I Don’t Want to See My Family Anymore

Dear GoodTherapy.org,

I’m done with my family. With the exception of my brother-in-law, they have all become angry, nasty people (dare I say racist in many cases). Their beliefs are the polar opposite of mine. Some of them believe and say things that would be very hurtful to some of my friends, and I find it deeply offensive. Of course, they think it’s my problem for being offended. Apparently there is nothing wrong with them and I just need “thicker skin.”

You know what? No. If not for our shared DNA, we wouldn’t even be friends. Why should I pretend to like you just because we were put on this earth in circumstances that caused us to have to tolerate each other?

I have to tell you how alone I feel right now. I hate that I feel so out of place in my own family. It feels like a choice between morality and loyalty. I choose morality. My brother-in-law tends to grin and bear it, but I can tell he is struggling with this too.

I’m not sure why I am writing. I’m just really sad right now. I don’t feel like I have a family, even though they are alive and well. And I don’t know what to do about that. —On My Own

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Dear On Your Own,

I’m so sorry you find yourself in such a painful place. We are living in polarized times where the differences between us can feel like insurmountable gulfs. There are many people finding themselves at odds with friends, family members, and coworkers in surprising and hurtful ways. There is no one way to manage these hurtful experiences; we can only find the path that works for us.

People can disagree, and yet, with compassion and empathy, hear one another and find ways to connect. It sounds, however, as if you have raised your concerns with your family and have been brushed off and had your feelings dismissed. That is not what you might hope to experience from those who are, in theory, closest to you.

I hear you framing your dilemma as a conflict between morality and loyalty. Perhaps the issue is better understood as one of mutual respect of one another’s humanity.

I hear you framing your dilemma as a conflict between morality and loyalty. Perhaps the issue is better understood as one of mutual respect of one another’s humanity. You have tried to share your feelings and discomfort and have not received understanding, compassion, or respect. It would be understandable if you did not want to continue being in relationship with people who seem to care so little about how you feel. That isn’t disloyalty, that is self-preservation.

Given how hurt and isolated you feel, it may be helpful to talk with a licensed therapist about your feelings of loss and disappointment. You can explore how you want to move forward and if there may be ways to stay connected with your family that would not be so painful.

Each of us has the family we were born into and the family that we create. Both can be supportive parts of our lives, but sometimes we have to move away from one toward another that serves us better.

Best of luck,

Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC

Erika Myers
Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
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  • Ty

    Ty

    August 20th, 2018 at 11:36 AM

    I walked away 20 years ago and never spoke to them again. Not in anger. Just went no contact. (Google it and you’ll realize how not alone you are.)
    Therapy helped me understand them. Not like them, just understand them. That did lead to some peace of mind.
    You know what else therapy taught me? It’s takes courage and strength to stand up for yourself. It takes even more steel to walk into a therapists office and say I need help with something.

    A couple off more notes. Abusers know they are being bad so they try to minimize their sickness and weakness by trying to convince you that the problem is you not them.
    A couple of other thoughts. Therapy is business after all so they can’t dive into the political divide. BUT. We are not in normal times. This president is an abuser. Of everyone. Some just don’t know it yet. If you were abused he triggers you like a bomb. So thank this MF for pointing you to a better life. Good luck. Be brave. Follow your heart.

  • William

    William

    August 25th, 2018 at 6:28 PM

    I want to give you a big shoulder hug, my dude. Because being in a cycle of dysfunction can really hurt your self-esteem and your self-worth. I have a Narcissist for a dad and an Enabler for a mother. with the two, there is a half to a heart. My sister was already the favorite because she doesn’t have a disability like I do. She was like the elephant in the room. Whenever I did something wrong, I would either get punished or gaslighted when I’d discover the truth. Years later, I started to take steps on building a higher self-esteem by cutting my dad of ( since they separated years ago) and started to accept that I wasn’t the favorite. but, here is a catch to it:
    The favorite child will always live in a messed-up view of reality and would develop a sociopathic personality, meaning that they would balance on a string for the rest of their entire life because of the Narcissistic/ Sociopaths twisted view of the world. The favorite would get on some drugs, having sex early, drinking, and becoming a mirror of the sociopathic parent, like my sister. What you did was the bravest thing that you have ever done in your life was to leave the eye of the storm. When you leave the eye of the storm, you are starting over a new family cycle, creating a healthy boundary. I wish you the best of luck, and don’t ever turn back!!!

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