Divorcing Yourself from Toxic Parents

I’ve simply given up.

I just recently separated myself from my toxic parents and family. In our last phone conversation, I asked them not to call any more and that I wanted no further dealings with them at all. Period.

There was long time physical and mental abuse growing up and a lot of guilt, manipulation and badgering now. I throw my hands up and have resigned myself to saying, ‘I give up, I win.’

My parents do not accept me being gay, they hate the fact that I am agnostic (currently looking into Buddhism), they hate that I am in a happy relationship, they hate the fact that I live so far away and have been using me and my sisters to referee for their boxing matches.

I’m done.

Not only this, but my mother has been diagnosed with having Bordeline Personality Disorder and is severely depressed. My father, who still sees his mistress after 30 years of infidelity, is a deacon with the Catholic Church and is a marriage counselor.

My problem though, which I’d like to discuss, is that there’s a huse void where my parents are supposed to be. How do you move on from extremely damaging parents? My friends are furious with me for taking this step, but it’s truly the only way.

As you may have noticed, Ozzie and Harriet are not my parents. They’re not even Ozzy and Sharon. Picture my mother as the Kate Nelligan from “The Prince of Tides” and Mary Tyler Moore from “Ordinary People” and my father as Michael Douglas from “Fatal Attraction” or Jeremy Irons from “Damage”. It’s all very dark.

So, how do you deal with toxic parents? What fills the void? What would you have done in my shoes?


First, you should ask a moderator to divorce this thread from the GD forum and ask to have it put in the Pit, GQ, or IMHO. You’ll probably get better input there than here.

Toxic? Did you join some new age group or become a Scientologist recently?


Let’s move this to IMHO.

What fills the void? Friends, and lots of them. Online and in person. As far as your parents go, try to be strict-set up rules of acceptable behavior on their part and tell them that you will not associate with them until they comply. This puts the onus on them, and they cannot accuse you of shutting them out without reason. Be tough and don’t give in, and don’t let them guilt you. If it gets really tough, you know who can get ahold of for support.

If you’re looking for relationship with folks of that generation - parent figures, if you will - try your friends’ parents. My kids have a few friends in similar situations as yours. I spend some time with them and enjoy a kind of “pseudo-mom” relatonship with them. It’s not the same, I know, but it helps.

I’m proud of you for taking this step. There is no reason why you should put up with their drama. Good luck.

If you have to get away from your parents, do so. Throughout your life people may be upset with you for this, but you just have to say that you’ve made your decision, and that is that.

I have no idea what fills the void. If you find something, let me know.

Sending positive thoughts your way, Lupin the 3rd!

Get a restraining order from a court against your parents by any means necessary.

Then, don’t give an inch. Enforce it all the way.

No, I was watching Oprah and got that word. No, I’m still agnostic. Still looking into Buddhism…

Czarcasm~ Thanks for repositioning my thread. I don’t have the hang of the different sections yet.

:rolleyes: D’oh!

You’re doing the most important thing, which is severing the ties. You’ve also got a happy relationship with your S.O. to work from. Try to explain to those friends who can’t understand your decision, but if they continue to be jerky about it, ignore them, and stick with the ones who are willing to understand.

What are your sibs doing? Do they live at home? Are they trying to get away too?

Father and mother figures will work. Loading yourself with work up to your ears will also work (there simply will remain no void in your life to fill). So. What I suggest is, you go back to college, and use your professors as parental figures while studying your ass off.

Seriously, this works. And I sincerely think you’ve made the right decision, if that’s any consolation at all.

Self declared orphan checking in. While it may seem tough right now, you’ll probably wake up some morning three years from now and sigh with relief that you had the courage to do this.

Abusive parents can do the most obscene damage to their own children. It’s beyond me how they can live with themselves for doing it, but somehow they do.


How to replace your parents? I say, don’t. Searching out father and mother figures is a sure way to complicate the crap out of your professional and personal relationships. Make friends with people. Seek out those who are dedicated to truth and demonstrate integrity in their dealings with others.

Email me if you are in need of someone to communicate with. There is a big hole in your life right now. Be extremely careful in how you go about filling it. Look for a copy of “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones” by Paul Reps. Read all of the koans. You’ll find some that will click for you. Meditate upon them and see the joy that comes with cleansing your spirit of that which would cloud it. I wish you well and hope that you find what you are seeking.

Sorry to hear about this, Lupin. I myself haven’t divorced my parents yet, but I have taken the hard-nosed method outlined by Czarcasm. They know I mean it, because I’ve “vanished” before, and I’m not afraid to do it again.

