By Tymmarah Anderson
Forget what you’ve heard before — you’re not entitled to put up with toxic family members just because they’re blood. We’ve heard it before, “Blood is thicker than water,” but when did that ever become an excuse to treat blood with any less respect? How about. . .never.
Like many, the family is essential to me, so I often find it hard to draw a line in the sand of boundaries. It feels like once I do, here comes the tidal waves of comments like “come on, that’s family.” And just like that, the line is washed away. It’s so much harder for me to cut off family than it is friends. If your family is anything like mine, family barbecues or celebrations are mandatory, so you’re bound to have a run-in with your family foe while packed in Grandma’s backyard or cramped at the dinner table. Nonetheless, cutting ties with their toxic and harmful behavior is still your prerogative — family or not.
But that’s just it: breaking up is hard to do, no matter who it is. And often, family comes with an extra layer you have to peel back. How do we do that without bleeding on ourselves and others?
There’s no mess-free way to cut off a relationship with a family member. Setting boundaries feels like such cliche advice, but it’s truly the best of the best. Reminding yourself what you refuse to put up with can go a long way, and you don’t have to push the line for family, or anyone for that matter.
Part of setting boundaries is also setting expectations. Sometimes we have a higher standard we hold the family too because they’re family. We expect the utmost loyalty and respect, but the reality is, the family can disappoint us all the same. By letting go of my expectations, I saved myself a lot of internal grief.
Now, I’m not saying cut your sister off every time she annoys you, but if her behavior becomes toxic and harmful, it’s honestly time to re-evaluate the relationship. After all, blood is indeed thicker than water, but it spills just the same.
Tymmarah Anderson is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC.