We’ve all got them, and their true faces come out during the most pivotal times in our lives. Some of us don’t even know we are being abused, or remain in denial of the abuse. Coming to a point of realization isn’t incredibly easy. It takes taking a serious step back and analyzing your surroundings and listening to your intuition.
Some key signs attributed to familial toxicity are emotional cycles: you constantly go through these whirlwind emotional stages of denial, confusion, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, sadness, and complete helplessness. You can never pinpoint what they are doing, but something always doesn’t sit right with you about them. You have knots in your stomach from being in their presence.
Other signs are your spiritual well-being is being affected and the behavior you’re experiencing is starting to challenge your faith in Allah. Energy is real and aligns with your intuition. Next time you’re around them and you’re questioning their character, pay attention to the energy surrounding them and what your intuition is picking up. Our bodies and minds are more powerful than we give them credit for.
However, you NEVER want to let your anger get the best of you; it’s exactly what these people want from you. They’re like leeches, hanging onto/multiplying your weaknesses.
With these family members, it’s never about them always. It’s always about you and your shortcomings. These are the same people that will bring up Quran quotes and hadiths, threatening you, and insisting that you are not Muslim enough. They will insist that you are not a good Muslim for choosing not to forgive family, and how you’re being arrogant and ungrateful. The most popular trope of the toxic is that you’re going to hell for not letting their abuse and toxicity continue. This only exposes their double standards because the Quran also states:
“Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition; and when Allah intends evil to a people, there is no averting it, and besides Him they have no protector.” (13:11)
“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (13:11)
Even in the case of our own Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), his biggest critics were his family. But a hadith indicates that once a man said to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), “I have relatives with whom I try to keep in touch, but they cut me off. I treat them well, but they abuse me. I am patient and kind towards them, but they insult me.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “If you are as you say, then it is as if you are putting hot dust in their mouths. Allah will continue to support you as long as you continue to do that.” (Reported by Muslim with commentary by al-Nawawi, 16/115).
Have faith in Allah but be knowledgeable of what you can do to deal with negative and toxic family members. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, here are some steps you can take to heal and rise above the abuse:
Draw Necessary Boundaries
Now that you’ve accepted this particular family member is toxic, it’s time to take the necessary steps to heal from the abuse. Set and enforce boundaries. This can mean physical or technological boundaries. There is nothing wrong with blocking toxic people on a space where you should be safe to express yourself. Fallout may follow, but standing your ground is pertinent.
Decide Whose Opinions Matter
The main purpose of family is to support. When that is not what is being practiced nor replicated by a certain family member, we need to re-evaluate their significance in our lives and whether their opinions truly have a significant effect on your own decisions. This could be regarding literally any matter in life, such as career, marriage, and sometimes even if a dress looks good on you or not. No issue is too small when your mental peace is at stake, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Protect You and Yours
No matter how much good Islam teaches us, and as many hadiths exist as examples of good and bad, not everyone in this world is pure. So, it falls to you to protect what’s yours because nobody else will do it. Not every family member deserves to know what your next moves are. Results are the best answers to peoples’ doubts and/or questions.
Pray For Protection
Remind yourself cutting ties with toxic family members is not a sin. Pray for protection and for Allah to expand your knowledge on peoples’ true intentions with you and yours.
If this means not coming to a point where forgiveness is an option yet, give yourself time. Remember, you forgiving that toxic family member is not the same as you forgiving their actions. Rather, find peace and solace in yourself, for yourself, and to please Allah so you can move on.
We need to remember that we cannot control other people’s actions, but what we can do is control our own characteristics as Muslims, and not let the opinions of others who don’t matter have an ever-lasting impression on us. It’s not an easy process, and may involve a different type of heartbreak, but sometimes, it’s necessary to become the best Muslims we can be.