the feeling of emptiness were all clichés and alien to me up until recently. Self- imposed solitude is different from_ I would not say having no choice because we always have a choice_ let’s say between a rock and a hard place, being able to choose without compromising one’s own self-respect integrity and dignity. I heard about loneliness in the elderly and social isolation and I thought I will never experience being lonely because I love and value my self-imposed solitude so much but lately I might be willing to admit that I’ve been wrong, or rather I underestimate the consequences of getting old and having illness that hinder not only the mobility but freedom in general and of course social contact. Who wants to burdens others with what’s wrong with one’s life anyway? How could you explain that your agenda is governed by what’s happening with you physically and mentally.  How could you say to someone that I could not meet you for coffee because I don’t have a circadian rhythm, I sleep when I am able to sleep and most of the time awake because of intense pain. How could you explain that? And even if they understand, you will never be able to find someone who is willing to sacrifice their schedules to fit and accommodate yours. Besides, it’s not humane to even consider asking that from anyone.

Someone who’s lonely finds it hard to reach out. There’s a stigma surrounding loneliness, and older people tend not to ask for help because they have too much pride.

Yeah, the pride… the pride… I’m guilty of the charge. I don’t want to impose  I don’t want to be needy. I don’t want to disrupt other people’s lives in order to enrich mine. I am afraid to ask in case they might say no. Yes, I am scared of rejection, aren’t we all? I’ve been on my own for so long I don’t know how to reach out. I am not sure if I even want to for the fear of what they might ask or expect in return. Silly I know but It is what it is, and it ain’t nothin’ else… Everything is clearly, openly, plainly delivered.

Where to tie my sanity around? I had a prospect a few months ago but it was taken away. I still have difficulties moving on regarding that setback. How about faith… I’ve lost my faith in organized religion a long time ago and I am not sure if I still believe in God. My faith in humanity is dangling on a very, very thin thread. What else to believe?

What else to do but makes the most of what little there is. On your own without bothering others.  Sometimes I wonder how much of my physical complaints are brought by loneliness and isolation and how much by stress. Strange that social contact stresses me more than isolation and loneliness that’s why I decided to isolate myself in the first place. Have you experienced walking in the city during the holiday season? Or even on weekends? Jesus! It’s murder out there! Yesterday I was in the mall in Germany and I ended up getting more stressed than ever I decided not to buy anything at all because I could not focus. Too many people! No place to sit at the food court. Queue in the parking garage. Chaos on the roads. Better to stay at home. And there, the circle is complete.

Back to square one.

And here I’m going to stop.

I don’t know what to say anymore.

Brain freeze.

Till next time.

What My Closed Door Means

“My closed door does not mean unhealthy isolation, it means healthy preservation. It means this is a last-ditch survival mechanism to save what little parts of myself I have left before getting consumed by the outside world.” ~ Courtney Elizabeth Young

Lately, it is getting more and more difficult to be out there, with my restrictions and all. Things that I used to waltz over bother me endlessly these days. Like noises, traffics, crowds and the difficulties of finding quality anything without too many expenses, like having breathable (read: clean) air to breath. And light/photo pollution is real. Light trespass, over-illumination, glare, light clutter seriously affect everything including our health. Where I live which is not even a city nor a suburb it always seems to be dusk or dawn, it never gets dark! Especially since they have decided to build another shoe factory next to an existing one and converted the garden center into a gigantic complex of unrelated shops all in one roof. And the newly built kitchen shop next to the rotunda and believe it or not we have three fuel stations all in one street in close proximity of each other. And the traffic! 24/7 noise like a race track and we are not even next to a connecting road.

Yesterday we drove almost 500 kilometers to look for a house somewhere in the country, where it is really dark when it’s dark and I can breathe freely and there were only few cars on the road and they are not trying to run you over. The difference is enormous. The moment we’re back home, I began sneezing again and guess what, it’s 5:37 a.m. and here I am typing with traffic noise as my background music.

I can’t stand it anymore. No wonder my blood pressure is sky high and there is constant ringing in my ears. Time for a change. Drastic change. Let’s see where it brings us. I just hope that whatever change is going to happen it is for the better.

Crossing my fingers and toes.

Real Growth Happens In The Darkness

However the descent into the darkness begins, it always perfectly contains everything we need to heal and grow.

Perhaps it’s a veering off course from the things that nurture us, a harsh trigger from our environment, a perceived setback, or a reaction to pain. 

Any way it happens, there is an inner knowing that something is out of balance. This little voice is then followed by the cascade of the fear response, and the struggle against our perceived “negativity” often commences.

That struggle was borne when our ego won the argument with our intuition. It started as a negotiation, then we made a misstep. We probably chose the thing that would feel good right now. We probably threw out the thing that might be uncomfortable but will have a true payoff to our well-being, later.

