It takes time. Believe me, it does. To realize that you have toxic parents. Especially, if you’re anything like me. The stage of denial always comes first. You deny the fact that your parents – or anyone’s – could be toxic. Because you have been conditioned to think highly and positively of your parents. But get this, some just don’t deserve it.
THE PROBABLE REASON
The reason your parents have toxic behaviour might be because they’re having problems with their own relationship. Maybe they are very incompatible with each other which constantly leads to them fighting. This is very known in Indian families where couples would rather fight all eternity – ruining their own lives and subsequently their child’s – than think of a healthy solution to all the shit’s that’s been going down. Or their toxicity might be the result of their parent’s toxicity and they were raised to believe that such behaviour is normal.
OVERCOMING THE DOUBTS
Growing up in an Indian society, you’ve been told to always respect your elders and you know it’s annoying because respect is to be earned and not demanded.
This is very relevant when you have toxic parents. Once you are past the denial stage and you begin to realise that there’s, in fact, something wrong with the way my parents keep treating me, is when you actually start paying attention to their changing behaviours or moods. These are mainly defined by them making you feel guilty, by them demanding respect, by them not giving a fuck about what you have to say, by them reminding you how you’re absolutely good for nothing, by them constantly curbing anything that makes you happy and most importantly, it is defined by them not allowing you live your life the way you see fit.
RECOGNIZING THE TOXIC PATTERNS
Oddly enough, toxic parents might remind you, time and again, that they love you and want everything to work out for you. You might even believe it for a while, but it doesn’t take long enough to finally dawn upon you that that’s only a façade. One more example of maintaining a façade is how your friends or neighbours might see you as a healthy family. But only you know how rotten the family is inside.
What’s worse is when you are in the search of an outlet to express your feelings and that, too, are always suppressed by your parents dominating any situation with their feelings. As a result, you may give up on opening up to anyone. You may give up expressing what you’re really feeling inside. You keep everything bottled up. This may lead to severe anxiety and depression. It makes you wonder if you’re really ever going to be okay.
THE AFTER EFFECTS
You may have accepted that your parents are toxic to your mental and physical being but there might still be moments when you might question yourself, “Am I over-thinking everything?” We’re all humans, after all, always downplaying the pain. In this case, it’s only normal to think such because we’ve spent most part of our lives with our parents. But if all the signs of toxicity are there, then, you just need to accept that. Because a family is supposed to be something you feel most comfortable with, most loved at, most at peace at. A family is supposed to be a warm place. So question yourself. Do you feel like any of those things when you’re home with your parents? If no, then let go. Realize that you deserve better. Realize that your mental and physical health matters. You deserve to be loved and cherished.
THE FINAL DECISION
This is perhaps the most important of things to do. Decide what you want to do. If you forgiving your parents for their toxic behaviour brings peace to you, then go ahead and do just that. Whatever makes you feel completely at peace is what you should be aiming for. You have already been a victim. If moving away from your parents is what will help you, then do it. You don’t deserve all this toxicity. No, you deserve to live your teenage or adulthood without the incessant fear of what your parents might think or do. At some point, you have to come to terms with the fact that your parents will never change. And realize that you are doing all this for yourself – your studies, your career or your future potential relationships – and that you don’t owe anyone anything. Remember that your future is in your hands and you have the power to change everything.
I know that all the toxicity from your parents has added up to you counting yourself guilty for their actions. So it’s okay if you take time as you try to reclaim your life. Because it is also a necessity. Grieve if you want to but also know that everything is going to be okay. You are going to be okay.