Toxic Family Members – 10 ways to Rescue & Save Yourself

Toxic Family Members - 10 ways to Rescue & Save Yourself

There’s a lot of advice in the world today for what to do when it comes to breaking up with a friend, a boyfriend, a girlfriend and even a spouse, but what about a family break-up?

Most of us are not in a position to just walk away from our family like someone we’re dating, nor do we feel we want to; however, sometimes we strongly see it’s a must when a toxic family member or the entire family is literally ruining our lives. That was my situation in my own family. Surviving the ups and downs of their moodiness and vile disrespect towards me was a challenge.

On another note, lets face it, not everyone should have children and not everyone’s family is there for them to lean on, call on or to go home to. Some family members have motives of their own, and not every family is built on love, support, and stability. Sometimes family simply means that you share a bloodline. That’s all. Nothing else, because although there are some that build you up, there are others that do nothing more than suck the life out of you, like my own once did, making it impossible to live a healthy and happy life, on both a spiritual and personal level.

Simply put there are relationships that just aren’t fixable, family or not. And there are situations that we can only endure for so long before we’ve outgrown them through our own walk in life, and we see the error of the their ways and understand how much they are hurting us. There are crucial times when we have to separate ourselves from family in order to do what is best for us and possibly best for them too. Just look at the Family Violence Statics from the U.S. Department of Justice, these people should have walked away to save themselves jail time and a criminal record and possibly even their own lives.

A family member making you feel unloved, unwelcome, and ashamed for someone else’s behavior towards you, like rape (child molestation\sexual abuse\incest), is not acceptable treatment. Rejection, abandonment, someone being competitive, trying to diminish your accomplishments, or someone who is hypercritical of you, pressuring or forcing you to be someone you are not, or to do something you don’t want to do, blaming, ostracizing, manipulating, belittling, neglecting, physically or verbally abusing you……the list goes on and on and on.

These negative experiences can and will jade you for a lifetime, ruining your life, shifting your existence, changing the way you walk in the world, haunting your days, sometime even making you a product of their environment, repeating these toxic behaviors so it’s a must that you do whatever it takes to get yourself into a positive, nurturing environment, surrounded by loving, affirmative, true God-fearing people.

Know all the signs:

Toxic people are not the people who see therapist for change, they don’t want to look at themselves and their behavior toward others, they don’t want that kind of scrutiny. The people who spend big bucks on therapy are people just like you and I, the friends and family members who have been hurt and wounded time and time again by the toxic people in our lives. We seek help for years thinking that we are 100% of the problem; struggling with the notion that we are the reason the toxic people in our lives can never be satisfied, which is simply not true, it’s the exact opposite, in fact, toxic people are truly not happy with themselves.

I’ve learned dealing with my own family and further studies that toxic people tend to share some common harmful characteristics.

    • They use others for their own needs and benefits, regardless of the impact on the other person
    • They lie easily and frequently to shape reality to serve their own wants and interests
    • They pit one person against another in a “divide and conquer” manner to keep control of others
    • They create chaos and conflict during which others are invariably to blame and they are the faultless victims
    • They completely lack empathy for others, even, and especially, when the toxic individual themselves have caused the harm
    • They frequently find fault with people who threaten them or disagree with them, in order to discredit the other person.

So, having fought my way out of a toxic family, here’s my advice, from personal experience, and what I’ve learned over the years:

1. If it’s possible, move out and move on without them. What we cannot control, unfortunately, is the behavior of others, good or bad. What we can control, however, is how we conduct our own lives and relationships and whether we allow the behavior of others to impact us. Toxic people share the characteristics, I believe, of essential dishonesty and unwillingness to accept any responsibility for their behavior, therefore repairing relationships with toxic people is challenging at best, and often impossible.

If your family or a family member insists on destructively dictating an emotional atmosphere, then be clear: they are toxic. If you are suffering because of their attitude, and your compassion, patience, advice, and general attentiveness doesn’t seem to help them, and they don’t seem to care one bit, then ask yourself, “Do I need this person in my life?” Answer this question seriously and if the answer is “No”……

Move on or move in, if possible, with a friend or an extended family member and explain the situation. Get to a place where people want to be with you. Do your best to move into a nurturing environment, or live on your own if necessary. Get away from the toxic behavior.

When you delete toxic people from your life it becomes a lot easier to breathe, so if the circumstances warrant it, leave those people behind and move on. Seriously, be strong and know when enough is enough! Letting go of toxic people doesn’t mean you hate them, or that you wish them harm; it simply means you care about your own well-being and you should, this is not selfish when it comes to your health and your growth. Become an asset, a truly productive member of society by letting go of destructive life forces.

A healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you’re always giving and they’re always taking.

2. Forgive. This is not for them, it’s for you. Don’t give them anymore of your life than they’ve already taken.

3. Accept your parents and family members for who they are and accept limitations. Know that you don’t have to repeat their behavior. You are not your family. Just accept them for who they are and move on, living your life by being the person that you truly are, the person that you want to be. Life is a stage so perform at your best.

4. Allow yourself to get angry. Use your anger productively. Exercise, do sports, write in a journal, don’t withhold your emotions. Anger is a good thing, it also a part of the healing process so be angry at your losses but don’t seek revenge, God handles that for us so we don’t have to and this is a blessing so honor God and leave the toxic people to Him.

5. Seek guidance for yourself. Talk to someone, a counselor, a life coach, a close friend or distance relative. Anyone who will listen, someone whom you respect, look up to and you feel comfortable with. Ask for guidance and get some good sound advice. We are social beings, and we need to surround ourselves with good, loving individuals. I sought out many people in my life just for this, I looked for those who were strong where I was weak and I spent time with them, learned from them, embraced their advice and guidance. I still do this today when I find myself struggling in an area.

6. Limit your time. Do whatever it takes to limit the amount of time you have to spend with the toxic family member or members. Limit visits, holidays, do what you can to prevent as much conflict as possible. Walk away from them entirely if you must. You do not have to entertain anyone in life who mistreats you or does not have your best interest at heart. God gives you a family but just like anyone else who turns out not to be the person you thought they were, you do not have to entertain them or keep them in your life.

7. Set healthy boundaries and stop pretending their toxic behavior is okay and hold them accountable. Sometimes it seems easier to quiet toxic people down and make excuses for them than to listen to their hurtful rhetoric but don’t be fooled. Short-term ease equals long-term pain in situations like this. Toxic people don’t change if they are being rewarded for not changing. Decide not to be influenced by their behavior. Stop tiptoeing around them and making pardons for their continued belligerence.

Constant drama and negativity is never worth putting up with. If someone over the age 21 can’t be a reasonable, reliable adult on a regular basis, it’s time to speak up, hold them accountable and put your foot down.

Your dignity may be attacked, ravaged and disgracefully mocked, like mine was and still is by my toxic family but it can never be taken away unless you willingly surrender it. That’s right, they can NEVER take it away. It’s all about finding the strength to defend your boundaries.

Stand up for yourself and do not accept their behavior towards you. Demonstrate that you won’t be insulted or belittled. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked back in. You can love and wish them the best from a distance, a great distance if you have too. Not everyone has lived your life and not everyone is going to understand and that is okay. You know what is best for you so don’t feel like you have to explain yourself to anyone. Read more of my experience walking away HERE.

8. Become aware of yourself and don’t take their behavior personally. Observe your reactions. Look deep inside yourself and become self-aware of exactly who you are. This will help you to break any negative patterns you’ve inherited from living or growing up in a toxic environment. Your goal is to be a better YOU and to build a better life so don’t bring any negative, self-destructive behavior into your future. This includes punishing others for the way you were treated in the past. Don’t punish new friends (boyfriend\girlfriends\spouses) for the crimes committed by old friends. Trust, Love and Cherish those that are good to you and pray for those who aren’t.

Also, toxic people, like my own mother, will try to imply that somehow you’ve done something wrong. And because the “feeling guilty” button is large on many of us, even the implication that we might have done something wrong can hurt our confidence and unsettle our resolve. Don’t let this happen to you.

Remember, there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally. Most toxic people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with. Even when the situation seems personal – even if you feel directly insulted – it usually has nothing to do with you. What they say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection – how they see themselves.

9. Create balance in your life. Take care of yourself physically and eat a balanced healthy diet. Be aware and be cautious of things you may do compulsively (eating, shopping, drinking, etc.) to keep things stress free and your body in good health. Learn to read good books, volunteer, takes lots of walks, stroll in the park and get plenty of rest. Dance in the rain if you must but keep your life in balance and work at this everyday.

10. Take charge of your life and your happiness. Do good things for you and speak up. Don’t wait for others to add value to your day. Give it to yourself. You get out of life exactly what you put into it so shine a good light on yourself. Do things that build your self-esteem. Do things you enjoy, things that make you feel good and things that you can be proud of. Invite others that love you along and allow them to share in your new experiences and happiness. Make lots of memories.

Letting go of toxic people can prove to be more helpful (even life saving) than grasping at toxic strings. I spent years saying to myself, “If it do this I’ll be loved by them, if I do that……….” but that a dysfunctional belief because you need to love yourself before you can love others. At the end of the day, we are all certainly in this together, but each of us has an honest obligation to do what is best for ourselves. You can be a lantern of hope, you can lead by example but you can’t force anyone to change.

