Stronger for the Breaks – How to Heal from a Toxic Parent

Stronger for the Breaks - How to Heal from a Toxic Parent

It’s one thing to be dipped in venom by those you don’t really care about, but when it’s by the person who is meant to love you, hold you, and take the sharp edges off the world, while teaching you with love, wisdom and warmth how to do it for yourself, it changes you. There is a different kind of hurt that can only come from a toxic parent – someone who is meant to love you. Kind of like being broken from the inside out.

[bctt tweet=”There’s a kind of hurt that can only come from people who are meant to love you. ‘Healing from Toxic Parents'”]

The scarring and hurt that comes from a toxic parent probably isn’t something we talk about enough. None of us are perfect, including our parents, but there is a point at which imperfect becomes destructive, taking away from children the love, warmth and nurturing they deserve and replacing it with something awful.

When children are raised on a diet of criticism, judgement, abuse and loathing, it’s only a matter of time before they take over from those parents, delivering with full force to themselves the toxic lashings that have been delivered to them. 

Toxic parents come in many shapes. Some are so obvious that they can be spotted from space through the eye of a needle. Some are a bit more subtle. All are destructive.

A toxic parent has a long list of weapons, but all come under the banner of neglect or emotional, verbal or physical abuse. Toxic parents lie, manipulate, ignore, judge, abuse, shame, humiliate and criticise. Nothing is ever good enough. You get an A, they’ll want an A+. You get an A+, they’ll wonder why you aren’t school captain. You make school captain, your sister would have been a better one. And you’ll never be pretty like her. They’ll push you down just to criticise you for the way you fall. That, or they’ll shove you off a cliff to show the world how well they catch you. They oversee childhoods with no warmth, security or connection. 

Any negative behaviour that causes emotional damage or contaminates the way a person sees himself or herself, is toxic. A toxic parent treat his or her children in such a way as to make those children doubt their importance, their worth, and that they are deserving of love, approval and validation. If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Well yeah, my parent/s did that, but only because it was true – I’m pretty useless at life,’ then chances are that parent was a toxic one. The truth is that you, like every other small person on the planet, deserved love, warmth, and to know how important you were. You’re not useless at life – you’ve bought in to the messages that were delivered by a parent too broken to realise what they were doing. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. 

It is possible to heal from by toxic parenting. It begins with the decision that the legacy of shame and hurt left behind by a toxic parent won’t be the way your story will end.

How to heal from a toxic parent.

Here are some ways to move forward.

  1. It’s okay to let go of a toxic parent.

    This is such a difficult decision, but it could be one of the most important. We humans are wired to connect, even with people who don’t deserve to be connected to us. Sometimes though, the only way to stop the disease spreading is to amputate. It doesn’t matter how much you love some people, they are broken to the point that they will only keep damaging you from the inside out. You’re not responsible for them or for the state of your relationships with them, and you are under no obligation to keep lining yourself up be abused, belittled, shamed or humiliated. Healing starts with expecting more for yourself, and you’re the only person who can make that decision. 

  2. And it’s okay not to.

    Don’t be harsh on yourself if you stay in the relationship. The act of returning to an abusive relationship can set trigger self-loathing. ‘Why aren’t I strong enough?’ Know that loyalty is such an admirable trait, even if it gets in the way of your capacity to protect yourself. Own where you are and give yourself full permission to be there. Accept that for now, this is where you’re at, and fully experience what that’s like for you. You’ll never love yourself enough to change your expectations if you’re flogging yourself for not being strong enough. It takes tremendous strength to keep walking into a relationship that you know is going to hurt you. When you’re ready, you’ll make the move to do something differently. For now though, wherever you are is okay.

  3. Be honest about the possibilities.

    If you’re going to stay, know that it’s okay to put a boundary between yourself and your parent. You can act from love and kindness if you want to – but don’t stay in the relationship unless you can accept that the love you deserve will never come back to you. Ever. If it was going to, it would have reached you by now. See their behaviour for what it is – evidence of their breaks, not evidence of yours. Put a forcefield around yourself and let their abuse bounce off. Love yourself and respect yourself enough to fill the well that they bleed dry. They might not be capable of giving you the love and respect you deserve, but you are.

    [irp posts=”793″ name=”Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal with Them”]


  4. Be careful of repeating the patterns with other people

    You might find yourself drawn to people who have similarities to your toxic parent. There’s a really good reason for this. All of us are driven to find an ending to things that remain unresolved. Because love, warmth and nurturing are such an important part of child development, yet so elusive for the child of a toxic parent, it’s very normal for those children to be driven to find a resolution to never feeling loved, secure or good enough. They will look to receive what they didn’t get from their parents in others and will often be drawn to people who have similarities to their toxic parent. With similar people, the patterns will be easier to replicate, and the hope of an ending closer to the desired one – parent love – will be easier to fulfil. That’s the theory. The pattern often does repeat, but because of the similarities to the parent, so does the unhappy ending.

    The decisions aren’t conscious ones, so to move towards healing, the automatic thoughts and feelings driving the choices need to be brought more into awareness. If this is something that’s familiar for you, it’s possible that you are being drawn to the wrong people because they remind you of your toxic parent, and somewhere inside you where your wanted things stay hidden, is the wish that you’ll get from them what you weren’t able to get from your parent. Look at the people in your life and explore the similarities they have with your own parents. What do they do that’s similar? What do you do that’s similar to the way you are in your relationship with your parents? Which needs are being met? What keeps you there? The more awareness you have, the more you can make deliberate decisions that aren’t driven by historical wants.

  5. Own your right to love and respect.

    One of the greatest acts of self-love is owning your right to love and respect from the people you allow close to you. You’re completely entitled to set the conditions for your relationships, as other people are to set the conditions for theirs. We all have to treat those we love with kindness, generosity and respect if we want the same back. If those conditions aren’t met, you’re allowed to close the door. You’re allowed to slam it closed behind them if you want to.

  6. Be careful of your own toxic behaviour.

    You’ve been there, so you know the behaviours and you know what they do. We’re all human. We’re all going to get it wrong sometimes. Toxic behaviour though, is habitual and it will damage the members of your own little tribe as surely as it damaged you. You don’t have to be a product of the inept, cruel parenting that was shown to you, and this starts with the brave decision that the cycle stops at you. People who do this, who refuse to continue a toxic legacy, are courageous, heroic and they change the world. We’re here to build amazing humans, not to tear them down. How many lives could have been different if your parent was the one who decided that enough was enough.

  7. You’re allowed to make mistakes and you’re allowed to do it on your own.

    You may have been lead to believe that you’re not enough – not smart enough, beautiful enough, funny enough, strong enough capable enough. The truth is that you are so enough. It’s crazy how enough you are. Open yourself up to the possibility of this and see what happens. You don’t need to depend on anyone and making mistakes doesn’t make you a loser. It never has. That’s something you’ve been lead to believe by a parent who never supported you or never gave you permission to make mistakes sometimes. Make them now. Make plenty. Heaps. Give yourself full permission to try and miss. There will be hits and there will be misses. You don’t even know what you’re capable of because you’ve never been encouraged to find out. You’re stronger than you think you are, braver, better and smarter than you think you are, and now is your time to prove it to yourself.

    [irp posts=”1042″ name=”Letting Go: How to Master the Art”]


  8. Write a list. (And get yourself a rubber band.)

    Write down the beliefs that hold you back. The ones that get in your way and stop you from doing what you want to do, saying what you want to say or being who you want to be. Were you brought up to believe your opinion doesn’t count? That parents are always right? That you’re unloveable? Unimportant? Stupid? Annoying? Incapable? Worthless?

