There’s nothing unusual about sitting around the family dinner table, getting into heated arguments with the people we love.
Maybe it’s over politics. Maybe religion. Maybe it’s something as trivial as the spelling of a word or the vintage of a wine.
The thing so beautiful about arguing with the people we love is that it doesn’t matter. Deep down, we have the same beliefs. The same moral compasses.
We share with them an abundance of unconditional love; a set of values prioritising nothing above respect and mutual understanding.
What, then, is one to do when faced with a family member who compromises your values? Not necessarily with whom you ‘argue’… but rather, someone around whom you feel unable to be yourself; who saps you of energy; who belittles you and manipulates for their own exclusive pleasure.
What is one to do with a toxic family member…
Listen: Lucy shares her story about the toxic relationship she has with her father, and how she went about cutting him from her life, on The Well. Post continues after audio.
Lucy Smith* is one of eight children. As a child her parents divorced, and as an adult, she made the incredibly tough decision to cut her father out of her life.
“He was a very toxic person in my life. Very much a narcissist. He ruined a lot of family relationships, and out of eight children, there’s only one that still talks to him,” she tells Rebecca Sparrow and Robin Baily, co-hosts of The Well.
“He was very manipulative, and I would say, emotionally abusive… he liked to have control over us [siblings], and he would do that by trying to be closer to one of us and putting another one down.”
“It just deteriorated continuously.”