I've been back in the country since July and one thing that terrifies me is the idea of moving back home after university. I've spent my summer at home, despite my better judgment, and I feel as though my family hasn't moved on from my parents' divorce four years ago. I feel more at home in Cambridgeshire, where I spent only two years of my life, than in Birmingham.
There is a different type of pain that can come from a toxic parent. They are meant to love, support and help you grow instead of showing apathy. They are meant to be the first person you go to when you are need of help. They are meant to protect you and treat you well. The type of pain that can only come from a toxic parent is like you are always looking for approval but you know you will never receive it.
One thing I've learnt from my parents' divorce is that no one is perfect. We all have our flaws, grave mistakes and our positives. One of my favourite quotes is 'We accept the love we think we deserve'. When you have been raised on criticism, abuse and threats, it's only a matter of time before you start to think it's true.
I lived between friends' houses for a while and then after one of them had left to live at university, I spent a year living at her parents' on weekends. I learnt love, support and all the other things your parents' are meant to show you. Every person is entitled to love, support and help. The right people will love you for who you are, all flaws included.
It's perfectly acceptable to limit your relationship with toxic parents or even let them go. It's a difficult decision but there is no obligation to keep lining yourself up for disappointment and hurt. You can only heal and develop when are surrounded by people who love you.
I didn't realise how much I got too emotionally involved until one of my friends pointed out last week that she has told me so many times that I get too far involved with my family and their drama. It's not your job to be the one holding your family together.
I've learnt how to expect love and respect from the people closest to me. In all relationships, we have the right to expect loyalty, kindness and respect. If those conditions aren't met, you have the right to terminate the relationship. The best thing about my parents' divorce is that I'm more resilient and independent so I don't need to rely on anyone. The people in my life add value.
I believe in the saying you can't choose your family but you can choose your friends. They have seen me at my absolute worst and still loved me regardless. I have no qualms in letting go of my toxic parent because family is whom you make it.
'We accept the love we think we deserve' Stephen Chbosky