    Now beside each belief, write what that belief is costing you. Has it cost you relationships? Happiness? Freedom to be? To experiment? To explore? Then, rewrite the script. Thoughts drive feelings, behaviour, what you expect for yourself and what you expect from relationships and world. How are you going to change those beliefs? Just choose one or two to start with and every time you catch yourself thinking the old thoughts, actively replace it with a new, more self-nurturing thought – then act as though that new thought is true. You don’t have to believe it – just pretend it is. Your head will catch up when it’s ready.

    If it’s difficult to break out of the old thought, try this: wear a rubber band (or a hair band) around your wrist. Every time you catch yourself thinking the old thought, give the band a little flick. This will start to train your mind to let go of the old thoughts that have no place in your life anymore. You just need a little flick – you don’t need to hurt yourself – your old thoughts have been doing that for long enough already. There is no right or wrong on this. All the answers, strength and courage you need to do what’s right for you is in you. You just need to give yourself the opportunity and the reason to hear it.

  9. Find your ‘shoulds’ that shouldn’t be.

    ‘Shoulds’ are the messages we take in whole (introject) from childhood, school, relationships, society. They guide behaviour automatically and this can be a good thing (‘I should be around people who respect me’) or a not so good thing (‘I should always be ‘nice”). Take a close look at your ‘shoulds’ and see if they’ve been swallowed with a spoonful of poison. Our ‘should’s’ come from many years of cultivating and careful pruning, so that when that should is fully formed, it direct you so automatically that you don’t even need to think.

    It’s likely that the should that’s keeping you stuck has come from the person who wanted to keep you that way. Were you brought up feeling indebted to your parents? Like you owe them? Like you’ll never cope if you separate properly from them? Were the messages delivered to keep you small? Quiet? Hidden? Believing the messages may have worked when you were younger, steering you way from their foul mood or toxic consequences, but it doesn’t have to be that way now. Don’t pick up from where they left off. You’re older now, with different circumstances, and in a different environment. Bring your ‘shoulds’ out in the open so your actions can be more deliberate. If your ‘shoulds’ are working for you, love them up and keep them, otherwise let them go. 

  10. Nobody is all good or all bad. But don’t be guilted by that.

    One of the things that makes ending any relationship so difficult is that there will be traces of exactly what you want. Even toxic parents can sometimes be loving, warm or nurturing, though it’s mostly, if not always, done to further their own agenda. In the same way that being ‘a little bit bad’ probably isn’t enough to sever an important relationship, being ‘a little bit good’ isn’t enough reason to keep one. Zoom out and look at the big picture. If you feel miserable in the relationship more than you feel good, question your reasons for staying. If it’s because your toxic parent is old, frail, sad or lonely, that might be all the reason you need to stay, and that’s okay. If it is, own the decision in strength and put limits on contact or how much you will give to the relationship. You’re entitled to take or give as much to the relationship as you decide. Just whatever you do, do it deliberately, in strength and clarity, not because you’re being manipulated or disempowered. The shift in mindset seems small, but it’s so important. 

  11. Build yourself up.

    Toxic environments are toxic to the brain – we know that with absolute certainty. The human brain is incredibly adaptive, and in response to a toxic environment it will shut down so as to protect itself as much as it can from the toxicity. When this happens, as it does during prolonged periods of emotional stress, the rate at which the brain produces new neurons (neurogenesis) slows right down, ultimately making people vulnerable to anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, memory loss, reduced immunity, loss of vitality, reduced resilience to stress, and illness (research has shown that migraine and other pain conditions are more prevalent in people who were brought up in abusive environments, though the exact reason for the relationship is unclear).

    We also know, with absolute certainty, that the damage can be turned around. Diet (omega 3, green tea extract, blueberry extract, reduced intake processed sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates), exercise (anything that increases heart rate), and meditation (such as a regular mindfulness practice) will all help to rebuild the brain and heal the damage done by a toxic environment. Increasing neurogenesis will help to build resilience, cognitive function, vitality and protect against stress, anxiety and depression.

Healing from a toxic parent starts with deciding that the lifetime of messages that have left you hollow or scarred are wrong. Because they are. It means opening a heart that’s probably been closed for way too long, and receiving the love, approval and validation that has always been yours to own. Sometimes, it means realising that parents break too, sometimes irreparably, sometimes to the point of never being able to show love to the people in their life who deserve it the most. Sometimes it means making the brave decision, in strength and with the greatest self-love and self-respect, to let go of the relationship that’s been hurting you. 

Breaking free of a toxic parent is hard, but hard has never meant impossible. With the deliberate decision to move forward, there are endless turns your story can take. Brave, extraordinary, unexpected turns that will lead you to a happier, fuller life. It’s what you’ve always deserved. Be open to the possibilities of you. There are plenty.



I had an explosive arguement with my toxic parents. I addressed their behaviour after years of bottling up my emotions. I am a very independent person by nature and despise asking for help. If I do it’s a last resort type thing. They come off as so willing to “help” but of course it comes with their own agenda and validation that they done so much for me. She even said you wouldn’t have nothing if it wasn’t for me. She tries to undermine my achievements and accomplishments I’ve been a hard worker all my life. She even told me you are always working. Well I do so I don’t have to ask them for anything. I recently hit a rough patch and had to ask for help. Now everything I ever needed help with is thrown in my face. I am having a hard time afforsing a babysitter for my 5 year old. She is the only one I can ask to watch my son and he has now grown attached to her. I am now working on transferring him to another school and finding a job to work around my son school schedule. Anything but rely on them I hate knowing that they think I need them. That is an independent person worse nightmare. I feel for my son as he always talks about her and he will miss his friends at his old school. However I know that children are resilisant and will learn to sort of forget and develop new friendships. I am just done with all the mental abuse non support fake support just for them to feel powerful and have control over my life I am done. Now I am working on rebuilding my life. Can anyone else relate?


I had no contact with my mother for over 6 months now. I have received the Christmas card from her and a small card with few words. She asked me to forgive her, her behaviour and that’s she wants me to contact her via Skype (I live in UK and she lives in Poland). It all hit me the hardest now. I was upset, angry, anxious, and worried over the holidays. I was questioning myself if I’m doing it right, no contacting her. My brothers wrote to me why I’m not talking to them… it’s sounds so easy to just go back to old way. I have been bullied and mentally and physically abused by my older brothers. I was shamed by them too. My mother was mentally abusive, she wanted me to be her. She wanted me to have the job she wanted. She controlled me in every way. And I’m 35 years old with 3 children. She wanted me to come back to her(preferably live with her. She hated my husband(even though he is so supportive of me and loves me unconditionally) she could not stand that I have got good life. For the last few years I felt very depressed, I was trying to please her and I wanted her to accept me and love me. Somehow I never felt loved. She sent me to hell (because I stopped going to church) she does not understand I believe in God. Why do I feel so guilty all the time. Why I feel sorry for her? I’m worried if I contact her once I will be back to old ways. She never will change, I understand that. I just want to live in peace with myself. My children and my husband and few friends are what I need. But somehow I feel empty I don’t have mother. But the truth is I never had a real mother. I had cold woman who never nurtured me, gave me acceptance, love. Who punished me for being angry. Who gave me silent treatments for 1 week. Never been there for me.. I just want everyone know that’s its so hard to break away. But in the same time I had much more freedom in the last 6 months. Nobody criticise me, and I went on holidays first time in 11 years. I don’t need anyone’s approval anymore. Time heals..


Don’t do it. It is a vicious cycle. I would continue to minimize contact with your mom. I tried going back to the old way and was devastated every time. I will be 50 next year and nothing has changed. Things have gotten worse for me. Now my mom is trying to get through to me through my in-laws. SMH. I started having chest pains last week and I do not want to die young from a heart attack. So for your own health and sanity, I would love from a distance. Nothing is worth your life and peace of mind.


