Since the beginning of 2020, we have all been consumed with creating resolutions, breaking bad habits, and creating new ones for the enhancement of our daily lives. While writing my personal, professional, creative, and mental health goals, I had developed all these plans about how I would make this year as resourceful as possible. 2020 would be my year of elevation and financial growth.
Five days into the new year, an unfortunate situation with my father forced me to be honest with myself and come to the realization that my father is and has been a toxic parent for quite some time.
For years, I had been neglecting my mental health and my feelings towards my father for the sake of keeping the peace and the comfort of my blended family. Before I could execute this year of success and elevation, I had to interact with one of my fears; standing up for myself and creating boundaries.
Enough was enough.
I had reached my peak and I was completely fed up with how I was being treated. For years, I had bottled up feelings of neglect and emotional dysfunction. Just when I thought that my relationship with my father was progressing, it wouldn't take long before we were feeling like we were strangers again.
Being lied to and treated as an afterthought broke my spirit and started to affect my relationships and work.
I was sad but mostly angry.
I started to self-sabotage and blame myself for the circumstances of our relationship. I felt that my absolute last resort was to speak up for myself. Therefore, I decided to write my father a letter and read it to him, explaining how I felt and the reasons why I felt as though he was a toxic parent. Trust and believe that this is the last thing that I had ever wanted to do.
In reality, this was something that I needed to say for both of us, more so for me.
After reading the letter, there was an awkward silence and apologies from him. I further explained that I simply needed space and that I would let him know when I am ready to proceed. Our visits were put to a halt and phone calls were limited. The distance allowed me to have time for self-reflection, sitting in my emotions and seeking therapy because I couldn't handle this on my own.
I discovered the significance of taking care of myself emotionally and spiritually which gave me more freedom to be better to others.
I started to actually seek advice from loved ones and taking the search for a black therapist more seriously. The Therapy for Black Girls podcast helped me tremendously. Even taking the time to research toxic parents and the effects it may have on the family. It took a while but I found a therapist. Even after our first consultation, she explained to me that navigating through these kinds of relationships can be hard on both us.
Creating the boundaries with my father actually helped change his perspective as well. I think for the first time in years the restrictions forced him to actually listen and consider my feelings. Since the letter, he has been very cautious and treads lightly with his choice of words. We are definitely not 100 percent, however, we are getting there slowly but surely. I have faith that we can at least have a respectable relationship again.
One thing that's for certain is that we are all human and are fighting different kinds of battles, even our parents.
I'm sure there is a lot that I don't know and understand about my father and/or his relationship with his own father which could be affecting our relationship. I have reached a point where I am no longer going to feel sorry for myself. All I can do is keep an open mind, take action, and treat myself the way I would love to be treated.
No one else is responsible for my happiness except me.
Toxic parents are real and they are rarely discussed. If you are dealing with anything similar, try your hardest to keep your head up and take it one day at a time. Expect less and take care of yourself more. Focus less on where you are lacking and narrow in on the love that you do have from others.
It is OK to love from a distance.
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