We probably weren’t feeling very well when we made that choice. We may have done it out of real desperation from being ground down into a pulp by difficult circumstances or feelings we don’t want to deal with. 

Next, the battle within breaks out. The rebellion. “I don’t want to feel this way!” we may moan. “This shouldn’t be happening to me!” we protest. “Why can’t I just be positive?” we scream at our pain. We are off to the races at this point, spiraling downward in a parade of self-pity to avoid the emotion beneath it all: the fear that our darkness will swallow us whole.

The waves and triggers start crashing down in quick succession as we struggle against the storm within us. We let go of self-nurturing and care as we succumb to doubt and futility once again. The darkness takes hold and actually begins to swallow us, anyhow. We feel like we are drowning when the reality is that we are still swimming. 

How long we stay there, flailing with the breakers crashing down upon us, depends on many things. We are pulverized until what was always meant to happen finally does. Until they shatter us so hard that we remember to surrender, turn to face our pain, and let it take us where it needs to go. Until we allow our awareness to shine like a beacon onto that difficult thing we have been judging as bad or wrong, probably for decades.

The irony is that the “bad” thing we are fighting to repress is always that which needs our immediate attention and love. The shift to nurturing and supporting the self in this state of duress (aka, negativity) allows for relaxation into it, and our fight-or-flight response finally begins to let go. Because the real process of letting go means embracing the thing that hurts, not forcing oneself to bypass it with toxic positivity.

It always results in the same miracle, eventually. The nervous system calms, the sands beneath us stop shifting for a while. The sun rises, and we gain some deep and truly valuable insight into ourselves, which allows another layer of our false identity to shatter and fall away.

The struggle with and surrender to our inner darkness is the catalyst for our metamorphosis, for the deep journey to our core.

It never fails to dazzle me how each and every time we get sucked down is really just another “perfect storm.” How the wisdom contained within suffering can carry us closer to coming into alignment with our truest selves, no matter how convinced we were it would ruin us. Because perhaps that was what was meant to happen all along. The thing we were holding onto so tightly and pushing away simultaneously was always our salvation.

There is nothing I have found, in all my pursuit of pleasure-seeking distraction, that can compare with feeling at home in one’s self. The surrender to the wisdom in our darkness is alchemical and breathtaking. It brings us back to our integrity. We stop stumbling to put ourselves back together because we realize that we were never broken in the first place.

Anxiety is simply the perception that something is “wrong.” Depression is the weight of the futility of buying into that too heavily. Surrender to reality, however painful, taps us back into our innate wholeness and the flow of life. Nothing. Feels. Better.

We felt like we were dying, but we realize that we are still here, that we are capable of surviving anything, except our false identities.

This is when the warrior is born. The one who understands that surrender to reality was the only way to ever win. That the battle against the inner self is futile. That the keys to freedom lie in pain and discomfort.

This process is nonlinear and repetitive, like a spiral. It often feels like madness and negativity. We may think we have finished, only to find ourselves back in the perfect storm once more. 

There is no right or wrong way to heal, only our own path. It’s a deeply personal journey based on exactly the lessons which we are here to discover, uncover, and expose to the light so they can begin to take us deeper and deeper down that spiral toward who we were always meant to be. These lessons are contained within our darkest pain.

The negative is the path to uncovering our true selves. It is in that struggle and surrenders that we find our deep reserves of inner strength and the resilience to live a life of fearlessness and courage. To truly set ourselves free. To follow our bliss. To experience the joy that lies in a well of gratitude when we realize we can weather any storm.

It is through embracing the darkness that we find our way back to the light. So, f*ck positivity, and embrace your deepest pain. It’s always been there, waiting beneath all the new-age spiritual platitudes and shame to bring you back home.

AUTHOR: JANELLE MARIE BROWN

10 Ways to Cope With Toxic Family Members

by Grace Furman

We all have family members we butt heads with over our taste in music, life choices, or politics. Typically we choose to put in the required effort to work through the problem or, depending on the issue, just smile politely and let it go.

A toxic relationship, however, is a relationship in which one person is emotionally and possibly physically damaging the other on a consistent basis.

Just because someone is a part of your family does not make this behavior acceptable.

Your top priority must be your own health and emotional well-being. If someone else is jeopardizing those, then you need to make changes to remedy the situation.

So how can you determine whether someone is toxic?

Here are some examples of things that toxic family members might do:

  • Constantly make demeaning comments
  • Be unsupportive of you if it doesn’t benefit them
  • Have an unpredictable and bad temper
  • Take advantage of your time, skills, or money
  • Emotionally manipulate you in order to control your behavior
  • Refuse to take responsibly for their actions
  • Make decisions for you
  • Display a lack of empathy toward others
  • Blame you and others for their own problems
  • Use violence or aggression to get what they want

Clearly, these behaviors create an unhealthy environment and can have many negative effects on your health and well-being.

