For as long as I can remember, people around me have always told me that I must love and respect my parents regardless of how much pain they have caused me in my life. Whether it was their absence in my life or even their involvement, almost all of it has always been toxic to me. Still, I am told to hold them close and look past it because I am their child and that is what children do.

I believe that so many of us are taught that we must stand with our parents no matter what they do or don’t do for us. We begin to think that abusive behavior is normal and that the important people in our lives are expected to let us down or do us wrong.

There was a moment in my life, almost two years ago, when I allowed a sibling of mine to use my car and he ended up destroying and losing it. While I am very much past the situation with my sibling, I do often reflect on the conversation I had when I was venting to my mother about how frustrated I was with my sibling for not owning up to his actions. I expressed to her how disappointed I was that he would take advantage of me so quickly and she said to me, “Wouldn’t you rather your family take advantage of you before a stranger?” For a short time, I believed that she was right, but after separating myself from my family, I realized how wrong she was. I had allowed myself to believe those words, thus allowing my family to continuously take advantage of me. Your family should not be the first to take advantage of you or harm you, they should be the first you run to when you need help or guidance. I have never felt comfortable in running to my family for help and it hurts knowing I would rather turn to a stranger rather than my own blood. 

I know I am not the only one who ended up with parents who make it difficult to love them, it’s good to know this because it makes me feel a little less abnormal.

It’s very important to know that you do not have to love your parents just because their DNA is what makes you up and that is something I have struggled coming to terms with my entire life. You should love them in reciprocation for the love that they have shown you. You should love them on your own terms. Forcing yourself to love people who are toxic, regardless of whether or not you share blood, can create false ideas of love.

While it’s important to separate yourself from the toxicity that your parents may bring into your life, you should know that it is okay to forgive them but forgive them in a way that you are comfortable with. Forgive and work on loving them from a distance if you absolutely have to. Don’t stress yourself because someone else’s terms of forgiveness are different than what you had in mind. With that being said, you don’t have to forgive. You can leave it all behind you and live a life completely separate from your parents.

For me, though, it took finding forgiveness in my heart in order for me to begin my healing process. I’ve developed anxiety, depression and abandonment issues because of the trauma and burdens I have carried with me. 

For anyone struggling to love the family they were born into, because of some sort of endured abuse, know that you are not alone and while it takes time to move on and heal, it still can be done.

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