First Published by Mesquite Local News

SEPTEMBER 11, 2014 BY 

As a child, eavesdropping on adult front porch gossip, I learned a great deal about toxic family relationships. Yet, when I became personally involved in one, it took years to recognize it and much longer to correct it. Maybe I was too close to the situation to see it clearly. Perhaps, I didn’t want to believe that I anyone would not want me in their family. Or, it could be that I was at least half of the problem.  I don’t know.  But, why I failed to recognize the toxic nature of the relationship is not as important as the fact that I endured it for so long.

The relationship between me and my late husband’s sister began to turn toxic before he and I married and remained so for the 42 years I was his wife.  Crazily, even after his death, I held onto the relationship.  Sadly, I never did figure out how to make it happy or even healthy.  Yet, like a young child trying to wear shoes that are too small, I clung to that relationship after it had no real place in my life and no longer fit.  This relationship was my ‘tar baby’. The more I struggled with it, the more I become stuck in it.

One day I read a Karl Marx quote that motivated me to remove myself from this toxic relationship:  “There comes a time in your life when you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it and surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus solely on the good. After all, life is too short to be anything but happy”. In freeing myself from this relationship, I found the strength to break free of a couple of other toxic relationships.

Removing myself from these toxic relationships made my life much happier and it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it would be.  Doing so relieved a lot of unnecessary pain and taught me that the best way to stay happy is to just let go of the things that make you sad.

I found that I was happier alone than clinging to toxic relationships because clinging to toxic relationships made it difficult for me to like myself. But, letting go of them helped me learn like myself and to understand the wisdom of Wayne Dyers, who wrote: “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”

My concerns about being alone were moot.  By letting go of toxic relationships, I found room in my heart for a special, new, healthy relationship.  One in which I am loved, welcomed, respected and appreciated for who I am not who others want me to be.  I’ve come to the conclusion that if a relationship doesn’t make you a better person, if it doesn’t challenge you to evolve into a happier and more loving human being it is not worth holding on to. Relationships that make you bitter, instead of better, are toxic and you need to get out of them. Live and love fully – and remember the old front porch wisdom:  If it don’t feel good, don’t continue doing it!!!!

Betty Freeman Haines, an author and award winning columnist, lives in Mesquite, NV.  Her books/e-books, Reluctant Hero
 and Grieving Sucks or Does It, can be ordered from  Share your thoughts and opinions with her at

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