Breaking the cycle

My Toxic Family Thinks I'm The Sh*t Stirrer

Somehow I’m the difficult one.

by Anonymous
My family thinks I am the bad one in our family because I tell them to respect my boundaries.
LOUISE BEAUMONT/Moment/Getty Images

I never had the healthiest relationship with my parents. Even as a kid, I felt like I was putting in more effort to make things work. Over the years I reached out, went above and beyond, and tried to create a healthy family unit. I saw friends’ relationships with their parents and wanted that, too. I failed every time.

When I had kids, I knew I wanted to raise them differently. I’ve chosen to be more present in my kids’ lives, for one thing. When my parents didn’t respect my lifestyle differences and my boundaries, I pulled away. And that’s when I became the bad guy.

I’ll never forget when one of my siblings came to me with a slew of information about what my parents had said about me. It turns out my parents were talking about me behind my back with the rest of my family and with my siblings. They questioned my parenting and didn’t like that I was doing things like leaving family gatherings early.

Something hit me like a ton of bricks that day: my parents never even tried talking about my siblings to me. They knew I’d cut them off and change the subject if they ever did. A parent who pits their children against each other is so harmful. And I wanted nothing to do with it.

Knowing my sister would sit and listen to such negative comments really bothered me. It was so hurtful to think she didn’t have my back.

So I said something to her about it. And I told her mom or dad never try trash-talking because they know I will shut them down immediately. I asked her if maybe she was allowing it?

That’s when it really blew up, and I became the sh*t-stirrer. The difficult one. The child who was self-righteous, better than everyone else, and who tried to separate and divide the family.

It was true that I was stepping back, and I wanted to do things differently. I didn’t want to engage in the toxic nonsense, and I didn’t want my kids around it. But instead of my family taking a hard look in the mirror, they decided to blame it all on me instead.

Well, it’s years later, and we’re still stuck in the same stalemate. They think I should put in more effort, ignore certain things, and continually expose my kids to their drama. I refuse to do that, though, and I can tell you I’m so much happier for having these firm boundaries when it comes to my family.

My kids already see I am not the troublemaker my family suggests I am. They see a mother who doesn’t want that kind of life any longer and wants to protect her kids. And as hard as this has been, their blaming and talking about me behind my back will never make me cave. I don’t believe just because someone is family, we have to take their toxic crap. And I sure as hell will not expose my kids to it.