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Going No Contact With a Family Member


I've been sitting here trying to write a letter to someone who I have been "no contact" with now for four years. You want to know something? The past four years have been glorious. I have no regrets. The only regret I have is that it had to come to this and I will forever mourn the relationship I always wished I had, but never did. I have been criticized and demonized by many family members for this decision, but my question is: where were they when I felt like I was abandoned? No one came to defend me when I was left all alone. No one stood up for me when my feelings where stepped on.

I no longer hold anger in my heart. I don't do any of this out of revenge. That only hurts YOU in the long run. In fact, I found a deeper sense of love, now more than ever, for family as I have stepped back and analyzed the situation as an outsider's perspective. I have learned the art of forgiveness. Sometimes people act out of the only thing they know and by what has been taught to them by other people. I cannot fault anyone who is doing the best with what they were given. Learned behavior is just that. But at some point, when we learn of our behavior that is not-so-pleasant, we have to be willing to fix it. If someone is unwilling, then there isn't much you can do. You cannot change a person that is not willing or will not hear that they need to change. In my case, I am not even allowed to tell this person whose behavior has affected our entire family that their behavior is detrimental. And thus, we are at a loss from the get-go. For those who have truly studied the family dynamic of true NPD, this is a huge reason as to why the problem goes on for as long as it does.

Many people know my story and some friends and family understand and some do not. They think that I will regret what I am doing. I don't know. I guess I won't know until the day I leave this life. As of this moment, I don't feel that I will. Because for once in my life, I am doing what I WANT and what is best for ME. For half of my life, I always did what everyone else wanted and expected from me. I walked on eggshells for years, trying not to upset anyone and apologizing if I did -- even when I didn't want to. Is this me being stubborn? No. This is me loving myself enough to step away from what makes me unhappy and ill. I see it as a contract that has come to an end. The contract has been fulfilled and I send nothing but love to the entire situation now. I can do that now that I have come out of the anger, sadness and stress.

I could easily think of all the hateful words that were spoken ... all of the times that I was left alone to fend for myself ... or all the times I was expecting support or at least an appearance and had to feel the pain of being let down over and over again. Perhaps this is their karma coming back to roost. I don't wish karma on anyone, but I cannot help but wonder. It seems fitting.

Back to the letter I started writing ... AGAIN. I had written a long letter four years ago, only a week after I had declared my "no contact" status and it was intercepted. I'm not sure why the letter was intercepted, but I was told that this family member thought that the person I was writing it to wouldn't be able to handle the truth and it would send them into a meltdown. To me, this was a chess piece type of move. Not only are we continuing to enable the bad behavior, we are continuing to silence family members who need to heal their wounds. It was at this point that I decided to take my pieces off of the board.

As I sit here writing, my entire body starts shaking and I start getting sick to my stomach and I can feel my blood pressure rising in the veins in my neck. It is almost as if my body is physically telling me to stop. I have an online therapist I can use at anytime and had to contact her. I needed her help to get me through this.

Her first question was, "Why exactly are you doing this after everything we have talked about?" My response was that I felt obligated to do it. Her reply was, "Obligated to whom?" In that moment, I realized that I didn't feel obligated to do this for myself ... or to heal the relationship. I felt obligated because I felt that writing the letter would make other people happy with me. There is the issue ... it would make OTHER people happy, all the while, making me extremely unhappy. And this is where the trauma continues to recycle. Until I realize that I need to heal myself first, I will never get better.

I continued on with my therapist and told her that I was worried about how drastic my response was in starting to write this letter. I thought I had come very far in this journey and healed a lot. So why am I reacting SO BADLY to writing a simple letter if I am truly healed? Her response hit home. She said, "Maybe you are reacting because you are forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do. Your body is telling you that it does not approve. So YOU need to decide if your reaction is coming from not yet being healed, doing something you don't want to do, or maybe even both. But the fact of the matter is, if you are not yet healed, are you ready to truly put yourself back into that environment? Only you can decide that." (By the way -- I love this woman. She's awesome.)

I really had to think about this. For the past four years, my fibro has been getting SO MUCH better. I went from sleeping 18 hours a day, to 12 and now 8. I have painted my attic, started working out again, started my own side business and more. Coincidence? Throughout this process, I learned that my fibro and CFS were created through unhappiness that started back in my teen years. It explains why I have never felt truly healthy, even when I was young and at the peak of health. I was always tired. Always sleeping. Always a little depressed. And I couldn't figure out why. On top of that, I had this huge hole in my chest that I could never really figure out.

It didn't occur to me until years later, when my body was engulfed in inflammation, that it related

back to my childhood. I had zero cortisol left because I had exhausted my fight-or-flight response by the time I was 30. My coping mechanisms had me ready for battle at the drop of a hat because I never truly felt safe enough to just be me. Some say this is me blaming things on others and not looking at myself. I do confess that some of it, I created myself, but when you grow up creating coping mechanisms since birth, it is very hard to control and even understand that you have them at all. It took me 35 years to finally see it.

So what I have decided to do is to put this letter on the back burner. I am obviously not ready. What I WILL DO, is write a letter to myself. I want to tell myself how proud I am for coming this far and for healing the wounds I have healed already. I want to tell that little girl that she is loved and that it is not her fault. I want to tell the adult woman that I am proud of her for finally standing up for herself and for stepping into her own power. Most importantly, I want to remind her that she only needs to answer to herself and her own happiness.


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Song title: The Land of the Pharohs

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Angie Whitsel

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Harrisburg, PA