Ask the Therapist: Should I cut off from my family of origin?

I’m doing a lot of personal work on overcoming some really dysfunctional situations with my family of origin. I’m 71 years old, (which is hard for me to even believe, feel likeAsk the Therapist:  Emotional Health Advice I’m 30) and am realizing that in order for me to remain healthy and to continue to grow spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically….I’m going to have to REALLY detach with love from my siblings. I’ve been in Alanon now for one year, being an adult child of alcoholic upbringing, and the more I grow the more I see, I MUST let go….this is very sad for me to realize but when I chat with any sibling it’s like I’m going backwards AGAIN. They talk to me like I’m the OLD Julie…they will never really know me

I attended Alanon during the 80’s while living in Wisconsin but after moving here to Arizona, I stopped going.  Because of an unfortunate situation with one of my sisters, I allowed it to throw me into a real tizzy…so I returned to Alanon and now I am really working this wonderful program.

Have you seen situations where one has to remove themselves from their family of origin?

Lisa’s thoughts…

I’ve seen many cases where people make the choice to cut off from their families of origin.  The reason for this choice varies but it usually has something to do with a dysfunctional family (as the case you describe) that shows no sign of change and in fact continues to be harmful to the emotional health of the person in question.  As you’ve likely learned, when one does personal growth work they often change.  As people get emotionally healthy they become less comfortable (and tolerant) of what can be unchanging and damaging behavior from relatives who are still operate as they always have.

Cutting off from a family is not a light decision and often I find people take steps to avoid it by first attempting to set boundaries with individuals in the family.  It’s when this goes unheeded that some make the choice to either put greater distance between themselves and the family – or completely cut off.

Of course it’s sad to imagine letting go of your family.  I wish you the best of luck in your process and I hope things work out in whatever way facilitates the continuation of your healing.

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(Lisa’s responses are not to be considered “therapy” but rather educational; her thoughts are based on the limited information available.  Please seek a local individual or couples therapist if it is therapy that you seek).