How to Eliminate Toxic People From Your Life: Family Edition

If you landed on this post, chances are you are struggling with eliminating someone from your life. This is not an easy choice, but you are not alone. You may also find this open letter to a toxic family member relatable, as well as this letter to a toxic father in law. Finally, if it is a friendship that you are considering ending, sometimes you have to do what is best for you and cut ties.

How to Eliminate Toxic People From Your Life

Being an only child, I feel like it forced me to be extra patient, considerate, and tolerant. I am also a Cancer horoscope sign, so I’m friendly and am generally a huge people pleaser. I have always been mindful of other people’s feelings. I have always been like that and still am today. However, as I’ve gotten older, I have come to realize that my happiness, my family’s happiness, and my sanity are more important. 

Growing up, my family has always been close. I have two aunts on my mother’s side of the family and one uncle on my father’s side. Growing up Hispanic, family is everything. We help each other out through anything and support each other. My father’s side of the family were immigrants that worked their way up from nothing, owning two businesses. They wanted to live the American dream, and boy did they! My grandfather and grandmother were extremely hard workers but got burned a couple of times by employees. My youngest aunt was amazing. She was loving, fun, and sweet. Everything you dreamed an aunt should be. She and my mom were very close.

My other aunt wasn’t any of the things my other aunt was. I really didn’t even know her that well at first. Growing up, all I remember was every Christmas my mother would send her kids (my cousins) gifts, and we would have to go to a special store to send a money order / money to her since she lived in another country. My parents, or anyone else, never spoke ill of her, but the only time I remember hearing her name was when we needed to go to the special store. There was no birthday phone call to wish me a Happy Birthday. No calls to see how we were. Radio silence for the most part.

As I got older, I thought how nice my aunt and mom were to send my other aunt money, since I thought she lived in a poor country. My mother and young aunt were amazing in hiding the truth. Once I became an adult, I realized and learned a lot. When my young aunt got sick with terminal cancer, she made my mom and me promise to not let my other aunt’s toxicity ruin our lives. She wanted us to be happy and live our own lives once she was gone. This probed me to ask my mom what happened since she only ever spoke well of my distant aunt. She and my aunt went on to explain how my distant aunt had drained my grandparents’ life savings, and then some, with different “ventures.” That my distant uncle never wanted a job “that wasn’t corporate.” The distant aunt would give a sob story and of course, my mom and aunt would send her funds because they didn’t want my cousins to suffer or go hungry. We are talking way over 6 figures at this point. Both even offered to raise both kids, making sure they never needed for anything. This went on for 30 plus years.

Why, I asked? Why would you allow this? I know she’s their sister, but my sweet aunt was a divorcee working 3 jobs to make ends meet, and my mom and dad were working class with a mortgage and paying private school for me. She even said pretty hurtful things if she didn’t get as much as she wanted. They said she’s family. My sweet aunt warned me that now that I was an adult I would most likely be next for the yearly hit up. She made me promise not to fall for it. My mom limited contact after my sweet aunt’s death and my grandparents’ death. She had had enough. I was so proud of her. I wanted her to retire and discussed how it was ok to cut a toxic person out of her life. I say this because it is totally acceptable to cut toxic people out of your life. You work hard. You deserve to enjoy your life and enjoy your own money. I truly believe that yes, you do help the needy but needy and greedy are two separate things. I had no relation with my other aunt so I felt no need to explore one. I am ok with that decision. Has that caused some other family members to judge and criticize me? Yes. Do I care? No.

(Side note: Do you think my other aunt came to ask me next? You sure bet she did. One month after my medical school graduation, I got a Facebook message asking me for $1,000. Because you know, doctors are rich. They don’t have massive student loans and no money to their names. LOL! I laugh about it now. Mom and I had a good wine/cry session about that one. Blocked.)removing toxic family members from your life

With the history you’ve read above, I have created a list of questions I ask myself about someone I deem toxic. Depending on the answer, I either work on the relationship or cut them out. 

  1. Do you gain anything from this relationship?

I don’t mean gifts or financially. I mean emotionally, what do you get out of the relationship? Does this person support you? Worry about you? Bring you happiness?

If your answer no, then cutting that toxic person out of your life is acceptable and highly encouraged.

2. Do they care about you and your feelings?

This is pretty straight forward. Does this person bring you up or pull you down? Do they make mean, insensitive comments with malice? If they put you down, then cutting that toxic person out of your life is acceptable and highly encouraged.

3. My last and most important question: If this family member were not in your future, would you be ok and happy with that?

Or would you miss them? If you see that your future is perfectly fine without this family member, then cutting that toxic person out of your life is acceptable and highly encouraged. If you would miss them, then please work on the relationship.

My main point is that if you’ll be happier and more at peace without them in your life, then please don’t feel guilty about cutting out toxic family members. Your mental health is VERY IMPORTANT. You are not being selfish.

Kristina Robertson
Kristina is originally from Miami, Florida but calls New Orleans home for the last 9 years. She got her undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and her Podiatric Medical Degree from Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. Kristina and her husband moved to New Orleans to lay some roots in the Big Easy. She is currently co-owner and practitioner at NOLA Sole Podiatry. She has a lovable and amazing daughter, Victoria Isabel. In her downtime, she loves being out and about with her husband and daughter. They love trying new restaurants and going to festivals. We love exploring different cultures and cultural events here in New Orleans and loves exposing her daughter to them. She also loves going to parks with her family and furbabies. Kristina loves supporting dog rescues and wishes she could rescue all the adoptable dogs in NOLA but will settle for 2 right now.


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