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Freeing Yourself From the Influences of Harmful Relatives


Surround Yourself ...

We all know it’s important to have morals and values. Most of us are aware that is also extremely advantageous to surround yourself with people who share those morals and values. This is key to our personal happiness.

As we become more enlightened, we are learning that we are meant to be happy. And, we’re not talking about surface happiness. We are discussing a deep satisfaction which comes from leading a fulfilled just life; a true spiritual happiness. The Internet is filled with catchy sayings, popular memes and timely reminders of how living is supposed to be a joyous experience.

If we were raised well, we were taught to remove ourselves from people who do not mesh with our morals and values. This is an essential lesson, regardless of our religious or spiritual identity, because those people rob us of our certainty and clarity of vision.

But, what do you do when the people who do not mesh are family members? Your parents or siblings? What do you do when their lifestyle is in complete violation of your morals? What is your happiness in comparison to that bond?


The Answer

As hard as it is to consider, the answer is the same whether they are strangers or family: Remove them from your life.

We are not just talking about “happiness” in an abstract or shallow manner. We are discussing happiness that takes into consideration our well-being on all levels; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Although we have a sense of obligation toward family, we have a bigger responsibility to protect our own well-being and, by extension, the well-being of our spouse and children.

We are not just talking about “happiness” in an abstract or shallow manner. We are discussing happiness that takes into consideration our well-being on all levels; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Although we have a sense of obligation toward family, we have a bigger responsibility to protect our own well-being and, by extension, the well-being of our spouse and children.

Honouring Others

For those with spiritual or religious instructions to honour family members, let us first take a quick look at what that means. To honour someone is to appreciate them for the hard work, dedication, sacrifices, time and energy they put in to raising you. It is to exemplify the good, decent and honourable characteristics they taught you. It is to forgive them of their faults and respect them for doing the best they could with what they had. It is to express gratitude for all they have done for you and to behave in a manner that would make them proud.

Honouring, however, does not include absolute obedience or participation in wrong action. It does not include subjecting yourself and your loved ones to behaviour that is immoral, disrespectful, hurtful, or illegal.

So, it is our duty to honour our parents (or siblings) by living an exemplary life and being successful in whatever path we choose. Unfortunately, sometimes this means living that life without them.

It is hard. It is painful. It is emotional. But, it is essential to your well-being.

My ideal family drawing I did to put on my Dream Board.

My ideal family drawing I did to put on my Dream Board.

My Experience

This is a dilemma I faced. I’d hit rock bottom and was rebuilding my life. I dedicated myself to learning how to be healthy, happy and prosperous. I had taken workshops to learn how to create and uphold personal boundaries, to learn what healthy relationships look like, and to rebuild my self-confidence. I made it my full-time job to reclaim my self-worth. I made radical changes with the goal of finding a mate who shared my morals and values so that we could raise a family of healthy, happy, stable individuals. In the process of finding my ideal mate, I grew as a being.

My tolerance for “drama” and the people who create it plummeted to zero. My patience for people who made their own unhappiness dried up. I began to remove these people from my life or distance myself from them politely until the natural flow of everyday life carried them away.

No matter how peaceful and harmonious I tried create my life, I was often knocked off balance. I became very frustrated. It felt like a constant battle and I knew happiness wasn’t supposed to be such hard work. Looking around at my life, I could see that the root of several of my problems originated with specific family members that I had clung to during my “rebirth”.

I tried for a few years to make things work. I made allowances for their lifestyles, beliefs and opinions. I was candid with those family members about my boundaries and how I wished to be treated. I asked that they respect me, my work and my time. I enforced my boundaries by rewarding respectful treatment and rebuking disrespectful behaviour. I refused to attend family functions that violated my safety or that were sprung on me with less than 48 hours notice. Eventually, I was missing more family events than I was attending.

It's Not Me, It's YOU!

I worked at it until I was exhausted and finally realized that I was the only one working on these relationships. Those family members weren’t interested in making changes. They were constantly rolling their eyes and exchanging knowing looks. They told me that I was too good; my standards were too high, I expected too much from people, and that what I really needed was to, “get laid or get high.” It was clear that they wanted me to change to be like them.


I had to face the reality that we had nothing in common. Yes, we shared genetics and history, but not values or morals. In fact, some of the things that were acceptable in their lives were downright shocking and offensive to me. It was a very sad realization, especially considering I grew up in the same house with them.

