People Share When They Realized Their Family Was Toxic

Sometimes, it's better to cut your toxic family out of your life than keep them. Then, life gets easier, and you finally feel free for the first time.

These Reddiors shared the moment they realized they needed to get away from their toxic family members. 

When my mother blamed me for her divorce from my stepdad.

Supposedly they divorced because I came home for the holidays when I was in college.  My father was cut out after I overheard him speaking negatively about me and spreading rumors within the family that I was on drugs because "no one can be enrolled in college, work a part-time job, and maintain a social life without being on something."

When my dad left me, my mom, and my siblings in the park and said that he didn’t want a family anymore. He gave us $20. My mom took us to Burger King and cried there with us. We stayed at my aunt's house, and he kept calling her, asking her if we were there.

The next day after school, we were back home, and my mom was making dinner for my dad. I was in the 2nd grade. I asked my mom what was going on, and she told me to be quiet.

I loved my dad. He has, on various occasions, hugged me, told me he loved me, told me he was proud of me, taken me out for ice cream, gone to the park and played ball with me, talked to me about my interests, and when I was older, talked to me about the birds and the bees. He didn’t punish me for drinking when I was 20 because I had the sense to not drive, and call him and tell him that I was staying the night somewhere because I had been drinking too much to drive home. He has also, at various points, choked me, punched me, told me I’m worthless, implied that if I left, I’d be unable to make it on my own, told me that no other family would put up with my nonsense, and completely ignored a crisis call from my school when I was suicidal, and kept me in the closet under the stairs. Abuse isn’t always a constantly awful experience where your abusers are a constant villain figure, complete with twirly mustache. There were good times in there, and times that things seemed normal.

As a child, though, ultimately I feared when the bad version of my dad would come back. As a teenager, I fought tooth and nail whenever I got the opportunity. As an adult, I pitied him until his dying day, after I made the decision to cut him out of my life completely because I ultimately knew that he needed me more than I needed him. It’s a mindbender. It never isn’t, and I’ve never known someone who’s been through abuse that didn’t feel mind bent, but the bottom line is that if you need someone out of your life for your own well being, then that’s just what you need to do, no matter what.

As someone whose mother is currently incarcerated for abusing me as a child, yes, sometimes you need to cut them out, no matter how close. Most people don’t have to ever think about cutting their mom, or any other family member, out of their life, so it’s easy for them to say, ‘Family is family, no matter what they did to you.; This is the gist of what my grandma, my mom’s mom, has said to me many times.

It used to make me feel guilty, but you know what?  No, blood does not give people a free pass to screw your life up and continue to screw your life up. Yeah, it can be hard for some people to cut family out, but in the end, if it makes you feel better mentally and helps your well being, then it’s the right thing to do.

I grew up in a toxic household largely centered around my dad’s insane use of substances and drinking. I grew up in a trailer that caught fire and literally exploded when my dad was cooking ‘product’ in it. No one in my family went to college. I was the first to graduate high school. My mother made it to grade 9, my dad to grade 5. He could read a little but not functionally. Mom had a GED and dad had a forged GED. I cut ties with everyone toxic.

I just said ‘no’ one day. I haven’t spoken to my father for many years and have no desire to do so. I started cutting ties when my family began to mock and deride my decision to go to college. I sought out stable people in my life. I married a wonderful man who helped me develop stability. I went to college, I have a master’s degree, and I graduate with my MD in may. I could not have done any of it if I still had the immense chaos of the family I was born into, or if I didn’t have the stability of the family I chose.

My mom suffered a terrible back injury (she severed a nerve between here L3 and L4 vertebrae). Long story short, she became a product of our corrupted pharmaceutical industry. Heavy doses of pain pills turned into dependency, which turned into depression, which turned into being bipolar, catatonia, and psychosis.

I handled it for about four years, had to drop out of school three times, and quit one of my jobs. I love my mom but it is such a toxic environment for just her, my dad, and me. I moved out of state, and it’s been the best 13 months of my life.

