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I cannot tell you how many times I have discussed personal family problems with a close friend, only to be shut down with the tried and true “But, they are still your family.” No matter how hard I try to not get frustrated by this, I do every time.

Let me explain. It took me years to understand that the toxic hell that a certain family member had taken me through was no fault of my own. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what ‘toxic’ even meant until I was much older. I had always assumed that when it comes to family, you just have to forgive and forget.

The thing is, some wounds simply cannot be healed. Especially when the person who created them does not truly understand that they are at fault. When a toxic family member continues time and time again to trample over your boundaries, break your heart and lead you through the same vicious cycles over and over again, what are you supposed to do?

Many people would tell you that you have to let it go. “They are your family,” they would say when you finally make the choice to leave that person behind. The thing is, blood doesn’t mean anything when it comes to toxic people. They don’t care that you are their family, otherwise, they wouldn’t hurt you. People who genuinely care about you won’t continue to destroy your mental health.

What really burns me up about this, is that from the perspective of someone who has cut off a family member, I can tell you it isn’t an easy choice to make. The person that finally pushed me to just let go entirely was someone that I loved with ALL of my heart. Yet, no matter how much I loved them, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I cried and cried and cried when I finally decided to cut ties.

Later, when I discussed it with a friend, she said, “You will let it go one day. They are your family. What are you going to do if anything happened to them?” I looked at her in shock. I had been choking back tears the entire conversation up until this point, and now I was enraged. I simply shook my head and chose not to say what I wanted to say, which was something along the lines of, “You have no idea what you would do if this was your situation and not mine,” but I bit my tongue.

Let me say this real loud for those of you in the back-just because someone is blood, does not mean that you have to keep them in your life. If someone is toxic – blood means nothing. Don’t feel guilty about protecting yourself and your own family from this toxic person. And if anyone tells you otherwise-perhaps it might be best to distance yourself from them as well.