Even in modern society, we are always told to respect and cherish the family; in particular our parents. Yet sometimes this respect is misplaced – children are often abused, sometimes physically, sometimes sexually and, more commonly, mentally and often this can be from family members. All too often a child is left feeling more broken from what a family member says or does than a perfect stranger. Why is this?
I say that respect should be earnt. When the relationship between a parent (be this blood or otherwise) and their child becomes toxic, when it becomes down to authority and control over a child to the point that all the child dreams of is running away, that is when we have to take a step back and say, “How is this right? How does sharing blood give you the right to treat me this way?” No matter who the person is to you, when they make you feel constantly scared, or uncomfortable, then that is not ok.
Too often bad treatment from family is ignored; we skim over the abuse or try to rationalise it in our minds “Perhaps I deserve to be called a slut, maybe my skirts are too short”, “Perhaps they’re right, I am fat and selfish” and all that happens is we begin to have a complex about this. The words from our family hurt the most and sometimes it’s all you can hear when you lie in the dark, eyes wide open.
“Blood is thicker than water” is actually misquoted. The original quote was
“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”
I suggest that, whilst family is always important, we should start living life by the words of the original quote – we allow the bonds forged in friendship to become a lifeline and we no longer allow the word ‘family’ to make us doubt ourselves, or put up with cruel words or bad treatment. We cannot allow ourselves to be constantly belittled and criticised with the excuse that they share a few strands of DNA with us.
When an individual treats you well, that is when respect should be afforded. Respect should not be given purely on the basis that they own any part of you. You are your own person. There is a fine line between good-parenting and bad. Do not make the mistake that just because they are lecturing you on homework, that this is abuse…do not be that person. There are people out there suffering and are afraid to make a stand because this is their parent. Please do not turn this into something it is not, an excuse to party late and dress badly or drop your grades.
But when you find yourself crying into your pillow every night or hate the way you look because a family member commented on your size or your face, or something that you cannot change, do not be ashamed to escape. Do not let their poison ruin you, for you are beautiful just the way that you are.
I’m sick of society dictating the way that we can act, pushing people to take back toxic family members again and again, whether it be a brother, mother, sister, aunt, son or daughter. If the way they act is affecting your life, then there is no shame in using up that one, final chance. Not everything can be forgiven, no matter who they are. Welcoming any toxic presence back into your life is ridiculous – do not let the excuse of ‘family’ drag you down.
You cannot fix other people’s mistakes and whilst taking someone in that repeatedly makes bad choices that affect others’ lives is commendable, it’s neither realistic nor recommendable; you are opening yourself up to bad treatment. Always remember that you CANNOT help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. Relinquish any responsibility you may feel just because you are related; they made the bad decisions, not you. No family should be tarred with the same brush and society should stop being so judgemental.
I just wanted to let you know that, whilst family can be good, it can also be the rock that drags you down and you are perfectly within your right to severe ties, if you wish to. There is no shame in freeing yourself from any prison, be it from family or your own making. Don’t be scared to break free, no matter who you are escaping from.
words by Hayley Freeston