I’ve had to cut my parents out at one point, but not permanently. I was unemployed at the time, and every interaction with them was just complaining about me and hounding about jobs that it soured every conversation, and they made it clear I was worthless and disappointing to them, as I was now. I am now employed, we have a good relationship again, but if you’re going through some serious stuff and they are making it worse, not being supportive, then give yourself space.

However, if they aren’t seriously abusive, I wouldn’t cut them off forever. I’d like to think that if I needed them, they’d be there for me, and vice-versa.

My wife took her father to Japan in 2014. He has not spoken to her since. I contacted him to invite him to our courthouse wedding, no reply. I then contacted him to say that she really misses him and that he needs to get in touch. His reply was basically, ‘When you have kids, you expect them to be one thing, then they turn out to be another.’ It is infuriating, and I hate him for it. I was never a fan of his and how he spoke with her, but this just makes it so much worse. My parents do not understand how someone could do that to their own child.

My wife remarks, ‘you see serial killers, about to be put to death, and their family is still there for them.' We would go to his house maybe once a month. I stopped going after a while because I hated how he talked to her. Not yelling, just condescending. She decided, as we travel all the time, that a good thing would be to get him out of the country to see how the other side lives, and as a way to bond. She said he complained the whole time about how he couldn’t smoke anywhere, and other little, easily solvable, problems. I picked them up, took them to our house, he got in his truck and drove home. They have not spoken since.”

My mother was abusive and manipulative, especially when I got out of college. She couldn’t stand the fact that I A) didn’t move back home and B) was developing a life for myself. She resorted to name calling, insults, attacking my partners, and calling me at work. She would send me angry messages about how I am an awful son and she wished I was never born. She sent pictures of the things I had left behind in her home and said she sold them.

She showed me pictures of gifts I had given her over the years smashed to bits. In the end, I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t keep giving her another shot, and had to go dark in terms of her. She was stalking my social media accounts, and I had to change all of it, lock things down, change numbers, etc. It was an incredibly hard experience and I miss the memories of the mother I once knew, but today I’m so much better without that darkness in my life.

I no longer talk to my mother. She went completely off the deep end at my wedding, even ‘booing’ my wife and me. She destroyed her bouquet and said we gave her a lesser one. She crashed the bridal party’s spa appointment to get hair and makeup done. When we were announced at the reception, she BOOED. She destroyed favors, she told my uncle whose wife of 40 years just passed away, that she’s burning in hell.

I found out about a lot of this after the fact. Our families spent the entire day running interference on her, so we didn’t get the worst of it. Bar none, she acted like the lowest of the low, something slightly above that first amphibian crawling out of the primordial ooze and calling itself a land dweller. If there was anything she could do that was destructive, she did it. The last thing she said to me was, ‘I hope your plane crashes’ as we left the next morning for our flight to Australia. I haven’t spoken to her much since, and not at all in the last 15 years.

I haven’t spoken to my parents in over a year. I took some time off work on disability to get my mental health back up to where I needed it to be and stayed with them for a few months. It was the best I’ve felt in years. I was eating healthy, talking with a regular therapist, on the right track with medication, and exercising.  Well, my mom is a control freak and without getting too much into detail, it bugged her that I wasn’t doing things her way. One weekend, she was out of town visiting my aunt. She wrote me an email that said I was getting kicked out with five days notice. I tried to discuss things with my dad but he wouldn’t even acknowledge me when I brought it up. He avoided the conversation completely. The most helpful he was while staying there was helping to arrange a U-haul. When I was packing it, he watched me load everything while washing my parents’ cars. I moved into my older brother’s basement suite. I lived there for a few months, but my brother is a drinker. One night I hear him yelling at my 13-year-old nephew, making him feel terrified. I stepped in between them and told my brother to step back. He was wasted and punched me in the face. I moved out when I could.

