How To Explain Your Toxic Family To Other People

I just read an entire article (it was long) on ‘how to explain to people why you have no contact with your family’..

I’ve got to admit I found it annoying.

I don’t feel I have to explain anything. I had my first experience of this on the weekend.

On Saturday I spoke to a guy from my meetup about how I’d had a bad last few months. I didn’t say much just that I’d been going through a rough spell over Christmas with my family as I had made the difficult decision to cut them out of my life.

In retrospect I guess that sounds pretty bad to the average person..

Suddenly he went on a rampage to say that he had ‘sensed’ all along I was a drama queen, and ‘who does that’ …  most people just accept people’s flaws without doing the drama of ‘divorcing’ them.

I didn’t react. Mostly because I know who I am. I’m not a drama queen. He doesn’t know the details of my life. And clearly what he said came from someplace else.

He made this assumption clearly in front of the entire group but I didn’t feel the need to explain any further.

I simply said that it was an act of self preservation.

I actually like this guy and I didn’t take it personally. I feel for him, his life is difficult and somehow I bring up a lot of stuff in him.

He came from a dysfunctional family of alcoholic parents, had a major car accident at 19, was told he’d never walk again but he defied the odds. Although .. in his words (people think I’m drunk when I walk..). He legs don’t work properly and sometimes he needs crutches. He probably late 30s and lives with his parents (I assume he feels he needs their help due to the accident, not sure).

Maybe my choices make him uncomfortable, because he knows he has to find a way to be independent of them.

He’s judgemental, cynical, bitter and unhappy. He’s in emotional pain. He judges me a lot. I almost feel he projects his mother on to me.

In the group everyone has been through some sort of personal hell. We’re all survivors, and we have made the brave decision to trust and love people again but it isn’t easy. 

So do I have to explain..

I remember years ago a 45 year old woman telling me she left home and had gone no contact at 16 years old from her mother. She never saw her again. 

I never asked why I just understood and assumed she must of had a damn good reason.

 Many years later she told me some details of her childhood, it was more shocking than I could have imagined. She never had to explain in detail to me, I had already accepted her choice without judgement.

Saying ‘my family are unhealthy for me and going no contact is an act of self preservation’ is enough. 

I’ve already been through enough ‘drama’

Any thoughts?

SG x



2 thoughts on “How To Explain Your Toxic Family To Other People

  1. I live under this rule: “don’t explain, don’t complain”. People are quick to judge and offer opinions where none is required or requested. It’s easy to throw a snap judgement at someone but the real challenge is to focus inside and work on the issues there. I think the way you handled that man was brilliant and entirely non-confrontational. You don’t owe anyone any explanation.

    • Thanks Aura, that’s a good rule to remember :o) Yeah .. I’m not reactive to people these days I guess it’s a sign of my raised self esteem. I guess if anything I learnt it’s that the people in the group are all at different stages of healing. I can talk about my past without experiencing bad feelings but many of them are not at that point yet (especially the men).

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