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Toxic Ties: What to Do When Your Own Family Is Harmful to You and Others

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Family, Love & Home

After enslavement tore Black families apart, emancipation began bringing them back together—and better.

Black families grew stronger than ever before, and everyone—including the in-laws—had a responsibility to fulfill. Together, they tried to rebuild their lives and support one another when faced with monetary, physical, emotional, or psychic adversity. They also had fun.

Not everyone comes from a happy family, though. Your parents might argue non-stop. They might be ungrateful and uninterested. Perhaps they're broken up and you hate their new friends or partners. Maybe your siblings can’t get along. If you frequently feel angry, anxious, helpless, or compelled to repress your feelings around them, your self-esteem may be low as a result.

Some relatives are unpleasant, confrontational, or manipulative. Because no one is entirely excellent, awful, or toxic, the adjective "poisonous" describes behaviors rather than people. We all have good and bad qualities, so it's unfair to sum up a person or a family in a single description. Family issues are referred to as "toxic" behaviors.

We can exclude "toxic" people from our neighborhood. The issue becomes more challenging when toxic individuals are parents or siblings. If you've gone through threatening or frightful experiences at home, you're more likely to encounter problems in your academic, behavioral, and physical well-being.

Do not put up with abuse if you are experiencing it or if you know someone who is. For assistance, speak to a hotline counselor or a school counselor. 1-800-422-4453 is a 24-hour helpline. If you feel uncomfortable calling, offers a 24-hour online chat with trained counselors.

You could feel helpless and powerless after experiencing abuse. It can be difficult to ask for assistance, but if you're suffering, you owe it to yourself to speak with someone who can offer you ways to improve your life.

These are symptoms of a toxic family:

1. You lack trust.

You might no longer trust others, at home or outside, and find it difficult to forge healthy connections if toxic people in your life have used manipulation to subtly control you. It's hard to keep your guard up, and it gets tougher with time.

Examples of manipulation:

Parents who are toxic may use emotional blackmail to get your attention by disparaging the other parent in order to forge a partnership against them.

Being passive-aggressive is detrimental. Instead of being straightforward, the person makes subtly accusatory remarks. Instead of being truthful, they employ petty strategies to get your attention.

You may put your attention on forgiving, healing, and establishing boundaries with a toxic family member once you understand how and why your trust was betrayed.

2. You lack knowledge of wholesome partnerships.

Without a healthy family core, slavery, oppression, racism, bigotry, and patriarchy often serve as our paradigms of what "love" should be. Hollywood is the source of our "love" models. Your perception of a caring relationship can also be skewed by violence, abuse, and neglect.

You anticipate that people will retaliate excessively, assign you responsibility, or turn on you. We put up with harmful behavior when we don't know any differently. If your dad has always made you nervous, you might not doubt a bond with your best friend if they are frequently on the verge of an argument. Her poisonousness may not be obvious.

3. You're stressed out.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, is released by our bodies in response to extreme stress, telling the brain to run away or fight. In order to help the body endure an attack, hormones increase respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate.

This widens blood arteries and expands the lungs, supplying the organs and brain with extra oxygen. Sensitivity increases. We prioritize fighting or escaping danger when we are under stress because our thinking and memory regions are less active.

When unpleasant or dangerous situations arise frequently at home, stress becomes chronic and inhibits brain and body reactions. Autoimmune issues, high blood pressure, and mental health issues are all linked to stress. How do you spot persistent stress?

4. You still feel like a kid.

Your independence is not respected by a toxic family. You are treated as if you’re helpless. They become irate and make you feel awful if you refuse them. Your privacy is invaded, you lack freedom, and you are unable to make judgments. You constantly feel uneasy, awkward, and afraid to do new things.

Low self-esteem and incorrect behavior result from feeling ignored and disrespected. You can't define yourself, so you don't know who you are. You might feel dejected and anxious. When you have low self-esteem, you begin to criticize yourself and feel unworthy, stupid, and useless. You accept that you are "less" than others.

On occasion, the opposite happens. You are the adult in the family, not a child. One or both parents lack maturity. They lack responsibility, interest, concern, or impulse control, which makes them unreliable. Taking on adult responsibilities too soon is neither healthy nor proper.

5. You ignore emotion.

Perhaps you've never learned how to express yourself since using the "wrong" words could result in parental abuse. You bury hurt, resentment, and anger. You could put the feelings of others above your own. You might not know who you are, how you feel, or what you want if you ignore your emotions. You are limited by uncertainty and social awkwardness.

Your family may not appear to be emotionally distant from one another to outsiders. Some parents provide their kids access to food, books, and fun outings. Behind the façade, these people are icy; they don't provide hugs, kisses, compassion, encouragement, or sympathy.

Although they may be independent, teenagers often lack emotional connection. Maybe you feel unlovable and beneath people.

6. You are bothered by failure.

You might feel inadequate and unworthy in a poisonous family. Your parents may have made unreasonable requests without expressing gratitude. Now that you've failed, you lack confidence, crave attention, and are on the verge of having a panic attack.

You often feel anxious. It could be hard to focus. You're tense, worried, and easily irritated. Families with toxic dynamics are rife with conflict and misuse of power. Through their attitudes, behaviors, and communication methods, toxic parents undermine children's motivation, self-esteem, and emotional stability. This results in a tense, uneasy atmosphere.

For a full, abundant existence, repeat these affirmations:

  • I can decline without worrying about the reaction.
  • I oust everyone who interferes with my enjoyment.
  • I am significant.
  • I want to be happy.
  • Respect me.
  • I get rid of my worries and skepticism.

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