By Laura Polk, Crosswalk.com
In a perfect world, family would be your soft place to fall. The place you turn to when times are tough. The place to cheer you on when times are good. Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect. And the sad truth is that sometimes family isn’t what it’s intended to be.
When you are repeatedly hurt by someone in your family, it’s well within your right to protect yourself. Whether they are hurting you emotionally, physically, or mentally, you are not called to ignore it for the simple fact that you are related to them by blood. The truth is, family members know us the best—which means, they have an insider view of what would hurt us the most.
Here are steps to take to get yourself grounded and take control:
Acknowledge Your Own Feelings
Your feelings matter. Acknowledging how you truly feel about a situation and the way you are being treated—not what someone has suggested you have the “right” to feel—is crucial to finding a solution. Spend time thinking through your feelings and the emotions that arise when you are in the situation. Think about your natural reactions and actions when this person is around you. Consider how you feel before and after each time you are with this person. Get familiar with your own feelings and face the truth about them, then make decisions about how to move forward based on those truths.
Drop the Guilt
It’s hard when we recognize that someone in our own family may not be good for us to have in our day-to-day lives. And while some people may hurt you, ask for your forgiveness and move forward in a positive relationship toward the future, others are not capable—or not willing—to do anything other than what they’ve always done to you. Their bad behavior is not your fault. And you don’t owe them anything for the simple fact that you are related to them. Recognize that guilt for being the “bad guy” and pulling away from a bad situation could be the very thing that is keeping you there. And guilt is not a good enough reason to stay. You deserve more from family members.
A person that has repeatedly shown you that they don’t care about your well-being, and are only concerned with themselves doesn’t deserve the same access in your life as someone who loves and cares for you. Though it’s difficult to consider, there are times when you have to set boundaries with those you thought would never go against you. Standing up for yourself is necessary to your own emotional health, peace of mind, and safety. Set up boundaries that fit the situation you are dealing with. Physical abuse would obviously involve severe boundaries such as a complete removal of this person from your life. Whereas someone who is causing emotional abuse during specific situations may lead you to only remove them from those specific situations. You have to guard your heart from those who would do irreparable harm, even if they are in your own family.
Setting limits on someone in your family who continually hurts you doesn’t have to be an all or nothing venture. If you are able to, and think it could help in healing the relationship, try to be open to reconciliation in the future. Actions speak volumes. Try to show grace to those who are making a sincere and concerted effort to repair your relationship—but only if you see that being manifested by their actions and not empty promises.
If you are being hurt by someone in your family, you have every right to set parameters around that relationship. You should never stay in any relationship that is harming you, regardless of whether or not that person is a member of your own family. While some relationships may have to end, others can continue with a clear recognition of what you will and will not allow.
Laura Polk is a writer, speaker, and textile designer residing in North Carolina with her three children. Since becoming a single mom, her passion to minister to this group has led her to encourage successful single mom living through The Christian Single Mom on Facebook. Follow her journey through her blog or get a glimpse into her quirky thoughts and inspirations for design and writing on Pinterest.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz