Make Damn Sure

This is going to be one of the most blunt posts I've ever published. It might be a little bit risky for me even. But this is my space to be as honest and transparent as I choose, and I think this is a topic that calls for transparency.

I made a passing comment about how this year's holiday season would look much different for me than previous years. For one, it will be the second year without my paternal grandmother. She died after a long and heartbreaking fight with Alzheimers in August 2013, and it still doesn't feel right without her alive.

For another, I will not spend Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family as I usually do. This is, pretty much, all because of one person who I cannot stand to be near. This person is a blood relative of mine. This person is the single most toxic person I have ever known, and this person adds nothing to my life. This person fails to understand that they alone are responsible for far-reaching alienation of loved ones. This person has intentionally, willfully, purposefully, calculatedly, abusively, and hatefully hurt, manipulated, and stolen from me and people I love fiercely for years. This person has been given dozens of second chances — both in legal terms and by those they've personally wronged. None of those extra chances has inspired this person to change, or to apologize.

So I've decided this person no longer has a place in my life. I would be crazy to offer this person more opportunities to treat me so terribly, wouldn't I? If this person was not a blood relative — if this was, say, a boyfriend — no one I know would think twice before telling me to end the relationship. But when it's a family member, we're always expected to forgive. I've been forgiving for over 20 years, and I remain the only person being hurt here. I'm the only person who seems to have learned a lesson in all these turns of hurt and forgiveness. And the lesson I've learned is that I am infinitely better off, happier, healthier, and more productive a member of society when this person does not have access to me.

I decided this a few months ago. But apparently, it wasn't understood then that my decision was final, and I find myself having to explain it all over again. With the holidays fast approaching, apparently I'm expected to be all, "nah, just playin'!" about what I decided is the best, healthiest, sanest thing for me. That's kind of why part of me has been dreading the holidays for months.

I knew since March that I would be breaking tradition this year, and I felt sad about it. But then I learned that I wasn't quite alone in my feelings, and that I wouldn't be the only person absent from the Thanksgiving table this year — if that table even comes together at all. And yet, though I'm not alone in my decision, I do seem to be the only one being harassed (literally) and verbally abused for it. Go freaking figure. Luckily, I do also have aware, understanding, caring family members who I will sit down with for Thanksgiving dinner, and our evening won't be marked by hateful mutterings or passive-aggressive or explosive attacks.

I am so, so, so tired of being harassed by a family member and having to defend my choice to take a stand to protect myself. I can't believe I have to continuously be on the receiving end of such delusional, hateful, vicious, and downright wrong commentary. I can't believe the things I've heard, seen, been subjected to, and known in my life, and that I'm one of a very small number of people who refused to sweep such things under the rug. I'm tired of leaving family functions in tears. I'm tired of screening calls. I'm tired of receiving a slew of emails, voicemails and text messages that have only been sent with the intent to make me cry. I'm tired of having to repeat myself: This is not welcome in my life.

I'm tired of having to force myself to laugh at this person's pathetic attempts to manipulate me some more — because if I don't laugh, I'll cry. I'm tired of dodging questions about this person and having to explain that, no, I'm not a cold and heartless person for cutting off a family member; I'm simply not as determined as they are to have a miserable, anger-fueled, hate-driven life, and that I have every valid reason to cut off contact. I'm tired of being vilified for refusing to be abused.

So with all that said, I just need to put this out into the universe. Because I know I cannot be the only one with family members or loved ones like this. Because writing this down is a way to ensure I never forget this feeling and give in. And because I wish I had someone to tell me this ages ago: You have the right to decide how you want to be treated, and if there are people in your life who refuse to respect those boundaries, you are entitled to remove them from your life. You have the right to be treated with kindness, respect, and honesty. You have the right to be loved and treated with love. You have the right to create for yourself a life of happiness, health, and positivity, no matter who tries to infringe upon that right. You have the right to decide who you count as family. You have the right to live free from abuse, harassment, and hate.

Are we clear on that?

Comments

  1. Alyssa, this was so wonderfully written. I don't really know what to say, other than I'm in a similar situation, but it hasn't escalated to this point. I hope it doesn't. But you are absolutely 100% right and although the holidays will be different this year, I hope you make new peaceful memories with your new ones!!!!

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  2. Your holidays will surely be different. They will be filled with live, laughter, joy, and happiness. This person doesn't deserve any 2nd, 3rd or 4th chances. They are obviously so miserable with their own life that they need to make others miserable too. You are so much better than that and I'm glad you've stood your ground. You come first.

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  3. *preacher hands*

    I know I've said it before, but I want to say it again - you're brave for doing this. Brave for setting up healthy boundaries, and walking away when you know it's the right thing to do, even though you're only going to catch more shit because of it.

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  4. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this!! It's tough when you decide to make a stance and a choice against family, but the truth is we didn't choose our family, but it your right to choose who you see and what impact they have on your life!! I know your holidays will be better spent with the ones you love near you! xo

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  5. Good for you. People like that add nothing to your life, they don't deserve to be in it. I HATE my grandmother. Yes, hate. Loathe. She's an awful, terrible, rotten person and always has been and I haven't spoken to her in 15 years. To be perfectly honest, my dad and I will probably have a celebratory happy hour when she finally kicks the bucket. No one harasses me about it any more but you can bet that when I was 15 they were all trying to convince me to change my mind. Now, there's like 4 family members left that speak to her. I just started the trend.