And they missed me a lot more than I missed them.

Good luck; I hope it works out well for you. A caring circle of friends can do a lot to bolster your confidence and fill the void; you have to remind yourself that you are right because there will be times you’ll wonder.

Don’t listen to the doubt. Remind yourself of who you are, realize that people love you because of who you are, and don’t look back.

I’ve got a “limited” relationship with my own parents and have quite a number of friends who no longer have anything to do with one or more of their parents.

Don’t worry/think about “replacing” them. You’re a responsible ADULT and you don’t need mommy anymore. Sounds harsher than I mean it, but that’s the bottom line.

Develop good friends who accept you for who you are. As someone recovering from a major housecleaning of “bad friends” a year or two ago, I can’t stress enough how important it is to rid yourself of your toxic “friends” too. They can be worse than toxic family.

Start your own traditions. Holiday dinners with like-minded friends are much much better than “Family Gatherings”, even if you are on good terms with your family. A lot less stress, a lot more fun.

I spent a lot of time “mourning” my losses. My post-traumatic recommendation is: Don’t! You will be far better off without these people constantly running you down. Believe me, I know from personal experience.

Good Luck, and Happy Trails!

I’m NOT saying you have to talk to your parents. BUT at the same time, I AM saying… have compassion for them.

They DO NOT seem like happy people themselves. They are just like the rest of us, not even close to perfect.

There will be a ‘void’ in yoru life, now that you have shut them out. Just don’t fill the void with hate or spite for them. Fill it with compassion because under all their abuse towards you, they are imperfect, scared human beings too.
best wishes

As someone who is having severe problems with her own mother, I’m sending good thoughts your way, Lupin the 3rd. I also want to take a moment to say how much I like your username.

It’s not because I have a thing about Remus Lupin, oh, no.

oh, let me just add…

I hate the term ‘toxic’ when used to describe people. I genuinely feel that no one is evil or toxic. I truly believe that humans are essentially loving and kind, but only because of their FEARS, they become controlling, judgmental, abusive etc etc.

People are not toxic. Rather, they are simply utterly fearful.

I’ve always liked Andrew Vachss’ take on family, which for him is who you choose, not who you’re related to. I haven’t spoken to my father but once in the past ten years - at my grandmother’s funeral - and cutting him out was one of the best decisions I feel I’ve made. I have plenty of friends and comrades, as well as my wife’s relations, whom I consider family and they fit the bill quite nicely. I sympathize with your feeling the void they’ve left since you cut them out - even the worst relationships do that - but I have no doubt that your ego will heal more quickly than you’d expect and you’ll find any number of good friends who will more than make up for this loss.

My best wishes to you and your partner.

i disagree. some chemicals are toxic; some people (as far as their attitudes and actions go) are also. by this i use the definition: toxic … 2. Harmful, destructive, or deadly; poisonous [Late Latin *toxicus]/i]. from Latin toxicum, poison for arrows … (American Heritage Dictionary, New College Edition 1976)

yes, they may be fearful, confused, hurting, unhappy, blahblahblah. but their actions are causing damage, and inflicting the same conditions on others. presumably, if they knew HOW to act in a different way, they would. but they don’t.

the toxicity of chemicals can be negated through interactions with others or the application of neutralizing agents. people can cease to be toxic by learning to relate to others in ways that do not inflict continuing harm. but in either case, something’s got to change first before the subject itself becomes less dangerous to be around.

as for the OP question of filling the void… i tend to agree with others who say that trying to find substitute mother or father figures isn’t really a great idea. first off, learn to be a parent to yourself, teaching yourself a good way to live, guiding yourself into saner, happier ways of dealing with others, giving yourself permission to be the great person that others have somehow surpressed.

if that alone isn’t enough for you, then take on being that wise parental role for yourself. learn to train animals without abusing them. act as a mentor to kids without positive adult rolemodels, and give them the support and proper steering you should have gotten. volunteer to help those who can’t help themselves due to some manner of handicap, so you can give the caring and compassion that didn’t come your way. make things, grow flowers, create beauty in the world, so that you and others don’t have to dwell on the ugliness.

I haven’t spoken to my mother in nearly 11 years.

Best thing I ever did.

I didn’t seek to fill the void, but my MIL and my dad’s SO fit the bill quite nicely.

Why are your friend’s mad at you? True friends would not expect you to put up with the hurt and anguish they cause you.

You first have to accept they’re never going to change. Once you really and truly accept that, you can start to let go.

My e-mail is in my profile if you want to talk off-line.