Thank you Marie. I appreciate your reply. I also have 2 friends with narcissistic mothers and they both told me to move on with my life and reduce the contact to minimum. I’m trying to forgive myself and realise that it’s not my fault. I have been brought up believing that I need to honour my mother no matter what. And this holds me back many times. I think that makes my feel like some bad daughter. But how you said, you can love from the distance and none should go through that experience. None should be abused. I need to put myself first and break the cycle.


Monika, I am in a very similar situation. Mine is different because my mother gives me the silent treatment, then blames me for being estranged as if she has no role. I think the answer to your guilt comes is found in your post — as a child, you were left believing that you are not good enough being exactly who you are, you were not treasured for who you are, so you were left feeling that you or your actions are “wrong” in some way. That is how I understand it. The childhood influences are very powerful over our brains. I think Karen’s post is very insightful — we each have to find the best solution. If you think there is some sincerity in your mother’s apology, you can acknowledge that if you like, but you have to determine what is best for you. I have just ordered a book called “daughter detox” — I haven’ read it yet, but it looks good. Also I am reading one now called Legacy of the Heart, you can look it up also. We were treated this way for many years, so our feelings of guilt will not disappear overnight, but we can feel good that we are taking care of ourselves by establishing and enforcing boundaries.


Thank you AM. Your books recommendations look very good. I will look closer into that. You are right, it all stems from my childhood. My older brother was the golden child. He got married and his wife became all my mother wanted. She adored her, she treated her like the daughter she ever wanted. I was pushed aside, criticised, blamed, and she even called me black sheep of the family… I have done nothing wrong. I graduated from the university and I left the country to start a new life. But for the last 13 years I kept phoning her, sending packages. I wanted to please her. I suppose I wanted to be loved. But when she almost wrecked my marriage, told my to stop being an artist, it all got too much for me. I just need to detox myself from her..


I finally ended my relationship with my mom in my mind yesterday. I have just come to the realization that she will never change and she has told me that several times. She is a narcissist! I tried faithfully for 25 years to build a relationship with my mom and was not successful. I will not let her wreck my 30 yr marriage. It appears she is jealous of my relationship and now she is trying to wreck my marriage by associating with my in-laws and reaching out to them. My grandmother was such a loving person! Very humble, loving and kind! So I am unsure where my moms ways have come from. It was not from her mom. There was also some terrible things that happened to me in my childhood that I can not go into detail and my mom was not supportive at all! I tried the “limit” contact approach first and now I see how evil she is and I finally decided last night to no longer put up with hell! My relationship with my older sister is severed too! That is a whole different topic. I have always been treated like the black sheep but I have cut myself loose. 2019 is going to be the year where I will start putting MYSELF first!

I hope you eventually find solace in your family relationships and make the best decision for “You!”


I am making 2019 the year to get rid of toxic people. I feel your pain Monika, your story sounds very similar to mine. I will never forget the silent treatment and the contempt I received from my mother, I was just a happy, carefree girl, but that’s not who she wanted me to be. She also tried to live an ‘improved’ life through me, not caring what I wanted or what I was good at or interested in. Telling complete strangers what a bad daughter I was for ‘leaving’ her. And always listing other people’s daughters and their accomplishments and achievements and how much money they made and how they still lived close to their mothers/parents. I was never good enough for her from the start. What AM mentions in her comment is the ‘core conflict’, meaning that we as children believe that our parents love us unconditionally, which is the normal scenario. When we realise that they don’t and they criticise us and belittle us, or beat us, the child feels that there is something wrong with them personally and that they are somehow ‘bad’ and that therefore they deserve that treatment. It’s a vicious circle, and in the end you (the child) believe that you must be deficient somehow and cannot be loved for who you really are. It’s so sad to think about, and I remember often feeling sad as a child and teen. Only when I was with other people did I experience acceptance for who I was, just a normal child. And only then did I start to wonder why my mother felt so very different about me. I hope you will all look after yourselves this year! We all deserve to be loved for who we are; we are just human and not perfect, but we are certainly good enough!


Hi Rose, this is just a uplifting message for me as you understand what I went through. (Not wishing on anyone). When I was about 7-8 years old I was in wondering if I was adopted.. my dad was ok with me, he was not showing any emotions towards me but neither he did not show any interest in me. He defended me from my brother when I was beaten up. My brothers just turned into adults and I was still a child. My dad passed away when I was 13 years old. My mum must have been jealous about me as she wanted all attention from my dad and my brothers. My mum also did something to my body when I was around 8 years old taking me to the doctors and it left scars on my body(I can not reveal as it’s personal). I have been teased by my cousins and auntie about it. When I was growing up my anger and rage was coming out to the surface, I became a teenager and I felt no love from my family. My mother said she will take my to psychiatrist for my rage( I slammed the door and I shouted a lot). I can see now she just did not wanted me to show any emotions and she tried to control me. My brothers abuse affected me mentally so badly. And no- it’s not the brothers and sisters fight. I got scolded for anything I said and they didn’t not like it. I had many bruises. My mother never defended me or even admitted it had happened. This year I really want to stop torture myself about the past. It haunts me too. I just want to continue my journey without them and concentrate on myself and my children and husband. I did a great progress in 6 months time. My rage calmed down and if I get angry I know it’s the trigger from “them”. Sometimes I’m tempting myself to write her a letter and pour my emotions, but then what I will get back. An empty sorry as I know they won’t change. For them I’m someone who they can blame, belittle, shame. I never been appreciated or valued. I’m sick of feeling down about myself and see myself as “less” person. I’m fighting for myself so my daughters can be happier. Someone has to stop the circle of abuse. Some days it’s so hard as I miss mother’s love, but I know it’s a fantasy that my own mother is lovely person. I would not want her to be around my children, as she would start picking up on them and criticise. She already picked on my husband and made him worthless. All the best for everyone in this brand new year.


Accurately written and Nicely explained .
Needed something like this from a long time.
Exactly what I have been through for biggest part of my life, and dealing to cope with right now in my life.
Needed 30 minutes to read your article , because I was in tears and I could relate so much with what you have explained .
Thank you for giving me hope and direction.


My parents were and still are using : ( father is heroin addict, mother is meth addict) ; they both took great pleasure out of abusing me. (Both physically and sexually) unfortunately I lived with them from birth to five when I was taken away, and moved into my grandma’s and grandpa’s house along with my little sister, but when I was almost 13 my grandma was diagnosed with cancer so she moved us back into my biological parents house.
( without the state’s knowledge, not that I think they would have cared) so I spent my childhood with my grandparents and my teenage years with my biological parents who would use and fight and take their anger and frustration out on me (my father is a registered sex offender ), and yes my biological mother stayed with that man up until I got pregnant with my daughter at age 18. So I spent my years from 12 1/2 to 16 with them then I couldn’t take it anymore I ran away and moved in with my older sister. I became a instant surrogate mother to her 4 kids and would babysit them when she would go out of town and hang out with her friends. At that time I was almost 17 directly after my 18th birthday and finally when we all moved back to my hometown i left my sister’s house. (A little history of mine):
I first saw meth when my mother was doing lines off the coffee table table right in front of me and my first exposure was due to the fumes from them cooking it, (at the age of 15 I didn’t know why I wasn’t able to sleep eat or doing anything but be doing everything.)
The first time I actually held a pipe I was 18 and I had just gotten with my children’s father, about 5 month’s into that relationship I found out I was pregnant so I immediately quit and after I had my oldest daughter Haleigh I heard him talking to his cousin about how fat I had gotten, I made the decision to start up again.
3 years later I got pregnant with my middle baby Bekah, again, I stopped using and had her healthy and happy then almost 3 years later I got pregnant with my son R.J. now directly after having Bekah and getting pregnant again a couple years later I didn’t use then after I had my son (I still had alot of weight that I had gained while pregnant ) I had come home from the store and heard a noise coming from the bathroom sends caught my now ex cheating on me so I started thinking about how I was gonna leave.
I didn’t know how to get out of that environment because he was all I really knew anymore (we were together for 7 years from the time I was 18 to almost 25).
Yes I stayed that long when I finally got a chance to leave was when my children were taken they put me in a rehab and said stay clean . I have stayed clean since September 8th 2011 the day I walked into the rehab that saved my life. When I left the rehab after 9 month’s residency I moved into a shelter for domestic violence and worked my way into an apartment of my own. I have severe anxiety and depression so I work part time as a dog trainer. I have survived abuse from my parents and in the last 7 years have been jumped ,stabbed, kidnapped , raped , been through horrendous domestic violence and lost custody of my children ( my time ran out after 3 years) I have tried to make amends with my biological mother (not gonna try that again) I do not speak to my biological father either haven’t since I left at 16 and I probably never will he not a good man to be around I have survived losing my children and I continue to stay clean because one day I will see my kids again and I will never let them see me high ever again.
I currently have 7 years 2 months and 10 days clean and sober after everything I have been through I don’t see myself as a victim, but a survivor and I live everyday to prepare myself for my children seeing me for who I am a strong determined woman. I currently don’t have a therapist but I have seen a couple over the last 7 years. I enjoy riding my 97 fatboy and I refer to that as throttle therapy. If I can survive everything I have been through and turn my life around then I guess it is true having a horrendous childhood can make you strong. God Bless Y’all