Do you have any suggestions? Have you had to let go of toxic family members in your life? How did you do it?

Read more Healing Kerri on Kerri Chronicles:

Sinful, Unchristian, Ungodly or Just Plain Smart?
Dear Rapist, an Open Letter to the One Who Abducted My Innocence
My Mothers Legacy of Shame – An Open Letter – From Me, the Daughter She Didn’t Protect


49 thoughts on “Toxic Family Members – 10 ways to Rescue & Save Yourself

  1. This was a well written blog that has helped clarify and confirmed some decisions I needed to make and made in early part of Jan 2017. Everything you have written about I believe is spot on. I love how you have gracefully handled some comments, which show the relational integrity you hAve. I studied pretty intensely this past year how Jesus handled not only toxic people, but dysfunctionaity in those whom he was closest too. Jesus loved uncondionally, but carried necessary limits that were not only in his best interest, but also in the person who is perhaps toxic. When we do nothing, it reinforces damaging behabior. Jesus never did nothing, but acted in accordance to God perfected will that was lathered in grace, and communicated mercifully. Thanks you for sharing those additional points, that has helped lead you into the life of freedom Christ desires for all of us. Keep writing, your gift is apparent, and your wisdom is plentiful.


  2. Hello Kerri.
    This piece you’ve written is irresponsible. I understand you have gone through some trauma in life and I sympathize fully with that. However, many of your “steps” are intrinsically contradictory. For example, 2. Forgive is followed by rhetoric that implies you are still holding onto anger. Another issue I have is with this sentence: “God gives you a family but just like anyone else who turns out not to be the person you thought they were, you do not have to entertain them or keep them in your life.” Saying “God gives you a family, but sometimes God is wrong about people.” If that is what you believe, that’s fine. Pretending like that is not what you’re saying is irresponsible.

    Your words and the way you have presented them have given my own mother justification to leave our family. We are not toxic, yet after reading your blog, she feels she has permission from using God to blame other people her own unhappiness within herself.

    Numbers 8, 9, and 10 should have been 1, 2, and 3, and this list should have only had 3 items.

    Jesus taught by example. He did not judge others (by labeling them “toxic”) and he loved his enemies.
    So, in that spirit, I commend your efforts to find peace and happiness despite what you’ve been through. I admire your strength and bravery, and I hope one day you realize true forgiveness in your life.

    1. Im sorry you don’t like this article, Randi. It’s not irresponsible but rather factual, as we are all responsible for our own well-being and happiness.

      You stated you feel that #2 “Forgive” is followed by rhetoric that implies “still holding onto anger”.

      I don’t encourage or imply that in this article however, an individual can very well forgive and still remain angry.

      We are all entitled to be angry at our losses. Whether we’ve had something ripped from our soul, violated and torn from their being, or we’ve been morally wronged in another way, anger is an emotion we will all feel. It’s an emotion we all have to work through and we can absolutely choose to forgive, remove our hand from a persons throat, choose to no longer want revenge, or seek retribution (this is true forgiveness) and still
      remain angry.

      Anger and forgiveness go hand in hand but they are separate issues entirely. We have to work to give one and work to work through the other and both anger and forgiveness need to be worked through in a positive, healthy way, replacing the wish for revenge with prayer, turning that person; the situation over to God.

      Also, I do not feel “God is wrong about people”. Those are your words. We all make our own choices, God doesn’t make them for us, He grants us the freedom to act on our own free will. He is not responsible for one’s decision to do wrong. We are all responsible for our own decisions.

      You are right, Jesus taught people by example. He set boundaries for himself, following God word, not allowing himself to be apart of the immoral behavior. He stood his ground saying, “I love you but will not be a part of this, I will not let this devour me in life or drag me down”. He removed himself from the situation. This is not judging, it’s recognizing good from bad and making a decision to not participate in what he knew wasn’t right.

      God said to love the sinner but not love the evil they bestow.

      Your mother walking away is not my fault or the fault of this article. It’s a choice she made to find her own happiness; what she feels is best for her now. This is not to say her decision is right or wrong, but rather that it is of her own accord, seeking to make changes in her life. If she finds that her decision was not the best thing for her, I’m sure she’ll come back around and look for other alternatives to make changes in her life where she can find the happiness she is looking for.

  3. I’m a South African professional who’s been battling with this for years. I never met my dad up until I was in medical school, I grew up being told all evil things by my mother when I finally met my dad I tried to create a relationship with him . She jumped into it made herself a victim and I became a terrible person. This is the same woman who told me I will never amount to anything just like my dad. I took a loan to medical school and a year in got a bursary, I bought her a house still it was never enough. I cut her off about 2months ago but she still calls my 10year old on my landline phone making promises. Reading your blog has made me realize that I have to save my daughter from her, it has strengthened my resolve to walk away from this toxic blood line. I know I will stumble a few times on the way out but the 10 steps you have listed will be the fuel I need to escape.

