“Love your parents, they gave life to you”. “Quit talking that way about your mother, you know she loves you”. Words uttered with a twinge of sadness by my grandmother, as I argued about my mother’s toxic influence in our lives. The one person that I trusted to protect me in my family was encouraging me to conceal my true feelings through religious and moral arguments.

How could she expect me to pretend to love someone that manages to give me reasons to grief and worry?

But, as her words echoed through my mind, I wondered to myself… how many others have experienced similar conversations with their own confidant?

I am aware that problems are not unique, and there are certainly others who are currently forcing themselves to repress the negative emotions that stir within them due to the mistreatment of an abuser in order to please a loved one; hence, these lonely souls lose themselves to the despair of containing their true inclinations. Choosing to stay by the side of a toxic individual out of a sick sense of loyalty, martyrdom, and the ever diminishing hope that they’ll eventually change, is it truly worth the suffering?!

I say nay. The misery is never worth the price! After all, what can you truly learn and gain from life when you have lost yourself to begin with.

Growing up in an abusive household forced me to become familiar with this type of scenario. Listening to phrases such as: “Blood is thicker than water. Parents aren’t perfect, you owe them your life, they try their best for you” on a regular basis basically drove me to insanity.

Often times, our relatives engage in this behavior inadvertently. Encouraging the family to stay together, unaware of the inner turmoil they’re causing. Their intentions aren’t “evil” or cruel, but they are misguided. However, we must recognize this act for what it is, “enabling”.

They’re basically encouraging an abuse victim to embrace a poison that will corrode their souls.

While they hurt themselves in a bid to please their own abuser, they end up trapped in an endless cycle of abuse. It’s insane to witness the amount of rubbish a person will deal with in an effort to please their loved one.

By appealing to their sense of kindness, guilt, and even love, they’re continuously exploiting their target, tricking a victim into believing they’re abandoning the only people who loved and raised them.

However, little do these casualties know, they’re being lied to, gas lighted, and twisted into something toxic themselves. By basking in a mixture of self-hatred, loathing, and anger at their own hypocrisy, we’re left unsure of the why we’re the unhappy ones when we have been doing our best to show kindness to the enemies without realizing “the enemy is actually within“.

Because in the end, we realize that we were always the antagonist in the story. Objectively speaking, nothing is keeping us tethered to these poisonous individuals we call a family. Not even the few people that didn’t harm us, but still encouraged the situation and were part of the problem. However, as with many abuse victims, the idea that we could have somehow avoided the whole situation seems implausible.

“If escape was an option, I would have done it already”, we falsely believe. Our assumed inability to solve our problems traps us from within the confines of our own mind, because somehow what we have at home seems less terrifying than the unknown. After all, we’ve endured this far… what’s a few more decades worth of suffering going to change? (As if we’re meant to live forever?!)

But, the truth is that your awareness of the role you play in the situation really changes everything. Once those toxic individuals have been removed from our lives, the root of our problem becomes clearer. We start smiling more, our lives become enjoyable, and our outlook becomes happier. No longer do we have to suffer at the mercy of their cruel words, or their twisted ways to show love and affection.

Yet, after years of abuse, just how can we break free? The simple answer is, one step at a time. To step away from your abusers you must first make a conscious decision to forgive ourselves.

To pardon our “weakness” for abandoning them, for it is far too easy to doubt ourselves for being rash, or overly emotional. We will ask ourselves, if we could have done more to help them instead of just leaving them to fend for themselves. But, once the initial trauma has passed, we realize that they were holding us back.

Stunting our growth, keeping us trapped in an endless cycle of forgiving and forgetting. Forbidding us from learning useful traits such as self-love, acceptance, respect, and mindfulness, which would help us self-realize. However, once we have broken free from the abuse, and mastered these qualities, we come to the conclusion that the experience has changed us for the better.

We become capable of discerning between those people who are positive and negative influences in our life quickly. Bearing the knowledge of what we’re capable of tolerating, and what we’re unwilling to accept from others, we move onwards to a brighter future. Skillfully dodging any future toxic relationships from a safe distance without allowing our emotions to blind us, we form meaningful bonds with extraordinary folks and abandon poisonous individuals.

Although their painful memories might continue to haunt us, we must never forget the lessons they taught us. For it was their example that helped us become their antithesis. Although it was a long and arduous road, escaping their clutches was the only option left for us.

After all, happiness is our responsibility; the only person capable of stealing the joy out of our lives is us. We can’t let those close to us manipulate our emotions into martyrdom. Seeking nirvana ultimately falls upon our shoulders, and if running away from everything we know is what it takes, then it is completely worth the effort.

Because as we all know, in life, in order to obtain anything, something of equal or greater value must be lost. At first, this loss might seem painful, but in the end… we realize that it was all worth it.

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