The Endgame

Up until that point, I’d been fearless. After all the drama and trauma I’d endured, I had reached a point where very little frightened me. Once I finally found my ideal mate and I became pregnant with my first child, I discovered that I wasn’t quite as fearless. I was finally living the life I wanted. I had something important that could be lost. There was no soft landing if I crashed because of associations with family members bent on immoral or illegal behaviour, determined to fill their lives with chaos and surround themselves with unscrupulous individuals.

That’s when I realized:


I looked to my mate and saw that together, we were stronger. The morals and values that we shared, the joyous life we were building, our mutual goals, our prosperity, and our new family … We ferociously guarded these things.

So, I slowly began to distance myself from the family members that did not share my morals and values. It was hard to do. History and the desire for that special bond between family members kept rearing its head, calling me to reconnect. I had to fight against inappropriate feelings of obligation. I had to remind myself that we were all adults and I was not responsible for how others lived. All I could do was lead my life in a manner I felt appropriate, leave a door open for them in case they changed, and hope to be a good role model … from a distance.

I knew the salve of time would widened the gap between us. I was not surprised that they let it, but was surprised at how quickly it happened. But then, I think they knew that the differences between us and the way we wanted to live our lives were just too vast.



Looking back over the past few years, I can see how a major portion of stress in my life came from being exposed to the conflicting lifestyles, morals and values of various family members. I can see how deeply damaging exposure to their dramas were to me. And, I can see how much happier and healthier I am since removing myself from their lives. The peace that I have been looking for, the harmonious flow of life, has finally enveloped me.

I miss the laughter. I miss the sharing, the exchanging physical gifts, playing with my niece and nephews and the hugs … but, I find what I miss the most are things I never really had with them in the first place. That deep sense of trust which comes from being respected and treated with respect. That sense of belonging which comes from being surrounded by people of like mind. That sense of being important which comes from being taken seriously. These were ephemeral ideals; never a reality in those relationships. That was a hard truth to swallow, but it made letting go a little bit easier.

I am sad. And yet, when I look at my new family and consider my children’s safety … when I see how far we have come, what we have built together and the victories we have shared, I would not change the decision I made.


My Advice

Having lived it myself, this is the advice I would give a stranger:

Remove yourself from those who drag you into their dramas, act in opposition to your morals and do not share your values. Even if they are family. Otherwise, they will diminish your peace of mind, balance, confidence and very ability to prosper. They will eat away at the things that make you who you are; your beliefs, your sense of right and wrong, even your convictions. They will jeopardize your very well-being. Your very survival is at stake.

Take a deep breath. Know your truth deep inside. Put it in place and do what you know is right to free yourself.


Notes to My Younger Self

This is an excerpt from my book, Notes to My Younger Self: A Guide to Personal Happiness.

Other sample chapters from this book:

© 2012 Rosa Marchisella


Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on July 20, 2014:

Thank you, urstrulee.

urstrulee from Midwest USA on July 09, 2014:

It is nice to read about real life situations, many people feel this way but never say it

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on September 03, 2012:

Wow, Moonlake! Good for you! I'd rather be thought of a snob or whatever other judgement slang than to live through that kind of emotional and mental hell. you know you're with the wrong people when your body starts getting stressed and ill. Thanks so much for sharing your story and sharing this hub with others!

moonlake from America on September 03, 2012:

This wasn't family but, my husband always liked to go to his small town's picnic at the old school every year. Who could blame him, he got to see old school mates and old friends from the town he grew up in. Every year we went. There was a family in that town that caused drama and trouble. Every time we went my back would tense up because I knew trouble was coming. I finally told my husband "You can go if you want but I am not taking our children into that danger." He agreed with me and never went back until all the nasty family members had died and then he went to the picnic with his brothers. I know the people in the town thought I was a snob but I was just protecting our children.

You are right about everything you said. Voted up and sharing.

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on August 13, 2012:

((Thank you)) for sharing, Betsys. I'm so glad that you are in a happier state and have found such positive means for healing. Light & Love ~*

Betsys on August 13, 2012:

Wonderful to read. I had to make this decision too. It was either them (father, mother, sister) or lose my self respect. I chose for myself 12 years ago, but until this day I'm healing/cleansing myself of the trauma and toxic energies I once was exposed to with crystals, Aura-Soma and great help from my spiritual guides. As a result I feel so much happier, confident and...loved. God bless.

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on July 24, 2012:

Good point and one I need to keep reminding my husband) of! "Honey, if you fall over from exhaustion, you're not going to be of use to anyone." ... When did it become "bad" to practice self-care?

Melissa Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on July 23, 2012:

That's an excellent analogy. Another thing that applies to is raising kids. You have to come first, and your marriage needs to come first, otherwise you can't give your child all the love he/she deserves because you're miserable. But so many people think that is selfish of me. It may look selfish at first glance, but when you look closely, it's actually altruistic.