Years of the constant flow of criticism, mind games, and emotional abuse from the person (I cannot even bring myself to call her my mother) has made me suicidal. I first wished to kill myself over eight years ago. Now, the only thing stopping me is that I do not know how. Completing my to-do list of my final exit is my coping method of dealing with her. I know there is more to life than her, but the suffering is too much to bear. It feels like my brain has deteriorated from the abuse.

Karen Young

Please speak to a counsellor or therapist. Here are some resources that might help. There is a way through this, and you don’t need to do this alone. Love and strength to you.

Juliana F

I comment here a while ago. It takes a long time to heal. I was angry for a long time and wanted to make my mom pay for the things she did to me. I always knew she loved me. She was severely abused by her foster father. She had good intentions but a short fuse. She believes she suffers from complex PTSD.

She also beats herself up for things she did to me in the past. I don’t remember feeling unsafe as a child. I just remember her getting angry and flying into a rage sometimes after she passive-aggressively let me get away with a lot of things. Or just not having patience and understanding that children push boundaries and sometimes have a hard time learning.

After reading the book the four agreements it has really helped our relationship.

I no longer take anything she did personally. I freed myself from holding on to all the anger. I also try to teach her the principles from the book.

The part of the book that talks about the judge and the victim was really good. We punish ourselves and others thousands of times. We make ourselves and others pay thousands of times when we do something wrong. Animals pay once that’s it. We have to just realize that we do our best every day.

I know there are cases where there is just violence and hatred from a parent. My mom, though she was sweet and loving. She just had a problem of anger and impatience and would cursing and making assumptions and hit when really angry. She only did what she was raised with. Now she is better with my youngest brother at least she doesn’t hit him. She still has trouble with yelling.


Hi all.

Oh wow, it’s terrible how so many articles like this resonate with my own experiences with my mother… I’m 20 and for at least 7 years I have been at the receiving end of my mother’s toxic comments and negativity… I’ve always been scared of making mistakes, not being good enough, feeling the need to justify everything I do in the hope it’ll give me an easier time. Many times my mother has disregarded my need for boundaries and space, belittled my decisions and been the direct cause of a very depressed me at the age of 13. As much as I love her, I’ve vowed never to be like her when I have my own children as it hurts and I would never want my future children to feel the helpless emotions that I have felt over the years..


I’m 19. I moved out of my parents house two years ago and I still can’t seem to let go. I experienced a lot of verbal and emotional abuse, to the point where I’m not sure if I’m the toxic one or if it’s them. I now live with my boyfriend and for the sake of not being like my parents and not hurting him I’m realizing that I need to let go and maybe even accept what happened. I don’t have any contact with any of my parents. There’s this void that they left behind and I hate it. I know I don’t need them I’m trying to be fine without them, but for some reason my mind is still stuck in the past. This is the best article that I’ve read so far thank you so much!


Lizzie I chuckled at you describing my entire existence! Having coming to terms with who my 85 year aged mom is still haunts me. It does not help my older and younger sibling have a different (delusional/denial) perception of her personality than I do. I feel sooooooooooo guilty if I don’t call her, much less go see her (I do it out of obligation) they do what they want. Our phone calls seem strained because I have gone completely silent during her DAILY venomous gossip about EVERYONE including the dead! I am realizing I have engaged, and enabled her behavior in an attempt to be “liked” by her. Now realizing she does not love herself at all.



Its good to know I am not the only one who is suffering from the lifetime effects of a Narcissistic Mother. Not that Id wish that on anyone else!
I realised, only recently, that my 88year old (very strong and controlling) Mother has only ever provided me with ‘Conditional’love. My Mother is also a hypochondriac and has been ‘Sick’ during my whole life. Others were expected to do her bidding because her health and her life problems have always been more significant and worse than anyone else’s.
My Stepbrother was her Golden child and I was her scapegoat.
At the age of 64 I am now emotionally drained from trying to help her but it never being enough.
Her constant criticisms and nasty tempers have drained me. I have tried creating borders but she is happy to give me the ‘silent’treatment for months on end.Its always me that squirms back again.
Im not a weak person and I feel so much better (during the day!)when I havent had to contend with her constant negativity.
But during the night I wake up with constant feelings of guilt.
My step father is 92 and is very frail. He has a daily Home care attendance. Hes a lovely man but he is also an enabler for my Mothers toxic behavoiur. Mainly for his own protection!
I need to protect myself by keeping away from my Mothers toxicity but I feel worried about them both.
I have been trying to contact my Mother but she is ignoring all my attempts (again).Of course its always my fault!
Even though I know she will never change and will continue to cause me emotional stress for the rest of her life. I really think she will be the death of me!
Any advice please?


Hi, Lizzie! Your story sounds very similar to mine. My mother was a lot like yours, although she passed away 9 years ago. She made my life a living hell, through my childhood, adolescence, subsequent marriage (and divorce) and having my children. I’m 54 now, and through unfortunate life circumstances living with my 88 year old dad who is frail. I’m here trying to re-build my life and also help be a caregiver for him, along with trying to help my 52 year old brother who has a lot of issues, including anger issues. It’s been toxic beyond belief but in some ways it’s been ironically good for me because I’ve learned enough to set healthy boundaries and get stronger. However, enough is enough and I’ve realized I need to do more for myself with the life I have left. I need to develop skills and find a good career, etc…I know all about the guilt! It was ingrained in me from the time I was born. What has helped me is reading, reading, reading – wonderful articles like these, getting counseling, watching videos about the subject of toxic parents, and trying like crazy to include more positive, healthy people in my life. Toxic people don’t want us to change, grow and be happy. You have a right to these things. It doesn’t matter how old we are – we can start right now! You are couragous and beautiful, Lizzie. Many people couldn’t have endured what you did and still come out a beautiful, kind, empathetic person. Just try to give yourself what you give others, as will I. Together as a community we can help each other get even stronger! I feel some days like my dad will be the death of me, too….Both my parents have cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and it can be brutal. I would say gain as much knowledge as you can on the subject, because it could well be that your mother has this disorder….Or she might have another cluster B disorder like being a Borderline. You didn’t cause this disorder and you’re not to blame for it (whatever disorder she has). You didn’t cause it, nor can you cure it. I think only at this age (54) have I finally realized that I’ve been fighting THEIR “demons” my whole life, and I don’t have to do that anymore! You don’t either. You’re obviously a courageous, loving, kind human being and you need to be reassured by others that you are worth more than what you’ve been told your whole life. Love and blessings to you!


