Toxic In-Laws :: Discovering Boundaries Through A Troubled Relationship

A woman sitting on a dock with her head on her bent knees.

I’m frustrated, angry, and sad. Time after time, I continue to be disappointed by my in-laws, my husband’s toxic family. A family that has demonstrated through the years that unless I think and act like them, they will reject and distance me. A family who cares more about protecting their egos, than protecting the feelings of the people that they love.

A family that doesn’t realize that there’s a world outside of the small one they have lived in their entire lives.

My husband and I have always felt like the outsiders with his family. We don’t live in the same small town that he grew up in and because of that, my in-laws always kept us at an arm’s length. And we’ve never understand why.

For the longest time I didn’t have boundaries for myself. I valued putting other people first instead of prioritizing my own needs. I worried that if I didn’t keep everyone in my relationships happy, than I would be the person to blame if they fell apart.

You see because I have this issue with needing to please people and wanting them to like me. In a way, I made myself a chameleon constantly molding myself to fit into relationships. I used to think that it was a special strength of mine, but along the way I lost myself.

A woman sitting cross-legged on a beach and facing the ocean.

I allowed my in-laws to be outspoken about politics and things that they believe in, but I was afraid to speak my mind around them in fear that they would reject me. Because at the root of it, we are different people.

I grew up in a family who normalizes speaking your mind when you are upset or believe deeply in something, and that your opinion is valued. But in my husband’s family it is viewed as being disrespectful unless what you say aligns with their thoughts and opinions. My in-laws don’t handle opposing viewpoints well or real conversations that evoke emotion.

For years I’ve sacrificed my needs and beliefs trying to keep them happy. But in the end, it’s gotten me nowhere with them. I kept them happy, but what were they giving back to me? In a way, it’s not all of their fault because I allowed their behavior to happen. I wasn’t seeing things clearly.

Until recently.

My in-laws crossed a line and did something to intentionally hurt us. So my husband and I held them accountable. We took back the power that for years they have been slowly stripping away from us.

After months of going to therapy, I have realized that the only healthy way to coexist with someone in any kind of relationship is to express our emotions and feelings. There is no successful relationship that can move forward when it’s based on the foundation of cover-ups and rug sweeping. I’m not sure why I didn’t see this before, but manipulation is a tricky little beast.

But it hasn’t all been bad. This thing that’s happening in my life with family. After going through such a troubled and stressful time, I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve learned what healthy boundaries are, what I’m willing to tolerate from others, and that I am a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for.

I realized that I have the power to teach people how I deserve to be treated.

A woman staring out a window at a house on fire.

Because of this shift, it allowed me to open my heart and let new people in. People that helped heal my broken heart. Because whenever there’s a door that closes in life, we have to look for the open window. A window to escape from the burning house behind us. That’s what I feel like I’ve done. I jumped high out of a window from a burning house not knowing if anyone was going to be there to catch me when I fell. And when I opened my eyes, I woke up from a bad dream, to this beautiful reality that is my life now.

I was saved. I saved myself.

And I was carried away with beautiful new friendships and a closer relationship with my husband. I figured out the people in my life who were willing to stay all along.

Because the people in your life should be able to see you through the good times and bad. Don’t ever be afraid to be yourself, to speak your mind, and to stand your ground. The people that truly love and care about you will be there for you regardless of your differences.

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Toxic In-Laws: Discovering Boundaries Through a Troubled Relationship. Logo: Houston Moms. A photograph of a woman looking out a window at a house on fire.



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