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

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, 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.
  • Leave a Comment
  • 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.

  • Phredd

    October 22nd, 2019 at 8:06 PM

    The entire concept of family loyalty is terribly overrated (think: Ma Barker, Don Corleone, The Sopranos…) Take it from me. And it’s true- just because the luck of the genetic draw put some people in the same house as I was plopped into truly is NOT in and of itself a sufficient reason for remaining loyal to them. Oh I know – there are devout Italians and countless Bible thumpers denouncing this thought. But I beg them to look to the Gospel itself. Jesus states: “For whoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

  • 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!!!

  • Freida

    January 28th, 2019 at 1:10 PM

    Wish I could afford therapy. I went before and it helped. Sadly my therapist passed away very suddenly st a pretty young age. He really helped me. I spent quite a bit of time and money trying to find a good therapist but I am now all tapped out.
    Having said that, one of the reasons I do not see my family is that I am struggling so much financially – more than I ever would have imagined. This is making me feel depressed and also I have I have nothing in common with my affluent, married siblings who own homes, cars, have money, take vacations, etc. I just don’t fit in.
    My older relatives who passed away were more accepting and understanding. They grew up during the Great Depression and know that people can help each other when they are down on their luck.
    Not the current generation. Anyway, I can’t really do much about it. I know they have an inkling that I am flat broke but they never reach out a hand.
    Family estrangement is a two way street. Sometimes all the people chose it, not just one person. I feel like killing myself everytime I go visit them with their huge material wealth. Not great for my self esteem so I just keep my distance.

  • Beth

    November 11th, 2019 at 9:36 AM

    In my opinion it isn’t worth the price you have to pay. I too am in the process of no contact with family and my finances are minimal. My family never helps me financially anyhow. Run away.

  • Lori

    November 5th, 2019 at 6:11 AM

    I want to thank all those who have commented and the originator of the topic as I thought, really thought I was alone in these feelings. I got up at a “Pre-Thanksgiving” my nephew and his partner held this past weekend and I bolted out of the home. Pre-Thanksgiving as they will be out of town with friends over the holiday. I could not take one more second of their superficial and selfish commentaries. For the last two days I have really struggled with how my actions have effected others and how to move forward. I do not have any thing in common with these people and I currently lack the willingness to pretend. These are all my sister’s children, grandchildren, current and past husband’s brood. For the sake of my mental health I am just going to decline invitations and learn to live another way. I wanted to comment to acknowledge the strength of others who have publicly acknowledged their struggles in an attempt to help others. It has helped me understand I am not alone and has given me the will to follow my gut feelings regarding this matter. I am going to nicely decline invitations.

  • Mario

    November 19th, 2019 at 1:40 PM

    I spoke with a therapist in the business for many years. He told me the biggest issue faces his clients 20 years ago was guilt. Guilt they had failed to live up to the expectations of others. Some of the guile, he said, was justifiable, like the guilt clients felt about having abused someone, cheated on a spouse, lied, cheated their way through life. Now, he tells me, the majority of his clients never mention guilt. No, it’s the clients who come to him to learn how to cope that those closest to them, mostly family, do not live up to THEIR standards. Ironic, isn’t it? Look in the mirror if you wish to make a world a better place. From my experiences, it’s those who label others “racist” who tend to be the most prejudicial in all ways.

  • Fives

    January 14th, 2020 at 12:04 AM

    You made the right choice. You can’t maintain relationships with people who disrespect and disregard you, your beliefs and the humanity of others.
    This is an article from someone who had to cut family out of their life too.

  • Anon

    August 2nd, 2020 at 10:04 AM

    I went limited contact with my family because they are essentially dysfunctional and toxic people. This may sound harsh, but if you can maintain a partial relationship that can actually be to your advantage. You must have the power to establish boundaries and you also can control how much time you spend with these people. My parents sucked. I became a psychologist just to understand them. My father was greedy and vindictive after my mother divorcing him. My mother is a codependent who married dangerous toxic men who set the framework for a lot of screwed up views I have had to work through. It’s tough when you have a toxic family with any problems, but at least you were never abused. Sometimes thinking about how much worse it could be, because children like myself dealt with a lot worse. I even ended up marrying one of my patients, so even counselors are not exempt from attracting more mental illness into their lives. Take care and be well.

  • Catharina

    January 19th, 2021 at 12:38 PM

    WOW. SMH. After reading some of the comments on here, this is exactly why I HAVEN’T sought therapy. I

  • D K

    May 8th, 2021 at 2:40 AM

    People are too judgemental of people who choose to end contact with parents. If they were in an abusive marriage, everyone would tell them to leave and never see that person again. Change the word abusive spouse to mom or dad, and watch the but-but-buts begin.
    Those who tell me “but it’s your own father!” are told “he ahould have remembered that too.”
    I cut them off for my safety, sanity and happiness. Life was not good with them in it. Life has been amazing and a relief without them.
    DNA shared is not a license to abuse or an obligation to endure.

  • marylyn

    July 21st, 2022 at 5:04 AM

    I was always the black sheep, they never loved me. i have spent my life wondering this. what did i do so wrong no one wanted me in my family. i am the only one who went to university, and have done other things, doesn’t matter. how can anyone love me when my own family hates me. i don’t get it. it rips my soul out. i got sick with breast cancer and could not turn to them, thank god for friends.

  • Petina

    January 16th, 2023 at 6:52 PM

    I agree with you, look in the mirror and what I see is an insecure chils who never got the tine and attention needed to grow into a person with self-confidence and value. If you don’t value yourself, no-one else will and this is why family cut you off. People who feel of no value, will find fault with their family, they are dysfunctional in a family setting as no-one realy minds if they are there or not. I know tgis, because this is where I’m at. There is really nothing wrong with my family. The problem is me. I need the therapy. I need to build my self-worth, only then will I accept others. If I don’t, I will end up alone. It is a huge thing feeling left out, but look in the mirror first before saying your family is this or that. I know, I look for reasons not to see them, but inherently I just want to feel part of them, and accepted, but doing introspection will teach you a lot about your own prejudices. The choice is yours, not theirs.

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