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




On The Eve Of My 48th Birthday

No more abuse

This week I went ‘No Contact’ with my entire family.

I have chosen not to see them again.. and I am completely serious about it (all of them and my entire extended family).

It has taken me 8 years to come to this hard decision.

I’m feeling all sorts of emotions. I’m feeling a great sense of freedom and the release of stress .. but I also feel some fear.

Fear that I am now completely alone aside from my 2 youngest children.

I wish I had made this decision earlier because my stress levels are very high, hair falling out, weight gain, lethargy, flare in my auto immune disorder and I am definitely a little dissociative – I am floaty and that makes it hard to function well. My stress levels must be reduced so the bullies must go…

Leaving them has been like leaving my long term abusive marriage.. it has taken time. I loved them, it was hard to let go but ultimately I have too in order to live.

I am now actively putting myself out there to meet a new group of healthy people..

Some amazing things have happened in the last few days. I saw a woman who advised me on some healthy next steps, she helped me immensely and I have found two groups of like minded people.

It seems when you let go of those that hurt you, and you heal your past you are rewarded with something new… something better. It’s so damn scary … and exciting!

So, I am alone tomorrow for my Birthday, no money and no plans. My two youngest are in Fiji for the school holidays. But strangely that feels absolutely perfect .. I would prefer to be alone than with a family that causes me such stress, grief and contributing ill health. It feels right, it feels relaxing and it feels like a gift to myself.

The gift of health…

I have a strong feeling I have some amazing Birthdays ahead of me  ..

Domestic Abuse


Complex PTSD

It took the death of my father to free me from a lifetime of emotional abuse as the daughter of a narcissistic mother. To open my eyes and swim away. To save myself from drowning.At first, I experienced one of those ‘pink cloud’ periods. Out of her sphere of influence, I was liberated. Powerful.  Invincible.  And I sailed on that cloud for a month or so. Until  my first EMDR session. The ensuing flood of memories. The vibrantly real visions of flailing, submerged, for safety, alone in the middle of a pond whose ice was too thin to bear the weight of even the frailest of the fragile.It was then that I realized the true pain had just begun. Pinpointing the root of my problems involved ripping wide open poorly healed wounds. Recracking bones. What emerged was the wreckage of my life.Everything became a trigger. There was no still point. Except in yoga. In meditation. In carrying around the book and studying each day The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  It is this immersion into the spiritual which is saving me. Repairing my wounds. Reconnecting me with my soul.

My light bulb moment first occurred last year, when my new pdoc, just ten minutes into our 15 minute session, said “I knew right away what your problem is. You have PTSD. I saw it the moment you walked in the door.”Imagine that, after over 20 years of treatment for Major Depressive Disorder!

True, I had immersed myself years before in studying narcissistic mothers. I had done all the reading back then. The Gifted Child. Trapped in the Mirror. Codependent No More. I had gone through periods of No Contact. Limited Contact. But years of treating the symptoms with medication, with sliding through life saddled with the stigma MDD had diverted my attention from the true issue. Had kept me ‘coming back for more.’

It was only after that visit with the pDoc that I began researching Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), defined as “a condition that results from chronic or long-term exposure to emotional trauma over which a victim has little or no control and from which there is little or no hope of escape. “PTSD, in contrast, results from single events, or short term exposure to extreme stress or trauma.

For me C-PTSD involved emotional abuse, physical violations of personal boundaries, entrapment , long-term objectification, exposure to gaslighting & false accusations,  long-term exposure to inconsistent, push-pull, splitting or alternating raging & hoovering behaviors.

The consequences? Hypervigilence, hypersensitivity, inability to trust, feeling deformed, defective. Unworthy of being loved. Isolating. Adrenal fatigue. Chronic sleep problems. Battlling and overcoming addictions. Inability to hold onto a job. Incapable of true intimacy. The list goes on. And on. And on. I read the symptoms and there is nary a one I cannot relate to.

My NM succeeded time after time in reeling me back in, keeping me entrapped in an obsessive need to ‘get it right this time,’ to find a way to correct the misconceptions she had about me, to redeem myself for being such a failure.

But I was a failure the moment I was born. How can one correct that?

There were times like this most recent period,  during the last two years, when I thought I had succeeded. When I was able to swoop in and work magic as she and my father battled major illness.  I felt loved. I flew back and forth to the East Coast maybe seven times for extensive stays in hotels near their home. For hospitalizations. Doctors visits. Setting up home health care services. We all thought my mother would die first.

But it was my dad who lost his battle with cancer. Just four days before his death, while I was supervising hospice and home nurses and battling with doctors to issue the right cocktail of meds to relieve my dad of his suffering, she struck out with an attack of such deluded vengeance, I came this close to a psychotic break. When my dad needed me most.

That was the end for me. I told her the next morning I would be staying until he died. And I flew back home the day after his funeral.

My mother’s self absorption, her inability to express love, her preventing me from forming any close friendships, her adeptness at triangulation, her severe punishments which often took the form of weeks of being ignored, the continuous lack of consistency between what she said one day and the next, the radical shifts in reality between when one went to bed in the evening and awoke in the morning. The false accusations.  It was always me causing the problems, the drama, the family rifts.

As I see it, some of the most damaging episodes of dealing with my my mother in my life happened after I ended my first period of no contact. My daughter was perhaps two. I recall phone conversations when my mother said such horrible things I experienced emotional traumas so intense they manifested as inflicted physical wounds.• Feeling like someone had pulled the earth out from under your feet: A short time sober and emerging (unbeknownst to her) out the other end of a psychic break,  she told me she had been disappointed with me since my senior year in high school – I looked down to see if I still had legs.
• Feeling as if the top of my head had exploded: she said I had no right to have a child so soon after getting married when we weren’t financially set –  I reached my hands to see if my head was still there.
• Feeling as if l had been stabbed in the heart: I was the only girl of all 23 cousins who was a failure –  I looked down for the knife, the blood.

In the three months since my dad’s death, I had been in limited contact mode. I was calling her once a week. And then, a few weeks ago, she said something so hurtful and vindictive, I looked down to see if my wrists had been slit. I continued to look down at my wrists, on and off through the day, for a week afterwards.  As I write this I notice I look down again.

Today, I am in my 12th day of “No Contact.” And as much as others may view me as a horrible daughter, for my own survival ‘No Contact’ must define my status until she dies.  To be “No Contact” means to allow no contact from her, either. To avoid all contact with people she may use as messengers of actions she is taking to hurt, discredit and paint false pictures about me.