What to do when family hurts you or say one of your family members had hurt you, even when you least expected it. There’s a myriad of thoughts running through your head, most of the emotions you can’t wrap your head around. Betrayal, anger, frustration, disappointment — they all swarm through you so fast that you can’t even tell which is which anymore. In a state like this, not many of us stop to think before we react. But does another wrong ever correct the first? Read on to find out…
Can Family Member Hurt You?
Most of us think our family can do no wrong. Or at least, most of us feel this way before we grow up and realize that our family is composed of individuals that aren’t just supporting characters in the movie of our life. Each one of them has a life of their own, and it is only a matter of time before egos clash. The sad part is that when two egos from the same family are locked in a battle, none of them can come out unscathed. When family hurts you, what we often don’t think about, is that perhaps they’ve been hurt too.
What the Scriptures (Mahabharata)Say: When Family Hurts You
A more literal example of this can be found in the Indian epic of the Mahabharata. Written between the 3rd century BCE and the 3rd century CE by the sage Vyasa, the story spans over multiple generations with endless characters. The epic contains a variety of different subplots and sequences, but perhaps the most well-known one is The Battle of Kurukshetra, where family is made to fight family. Arjuna, one of the main protagonists of the epic, almost puts his weapons down, unable to stand his ground against his uncles and teachers he has known right from his birth.
The following verses of the text focus on Lord Krishna’s advice to Arjuna. The collective sermon is called The Bhagavad Gita, and is the holy book for Hindus. Most of it focuses on the importance of righteousness and duty, even over and above family or loved ones. One of the most celebrated scriptures in the world thus preaches that one must put duty over family. However, we must consider the situation too. Here, duty is the more straightforward answer when it’s pretty clear between the fight of good versus evil. But can one apply this in actuality? Must one give up his loved ones in order to pursue what they deem ‘right’?
The answer for most of us would be no. When family hurts you, most of us would respond with hostility too. But when it comes to protecting that same family, there’s no one more dangerous than us.
So, Why the Hostility?
No one likes to hurt their loved ones. Most of the time, and more often than not, it’s a mistake. A simple apology is the easiest solution when it comes to situations like these, but it isn’t easy for the human psyche to say this just like this. We wouldn’t say it either, and so expecting your family to be so honest would make a hypocrite out of us. If an apology is not on the cards, time is the next best thing.
What to Do?
1. Give it Time: When a Family Member Hurts You
Sure, you’re all fired up and angry at the moment, but let a few hours pass, and realization would be quick to come. It’s simple. You know you love them, whether it is your parents, your sibling, or your partner. Even if they’ve hurt you, they’ve also been there for all those times you thought you just couldn’t hold on. They’ve had your back right from the beginning. So, severing ties may seem tempting, especially in the heat of the moment. But you know that if you’re being honest to yourself, you’ll probably miss them the second you let go.
Let time do its trick. Wait for it to heal wounds that you think are too big to bear now. Remember that you have gotten through it in the past and come out of it with a bond stronger than ever. What’s to say this time around it won’t be the same?
2. Take an Objective Decision
Sometimes, however, the wounds are too deep to heal. If a family has hurt you in a way you can’t get over, even after spending weeks trying to think it through, simply cut them off. There’s enough you have on your plate; toxic family members don’t need their place too. I know, it’s easier said than done: cutting off someone you’ve spent years calling family isn’t easy. It certainly won’t happen overnight. But in the modern world, it becomes your duty to protect yourself and your mental health over ‘familial’ relations. Besides, if a family member just doesn’t seem to care about you, perhaps reconsider why you call them family in the first place. If it’s because you happen to share the same blood, then it simply isn’t worth it. Family can mean anyone who gives you that comforting feeling of familiarity. A family is supposed to be your support system rather than push you out of your orbit.
3. The Power of Silence
Focusing on ourselves doesn’t come easy to any of us. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. A family can get toxic at times; it comes with spending so many hours in the same house together. You can’t really control how and when your family hurts you, but what you can do is control your own reactions. Staying quiet and letting the family member realize their mistake instead of instantly retaliating louder and heavier would solve problems before they even started. That is not to say that one must remain quiet and orderly at all times. In fact, in families, communication becomes key. But timing is important. If you try to rationalize in the middle of a conflict, your words will fall on deaf ears. Let yourself calm down give space to the one you’ve been in conflict with. Breach the topic again only when the dust has settled.
It isn’t easy to cope when family hurts you. A family member holds a massive space in your heart, and when a family member hurts you, it is more painful than ever. It can also affect your mental health. All you can do during these times is to hold on for as long as possible, and only when it gets progressively more toxic, decide to cut them off. Remember, you have dealt with loss before, and you will get through it again. Here’s to you being one more toxic relationship free!
Also Read: While every family and culture is different and unique, here are some tell-tale signs of a dysfunctional family.