“You don’t owe your family affection if they are being abusive and treating you poorly. I know that it’s so difficult not to feel guilty for holding back that love. I know that there are people who will tell you that you should just grin and bear it because they’re family. People who will shame you for the way you feel. People who will try to convince you that wanting to take care of yourself in this way is selfish and unjustified. But the truth is that it’s not your responsibility to be kind or loving to people who have consistently hurt and mistreated you — especially when these people continue to disregard your feelings, ignore your boundaries, and refuse to take responsibility for their behavior. Just because the person hurting you is family doesn’t make them an exception.
Choosing not to be affectionate with family who have abused or mistreated you doesn’t make you a bad person. It isn’t selfish or disrespectful. It’s a form of self-care. It’s about you honoring your feelings and holding people accountable for their abuse. It’s about you standing up for yourself and your needs. It’s about you making your mental health a priority. So if getting distance from certain family members is what you need right now, or permanently, then you have every right to withhold your love and leave. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for the sake of maintaining a relationship. And you don’t ever have to apologize for creating a safer space for yourself.”
As someone who sadly isn’t proud to call my family my family, I have recently learned to stop idolizing the idea of family and putting them on a pedestal. As controversial as it may seem, it’s an idea that’s really working for me at the moment. Learning to demythologize my parents, realizing that they are simply flawed, imperfect humans who gave birth to me and knowing that I don’t owe them my self-respect is one of the most liberating truths I’ve learnt lately. As much as society presses on you the idea that family is everything, I’d like to challenge the idea that maybe it’s not. It’s about purposefully choosing who you want your family to be. As cliche as it sounds, family isn’t just about blood relatives. It’s about surrounding yourself with your own family – people who respect you, love you in word and deed, accept you & celebrate you for all your beauty & flaws, meet your needs as well as you meeting theirs and can let you go if you need to space to grow.