He has tried to text me and doesn’t understand what he did wrong. I have another brother but he is also a drinker and an avid ‘white powder’ user. Due to this we never had a relationship. I tried to be there as a brother for him growing up but he has never cared to get to know me. He only cares about himself. There are times I lay in bed at night and cry because I haven’t been told ‘I love you’ by someone who meant it in such a long time. I forget what a hug feels like from somebody that cares about me. I also haven’t been in a serious relationship for over five years. I have no friends because I don’t go out much. I live in a town I dislike and work a job I’m not happy with, but I don’t know what else to do. I feel helpless with zero emotional family support. I envy people whose families call them regularly because they miss them.  My family doesn’t call me on my birthday. I don’t have Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I just block it out because truly it makes me so sad. That being said, the pain of having no family hurts less than one that consistently hurts and lets you down. I hope to meet a woman who changes all this for me and her family welcomes me as their own. Family, to me, is extremely important and if I ever have one of my own I’m going to make darn sure they know they are loved regularly.

After a lifetime of neglect and emotional abuse, my mom pulled some unthinkable stuff about a month ago that has really been weighing me down mentally and emotionally. On top of this, I am five months pregnant, so I have a whole other world of worry and attention I need to focus on. I am considering ending my relationship with her. Not because I want to necessarily, but because I think that I have to.

It feels a lot like a bad breakup, and right now I am just struggling with trying to find an answer. I do not want to live my life going back and forth with our relationship because in the past when I have cut contact, once it restarted it ended up causing me a lot of damage. It’s a cycle I want to end.

I pushed my mother out of my life a few years back. She had (has) mental health issues that she has either ignored or self-medicated since I was a child. This isn’t why, though. When I was young, I was taken by CPS because there was no food in the fridge, her boyfriend pretty seriously abused my siblings and me, and general uninhabitable living conditions. My father was stationed in the same town at the time, and we were immediately placed in his custody. However, the courts in California are very slanted toward the mother. So she gets weekend visitation unsupervised with us and shadier stuff happens. She stops showing up for visits more and more until she stops completely. For almost a decade I didn’t know if she was alive or not.

Finally, I proved to be too much of a problem child and I was sent to live with her. I don’t blame my dad, I was in a very poor place and he did what he could at the time. The night I showed up she called him about the child support arrears being absolved as she was now the primary caretaker. She still had a lot of issues, and I moved out of her house after a few months to live on a friend’s couch. Fast forward to me working through some of what happened when I was a kid, and I send her a very emotional e-mail. I felt like I put my entire heart in that message, and at the end was asking for a simple apology and a desire to move forward with a healthy relationship. Her response was that obviously I still had some issues and I should just move on like she did. I was done.

My father was volatile and emotionally abusive. There was no telling what would set him off. But when he did go off, the target and the rest of the family were in for a difficult evening. This was a long time ago, but I think it was something that occurred every couple of weeks. It was always my fault. He was completely incapable of seeing himself at fault for anything, or as being wrong about anything. In all other ways, I had an exemplary upbringing. My father was a doctor and provided a very comfortable home. He provided a fantastic education, including paying for private school, college, and post-graduate education for all three of us. His abusive behavior continued well past our childhoods. I was approximately 28, visiting home, and said that I was going to go out to visit my oldest friend, someone I’ve known since grade school. For some reason, this set my father off, and he started ripping into me, explaining why my friend was a horrible person and just, exploiting me. At that point, I decided to cut my father out of my emotional life.

He was still turning me into an emotional wreck every time I came home. I wanted that to stop. I would act ‘correctly.’ I would do what was expected. I would hear what he had to say. But I would ignore all of it, and I trained myself to not care about anything he said. I just shut down any reaction I had to all input from him. And that worked. He lived another 20 years, and I think he could sense that our relationship had changed, but we never discussed it. I stuck to my new rules, and he never got to me again. If he started in on me, I was quicker to shut him down, which, of course, ran the risk of making things worse. But overall, it improved my state of mind. I think it was the right thing to do. I don’t know if it’s in my nature, or because of how I handled him, but I see myself less emotionally reactive to things in general over time.

