5 Questions to Prepare for Cutting a Family Member off

Photo by Eutah Mizushima on Unsplash

Cutting someone off is always a hard decision to make and an even harder one to execute. While there are more conversations now around ending relationships with toxic family members, there is still so much more that needs to be talked about. For instance, how do you hold up that boundary, how do you interact with with others who still hold relationships with toxic individuals. These are all topics that are difficult and painful, but still a vital part of this conversation.

I think often times, people aren’t prepared for all the aspects of cutting someone off. Moreover, most conversations end with the act of ending those relationships without talking about the aspects of healing and navigating current and future relationships. I was super unprepared for the aftermath of cutting someone off in the past and even recently. It’s been a huge learning curve. I wish that I had been better prepared for the reality of what would happen after.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Each of these questions is a way to reflect on your journey of healing. While these don’t encompass everything, I’ve found that these are all vital pieces of information that have helped me navigate the aftermath of ending a toxic relationship.

  1. Who is a part of your support system? This one is probably one of the most important ones. Letting people in your core group what you’re going through can help them better support you. Also it’s really crucial for you to know who you can turn to for help, support, or just to vent to. Also, it’s been really helpful for me, to have people supporting me and my boundaries. For instance, if I have to be in a room with someone toxic, I can have them stay with me, take me home, or just make sure they stay away from me.
  2. Who in your life is maintaining a relationship with this person? This is the one I think I have always been the most unprepared for. Knowing who in you life, who in your support circle, is still in contact with that family member is vital. Knowing how you want to proceed with those relationships is just as important as the act of ending a toxic relationship. Whether you want to put distance, set up boundaries, or end that relationship as well, is all valid.
  3. What is your current emotional and mental state? Checking in with yourself will help you identify what you need. For example, do you need time alone? Time in therapy? Support with your grief? Knowing what is hurting the most is how you can begin to heal. There is nothing wrong with slowing down for a second and evaluating where your head is at. This way you can anticipate what you will need and the kind of support you require.
  4. Where is a safe space for you? Identifying where you can go when you are truly overwhelmed has helped me a lot in the past. Whether it was a friend’s dorm, my sister’s house, or my own room. I think it’s important to delineate what spaces you feel comfortable and safe in. Especially if the person you are cutting off lives with you or is around a lot. Having a space that allows your to relax in a protected and comfortable environment is really important. I know that not everyone has their own space, however, if you can stay with a friend or loved one, that works just as well. Also, if you can’t think of one, try to build one for yourself. It can be a park, a coffee shop, or your own backyard. Eventually you’ll have a space you can call your own, but for now try and figure out what spaces make you feel comfortable.
Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

Ending toxic relationships with family is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You deserve to be loved without being abused. Identifying and strengthing your safety net before cutting someone off, will help with your healing process. And you will heal from this.

I’m a Brown student pursing a BA in literary arts and on my way to an MFA in creative writing. I write and read about love, identity, and womanhood.

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