If your relationship with a family member is toxic, the only thing you can control is your response. You must decide what to do in order to take care of yourself.

Here are 10 ways to cope with toxic family members:

1. Set Boundaries.

Determine what are acceptable and unacceptable ways for you to be treated.

Everyone is worthy of respectful treatment, yourself included. You deserve to be happy, healthy, loved, and safe.

Decide what your specific needs are and how others can or cannot treat you in order to meet those needs. You can then ensure that they will be met by implementing number two below.

2. Stand Up For Yourself.

When toxic family members cross the lines of the boundaries you set, you must stand up for yourself.

This can be scary and challenging, but it is important to be upfront and honest with them about your needs and expectations.

You can take charge of your life and the way you are treated by letting them know when they have done something unacceptable.

3. Stop Making Excuses.

Do not make excuses for someone else’s unacceptable behavior.

While they may try to blame you or others, the truth is that they alone are responsible for their choices and resulting actions.

When you make excuses for someone’s behavior, you are supporting it and allowing it to continue. If you have set reasonable expectations and been upfront with the family member, then it is their responsibility to act accordingly.

4. Experience Your Emotions.

Dealing with a toxic family member will bring on uncomfortable feelings and difficult emotions.

It is normal to feel anger, sadness, fear, confusion, and more. Instead of trying to push these emotions away, allow yourself the time and space to sit with them and experience them.

This way your body and mind can work through the feelings instead of having them build up inside. It can also prevent unhealthy coping mechanisms from forming.

5. Don’t Take It Personally.

This can be difficult, but try not to take a toxic family member’s words or actions personally. They clearly have their own wellness issues, and that is where this hurtful behavior is stemming from. It is a reflection on them, not on you. Believe in yourself and your worth regardless of anyone else’s opinions or comments.

7. Seek Help.

Dealing with a toxic family member is mentally difficult and emotionally draining, so it will be important for you to have sufficient outside support.

Share your struggles with close, trusted friends or family. Read books about coping with toxic family members to hear other people’s stories and gain further insights and strategies.

8. Practice Self-Care.

Practicing self-care is vital to mental health, and it becomes particularly important while going through an emotionally challenging situation.

Take time away from everything else to spend meditating, journaling, soaking in a hot bath, or whatever you enjoy most. It is helpful to implement daily affirmations.

Speak to yourself with encouragement and self-kindness. Focus on the positive by listing things you are thankful for each day.

Remember that your worth is not lessened just because someone else cannot see it.

9. Be Compassionate.

While challenging, it can be helpful to have compassion toward the toxic family member.

This does not mean you excuse their behavior though. It is simply a recognition that they are not inherently a bad person. Every human being is imperfect.

Their own difficult life circumstances or lack of skills have gotten them to this dark place. We all have our own pain that we are trying to deal with, and we all make mistakes sometimes. This is a part of our common humanity.

10. Cut Them Out.

If the above strategies have not helped to remedy the situation, you will have to decide whether or not you want this toxic family member in your life at all.

Ask yourself if you are getting more pain than joy out of the relationship. If the answer is yes, you may want to cut this person out of your life until they have shown the ability to consistently treat you with respect.

It could be for a couple of weeks or it may be much longer. If nothing changes, it could be permanent.


Relationships are built on respect, trust, and honesty. Everyone deserves these things. Just because a person is related to you, does not mean you owe them anything or that they can treat you however they like. This is especially true when the relationship comes at the expense of your own health and well-being.

Use the above strategies to build up your self-esteem and make the changes you need to ensure you can be happy and healthy. People can change which means that the two of you may be able to repair this relationship.

It will be hard and take a lot of time, but it can be done. However, notice that it is “the two of you.” Both parties must be willing to work together.

Unfortunately, in some cases, it is best to let the relationship go. After you’ve put in as much effort as you can, you will have to decide what’s best for you and your well-being.


Grace Furman is a writer and blogger at Heartful Habits. Heartful Habits is a place of inspiration for what Grace calls living mindfully and heartfully. She loves learning and sharing about wellness tips, natural remedies, beauty DIYs, green cleaners, healthy recipes, social issues, and more. Grace will be regularly contributing to Live Bold and Bloom.

Puppet Master

Let me be clear, my love is unconditional, but your presence in my life is not. The moment that you prove that your value of me does not measure up to my sense of self-worth, I’ll have no problem unconditionally loving the memory of you and moving on.

It’s called self-Respect.

Setting boundaries and refusing to be a victim.

It takes courage to say no.

No, I will not be your puppet.

No, I will not be blackmailed. Emotionally or otherwise.

No, you cannot use me.

No, you cannot manipulate me.

I am responsible for saying yes to what feels good and no to what doesn’t.

You don’t own me.

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