Breaking up with a family member is hard but sometimes it's the only way to stay sane

Divorcing your mother, father, sibling or that impertinent cousin or relative who totally doesn't understand boundaries is quite a revolutionary thing to do, especially for Latinas. But, it's doable and worth it. I believe deeply in the idea that if members of your family are the reason for your pain--then breaking off all communication with them temporarily or if necessary, permanently, is the way to go. Yes, I said it. And, as someone who has done it, albeit with some difficulty, it's worth every moment of peace of mind that you'll gain once you do it too.

Latinos are all about la familia. But what happens when this familia is a vortex of dysfunction that keeps you in a cycle of violence and self destruction? What happens when you are trying to move forward with positive things in your life and they are stuck in the same ol same ol and trying to drag you back in?

The only choice is to empower yourself and break free, you may have been born into drama but you don't have to stay in it. 

Let's be honest many times the drama that we encounter in our lives is not caused by strangers, neighbors, coworkers or friends in our midst--but our very own blood relatives. And while blood is thicker than water, the Romans (Euripedes) was right, one loyal friend is worth more than 1,000 relatives. At several of my recent readings this theme has come up again and again: tribal pressure to conform to their ways is causing women who want to live independent lives a lot of undue emotional, physical and spiritual pain.


During one of my readings in Orlando, Shirley, a woman in her 50's opened up to me like I was her therapist--spilling  her troubled heart in the middle of the Floridian library. Her heartache stemmed from the fact that she wanted to start a new life in Orlando while her family was pressuring her to return to her native Puerto Rico. She didn't have a job in her new City, nor does she speak English but this woman was ready to work hard and make great things happen for her--in Florida, by herself! Finally, mid century and away from all that she knows she was feeling herself break free. Her life back in Puerto Rico was stagnant and after spending years being married and raising her now two grown children, and shepherding her elderly mother around like a private nurse/chauffeur--she was ready to live life on her own terms. 

But the intense pressure she was feeling--daily calls from her aging mother to make her feel guilty, accusing her of abandonment, pressure from her grown children, who each have children of their own - this lady confessed she was going a little loca. Shirley I noticed, was starting to show physical signs of illness--she had several large warts on her face and was swollen. Almost like her inner pain was coming out on her skin, face, hair and arms.  I suspect that if she doesn't call her spirit back, as Carolyn Myss, would say, she would continue to get physically sicker and sicker. She already was emotionally ill, I could see it in her face, and watery eyes.

Shirley asked me what she should do--should she stay or go-- to which I replied, it's not for me to decide. Empowering Shirley to articulate the answer that she already knows was my only answer to her, and to you reading this.

This is the thing: 

At any given moment, and especially during times of major decisions and stress, we really do know the answer. Each of us is born with intuition, and it's always working. Yet many of us ignore it. For a million reasons we don't trust it.

We, and by that I mean, the human race, have been socialized to stick with the family even when they are sticking it to us--metaphorically and sadly, sometimes, literally. In Shirley's case, she knew that the answer was to finally live life on her own terms, and yet she was fighting it. Scared to life as her inner self dictated. She was taught not to trust herself but the tribe for the answers. She gave her beautiful power to others. At 50 years of age, after raising kids, and being a 'good wife' and a 'good daughter' she was trying to get it back.

Tribal pressures are intense. It is in the bosom of our families, if we are lucky, where we are nurtured, and learn about love, loyalty, friendship, civility, ethics, really, everything. And we are supposed to stick together no matter what. It's beautiful experience when it all works and everyone is doing their part--it sucks when you want to live a life that is different than the one the group wants for you. 

For me this is how it goes: family members who want to honor and respect my life choices are welcomed with love and joy in my life. The choices I make--including mistakes--are mine to make. Happily when I empower myself and those around me to live like that, it makes for a more peaceful life. And everyone wins.  Seriously, everyone wins.

So relax, enjoy and break up with that abusive mother if you need to... you deserve the peace of mind and heart.


  1. I am upset that for so long I have done what my mother and rest of family has asked. I want to make my own decisions which is possible and going to happen now. Confidence means everything to use it and have no interference wonderful. That noise that others creates is frustrating. I want nothing more than to be my whole self choosing the best for me. I haven't had any fun or created joy yet. Money will come without them. I want to be happy and live well.