There is an old saying that says, “You don’t get to choose your family,” and those who belong to a toxic family know and understand that more than anyone else.
If you’ve had to live and grow with a toxic family, then you know all too well how devastating that can be. The feelings experienced when living in a toxic family dynamic far exceed feelings of annoyance and are much closer to intense emotional distress that can oftentimes manifest as trauma.
When you are entrenched in a toxic family dynamic, at first, you may not even realize it, because it’s what you’ve grown accustomed to. However, the older and wiser you become, the more likely you are to realize that the environment you grew up in wasn’t necessarily normal.
If you believe you were raised in a toxic family, then it’s likely you have endured the following struggles.
1. They have anxiety.
Being raised in chaos leaves a mark. After years of being surrounded by conflict and being emotionally or verbally abused, most people who lived with a toxic family end up with some form of anxiety. For some, they might be so traumatized that they experience PTSD.
2. They have difficulty communicating.
In our early years, much of how we communicate is learned from how we interact with our family. When your family invalidated you, shut you down, or communicate with you in an abusive manner, you create coping mechanisms to deal with it. Unfortunately, that can make most who were raised in a toxic family go one way or the other. In some cases, they take on the same demeanor as their family members, and in others, they may retreat inward and not communicate much at all.
3. They have a hard time with expectations.
Toxic family dynamics often include parents or other family members holding unrealistic expectations for their children. And when you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough, you may try to push to be perfect, or you may simply give up on trying. Both of these outcomes are the result of toxic family dynamics.
4. They have a hard time understanding reality.
Gaslighting is very typical in toxic families. Gaslighting is what happens when someone works to make another person doubt their reality so much that they feel crazy. One example of this would be when you look back to your childhood and remember a traumatic memory and share it with a member of your family, and they tell you that you are crazy and that it didn’t happen.
Because of this, many people who were raised in toxic families struggle with knowing what has happened and what was real.
5. They struggle in relationships.
When you grow accustomed to toxic interactions, it can make it hard for you to know what to do in a healthy relationship. Oftentimes, those who have been raised in a toxic family may unintentionally cling to toxic partners, or they may struggle with these behaviors in themselves. Either way, it makes relationships hard.
6. They have a hard time setting boundaries.
Toxic families don’t often have boundaries. When your parents and family members constantly step over the line, you may not ever even realize what boundaries are or why they are so important. In turn, later in life, it’s likely that you may unintentionally step over the line with others, or allow others to step over the line with you.