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  • Writer's pictureFaith Hakesley

Staying Away from Toxic and Abusive Relatives

A gentle reminder about distancing yourself from abusive/toxic relationships +JMJ+ The holidays are fast approaching and I want to remind you about something important:

You do not have to engage in emotional battles and drain yourself physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

👉 It really is okay to distance yourself from toxic/abusive family members.

Sometimes the best way to win souls for the Kingdom of God is by backing away, not by enabling a person’s toxic and abusive behaviors. In some cases, the best thing you can do is pray for them.

You can tell yourself all you want that if you just do or say this, this person will change. Stop trying to play God. Only by God’s grace will change happen! Sure, you can set a good example and maybe that good example will rub off on someone else, but change isn’t that easy. When is enough enough? You cannot expect to put yourself in a bad situation over and over again and expect that this time will be different just because you do or say something different. Take the unnecessary pressure of feeling that you will change someone off yourself. Humble yourself to leave the changing to God.

👉You do NOT have to subject yourself, your spouse, children, etc. to individuals who hurt you in any way or who threaten the life of your own soul.

👉You do NOT have to tolerate individuals who are abusive the rest of the year but are suddenly kind and giving at the holidays.

👉You do NOT have to keep going back to that toxic person every year at the holidays and think, “Maybe it’ll be different this year.” 👉You do NOT have to live in a tortured state for weeks on end wondering what will happen before an event and then spend days or weeks after said event, wondering if you said or did the right thing and reeling from the abuse (physical, emotional, or spiritual) of that individual.

Give any unhealthy relationships to God. Make different plans if you can. Stay far away from that person or persons if you happen to be attending the same gathering. The kind of unrest that comes from dealing with an unusually difficult person is not worth the harm to your mind, body, and soul. God does not want us to seek out suffering nor should we fall into the trap of presuming that we can handle something. Maybe God does want us there but maybe He doesn’t want us there. This is when we have to pray and discern what we are being called to do.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have no choice, don’t forget that it’s okay to defend yourself from insults, criticisms, and any kind of abuse. Ask God for the grace to address that person with love but also ask for the grace to get up and leave if that becomes necessary.

You can forgive others for wrongs done to you in the past (we are called to do so) but even forgiving does not mean that you have to ever be in the same room with that person who has hurt you, especially if they continue with the behavior over and over again.

Love does NOT mean tolerating abuse!!! Love does NOT mean enabling abusers or toxic behaviors.

Think of it this way: enabling others who practice negative behaviors by standing there and taking it only allows them to continue on their own sinful path. God will give us the grace to show our love for our loved ones by calling them out when they are wrong and by saying, “Enough is enough. I’m out!”

It really is okay to protect yourself in mind, body, and spirit during the holidays and at any time of the year. Relationships with family members can be extraordinarily difficult at times, and being a blood relative does not mean that you have to associate with someone. There may be relationships with non family members in your life that feel closer to you than blood relatives. Treasure those friendships! Treasure those people with whom you choose to form a different kind of family!

Remember that you (or the rest of your loved ones) should never, ever feel forced to be subjected to someone else’s hurtful behaviors. It is okay to protect and defend yourself and others.

Steps to Cut Ties from Toxic/Abusive Relationships

🔴Acknowledge that a person’s behavior is toxic/abusive. Nothing will change until you can accept that the person is causing you (and others) harm.

🔴Pray for them, but don’t focus on the fantasy that they will change or that you will change them. Give that to God.

🔴Allow yourself to grieve the loss of your relationship. Grieve what may have been or what you hoped could have been. Even if the relationship has not been a good one, change is hard and letting go can hurt. 🔴Get support if you need it whether from a mental health expert, priest, spiritual counselor, family member, or friend.

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