    1. You have done an amazing job of making a life for yourself. Don’t let anyone bring you down. You deserve to be rid of the unhappiness and so does your daughter. It’s a journey but one that will make you feel better in the end. There are still days when the pain of being unloved is great, but the pain goes away and I realize it was the right thing to do.

    2. Sam, it’s an honor to meet you, even if only here. I pray God has favor over you and continues to provide you with the strength and encouragement you need to move forward. I will keep you in my thoughts. Lots of love to you!

  4. My grandaughter is getting married next weekend. i took time off work and drove to where she lives for the wedding. We have a special bond, always did have. I was there when she was born and saw her being born. She is a sweet and thoughtful young woman and I was so happy for her. Her younger sister is the polar opposite. Throughout her life she has resented the relationship Megan and I have, even though I have always been careful to show all of my grandchildren the same attention and love. Through the years, her resentment, negativity, lack of compassion and empathy for others, and seemingly a total lack of conscience, have worn me down. It got to the point I did not want to be around her. She dropped of school, at 14 got involved in a relationship with a 20 year old man, basically sits around most of the day smoking pot. She has horrible anger outbursts. My daughter and my 2 granddaughters and I had gone out to a nice lunch, then picked up the wedding dress, picked up the bridesmaid’s dresses, picked up the shoes, did all our errands and I was taking them to her bachelorette party when my younger granddaughter decided she would throw one of her major anger outbursts. I had been upset because the room at my daughter’s where I stayed had been used as a bathroom by my younger granddaughter’s dog. The carpet was thoroughly saturated and ruined and there was nowhere else for me to sleep. I did not have the money to pay for a week in a hotel and it just was the last straw for me where she was concerned. She screamed at me to GO SLEEP SOMEWHERE ELSE and said I DON’T CARE WHERE YOU SLEEP. My daughter intervened for her to stop talking like that to me and Megan felt she had to defend her sister and that was just the end of it. I could not take one more second of her. I felt and I still feel that it was her plan all along to ruin her sister’s wedding because she could not stand to see her happy. I put them out of the car, went back to my daughter’s, packed up my things and went back home. I will always be horribly sad that I will not see her married, but I could not and never again will be able to be in the younger granddaughter’s presence. She is a true sociopath. I have always loved my grandchildren so much but I believe everyone has a limit. My heart is broken.

  5. I have told my family 15 years ago if they couldn’t be supportive I didn’t want them to be part of my life or my kids lives. I walked away after my ex husband died and my kids were in turmoil (as I was) and we got no support or even empathy over what we were going through. They were always judging me and my kids and I couldn’t stand up to it any more. For many years I was okay but I also spent years in counseling. I have felt “unlovable” for so many years now because if your mother doesn’t love you, who will? It is so interesting to hear from someone else who has been thru this process. Some people don’t under you didn’t grow up in a loving family and feel I should make amends but I just can’t. I’m too hurt from all of it. Glad some of you have been able to overcome the loss. I’m still stuck.

    1. I admire your strength and determination, Jennifer. Only those with the greatest courage fully cut ties. We all have to love ourselves first….. Be proud of the reflection we see in the mirror; before we can ever love another, before we can open our souls and share our lives with others. It’s not that your mother doesn’t love you, it’s that your mother doesn’t love herself and without love in your soul, even the smallest amount, one truly has nothing of any sort of value to give. Hold your head high for protecting yourself and your children and loving yourself and others despite your families attempts to tear you down. Much love to you from me. ❤️

  6. My Narcissistic Mom bought my Family and I a house, yes we pay the mortgage. It’s another way for her to control Me! She tells me what to do with everything daily and if we do something opposite of what she said she would stop talking to us. How do you stop talking to your Daughter for being an Adult and doing what is good for Her Family?!? Since she stopped talking to me a few weeks ago, she has now started bad – mouthing My Hubby and I to Our Children!!! I don’t know what to do anymore?! Do I uproot my Kids again and move away? Do I stay and continue living with the abuse? We All Love this house, it’s perfect and our Dream house!!! I’m trying not to have a meltdown especially because she will enjoy that too much!!!

    1. I’m sorry to hear this, Rhiannon, does she live in the house with y’all? What a poor display of character on her part and an even worse example to set for your kids. It’s wonderful that she made an investment in your life by buying you the house but this was a gift, without conditions, and doesn’t give her the right to tell you what to do, push you around or disrespect you and your family. She need to respect the boundaries and expectations you have for yourself, your spouse and your children. If she chooses to do otherwise, she forfeits her right to be a part of your lives.

