Dealing with guilt, resentment, and grief during no contact with toxic parent(s)
Firstly, let me just start by assuring you that you are not alone. Many, many people are struggling with this and I have dealt with this myself for 5+ years. I’ve learned a lot in my experience, and I thought it might be helpful to share some tips on how you can move forward.
Before I begin, it's worth mentioning that if you are dealing with this type of emotional intensity from your family (direct or indirect), you might consider enforcing hard boundaries first. Declaring that you are no longer going to participate in drama or misunderstanding of life and take a step back to prioritise your peace instead. If this doesn’t work, then no contact may be the better option.
It’s also worth mentioning that going no contact does not mean that this must last forever. You can heal and transform your life when having no-contact and then choose to continue the relationship for whatever reason.
But if you do wish to go no-contact – here are two great tips to keep yourself sane and show yourself some compassion...
1) Separate yourself from this situation
Recognise yourself as your own person. You may feel like your beliefs/values/opinions/soul is attached to everyone else and that you don’t really have your own sense of identity early on in your healing. People who grow up in dysfunctional families are often completely absorbed in this world of intense emotion. We struggle to have any sense of autonomy over our life and also forget that we are our own person with our individual interests.
However, learning to take care of yourself first can be extremely helpful. Identify yourself as your own person with your own beliefs/values in life and somebody who is worthy of compassion and gentleness. This can be difficult at first, but it will get easier- I promise.
Instead of being absorbed in this dysfunction and feeling resentful/guilty about your decisions, allow that part of your life to take a step back. Allow it to not be the forefront focus of your everyday. This can be especially helpful in the initial stages when the guilt can be overwhelming.
Get to know yourself – what do you like doing? What are your hobbies? What do you want to learn to do? Get yourself outside of your comfort zone and try new things. This can help you take your mind off things and provide another dimension to life that doesn’t involve dysfunctional family vibes. Take responsibility to make yourself happy. You might not have been allowed to do this before but you are allowed now.
2) You don’t have to always talk about it
It can be very tempting in the initial stage of no-contact to talk about things constantly to anyone and everyone who will listen. This can be a trauma response where you need validation for your choices and decisions. However, the hard reality of life is that not everyone’s advice is helpful for you. People have their own values about life and sometimes can project their own beliefs onto you. Their opinions can be damaging and hurtful early on when you are feeling vulnerable.
Choose your confidants wisely and make sure it is somebody that has your best interest in mind. If you don’t have anybody like this, it can be helpful to speak to somebody professional e.g., a psychotherapist that are trained in listening and giving helpful advice.
It can also help to put boundaries in place before talking about things. For example:
“ I want to talk to you about things and I just need you to listen and comfort me”
“please don't offer me any solutions to my problems I just need you to listen and reassure me that things will be OK”.
3) Give yourself time – and be assured that it does get easier
You might feel like your whole life is completely shattered into pieces. I get it. I was there too. Please be assured that your heart will heal with time and space. There are many, many people that are living in no-contact situation with one or two parents (including myself). I have not spoken to my mother in over 5 years, and I live a very full life with love, laughter, and family. A family that I have created myself.
There is hope and you are not a bad person for prioritising yourself and your happiness.
I hope this helps in some way to anybody that is considering or currently in a no-contact situation.
Sending you so much love and strength.
You can do this.