Hi Lizzie, I can’t imagine what it would be like if my mother were still alive. She died four years ago and I only found out earlier this year that she emotionally and psychologically abused me all my life. I instinctively did the right thing by leaving my country of origin in my late twenties (I’m 57), and then having to go even further away, ending up at the opposite end of the world, literally. All that I did subconsciously to escape her, but still playing the good girl when I visited and rang her every week. But at least I had control over that and was able to put on the ‘show’ to contain her rage, anger, misery and constant guilt tripping. I felt nothing when she died and didn’t shed a single tear, and I felt guilty for that and thought something was wrong with me. I also felt a great sense of relief, which should have told me something back then. I confronted my father this year, the enabler who only cared about himself, even though he called her cruel and poisonous when I was younger and still living at home. I wrote him a very respectful letter, trying not to upset him, and only got minimising (it wasn’t all bad) and denial, just so he doesn’t have to face up to the truth himself. I have been in therapy which really helps, but there is also a good book by Sue Pegg, called ‘Daughter Detox’, which is really really helpful and supports what is happening to us with supporting scientific evidence, explaining the feelings we don’t allow ourselves to feel so well. It all comes down to accepting that your parent(s) will never change and that it is entirely up to you to take control of your own life. You owe it to yourself to be kind and compassionate to yourself. You are not what these people tell you you are! The guilt has been drummed into you from a very young age and it is really hard to practice some self care when you have been brainwashed from such a young age. But you can, with a lot of patience and self care, grow as a person and end up seeing yourself for what you really are. You might have to make a decision to go no contact, or to be the one in charge of how much and when the contact happens, including leaving when she becomes abusive. It’s your life, don’t take the abuse from her. You will get there, but it takes time. It will change your life in a way that you never thought possible, even though the pain and hurt will rear its ugly head from time to time, and that’s ok, because that’s also part of who and what we are. Wishing you all the best.

Sandra S

I cut my mother out completely…once I realized that there will never be an apology for the neglect and abuse, exploitation, I stopped caring. However, I struggle with loneliness as I never really had parents. My alcoholic stepfather was terrorizing us and my biological father, whom I met 3 times in my life died when I was young. It is exhausting to make all decisions alone..I never had support or mentorship from anyone other than my husband and friends. I had panic attacks all my life and with all these circumstances, I now don’t live up to my own expectations. I work but don’t have an interesting or rewarding career and I am quite bitter that my dysfunctional upbringing took away a “normal” life, career, children. I moved into a different country to get away from my family. I have always felt flawed or lesser than my friends who had normal upbringings/family. I have given up on my mother because she is getting worse with age and still doesn’t reflect on her actions at age 70. I have flashbacks and am finding itbhard to control them…memories…like when she screamed at me because I had broken my leg instead of being supportive, or worse, when I was locked alone into an apartment frequently for days on end as a toddler without food or water. How does one ever get over that without feeling sorry for oneself?

Julie R

I am so glad that I found this site. I think one of the worst things about childhood abuse, when it is not physical or sexual, is that people just don’t ‘get it’. When you try to explain about the constant criticism, constantly being told that nobody likes you, being stopped from doing the things you’re good at, being lied about, being told you’re useless and you’ll end up with nothing and no one! The list of verbal and mental abuse just goes on and on and on. But somehow, you’re still made to feel like the hard hearted bad person because you’ve made a decision to try to rebuild your life, and the only way you can do that is to cut all ties and discommunicate from the constant, never ending torrent of abuse and mental torture. Even counsellors don’t really seem to understand. But you do, because you’ve been there. It’s so nice to know that I’m not crazy and other people have made this dreadful, hurtful and, at first, debilitating decision to cut off from a parent. The Bible says we must honour thy mother and thy father. I hope that God understands why we really can’t do this.


to Aus_woman33: Yes, having a hard time making a decision can be a typical symptom of childhood issues. This can be related to not being connected to one’s gut and not really knowing what one feels at any one time because as a child you were not allowed to feel your own feelings or were not celebrated for your choices. That can leave us constantly questioning our choices and instincts. Also, on your second point, yes, that is why the term “Adult Child” is used by many. Hope you can get some help with these things!

Carla C

Thanks AM, I definitely am receiving some help. I’m glad my thoughts about ‘adult child’ are not nonsense, sometimes it is amazing to learn something i think and feel is actually connected to my upbringing and it’s my own failing!


Hello community! It’s been a long time since I posted. I’ve been doing well in my recovery. One thing I am finding though is that I need to make some decisions in the next year or so about where to live and send our oldest child to school. We could stay where we are, go more urban, or rural, lots of choices. I find it very difficult to work out what I want. Secondly I often feel my image, life and house reflect a child, like I don’t come across as a grown up 35 yr old woman with two kids. Can anyone relate?


Hi – yes! There was never any evidence of me other than my bedroom when I was a child and although I’ve got my own home now (and have had for years) I am aware I struggle to use it fully. I’m even writing this sitting on my bed in the daytime. few people ever cross the threshold and I am so aware it does not really seem like a grown-up’s house. AM is right about the Adult Child bit which I’d never really twigged before – I’d just thought it meant adult who had parents who were toxic rather than ‘adult child’.

Ps. was your second actually born on your mother’s birthday in the end? Congrats and pleased all going well.


HI Jess, thank you. Glad I’m not alone. I actually missed AM’s comment below, not sure how. I look around my house and partially I see a mess because my husband isn’t tidy, but also I see a lot of inherited furniture, things that don’t match, things I’ve been given but don’t love. It’s frustrating. I don’t feel empowered and I also don’t like to spend money unnecessarily


Yay! Congrats on taking these first steps! I stopped speaking with my parents a year and a half ago. Mentally prepare yourself that you probably will feel guilty and others will probably try to guilt you into communicating with them but stay strong and over time it will get easier. Even my best friend used to try to get me to communicate with them but I resisted. And over time she understood my side more and more. It takes time for things to be revealed and clarity and understanding to be had. When you feel weak, refer back to this site and these post for support. But go to therapy if you can afford it. Within these post are different self help books which are tremendously supportive and validating too. I recently let my parents know that if they go to therapy weekly for five months, I will communicate with them again. I am worth five months of therapy. Sadly I do not think they will go but are enjoying the freedom of the ball no longer being in my court. I waited to suggest this when the opportunity organically presented itself and the time was right. Hope this helps!


Today I did what I never thought I’d be able to do. I confronted my parents about our toxic relationship. Their abuse was more mental and emotional, though my dad once nearly cracked my skull open with his fist whenI was a teen and ever since I flinch when a guy raises his voice or a hand, even when not in an angry tone or even directed at me. I got tired of feeling worthless, stupid, and like I was losing my mind. I was tired of being guilt tripped for refusing to move in with them when I got out the military. I hated being told that I was just jealous of my older brother when ever I had an anxiety attack or an emotional breakdown. I was tired of being berated and seeing them act like my husband didn’t exist. They refused to see it and somehow got the idea in their heads that I was simply being rebellious and that my husband kidnapped me. Take note that I’m 27 years old with a 2 year old son and husband who supports me no matter how I decided to handle my parents. I stopped talking to them, and went as far as to block them on facebook. I haven’t blocked their numbers yet. I feel so very empowered and that a massive weight is over my shoulders. But now I can’t stop dwelling on the whole thing and can’t sleep. I’m not going to give in and let them back in my life. But still feel guilty for it having to come to this because I do still love them. My anxiety is still through the roof, though not as bad as it was when I first confronted them. Now its more fearing the rest of the family and damily friends are goung to try to talk me into reconsidering and refusing to even hear my side of the situation.