      1. To Top it all I get a text from my Mom today saying as of September 1st My Family and I need to move because my Sister’s ex the Father of two of her Children brought my Niece and Nephew over to visit with My Family. My Husband and My Sister’s Ex were Best Friends for 10 years prior to My Sister even dating Him. I Don’t know what to do. She yelled at My Kids so much for not unpacking their stuff and they finally did and now we have to back again. We are going to be Homeless, we have no help. I Can’t do this anymore!! I Feel Like I’m Going Insane!

  7. Bumping into this blog feels like a relief to ones sanity. A topic not easily discussed with anyone. Even therapists sometimes leave one with a feeling of not being prepared to go into the deep end of the family hi(story). Life definitely is a stage with anyone playing some role. Daily routines keep us oblivious to this and it seems more comfortable remaining so until some disruptive event occurs out of nowhere. Thank you for this thought provoking blog.

  8. Brilliant article! Thanks so much for this! I’ve been struggling with cutting off my toxic Sister because she’s my only Sister from the same mother. But your article has encouraged me to see its alright to cut her off.

  9. God bless you for writing this blog. I started writing my own and in I see some similarities. I’m starting the process of breaking away from my toxic family as I realize their unconditional love is extremely conditional. My family turned their backs on a 15 year old girl who was molested by another family member. She lost every, single, person. I am disgusted by this as I, myself, have been treated like a Pariah because I was the one who gave her a voice and put an end to her abuse. I’m so sick of the “but it’s family” excuse. No, f*ck that! Family shouldn’t hurt one another and get away with it just because they share DNA. I’m so done with the brainwashing. I feel like a fog has been lifted.

    1. Amen! You are such a bright light in the life of that 15 year old and I can’t praise you enough for that. Why anyone would turn a blind eye to such a travesty is beyond me and I feel anyone that does is just as guilty as the perpetrator and should be punished along with them. I’ve no doubt that your strength and courage will guide you through things. Family is not blood, family are those that truly love you and have your best interest at heart.

  10. Exactly what I needed to read. My hardest struggle was, “Is this the way God wants me to handle this?”
    Thank you for sharing your most personal life story, it has helped me and made a difference in my life!

  11. After 13 years of marriage and 9 years of living five minutes away from my in-laws, we finally had to cut the cord. It was 13 years of lies and deceit and competition (could go on and on…my hubby is one of four children). In all these years we have never received a single apology. We have one child and he had eczema as a baby (later found out it was reaction to breast milk because of my diet). MIL butt dialed us and we overheard her tell my sister in law that we should give our son up for adoption because of his allergies (and they both laughed so hard). When we hung up and my hubby called her back she hung up. We never received an apology and the family went weeks without speaking to us, like we did something wrong. We always tried setting boundaries, approaching the family…but it was always our fault. Finally, last year, the last straw was when grandma tried to manipulate our 6 year old in front of us. We stopped apologizing and realized the need to protect our son from that kind of example and trauma. Since then we have been cursed at, yelled at, hung up on, lied about, etc. but have not retaliated (even done without raising our voices). God actually unexpectedly moved us 15 hours away from them within 4 months of our last contact with them!! We later found out they were told we were moving, but still refused to acknowledge our son at Christmas, etc. it was way worse than what I’ve written about, but the basics…lies, manipulation, never an apology…always trying to make us look bad. We did get an apology the last time my hubs spoke to his mom…”I’m sorry for whatever it is you think I did.” Not acceptable. We’ve been moved for 3 months now. We are still raw with pain, my husband even has nightmares about his family. Thankfully each passing day brings more healing and we are able to go a few more days without thinking of them at a time. It’s a long road, but we are slowly getting there. We also have no doubts that we have acted maturely and correctly in protecting each of us from this painful pattern. Thanks for your post, reminding me that we are not obligated to live in their toxic cycle. Our son is our #1 priority.

    1. So glad to hear that things are looking up for y’all. I pray you all the best in the coming years, Virahs. Some people never see the error of their ways and they suffer daily, a great loss when their loved one’s walk away. Good for you for protecting your son and requiring that others treat you properly, with love and respect.