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on July 23, 2012:

Thank you very much for sharing and becoming a follower! Good for you. You're absolutely correct. Some people think it's "selfish", but this is actually something I learned from my flying experiences. The stewardess explained that it was vital for us to put our own mask on before helping anyone else in the event of cabin decompression. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, she explained that unconsciousness can happen to fast that if we don't have our own mask on, we may pass out and then wouldn't be able to help anyone ... it was a "light bulb moment" for me as I realized that it was the same for all aspects of our life. We *must* make sure we are safe and stable before we can offer ourselves to others. This includes detaching harmful people who can drain us, make us weak, and even knock us into "unconsciousness".

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on July 23, 2012:

You are one of the very few people, Daughter of Maat being another, who understands that sometimes the best you can do is save yourself. For years I thought that if I were a better person, my mother would be happier and like me; then I would be happy too. When I realised I had been deluding myself I cut off all ties with her. And now I am happy.

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on July 21, 2012:

CarlySullens - Thank you for your kind words and for sharing. I'm happy to hear that you've been able to get free and stand on solid ground. Now dance, Sister :-)

raciniawa - Thank you! Excellent points.

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on July 21, 2012:

Pollyannalana - Thank you for the vote and comment! I often got hit with "Honour Thy Mother and Father" until I did some research on what exactly it meant to honour someone, which is why I added it to this hub. It's one of those quotes that get whipped out to manipulate good-hearted kids, but is soooo misinterpreted!

Daughter of Maat - YAY!!!! You're my 100th Follower!!! THANK YOU!!! And, good for you for getting free! I'm so glad that I was able to help you stay strong. **LOVE** how the Universe works so beautifully like that!

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on July 21, 2012:

Just beautiful and powerful. I am deeply touched and appreciate your honesty and sensitivity. It is clear you are not vengeful towards your family rather there seems to be an acceptance and a letting go.

I too had to do something similar. It hurts. The wound remains open, but I now can free my arms and feet to dance even wounded and with scars.

raciniwa from Talisay City, Cebu on July 21, 2012:

yeah, i am with you on that...spirituality is very important...materials things will not last, but happiness found within is our ultimate desire here...and a very truthful advice...

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on July 21, 2012:

This is so moving and poignant. I appreciate your honesty and tenderness that comes with self care. I too had to remove my self from all my biological family members. It still hurts, but the roller coaster of pain and that desperate pinning to seek what would never be found is gone. And that is what brings a freshness and new freedom.

Happiness is important and a birth right!

Melissa Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on July 21, 2012:

I was meant to read this. I wrote a hub about my experience with my mother and how I've cut off contact with her because of her controlling ways. Recently, I've been having the same feelings of obligation and a need to reconnect to something I never had in the first place, and today, I read this hub. THANK YOU!! I know I've made the right choice. I'm happier, I enjoy my life, and I'm healthier without my mother telling me how horrible my life is. But sometimes we just need reassurance that we did the right thing. Beautiful hub, voted up and across the board. Shared as well.

Pollyannalana from US on July 21, 2012:

I understand this completely and agree completely. If you are coming from a biblical viewpoint there is even scripture that leaves no doubt. Bottom line if it isn't good, it isn't good for us. Voted up.

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on July 21, 2012:

@ vox vocis - I'm glad your family was open to working with you like that! I was fortunate enough to work things out with my dad a few years ago, so I don't feel so adrift, but you're right about how those type of "friends" can drag you right down. Thanks for sharing and the vote!

@sandrabusby - Thank you!

Sandra Busby from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA on July 21, 2012:

And what courage it takes. Congratulations on your hard work. Enjoy your journey. Thanks for SHARING.

Jasmine on July 21, 2012:

I've experienced the same feelings and situations with the so called friends. Family members, too but they were ready to discuss things and change if necessary. With "friends" - I tried to help them change to the better, but in the end, they changed me to the worse. I was born again when I realized what big mistakes I had been doing all along. Great hub, voted up!

Rosa Marchisella (author) from Canada on July 21, 2012:

Thank you, minababe. "Transfusion" - that's a great way of looking :-)

minababe on July 21, 2012:

Wow, this was a very heart-felt Hub! Very nice and inspirational for those who are going through a similar situation with their families.

I understand where you're coming from, too-- some relationships are so poisonous to the soul that the only way to save yourself is to end them, even the ones with your parents or siblings. They say blood is thicker than water, but if your family is toxic, sometimes it's best to get a transfusion!

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