Cut my older brother out of my life, he beat me and assaulted me for years (10+). Even when I told my parents about it when I was 8 and again when I was 12, they did nothing about it, basically saying that he ‘didn’t understand what he was doing’ and even convinced them that I WANTED him to do it to me.

He lives in a different state now, but I’ll never forgive my parents for not protecting me and frankly, as soon as I have the financial means to move out of their house, I doubt I’ll have much of a relationship with them either.

Four years ago, my father got in a really bad car accident which put him in the ICU with a coma. My brother, mom and I were told that he would no longer be able to walk or do much and he’d be paralyzed on his right side in a vegetable state. As a family, we agreed to unplug him from life support, since we knew he wouldn’t want to live that life. He was a huge outdoorsman and hated being indoors to begin with. My father’s side of the family quickly butted in and told us no, which we did hear them out about. However, even after keeping him plugged in, they called us selfish and stayed away from us, showing our family no support whatsoever. After countless nights of skipping school and spending many nights and full days at the hospital with my dad, he finally awoke from his coma after two weeks. Fast forward a few months later and he was somehow recovering quickly. He was able to walk and talk and almost live a normal life again with rehab therapy, although his balance was poor and he still wouldn’t be able to do things like ride his bike ever again, which he loved.

When it came time for him to finally get discharged from the hospital, legally he was supposed to come home with us and not the extended family members. Still, we allowed his side of the family to come visit whenever they wanted. He needed 24/7 care at all times, which was hard on us, and his family never volunteered to help us out, they would just come whenever they felt like it and leave. Countless more months of insults and fighting went on and my father ended up passing away in October 2013. Thinking we’d be done with his family after that, it somehow got worse. My dad had a property in Mexico that he told my brother and I to sell later along the road in case we needed money for college or life. It turned out that they forged my dad’s signature and got the property from us. We tried taking it to court in Mexico and we lost. It’s been a terrible series of years and I’m just tired.

I don’t speak to my mother anymore. After my father died, my mother had an affair with my father’s best friend who is married with children and his wife is good friends with my mother. I confronted her about it a few years back, wrote her a long letter explaining that I knew everything, gave her examples of how I knew. After not hearing back from her for three weeks, I texted her asking if she has received it, and she wrote back saying, ‘Yes, I hope you’re ok.’ Instead of admitting it and apologizing for what she had done, she denied everything to my other family members who I told and would rather drag my name through the mud and tell everyone I’m lying and make everyone think that I’m a jerk instead of being an adult and fessing up and taking responsibility for her actions. She used to sneak him into our house late at night like I wouldn’t hear it or something? We lived in a crummy two-bedroom place with paper-thin walls.

I haven’t spoken to her in four years, and my life is better with her not in it. She has tried to keep in contact, but I’ve cut all contact I don’t want anything to do with her. If I hear, ‘but she’s your mother’ one more time, I will scream. Just because someone is blood-related doesn’t make them family. I don’t understand how I’ve come out as the bad guy when I’ve done nothing wrong.

My mom was an abusive, neglectful, bipolar, intimacy fiend with Peter Pan syndrome who played an innocent woe is me single mother by day conning people into giving us money and pity and then would leave us home alone at night to go party and sleep around. We weren’t even on her list of priorities. She slept with guys from 16 to 65 right in front of us with no shame, threatened to kill us/never come home on several occasions, tried many times to kill herself in front of us, but no one ever believed us because she could put on a show when other adults were around. Anytime anyone caught wind of the abuse, we moved, resulting in more than 40 moves in four years. She also beat one of my sisters and told her she hated her and she was stupid from the day she was born, and now my sister is suicidal and completely dysfunctional probably for the rest of her life.

My mom is not sorry for anything, denies everything she ever did wrong and lies to everyone about everything. She still dresses like a tramp but hopefully is slowly realizing that her chest isn’t so perky anymore and literally everyone she’s ever met wishes she would die. I haven’t talked to her in 10 years, but from what I hear, she is miserable and failing at everything, and I have succeeded at everything. That is the best revenge.

