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A month ago I finally moved out of home due to how bad my family life was.

For my whole life, especially while growing up, it was an extremely toxic environment to be in. There was physical and emotional abuse, drinking & drug use, and so much unseen mental illness and unstableness. Often when I came home, I automatically became closed off and hostile for self-protection. It got to a point where I became extremely suicidal and when I told some of my family, I was ignored.

I decided I was reaching my breaking point and my escape from home was long overdue. I talked to my best friend, who also moved out of home to escape a toxic family environment, and she gave me the guidance and courage I needed to finally move out. I was anxious, only because I knew staying at home meant I could save faster for my world travels, but more importantly, I wanted to continue to protect my little sister whom I took to mothering.

I prayed to God to provide for me a place where I would be around safe people, and he provided. The people I would be living with were not only safe, but they were also nurturing, encouraging people who I could be friends with. My sister agreed to help me move out, but when that day came, she couldn’t come and I moved all the boxes in the rain, making five car trips in total.

What hurt was seeing my mum look at my boxes and walk away without a word. I haven’t seen or heard from her since. I remember on one of the car trips, I started crying. I felt abandoned, overwhelmed with sadness that I had to be self-sufficient my whole life and hurt that things between my family and I had to be that way. It was a mix of pain, for sure, but it was also insurmountable relief that I got away and could finally be free.

My friend once said to me that you don’t realize how bad things are until you step out of it. It’s true. Compared to how miserable I felt living with my family, I am so much happier now. My anxiety has disappeared. My tension and anger have been released from my body. It’s also amazing how my sleep has improved too. Not only did moving out have an incredibly positive impact on me mentally, but physically, too.

Of course, it still hurts being estranged from my family and having nothing to do with them anymore. But the incomparable freedom and safety I feel in my new environment, and having my friends as my family now, is priceless and worth any kind of sacrifice to me.

I read a Daniell Koepke quote to anyone needing encouragement in this area. She said, “You don’t owe your family affection if they are being abusive and treating you poorly… 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… 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.”

I encourage all who are in a toxic or harmful family environment to consider finder a safer space away from them. Your health and happiness is a priority. I know it can feel extremely scary, and your mind is going to make up a million reasons not to do it, maybe even telling you that your situation is not so bad. But there will always be something stopping you. You just have to ask yourself, “If not now, then when?” Make sure you do it within your means. But most importantly, make sure you find a safe home and safe people to live with. It will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. I know it was one of mine.

signatureImage via A Certain Kind of Woman