Ask Deepak: How Can I Be Content with Leaving My Family?
By Deepak Chopra
February 03, 2010
Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: I just read your article on depression. Having recently cut off all contact with my family, I found your article very helpful and supportive. Thank you. Your example of the mice eventually dying made me sigh with relief that someone understands that a person (or mouse) can only take so much. I feel like everyone thinks it's so wrong of me to walk away from my family, but after 45 years of trying, there was just no other option for me. My husband supports me and agrees (after seeing the endless unpredictable rage of my parents and the bullying/accomplice behavior of my siblings over the past 22 years). I don't try to explain this to anyone else, and so they just keep asking me or my husband if I've talked to my family yet. What do I say to people to let them know that this is what is right and best for me? I didn't have any other choice but to walk away if I wanted any hope of a happy, peaceful life. How can I help my in-laws, friends, etc. understand without laying too much detail on them?
— Marilyn S., Addison, Texas
If you found the courage to step away from your dysfunctional family setting, you should be congratulated. I wouldn't worry about pleasing in-laws and friends. They haven't walked in your shoes. Here are two steps for dealing with things if you continue to encounter bewilderment or criticism.
First, explain the difference between putting up with something, fixing it and walking away. Make it clear that you tried the two alternatives that didn't work in this case before you turned to the only one left.
Second, if you are still met with criticism and judgment, consider how much these in-laws and friends actually care about you. You may be surprised. I would be wary in particular of anyone who declares that "preserving the family at all costs" is a viable way to live.