I don’t speak to my dad other than for health insurance and a text every once in a while. I haven’t seen him for almost half a year. It all started when my parents split. My dad was caught cheating and my mother offered to stay and go through therapy to save the marriage but he declined, went to Las Vegas with his new girlfriend, and blow all his and my mother’s savings on gambling.  He also gambled our house which was in our grandparent’s name, so now they have a house that they can’t sell and have to make payments on because the house is in limbo. I would be willing to forgive all that if it wasn’t for all the other crappy things he’s done over the years.

He took my brother to his place to spend the night and when my brother was scared and wanted to go home because my father’s girlfriend at the time was a psychopath and yelled at him all the time, he wouldn’t let him. My mother drove all the way to pick him up, even though it was a two-hour drive late at night. I currently have his last name but before I get married and have children, I’m changing it back to my mother’s last name. I don’t want my children or wife to carry that name.

My mother and father divorced when I was five years old, and shortly after the divorce, my mother dropped off the grid for 10 years. In that time, my dad kept up appearances that my mother was a lovely woman, all the while arguing with my grandmother, who was in contact with her. My father forced her to give up her location, wanting to give us any semblance of a normal home life, but it was vain. Carrie simply did not want to be found.

I remember writing Mother’s Day cards waiting for her to come home one day. When she was found by the State, she would move somewhere else and work under the table to avoid a garnished paycheck due to the huge amount of child support she owed. Whenever she tried to fight Social Services on the child support, she would refuse to show up to the court date. Eventually, she did pay child support, but it wasn’t enough to cover much.

My dad’s brother – a thieving, lying liar who robbed and abused my grandma and was directly responsible for her death. After she passed, I cut all ties with that piece of trash. He’s tried to contact my dad, my sisters, and me in an attempt to get money. He won’t work and blew through his inheritance; he is utterly pathetic. Thank god for caller ID and voice mail. My aunt- she and my uncle, different guy than the aforementioned parasite, went through a bitter divorce when I was a kid. The family took sides despite that it was my uncle’s addiction that caused their marriage to collapse. She left the area and I lost contact.

She was always the nicest person, or so I thought. I regret losing contact with her. One I will definitely to discard in the future: My cousin. Ex-con thieving parasitic jerk. I’m waiting for my remaining grandmother to pass until I cut that blight out of my life. I put up with him for my grandmother’s sake. I come from a rather interesting family.

My sister married a guy from Turkey. She had some kids with him and got a Master’s degree in Education. She moved to Turkey and worked in a school there as an administrator for several years. A few years later, she moved to Egypt to be the vice-principal of a school for foreign ministers in Egypt — the school catered to stuff like foreign businessmen and dignitaries. It was a nice part of Cairo. My mom and I visited and got to do all the nice touristy stuff in Egypt with several people who spoke the language. During the Arab Spring, however, my brother-in-law left to go help the revolution in Libya, as he had some medical training. My sister stayed with his family for a while, but eventually, she also went to Libya to follow him. After that, we’re not entirely sure what happened. Most of the kids were left with his family in Turkey. My sister eventually did return to Turkey after a while, and I’ve talked to her once or twice since then.

She’s no longer with my brother-in-law, though his family is still helping support her. He has apparently visited a few times, but not consistently. She hasn’t kept in contact with those of us in the States in the last four years. She returned once about five years ago to give birth, and that was the last time I saw most of them. My oldest nephew moved back to the States about that time to go to high school and college. I think he’s talked to her about as many times as I have at that time. So it’s possible she’s still in the Middle East somewhere, probably Turkey. It’s also possible she’s living in the States again, possibly doing so under an assumed name to avoid debt (I’m pretty sure after she moved to the Middle East she never paid anything on any of the student loan, medical, or personal debt she racked up before she moved, so I’m sure she owes all kinds of places money, probably over $150,000 in debt). No one in the family has talked to her in the last four years or so, that I know of. We don’t have a working email address or phone number for her and haven’t for a long time.

