The Mental Health Impact of Cutting a Toxic Parent Out of Your Life

Going no-contact with someone is a really difficult and painful decision. Going no contact with a parent comes with even more grief and challenges.

Society has a built in stigma against children who cut parents out of their lives. Particularly daughters who cut out their mothers. It’s as if there’s a silent code that we must adhere to that preserves the semblance of a loving mother-daughter relationship where none exists. And it’s unfair.

Nobody. I repeat, nobody has the right to tell you why someone shouldn’t be toxic to you. Only you can determine what is right for you, mentally, emotionally and physically.

A toxic relationship is defined as one that is in any way hurtful or that negatively impacts your life. Often the toxic individual doesn’t realize they are toxic and they may in fact suffer from mental illness. However, if after repeated attempts at establishing boundaries fails, the individual is informed of the ways in which they may trigger you, and they still are unwilling or unable to change their own behavior, the only choice one has is to remove that person from their life.

In my own struggle to keep my distance from my toxic mother, I have been met with much angst. Mostly from my extended family. It has been hard enough to try to grieve the lack of a healthy mother-daughter relationship, but it has been even harder to be met with not just hesitation, but downright anger by my family for my choice to protect my sanity.  

What I want you to know is that nobody has the right to dictate what is right for your mental health. You know how you feel. You know your truth. Nobody else can feel that for you. 

A therapist may suggest it, but ultimately it is your decision to cut off ties. If you do so, it’s not OK for others to doubt your therapist or therapy. Establishing a strong therapeutic bond is hard to do and undermining that relationship is downright cruel and abusive.

Mental health care is so difficult anyway. Lack of support, stigma. It’s all so hard. What you don’t need is for anyone to tell you not to take care of you.

Relationships are challenging. One person may view an individual as a saint while the other sees that person as the primary source of their psychological pain. Nobody else has walked in your shoes and therefore they cannot know the pain and suffering you have endured.

Never allow others to sway you. You know what’s right. It’s hard. It separates you from people you love. But it’s necessary if you want to rebuild your life. 

To all of you who have had to make this difficult choice and have been met with disapproval, you are not alone. It’s more common than you think. Blood may be thicker than water, but it doesn’t mean it has to bind you. You can choose your family. Surround yourself with those who love you unconditionally and who don’t judge your mental health journey but rather are cheerleaders supporting you along the way. These are the members of your true family and these are the ones who belong in your life.

Getty Images photo via Evgeny Gromov

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