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  6. I, for one, applaud you for cutting this person out of your life. I very strongly believe that shitty people do not get a pass just because they are family. If they aren't willing to honor that relationship by being decent, why should you? It's fine to try to be the bigger person, but after a while I think you reach a point where it's just not getting you anywhere and you have to distance yourself for your own well-being. Like you said, if it were anyone else, you'd be congratulated for taking a step like this. I just don't buy the logic that you should let people walk all over you just because they're family. Blood or not, everyone deserves to be treated fairly and respectfully. And blood or not, anyone not willing to do that is not a person you need in your life. Proud of you for standing up for yourself!

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  7. You have made the right decision in this situation my friend. Blood may be thicker than water, but love is thicker than blood- get rid of the people in your life who don't love you enough to respect your feelings. Especially around the holidays. These are times to be surrounded by loved ones: not just family. Number one goal in life is to be happy, and surround yourself with people who make you happy and that you make happy as well.

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  8. toxic people have no place in anyone's life; relative or not. it's not like you didn't give this person a chance to change and sometimes, *it's just them*. so you did the only thing you could - took control of the situation which is exactly what you should do!

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  9. You go girl! I’m so with you and have no room for negative, mean people in my life. No thank you!

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  10. Oh girl I understand this! So so much. I cut off contact with my dad's side of the family entirely after years of verbal and emotional abuse and still trying to hope that things would get better. Sometimes family sucks, and sometimes it's more important to have people who are like family to you than it is to keep ties with people who are technically family but act nothing like it. <3 More power to you, keep the family members close that support you.

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  11. Way to go! We are cutting out some family members too. It's too much energy to put in what you never receive back. And holidays are for happiness, if you can't find any because of someone who does nothing but hurt people, you are totally right in making your own plans. Some people are just so sad.

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  12. as always, beautifully written my dear! you know how I feel about this situation. I cannot believe that you are still getting harassed, and I am so sorry to hear it. Hopefully it will get better as more time goes on and they realise you mean business.
    I think you are a ridiculously strong woman - most people would, like you said, forgive and forgive until they were black and blue in the face (literally and figuratively) just because it's 'family'.
    I just want you to be happy and healthy!! The most important thing is that you want that to, which you clearly do. You're the most important person in your life, without you - no life. So you keep doing you.

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  13. oh my gawd I wrote 'you want that to' and I need you to know I mean TOO and I know grammar and shit, oh I'm so ashamed. ;)

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  14. Very well written and I'm so with you. I've been doing the same thing in my life lately. Just because some people choose to have toxic people in their lives doesn't mean that you have to make the same choice. Its sad that is has to be that way but that is the reality and you need to do what is best for you. And getting rid of toxic people really is best.

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  15. This was so well written. I completely agree with you and can understand completely. I am estranged from my parents and therefore, almost my entire family. I do still have a good relationship with one of my sisters and her children and an aunt and her children and that is it. I do not have "family" Thanksgivings and Christmases. Over the years, I have created my own family out of friends and I cherish those relationships deeply. I hope that you can have peaceful holidays this year.

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  16. Wow. That is so difficult, and I'm so sorry that you are going through this! Toxic people are the worst, especially when it's family, and they are much harder to cut out. Proud of you for sticking to your beliefs- you are absolutely right, no one deserves to be treated like that! I hope you have a great holiday season just to spite this person!

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  17. I agree with what everyone has already said- you got your point across so well and you are 100% right. I'm so sorry you're going through all of this!

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  18. Wow. This is so powerful, and so interesting to see others comment and say they are also in these sorts of situations with family members. Fortunately, my toxic family member seems to have gotten the hint that she's not welcome in my life. That said, I do still go to holidays dreading she'll be there and, though it's not officially a worry at this time, I already have anxiety about whether or not to invite her to my wedding, my kids' births and birthdays, etc. My preference is a big "HELL NO," but there are other people to consider and it breaks their hearts when I am vocal about not wanting this person to be in my life.... Being a human is difficult sometimes. Hang in there! Love these beautiful, if pained, words!

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  19. i just read this. powerful stuff my girl. but also it IS the right decision. you're right, any number of people would tell you to cut out a toxic person if it werent a family member so why should this be any different. stay strong lady!

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  20. I wish I had the clapping emoji right now!!! So well written hun and you are right that decision is yours and yours alone to make! Life is too short to be around toxic people.

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  21. You definitely have the right to be make the decision to only be around people who are healthy for you. You are your number one priority. Sorry that you're still dealing with this madness.

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  22. There's a really great quote that comes to mind here - "Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do." This is something I've dealt with for years in my family and you're right, sometimes its like you're hitting your head against a brick wall. Stand firm in your decision because relative or not, no one has the right to make you feel so damn small.

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  23. Girl. I feel you so much on this. In fact I may email you about it. I've been struggling with something very similar and want badly to post about it to get it off my chest but since it's not a family member of my own, I know it's not my place to even mention it publicly in any way. Anyway, I do firmly believe in cutting ties from toxic people in your life, blood or not. Hugs.

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  24. Found this post from your post today [does that make sense] and girl, preach. I'm sorry you have to deal with this situation but firmly believe you did the right thing. Toxic people [family or friends] should be dropped! <3

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