Hiya, your story is so similar to mine. I was 27 years old with 2 years old child. Now I’m 35 years old with 3 children. My husband is very supportive. My mum is narcissistic, I did not realised this until April this year. She controlled me, mentally and emotionally abused me. I have read books, I was listening to the doctor, other therapists, and the only solution I come up with- save yourself and your child and husband. Your parents will only get worse. They will NEVER change. I had nightmares, depression, anxiety to the roof. I got medication to help me to cope. After months I feel better now. I have accepted the fact that it NEVER was my fault. It was theirs. I realised I deserve better life. My children deserve better life. My family is toxic and their poison will kill me eventually.
So live your life. Accept the fact you have done nothing wrong. Don’t feel guilty. They are like snakes.. and you would not let snake in your house. They are not cute bunnies. I was sick of hearing that it’s my fault, that I’m jealous of my sister in law and my brother, that I’m black sheep of the family(I have don’t nothing wrong) I graduated from University. I taught myself 3 languages. My mother never supported me, helped me, hugged me, or let me cry. The list goes on… My family tried to interfere in my marriage too. Talk to your doctor, get some mental support and move on with your life. You will meet new people in your life, make friends and they will become your extended family. Your family should love you and support you, not destroy you…good luck


omg I am so utterly disturbed by this article; it is almost as though my body is reacting ahead of my brain; becuase an inner knowing is making me hyperventilate, shake and react with fear….. I do not remember any of the negative parts of my childhood becuase they happened between the ages of 2 and 4 and so I cannot remember what happened – I only know the facts which dont carry any emotion becuase the are simple facts – While my mm was going through a bad time I lived with extrended family I was taken to some relations I didnt know, when I was aged around 1 or 2 and I was left there for 6 months….. This never felt like anything becuase I dont remember it happening but after reading a few books that all said the same thing; I must have gone through some sort of emotional upset and t must have stayed with me becuase suddenly I feel that that might be a reason why I act in such an extreme way over small things…… I would really appreciate your thoughts becuase your article has had a huge affect on me. With thanks,


These comments allow you to see that you are not alone and it does not matter if you are black, white, etc. we all come from broken background and most of us don’t talk about it. It doesn’t really start to show until our adult years….but if you are fortunate enough to pick up on signs of childhood emotional neglect; you can see that the person right next to you has even been effected someway, somehow. Find help, don’t give up. No matter how long you’ve delt with hard times…keep working at it to make life better, it’ll eventually get better.

Cut the toxic people out, it’s going to be hard. Do one thing at a time.


My mother is so mean and hateful. So much to the point where I just want to cry. I am very strong so it’s shocking that all the abuse I have endure for so long still brings me to tears. I am going to college in a few week, very far from home which is intentional but I don’t know if I should bother including her in my life anymore. It breaks my heart but she hurts me in so many different ways and has done so for so long. I don’t know if I should try to rebuild our relationship while I’m away in college or if I would be better of cutting her out of my life. I get judged for the feelings that I feel regarding our relationship but no daughter should experience the abuse, belittlement and humiliation I do from my mom.


thank you Jaz for this story,
We have similar story, I’m 22.
but I think mine is worst ,she throughs insults morning,till late, she’s so evil,I hate her,can not lie,i hate her,her presence just make me feel ….(i dont know the correct word) thats how annoying i am
Everyday when she comes from work ,i put o my headsets pretend i’m listening to music,I pray to God everyday not to say anything bad ,she’s my mother. I finished school last year Im now staying at home full time.its not easy to get a job,
The way i so despite her i am even planning to buy a house and go stay with my dad,we get along .I want to disown her.SHES doing too much damage in our lives.


You’re escaping the abuse to start a better life. Don’t bring the abuse with you. If your mother is toxic, let it go. I wish I would have had that opportunity. I’m now 52 and was stupid enough to join households so she wouldn’t be alone and wouldn’t be stressed at not being able to support herself in reasonable comfort. HUGE MISTAKE! She has taken that to mean that I am obligated to support EVERYTHING she does. She pays for absolutely nothing. I cut her off at one point (I tool HER car payment out of HER bank account) and she told my kids I was a thief and no better than a welfare case. I relented to save my kids from having to hear her nonsense. SECOND HUGE MISTAKE! It has now evolved into I buy every damn thing or she yells at me AND my kids about how I would be on welfare if it wasn’t for her (I have a doctorate degree, she barely finished high school), that I’m ungrateful, I should be ashamed that I’ve left myself go (I’ve had four kids, I’m 52, and I hurt my back while serving in the military), etc. . . I should have turned away and never looked back. Don’t make my mistake. I would throw her out now, but I know she’ll never be able to support herself. I keep it going not for her, but for my own kids. I don’t want them to see that I got fed up with their grandmother and threw her out — I don’t think that benefits them, either. I’m betwixed and between — not certain which is more damaging. Don’t make my mistake. Go! Enjoy your life! Make something of yourself. You’re capable and you deserve it. Don’t look back.


Hello lovely community. I haven’t posted in a while as I have been doing really well, emotionally detaching and becoming stronger. I’m now due to have my second baby any day. I think I’m in prelabour, so it could be next 24-48 hrs. Interestingly, tomorrow is my mother’s birthday. It feels like the ultimate challenge to accept the possibility of my child sharing her birthday. Being narcissistic, you can just imagine the joy and pride she’d feel if that happened. We are on civil terms and I am OK with where things are at on that front however the arrival of a new baby will require strict boundaries etc. I just wanted to share as most people do not understand why I’d be disappointed and anxious about the prospect of a shared birthday…


This is great to read as you just painted a perfect picture of my family , childhood was horrible , that man would use cable wires like three inter tiwngled together to beat me butt naked , when i think of it i hate him now , most of the things they got from me even without my consent i feel like they dont deserve i have been able to confront them and they can’t even talk to me i always tell them shame on them the other three whom they abused too are not even near where i am in life , growing up to know your family is evil is cruel

Kelley K

I noticed this article was first published in 2015 and has over 600 comments. I am reading some of the first comments and praying that many people have found peace and happiness. I searched online for answers and came across this piece and am relieved by the words of encouragement. At 54-years-old, I want to share with everyone what I am telling myself: “It’s never too late to love yourself and heal.” I do have thoughts of, “Why am I fully understanding this now? Why didn’t I accept this knowledge when it was first presented to me, many years ago?” Who knows. The point is that we are life-long learners and the mind grows forever. I wish you all the love and support you deserve. Remember you are not alone. Many more people will be thinking of you, even those that never comment. If we all think of each other and at the same time, love ourselves, we CAN heal. We are meant to “love” in this world and not be sad. And there is nothing “normal” about hurt. Many families laugh, love, and enjoy each other. If it didn’t happen for us until today, we are blessed with knowing we can have it from this day forward. We all have a chance. Thank you for listening. I have a “thing” about being heard. I like being heard. I have been missing it all of my life. Much love.

Amanda O

Your words helped me so much and you were heard. Thanks so much for letting me know I am not alone.