The last time I talked to my mother was when she phoned me to say she found out about my depression and that I was on medication for it. I hid it from her because I knew she didn’t like medication and didn’t believe in mental health issues. Instead of being supportive, she proceeded to tell me depression isn’t real, to grow a backbone, and that I was feeling sorry for myself.

I hung up the phone and haven’t talked to her since. She still texts me from time to time, and I read every one. I can’t bring myself to block her number.

My sister is insane. Just as a snippet of how crazy she is: She once locked me out of my house and proceeded to flip me off as she puffed smoke at my birds. Her reasoning? I had asked her to smoke outside the day prior because the birds were having a hard time breathing. She was visiting at that point, so I’m not sure why she felt entitled to do what she pleased. The last straw was her breaking into my room and throwing my rabbit and his cage against a wall because I asked her to leave (don’t worry, he is fine, thankfully).

I could go on and on about things she did, but you get the idea. I didn’t want that kind of poison in my life anymore, so my boyfriend and I moved out, and I dropped all contact with her. I regret giving her as many second chances as I did. I was in such a dark place back then that I’m surprised I’m still around. But man, am I so happy I am. My life has been peaceful without her in it.

I haven’t talked to either of my parents or half of my dad’s side in seven years. My dad had a drinking problem. He used to beat and berate me, so I went to court when I was 13 and stopped visitation with him (my parents divorced when I was 3). I only saw him on holidays after that. I called him up after I got married and told him that I was no longer a Smith and would no longer have any contact with him (I was 18). Half of his family enables his behavior, so I ditched them, too. My mom had borderline personality disorder and refused to take her meds or get any help, so I also stopped talking to her when I was 18.

I started dating my now-husband, moved out of her house overnight and closed all of our joint accounts together. A month after that, we eloped. A month after I got married, my mom married a guy I only met once. I have seen her on a couple of occasions (grandma’s funeral, pappaw’s heart attack), but I act like she isn’t even there and won’t respond to her when she tries to talk to me. Some think it’s harsh, but they don’t know what it’s like having been abandoned by her multiple times when her boyfriends didn’t want a kid around (her addiction of choice was men). I’m positive that both of my parents will die alone.

I stopped talking to my dad pretty much after I was 14, mostly because I was tired of his crap. He wasn’t a great father or husband in all honesty, and I never really cared for him. To give some backstory, he was incredibly lazy, had bipolar disorder, was a hypochondriac, would always find someone to blame, and he was an abusive prick to my mom. He didn’t want to take his meds and would blame his disorder for everything rather than manning up and taking the blame. He beat and choked my mother multiple times before and after I was born.

He was a real piece of crap. He killed himself earlier this month, due to substance abuse and trying to escape debts to dealers. My grandparents were essentially shifting the blame to his kids, that being my sister and me, saying that ‘we contributed to his death.’ I ultimately didn’t care; he didn’t do anything to impact my life outside of contributing to my creation. I had better father figures throughout my life who ended up meaning a lot more than he ever did.

I live across the country from most of my family. One of my first cousins got married somewhere very close to me, and I was the only one in our family who wasn’t invited. It hurt my feelings deeply, even though my family tried to explain it away with a bunch of bullcrap. People much less close to them were invited.

Any excuse they tried to give me felt like bullcrap. I don’t know why they don’t like me, but I no longer want anything to do with them. I’ve cut off my cousin and his siblings and their parents. It makes me very sad.

My aunt was close to my sister and me. Then her husband died, and she spiraled into abusing Ambien and drinking, then that led to harder stuff. We were all trying to keep a relationship with her and help her, but it was toxic.

She’d steal things from our home because she had a key. One day she knocked on our door, and my mom answered, and she hit my mom. My mom threatened to call the police and told her to leave, and she did.”

My dad cost me my job, my home and all of my friends. He’s dead to me.

Long story short, he wrecked my apartment, which got me evicted. That left me homeless, which cost me my job and forced me to move to another state.