What Is ‘No Contact’?
‘No contact’ is a popular term, used to describe your choice to disconnect, totally and completely, from one or more persons. It usually refers to familial and romantic relationships, but it can also be platonic, friend relationships as well. It’s a tough thing to do. You’re involved with someone and you know that their toxicity is severely impinging upon your life, your emotions, your well being, but what can you do? When you’ve tried holding them at arms’ length, limiting contact, trying not to take things personally and still you’re suffering through any contact with them, or worse, they’re terrorizing you with threats, blackmail, etc., then what do you do?
I’ve tried all of the above and sometimes, ‘no contact’ is really your only option. It’s definitely not easy though and sometimes it takes a few tries before you’re actually able to admit that’s what you need and care enough about your own emotional well being to stand firm in your decision through quite a bit of opposition and not only from the offending party, but from family, friends, etc.
We live in a society that will tell you how important family is, and don’t get me wrong, it is important; you know, if you have a family that happens to love and support one another. However, not all of us are so lucky. Some of us come from families who are not at all supportive, or are only supportive when they approve of what you’re doing, or if you’re keeping the family secrets. That’s the family I come from. I have a family member who is a narcissist and mentally unstable. Dealing with her is completely crazy making. However, if you call her out on her behavior, she will say it is you who is being unreasonable, who is “acting crazy”, who is too difficult to deal with. To make matters worse, she will also tell anyone who will listen, how horrible you are. It’s hard not to take any of this personally – but after decades of this behavior, I’ve gotten really good at spotting it and nipping it in the bud.
So, what do you do?
Well, you have to decide. Have you had enough? Is contact with this person causing you anxiety? I’m not talking about someone having a bad day, we all have those, I’m talking about seeing their name in your inbox or on the caller ID causes you to panic.
Does this person criticize what you do, finding fault with everything and making you feel like no matter how hard you try, it’s never good enough? There’s a difference between “constructive” and “destructive” criticism. Figure out which one you’re receiving and go from there.
Do they take your insecurities and monopolize on them to make you feel worse about yourself?
Do they tell you that there’s something wrong with you when you call them out on their bad behavior?
Do they threaten you with telling people things that you’ve told them in confidence? Are you already aware that they have broken your confidence?
These are just some of the things to look at, only you will know whether or not this is something you need to do and it’s hard. Make no mistake, it’s hard. But sometimes in the end, we just need to detach from certain people in order to move forward in creating the life that we know we want, need and most of all, deserve!
If this is what you decide you need to do, be gentle with yourself. And don’t let other people make you feel guilty for doing what’s right for you. Even well meaning people may not know the extent of what your relationship has been like and sometimes even when they do, they have their own agenda as well. Take the time to really explore the possibilities and the different levels of detachment and then do what’s right for you.
Remember, there’s no need for a big display of drama, just don’t be so available for it. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.