Stevie M

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I agree being heard has been an important part of my lesson as well. Thank you

Kely B

Thank you for sharing with us what most of us can relate. Thank you very very much:)

Stevie M

I’m having a hard time processing the reality of my childhood. My mother and father had stopped using drugs when I was 6 years old. They stayed clean and sober until I was 15. My dad started using meth again and left my mother for another woman he was using with. My mom went manic depressive and started using meth as well. My older siblings x3 were already moved put of the house and had children. They abandoned my mom in her time of need and were no where to be found until My older sister by 11 years went through the court system and took my younger sister age 11 out of the toxic environment but left me there. My mother trying to impress my oldest sister decided to start going to church. I was a straight A student and played varsity basketball, volleyball swimming and water polo. I was a peer counselor at my school my sophomore year, one of only 7 students who made it through the college course. One Sunday mom wanted me to attend a new church with her but I was too tired from the basketball tournament the day before and didnt have the energy to get up and go with her. So she brought a meth pipe into my bedroom to wake me up. I didnt know or think it was a big deal at the time as I had smoked pot a couple times by then. I was too young to have any memories from when they used meth when I was a child so I had no clue of the path she was leading me onto. So she got me high and we went to church. After that day she regularly smoked meth with me like it was nothing. At one point my father had come to the house and was smoking meth with mom and I and asking me to go beat up his girlfriend who was making his life hell. I was 16 at this point. My Junior year I was unable to keep my grades up high enough to play sports due to all of the late night staying up on meth with my mom and new friends she had made. I lost my full ride scholarship to davis university for swimming and I fell behind on credits so I decided I would try a continuation school to catch up. That lasted may e 2 months and I had dropped out of school completely. My 17th birthday my mother and her new boyfriend took me to a bar and told the woman it was my birthday. So she told me that I had to go shot for shot with her all night to celebrate. She of course thought it was my 21st birthday because my mom and step dad had brought me into the bar with them. So I ended up drunk as you can imagine. What I didnt understand at the time was that now everyone from the bar lnew I was 21 so I was allowed in anytime I wanted to go. One bar lead to another and by the time I was 19 I was still getting high with mom and I had started bartending at a local dive bar and became a regular at all the others in town. After that on birthdays I always said I was 21 again. There is so much more to the story but I just wanted to give you an idea of what I’m trying to process. Now I just turned 34 and as you can imagine my life has never been anything close to my dreams as a child. In fact its been one big messed up party with no meaning or true purpose. My mother still to this day takes pride in telling the story about getting me high to go to church that first day. Now my mother has dementia, she still uses meth and my step dad is paralyzed from a stroke. My siblings have chosen to ignore my mother all together, they dont even call to say hi once in awhile. I however cant help but continue to put myself aside to be there for her. Even though the way she treats me now is far from good. She is vindictive and manipulative and mean. She is hateful and full of spite. She blames everyone including me for the situation she is in, and still I can not find it in myself to think about my needs and wants for once in my life and leave her to her self created disasters as my siblings have always done. I recently started seeing a therapist as I have found myself depressed for the first time in my life. I dont feel its helping me that’s why I decided to look up how to process and let go of the hate I feel inside toward my mother, the resentments and move past it all to find my purpose. I’m still not sure how to do it but I realated to this arrival on So many levels that I decided to take a chance and leave this comment with the hopes that someone might be able to give me some kind of advise or point me to a starting point so that I might start to live a life for myself that I have chosen for myself with lurpose and meaning.


I finally decided to leave my toxic family for the sanctity of my marriage of almost 30 years. I am almost 50 and you get to the point that enough is enough and life is better without them. It took me almost 40 years to realize this and I regret I let it go on as long as I did. You have to love yourself enough to not allow people to hurt you emotionally and physically. You have to surround yourself with people that truly have your best interest at heart! I am in the process of finding those people now. I know God is good and he will bring positive people into my life we just have to have faith!


I love how you worded this! I am deciding the same. I realize that my error was not “leaving and cleaving” as is Scriptural, but I was raised to believe that that was only intended for sons, not daughters… daughter’s were to stay (entrenched/enmeshed) with their parents forever, even after marriage.
At age 45, in my 25th year of marriage, I choose to stop placing my parents and their/our relationship before my husband, my children and the wellbeing of my family. I choose to leave and cleave to my husband. Better late than never!


if you don’t like your therapist, then it is okay to stop seeing them. But you should definitely try out other therapists until you find one who can help you. It’s okay to be picky, but don’t give up on the search. Talking these things out can help you process the past in a new way.

I’m sorry for all you had to face in childhood. Your past does not have to haunt you, though it will always be an aspect that shapes the person you become. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I really believe that people who face difficult pasts, and then respect themselves enough to work through them, become extremely empathetic and therefore very important members of society.

You deserve to feel love. You are valued. You are important.

Kim B.

Stevie M. Please don’t do what I did and wait until you are 57 years old to make changes. I hope you are sober now dear. And I’m sorry to say this but your mother is toxic, and you need to stay away from that toxicity. I know it’s difficult. You feel sorry for her. But she’s going to continue to drag you down. I suggest you pray over this. The Lord will help you find peace. You won’t feel as alone in your decision. I know this because this is what I have done. and I am sober now. And I’m not dealing with the daily toxicity from my mother any longer. I have found peace. Stevie, you will be in my prayers. Don’t be afraid.


Stevie you are a strong person and thanks for sharing your story. It does help me and i am sure many others not feeling alone.

Stevie M

Thank you….I needed to say it out loud and sense I posed this things have changed a bit. Ill update my story soon.

Nicole W

You are so courageous for sharing your story. My own narcissistic mother has bullied me into keeping all the experiences I lived through a secret, and went bonkers when she found out I actually shared my true life story with my husband. How could I betray her like this? You have shown your incredible capabilities during the times that you excelled at sports and school and worked as a counselor with others. Those qualities and abilities are inside of you today because THAT is who you are. someone who is strong and capable. you may be your mother’s daughter but that’s just one aspect. if you choose to wear that as your only label, you may miss out on all the other facets of yourself. Sometimes, people who are supposed to love us are just in a lot of pain and pull us down so the blow hurts them less when shared. I am struggling to remember this myself, that I am worthy of love and support even when my mother tries to undermine my opportunities for love and support. because it’s all about her and how she looks. Well, it’s not about her. And your life is not about your mother’s life either. unless you allow it to be. it’s great you have tried therapy, and hopefully you will find the therapist and type of therapy that’s right for you. Our moms may never give us the love that all children deserve, but maybe we can remember that that doesn’t mean we aren’t worthy of love. Maybe we can learn how to love and accept ourselves.

Stevie M

Thank you for your words. I hope that this in someway helps someone else not to feel alone in their struggles.

Lara P

I feel for you. Your siblings are protecting themselves from your mother and so should you. It’s so hard – I have just read this article for the same reason as you – trying to decide whether to cut my mother out of my life too. I have read so much and searched so far to try to find resolution to my problems with my mother and I highly recommend John Bradshaw’s works on healing the shame that binds and healing the inner child. He is a pioneer in this work. Good luck finding your true self and purpose! Hugs!!


Yes it will still hurt, It will always hurt, but eventually less and much more manageable as you will find yourself actually growing. Especially when you surround yourself with people who actually care, and value you as a human.

The guilt trip is a serious weapon, see it for what it ACTUALLY is. What may help is this; have you noticed your parent feeling guilty for their shit throwing? no, i bet you haven’t, its easier for them to blame you right? case closed.

There is NOTHING to feel guilty about, all you are doing is providing boundaries to support your own health. Caused by the selfish abusive careless nature of those who were supposed to give you this growing up – you’re doing their work. THEY SHOULD THANK YOU!

of course I know this guilty feeling and why its there, you’re empathetic, which is what makes you a great target for them. you are ( as you have the right to) making better choices for yourself.
Be proud of yourself that despite the odds, here you are making better choices because you can 🙂


Stevie, you were Are awesome.
That is why your mother who failed tried to make you fail too.
She is sick and you, like most beautiful people are very very sensitive. That’s why you keep on caring for her. But also because just like drugs, you are addicted to carrying her pain as if it was yours.
I hope one day you get the reflex to just let go look at it from above. Dissect the situation like it’s not your own. Because it really is not.
I loved reading your piece and I wish you every beautiful thing this world has to offfer.


Hi Stevie,

I’m not sure if you will ever see this comment but your story is incredible. You have an amazing internal strength.
Maybe you could write a book?