  12. Glad I found your blog. Two years ago at 38, I began therapy and then establishing healthy boundaries with my family. The establishment of boundaries put them on high alert. A year later, they created an elaborate story of corporate espionage and infedelty so they could fire my husband( yes, he worked for them), had a PI follow us, sued my husband for starting his own company and spread rumors around our area. I have not spoken to them/gone no contact for a little over a year. I did write one small letter (they were asking me to meet with them- I believe to drag me back in) saying I needed space and time and also telling them I did not feel they respected me, my family or my life. I got back a 6 page letter of me not respecting them with examples and also bashing of my husband. My entire family has cut me out-everyone! They have even gotten to my childhood best friend. It can be very lonely. I miss the idea of what family is supposed to feel like. What I pretended I had. Looking back, I now see all of the times I compromised myself, my soul, and not protecting/defending my husband and kids. Even though I ache sometimes and it does ache to my core, I am so much happier. Life is brighter. There is less conflict and drama. My anxiety is less not second guessing myself every moment wondering if they are okay or going to flip on me. I know there is more work and more healing but I grow stronger everyday to do the work. To everyone out there, don’t be afraid, keep working, you will get where you need to be. Family are the ones who love and respect you for who you are and expect nothing in return not a blood-line.
    Thank you for your blog! And thank you for talking about not having to forgive those who don’t repent.

  13. I needed to read this. My mother has been my daughter since I was about 15. Lately I’ve been trying to call her out on her behavior but I know that she’ll never change. As sad as it is, I know I am going to have to limit my interactions with her. I have a lot of guilt for pushing her so far out, but I know I need to in order to keep my own sanity.

  14. I have a highly Toxic Family! I am what I have always considered the black sheep! I have always been out casted. I Always thought it was Me! Until My Fiancé showed Me it’s not Me! I still struggle with it daily even knowing that it’s not Me! I still Cry Daily, I still think maybe they can change I still hope I will one day have a normal family! See the worst part about it is the Toxic People in My Family are the Three Main People My Life was Shaped because of. My “Mother ” if you could call her that, My Sister (half sister, but we were raised by same Mom) and My Brother (half Brother same story same Mom different Dad) Ironically My “Mother” became a psych nurse when I was in My Teens. I was never raised with anything positive! I was always told she never wanted Kids and that we ruined her life. She couldn’t have a boyfriend because of Us! We heard that Daily, growing up. Well my Sister got diagnosed Bipolar at 13 and I am only two years older then her. Well My Mom was in college I took care of siblings who are only two and three years younger then me. I was in my early teens. My Sister used to threaten to Kill My Mom and My Brother would sleep with My Mom to protect her. I was always the Good Girl. Never did drugs of any kind, never did bad in school. Nothing I did was ever good enough for my Mom. I started cutting at age 12 just needing an escape a way to cope with feelings I didn’t understand. Then at 16 when I was raped and tried to talk to my Mom about it she looked at me and said “what did you do to deserve it?” I blamed myself for everything that happened to me since I was 12 and that exacerbated my Hatred for Myself. While My younger siblings were getting arrested and experimenting with life I was a shut in that spent time listening to music, Writing poetry, and watching Movies. At 15 my sister got pregnant and I took care of her Daughter all night long, was a senior in high school and worked a part time job. I loved that Baby she gave me purpose. My entire childhood I thought there was something I could do to fix my Family! When I met my Maternal Grandma for the first time I over heard her conversation with her 2nd husband and he said “have you met Cheryl ‘ s (my mom) fucked up kids yet?” No one knew Me at All not even my Own Family!! I didn’t have a Father Growing up. I always heard from my Mother how he was a piece of shit and that he cheated on his current GF with my mother and that’s when they got pregnant with me. Then he later married and had two children with that current GF and she forbid him to see me. At 16 I was left alone with that woman people would refer to as my mom. She sent my Brother and Sister into Foster care and I was too old to be on PINS so I was with her alone. I had enough one night and tried to leave and she grabbed my arm and ripped my house keys put of my hand and in defense I hit her well she called the police and filed a report against me saying I assaulted her. I ran away not much after that. I was gone for a month and a half and was on the streets went back home to be treated worse. I went to a group home to avoid the emotional and mental abuse thanks to a school counselor! It was honestly better then being home!!!! I stayed there for almost three months and then had to go home. Again came home to worse conditions. Then I went to Tennessee to meet a guy off of the computer! Yeah I know how scary….. anything was better then being around her. Stayed there for a few weeks then went home again. The only thing I grabbed onto and wouldn’t let go of was the people I would meet! My Friends! I would stay at any one else’s house to not go home! It was like that for a few years and then I moved out at 18 and only went back once for a year and left again and haven’t looked back! I am now 33 and have Three Kids and I have been with My Fiancé for almost 10 years. He doesn’t understand How I was raised around them and am Not like them! My mom likes to create chaos in My siblings and my life so she could offer help and feel wanted and if she is not wanted she hates you and talks about you to the rest of the Family and all of her Friends!! She likes having control of things and when I finally saw that a few years ago I was completely cut off from her and the rest of my Family!! No one talks to me…. well let me rephrase that My Oldest niece who my mom had custody of is now the knew me. She cuts herself gets abused mentally and emotionally and has ended up in the psych ward a few dozen times and just turned 15 today!! She can’t get away from them like I did! Also I was on pain medication for 6 yrs thanks to my doctor prescribing them to me for Psoriatic Arthritis pain in my spine and other joints. I took myself off them and admitted myself to a rehab program to safely detox all on My Own! Because I couldn’t look at My Kids and Fiancé anymore and feel like I did on those things!! So I graduated from the program and have been almost 1 year clean in August. If it wasn’t for My Kids and My Fiancé I wouldn’t have Done it!! After I got out of rehab I hear from My Mother that I am A Drug addict who abuses my Children and starves them. Mind You I Have Never had CPS called on Me or My Children Ever!!! They are 7, 6 and 4 and have a clean bill of health and when I told their doctor what my Mother said she laughed and said not a chance!! My Kids are too young to understand why My Mother and their Aunt and Uncle don’t see them anymore or why they are not allowed to see their cousins anymore!! I don’t even know how to tell them or explain it to them! I tried to bring them to see my mom two months ago and she hasn’t seen them at all in over a year. She said so your still on drugs and no matter what I said it didn’t matter!! Then when we leave there My Daughter who is 7 looks at me and says ” I thought Oma (what they call my mom) would be more excited to see us?!” I didn’t even know how to respond!! I was appalled that my 7 year old picked up on My Mother’s terrible demeanor and personality!!! I always tried to forgive and forget for my entire life, but when is enough enough?? There is tons more in between all of this and tons more about My Sister and Brother and what they have caused in My life. The First time I actually heard that What My Family has done and continues to do to Me is Toxic and Wrong was when I was in Rehab. My Fiancé taught me to Defend Myself against them and try to ignore them! I felt alone, but in seeing this blog I understand that I Am Not the Only One who has Toxic Family!! Thank You for Giving me Hope!!!

    1. I am so proud of you, Rhiannon! Sounds like you caught on to the moral side of things at a very young age, whether you had someone in your life planting seeds or God bestowed you the wisdom to stay grounded. I don’t have any experience with cutting as it’s something I’ve never done but if you are still struggling with this, I encourage you to focus on the little girl you are inside. Love her as you love your own children because if your cutting she’s knocking on your emotional door, telling you that she needs to be embraced, loved and nurtured so treat her as you would treat any broken, beat up, abused child that comes knocking on your door today, looking for a savior. That is truly where our healing begins and it’s something I had to do myself to heal emotionally and let go of unhealthy habits and a variety of coping mechanisms. Also to understand the toxicity of your mother and family more, and to give yourself further perspective, there is fantastic book titled “Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life” written by Susan Forward. It is one of the best books that I have ever read to give me clarity and I promise that you won’t be able to put it down from page one. I pray you all the best, Rhiannon, for you and your journey towards the peace you seek.

  15. Thank you for this post. It hit a lot of buttons for me. I’m currently dealing with a spiteful and horrifyingly mean mother-in-law. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this article has strengthened my inner monologue of “it’s okay to let go”.

  16. I’ve been battling with a toxic relationship with a family member for as long as I can remember. 3 times I’ve attempted suicide as a result of the toxic relationship we have. I’m currently in treatment for a mood disorder and am discovering just how negatively this toxic relationship has affected me. Reading this has given me hope. I felt like a horrible person for harboring negative feelings towards my own family member. To know that someone else has been where I am, and has survived it, is so comforting. I can’t tell you what it means to me to have stumbled upon your advice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope I can be as strong as you have been.

  17. I am blown away with this letter to my soul. To be honest I never thought a family member, by blood, would try to destroy their child. I will cherish is post forever. You have given me strength to move on. I will be back though for a refresher course. I think you have saved my life. At least what is left. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. I wish you awesome things in your life, Jo. The best thing about your story is that YOU get to write YOUR very own ending so make it a best seller, my friend! I hope that something amazing happens and you come back and share it with us! Until then, I simply wish you all the best!

      1. thank you for caring. Very few people can even relate to my situation. Since both my sister and mother have attacked me for just being born and looking like my father’s side of the family. A permanent reminder of the man she must of hated.

  18. I believe this link was put in front of me for a reason. I just recently cut my husbands family out of my life for the very traits you listed. While my husband supported me fully I felt guilty for what I felt like was making him choose between me or them. His mother claims to be Christ like but loves to create drama, even as far as trying to get his ex to split our marriage up. Even when confronted with hard copy proof would still not own up to her actions and continued to place blame on me for her negativity toward me. I could write a book of all the things she said or done but I’m trying to let go and move on. So thank you for putting into words what I needed to hear.

