Have you ever heard the expression, “Once a thief, always a thief?” I’ve watched this in a person I once called my older brother. From the time I was seven years old, I witnessed or experienced this man stealing from me and/or others in one way or another. And I reconciled it within myself growing up by saying, that is just who he is.
Over the years, I choose to love him anyway and even went so far as to repeatedly assist in bailing him out of trouble from time to time. It cost me significantly each and every time.
The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back
In the wake of my mother’s passing, I decided no more. He had exploited my 90 year old mother until her death and then enlisted my ex and his soldiers to help him conceal his most recent exploitation campaign against our mother in her declining years. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the saying goes.
I drew the line in the sand and said, no more. You are not my brother. We may have shared the same parents, but his moral compass is so far off from mine that I no longer recognized him as someone I could be safe in the company of…not now or later. It was over for me.
It’s the first time in my life that I actually cut ties with a blood relative. In the adjustment phase following, I came to put many of the segments of violation by this man to me to rest. For the first time in my life, I was no longer his victim.
Letting Go of Toxic People
Before doing this, I maintained an attitude that people who eliminate relatives from their lives are not dealing with their reality. Since making this move, I’ve come to embrace how doing this was my acknowledgment to myself that I will no longer give to someone who steals from me (directly or indirectly).
It’s the same decision I made when I cut ties with my ex (a court documented child and wife abuser). I no longer question the decision to eliminate my career criminal sibling out of my life. Instead, I see it as an honoring of the morals and values I hold for myself.
In many writings, I speak about letting go of toxic relationships. In clinical practice, people frequently ask when do you let go of a toxic relationship? My answer: when you have had enough. It’s a very personal decision.
If you are entertaining cutting ties with a once loved one, hold compassion for yourself as you release judgment, obligation and guilt. You will discover that as you respect your limits, so will others. For more information and reflections on letting go of toxic relationships, visit www.InnerSanctuaryOnline.org
Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from toxic relationships and family violence.