I would encourage you to keep reaching out until you find a counselor you can connect with it’s so beneficial when you have the best support in place for yourself life can truly get so much better.

I started small one day when I realised I couldn’t write anything down that I enjoyed or brought me happiness. I was so disconnected from myself and I was devastated by that. It took me almost 2 weeks to write a small list of things than I made time to do those things for me… it was the start of me finding myself again. I hope you find that 🙂

Stevie M

Thank you very much for your comment. If it might help someone going through the same type of life altering realizations and changes then maybe a book is a great idea.


The happiest time in my life was the time I spent away from my toxic mother, it’s sad to say but it will not change her one bit. You may eventually run back because the guilt you carry but she will remain exactly the same . So my advice is to walk away and take care of yourself for a while.


You are amazing! The fact that you’re aware and accept the reality of the effects all this has scarred you with is huge in your ability to heal. You have to break free from the people and environment that are the source of the toxic programming these experiences gave you. Then therapy and you will make progress. It is so difficult but absolutely necessary to do without guilt so you can save your life. If not there’s a good chance you end up institutionalized, miserable, and/or dead.


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Sometimes we all just need space to talk to someone who will listen without giving advice, or problem solving, or lecturing. Someone who will let us talk, and who can handle our experiences and words and feelings without having to smooth out the wrinkles or tidy the frayed edges. 

Our kids need this too, but as their important adults, it can be hard to hush without needing to fix things, or gather up their experience and bundle it into a learning that will grow them. We do this because we love them, but it can also mean that they choose not to let us in for the wrong reasons. 

We can’t help them if we don’t know what’s happening in their world, and entry will be on their terms - even more as they get older. As they grow, they won’t trust us with the big things if we don’t give them the opportunity to learn that we can handle the little things (which might feel seismic to them). They won’t let us in to their world unless we make it safe for them to.

When my own kids were small, we had a rule that when I picked them up from school they could tell me anything, and when we drove into the driveway, the conversation would be finished if they wanted it to be. They only put this rule into play a few times, but it was enough for them to learn that it was safe to talk about anything, and for me to hear what was happening in that part of their world that happened without me. My gosh though, there were times that the end of the conversation would be jarring and breathtaking and so unfinished for me, but every time they would come back when they were ready and we would finish the chat. As it turned out, I had to trust them as much as I wanted them to trust me. But that’s how parenting is really isn’t it.

Of course there will always be lessons in their experiences we will want to hear straight up, but we also need them to learn that we are safe to come to.  We need them to know that there isn’t anything about them or their life we can’t handle, and when the world feels hard or uncertain, it’s safe here. By building safety, we build our connection and influence. It’s just how it seems to work.♥️
#parenting #parenthood #mindfulparenting
Words can be hard sometimes. The right words can be orbital and unconquerable and hard to grab hold of. Feelings though - they’ll always make themselves known, with or without the ‘why’. 

Kids and teens are no different to the rest of us. Their feelings can feel bigger than words - unfathomable and messy and too much to be lassoed into language. If we tap into our own experience, we can sometimes (not all the time) get an idea of what they might need. 

It’s completely understandable that new things or hard things (such as going back to school) might drive thoughts of falls and fails and missteps. When this happens, it’s not so much the hard thing or the new thing that drives avoidance, but thoughts of failing or not being good enough. The more meaningful the ‘thing’ is, the more this is likely to happen. If you can look behind the words, and through to the intention - to avoid failure more than the new or difficult experience, it can be easier to give them what they need. 

Often, ‘I can’t’ means, ‘What if I can’t?’ or, ‘Do you think I can?’, or, ‘Will you still think I’m brave, strong, and capable of I fail?’ They need to know that the outcome won’t make any difference at all to how much you adore them, and how capable and exceptional you think they are. By focusing on process, (the courage to give it a go), we clear the runway so they can feel safer to crawl, then walk, then run, then fly. 

It takes time to reach full flight in anything, but in the meantime the stumbling can make even the strongest of hearts feel vulnerable. The more we focus on process over outcome (their courage to try over the result), and who they are over what they do (their courage, tenacity, curiosity over the outcome), the safer they will feel to try new things or hard things. We know they can do hard things, and the beauty and expansion comes first in the willingness to try. 
#parenting #mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparent
Never in the history of forever has there been such a  lavish opportunity for a year to be better than the last. Not to be grabby, but you know what I’d love this year? Less opportunities that come in the name of ‘resilience’. I’m ready for joy, or adventure, or connection, or gratitude, or courage - anything else but resilience really. Opportunities for resilience have a place, but 2020 has been relentless with its servings, and it’s time for an out breath. Here’s hoping 2021 will be a year that wraps its loving arms around us. I’m ready for that. x
The holidays are a wonderland of everything that can lead to hyped up, exhausted, cranky, excited, happy kids (and adults). Sometimes they’ll cycle through all of these within ten minutes. Sugar will constantly pry their little mouths wide open and jump inside, routines will laugh at you from a distance, there will be gatherings and parties, and everything will feel a little bit different to usual. And a bit like magic. 

Know that whatever happens, it’s all part of what the holidays are meant to look like. They aren’t meant to be pristine and orderly and exactly as planned. They were never meant to be that. Christmas is about people, your favourite ones, not tasks. If focusing on the people means some of the tasks fall down, let that be okay, because that’s what Christmas is. It’s about you and your people. It’s not about proving your parenting stamina, or that you’ve raised perfectly well-behaved humans, or that your family can polish up like the catalog ones any day of the week, or that you can create restaurant quality meals and decorate the table like you were born doing it. Christmas is messy and ridiculous and exhausting and there will be plenty of frayed edges. And plenty of magic. The magic will happen the way it always happens. Not with the decorations or the trimmings or the food or the polish, but by being with the ones you love, and the ones who love you right back.

When it all starts to feel too important, too necessary and too ‘un-let-go-able’, be guided by the bigger truth, which is that more than anything, you will all remember how you all felt – as in how happy they felt, how loved they felt were, how noticed they felt. They won’t care about the instagram-worthy meals on the table, the cleanliness of the floors, how many relatives they visited, or how impressed other grown-ups were with their clean faces and darling smiles. It’s easy to forget sometimes, that what matters most at Christmas isn’t the tasks, but the people – the ones who would give up pretty much anything just to have the day with you.
Some days are great days. We want to squeeze every delicious moment out of them and keep them forever somewhere safe and reachable where our loved days and precious things are kept. Then there are days that are truly awful - the days we want to fold in half, and then in half again and again and again until those days are too small to hurt us any more. But days are like that aren’t they. For better or worse they will come and they will go. Sometimes the effects of them will stay – the glow, the growth, the joy, the bruises – long after those days have gone. And despite what I know to be true - that these are the days that will make us braver, stronger, kinder and wiser, sometimes I don’t feel any of that for a while. I just see the stretch marks. But that’s the way life is, isn’t it. It can be hard and beautiful all in sequence and all at once.
One of the tough things about being human is that to live wholeheartedly means to open ourselves to both - the parts that are plump with happiness, and the parts that hurt. We don’t have to choose which one can stay. They can exist together. Not always in equal measure, and not always enough of the beautiful to make the awful feel tolerable, or to give it permission to be, but they can exist together - love through loss, hope through heartache. The big memory-making times that fatten life to full enough, and the ones that come with breakage or loss. The loss matters and the joy matters. The existence of either doesn't make the other matter any less. 
What I also know to be true is that eventually, the space taken up by loss or heartache changes space for enough of the beautiful to exist with it. This is when we can start to move with. Sadness still, perhaps, but with hope, with courage, with strength and softness, with openness to what comes next. Because living bravely and wholeheartedly doesn't mean getting over loss or denying the feelings that take our breath away sometimes. It means honouring both, and in time, moving with.♥️

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