    1. You are welcome, Casi. Its a sad fact that this post is the most popular post on the Kerri Chronicles site. It gets read about 50 times a day, sometimes more. It’s a terrible thing when people are forced to seek help from total strangers building their own family\lifeline along the way because their parents and siblings bring them nothing but heartache.

  19. Thank you for this wonderful article. It defines exactly a position I was in which I tolerated for too long cause of that word “family”. I finally walked away and am now living a very good life surrounded by people who truly care about me. I thank God daily for this.

    1. Good for you, Janet, for choosing to love and respect yourself more! I pray God has favor over all of your days as you continue to prosper and bask in the happiness that you truly and fully desire!

  20. This was a really good read. I too had a very toxic mother. Which lead me to marry a toxic man and survive an extremely abusive marriage, but ended it. I have remarried and it’s been a decade. But the pain and sorrow of the years I lost 13 in the marriage and the 35 of my life dealing with my mother are just gone. She trapped my oldest son too. So I’ve lost him as well. He’s living with her and she’s lavishly giving him everything and his behavior is bad. Idk if it’s to punish me or she’s just toxic and wants as many family members on her side. I gave up 10 years ago, just went to estrangement. Last year I tried, she had 3 children 1/2 siblings for me. I wanted to know them. They are 19 & 16 twins. but she’s turned them against me also. I’ve gone back to the estrangement and recently moved to Texas. She’s in GA. I have a loving husband, we have a son who’s 4 & a lovely life now. It’s still hard, not many understand estrangement. when my last son was born I wanted my mother, the idea of what I thought a mother should be. But, she’s could never be that mother. I have 3 close friends. And hope to make more here. I agree, move out. Move away. Estrangement for me is the only thing that works and here I am still reading blogs and stories. Maybe to understand I’m not alone. Thank you for writing this, I sent it to my 16 year old son, to help him understand. He’s only meet his grandmother a few times and he was not happy with her behavior either. It is sad. I need a new family, or to make my own. I found this reassuring I did the right thing. Thanks! – Lori

    1. Hi Lori. So sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you, we’ve been working on the site so I have been away from my comments section.
      Truly, it sounds to me like you are the healthiest member of your family! You are healthier, stronger and emotionally more sound than anyone in this scenario because obviously you have the clearest vision of truth and not just that – you are living in it and seeking help to heal from it.

      It doesn’t get any more courageous. Having walked in your shoes I can honestly say that you are probably more courageous than you can possibly see through your pain at this point. It’s hard to walk away from the family that you were born into but family or not, at no time in life are we to accept and allow a person to mistreat us. There is no commandment anywhere that says: “Though shall not stand up and protect oneself” so do what you have to do to lavish in your happiness.

      I am not going to tell you to forgive because I think forgiveness is an overused word that has gotten misconstrued and not just that but God does not command us to forgive unrepentive people. That is His job, not ours.

      I want to say though that I am proud that you made the decision to walk away and do what is best for your health and wellbeing, not just you but of your family as well
      Your childhood and your relationship with your mother will always be a part of who you are but it does not have to be the negative factor that ruins your whole life. Let it be a catalyst for you to use to be the best YOU that you can possibly be.

      Like you, I have done a lot of reading over the years and the most profound book I have ever read is a book “Toxic Parents – Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life” by Susan Forward.

      I wished this book had come out years ago when I first walked away and got out on my own because it would have saved me a lot of pain and heartache. I could not put this book down when I read it, starting at page one. This book will give you a tremendous amount of clarity and explain the behavior of your mother and siblings in a way that will give you a spiritual peace and comfort, affirming your decision of walking away.

      Outside of this website, if you ever want to talk, shoot me an email. I am here for you as a sister and a friend. My email address is

  21. I really like what you said here. It is so true! but so sad! I am just recently seeing this in my own family. It hurts too much to really think about but it wont go away. I wish it would but how right you are you can’t force others to change.

    1. I do not mind, Anna. Thank you for your support. I truly love working with you in our passions to help others and learning from you as well.

  22. Excellent Kerri. Dealing with these situations makes you wonder who your family really is. Yes, I have some family members I’d rather not be around. I’ve just learned to tolerate them during the holidays when we are forced to be in the same room. And I’ve adopted other non-kin to take their place.

    1. It’s hard to get to that place because we are all created to love and be social but sometimes being social is not always a positve thing and even though we try to turn it around in the positive direction, those that are negative often times don’t see how much more benefical this was of living is, John, and they ultimately force us to move on.

Why hello, friend! Thanks for sharing your comments. Should you have a question, please feel free to ask it here and I'll do my best to reply promptly. Thanks for stopping by! xo Kerri