Respect, Self Worth and Healthy Family Relationships

couple walks along street talking beside old building while man feeling tired angry
by Vance Larson

We’re blood. And there is nothing stronger than family. That’s what I heard this morning while running on the treadmill. My daily run, is my time for trash TV. On this particular morning, two family members were arguing about how they were being treated. The father was vacant and emotionally unavailable. And when he as around, he was neglectful to the point of being charged with child endangerment. All that could come to mind was bad blood. 

Don’t be a victim to bad blood

Bad blood is what I call unhealthy family relationships. I generally see it a few times a year. A family members trying to guilt the other. That just because they are related, their inappropriate behavior should be excused. And that’s where I call it. Just because we’re related, does not give you the right to treat me in an unhealthy manner. It is this line of thinking that traps so many family members. It is literally an anchor that is sure to cause you to drown. Cut the cord. Don’t be a victim to bad blood.

It doesn’t matter if they’re family. You deserve to be happy. I believe in forgiveness. I believe that sometimes family are just bad for you, and not bad people. And for that reason, it is okay to put some distance in between you and them. Remember what we allow, is what will continue. And while I personally have never burned a family bridge. I have made it extremely difficult for some of them to cross back over. 

I can recall a family member who I looked up to and loved my entire life. They went to a dark place and began a pattern of self destruction via heavily drinking. They were (are) disruptive to the greater good of the family. I lined up therapy for the family. This person did not go. I lined up AA and Al-Anon meetings for this person and family. They did not go. Same with doctors and Disability appointments. At what point do I realize that I am anchored to a sinking ship? It was at that point. And I have not spoken to this family member in 5 years. While it is sad. It is necessary. 

I went to therapy. I went to the groups. I applied myself. And what did I learn? The same thing I have been telling my clients for the past 3 decades. Don’t buy into bad blood. If this person were to reach out to me and say get me some help, or lets talk to a therapist. I would be there before the words came out of their mouth. It is not about love. It is about respect. And if they don’t respect themselves, they’ll have zero respect for me. And again I say that they’re not a bad person. They are sick. And they are bad for me. The rest of the family puts up with it, despite the collateral damage. That’s their journey. And I love them too. But bad blood is not a reason to be victimized. 

Pray for them and let them go. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Being codependent doesn’t serve anyone. Nothing good comes from it. Do yourself a favor and give yourself permission to let go. If you have done the work. And you continually feel terrible when you’re with that person in your family. That is a case of bad blood. And do you know what is stronger than blood? Self worth. Know that it’s okay… to walk away. 

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