No matter how unhealthy or even abusive your family is, your heart sinks when you realize you can’t go home. Your family is part of who you are, and losing your connection to the past hurts. Nothing will ever change the impact that your home, home, and childhood had on your life.
One of the most important things to remember when you want to go home is that even when your family is loving and supportive, you eventually need to make your own wan in the world. That’s the only way to grow into a strong, healthy, happy adult. Healthy attachments to family members are good and even desirable for a truly complete life, but it’s not always possible. Many of us struggle with our parents, siblings, and relatives…and we learn we can never go home to our family the way it was.
What do you do when you can’t go home? In this article, you’ll find healthy ways to cope with feelings of family abandonment and neglect. I hope these tips inspirational and encouraging, as well as practical and applicable to your life. As always, your thoughts — big and little, clear or confused — are welcome below.
What to Remember When You Feel Like No One Cares is my most popular article here on She Blossoms. Some of the comments are from readers who have strong, happy, healthy families. Others have weak, unhealthy, abusive family ties.
But one thing is the same for everyone: we all struggle with feelings of loneliness, neglect, and unworthiness. No matter how good and loving our families are, we all have to face a turning point in our lives. And that’s when we realize we can never go home to our families the way they were…or the way we thought they were.
When You Can’t Go Home to Your Family
Do you remember Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 44 of the Bible? Yes, Joseph was the “coat of many colors” guy – and he was also the black sheep of his family, favored by his father and horribly betrayed by his brothers. In Genesis 44 we learn how much Joseph wanted to go home to his family…but he couldn’t. So he found a way to bring his family home to him.
This article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project. You don’t have to believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to learn from my tips on what to do when you can’t go home to family. Just keep an open mind! Listen to the still small voice that brought you here. Remember that new beginnings blossom from tiny seeds. This article is one of those seeds.
1. Give your family time and room to grow
Joseph had been estranged from his brothers and fathers for 20 years (after his brothers sold him into slavery, as described in When Someone You Love Says “I Hate You”). His father thought he was dead, and Joseph knew he couldn’t go home to his family. He was rejected, abandoned, and left for dead by ten brothers. Joseph was betrayed and sold into slavery. Yet, he held on to his faith and took his life one step — one disaster — at a time. Most importantly, Joseph gave his family time and space to grow, change, and evolve into new people. He accepted his brothers and father for who they were, and welcomed them into his home after decades of estrangement.
What is stopping you from going home to your family? Maybe you were hurt, betrayed, or abused. Maybe you made serious mistakes with your family members; maybe you hurt, betrayed, or abused your mom, dad, brother or sister. Give yourself time and space to work through those feelings of family abandonment, betrayal, and rejection. Give your family time to do the internal emotional work they need to do. Remember that growth and change takes time…and so does forgiveness, acceptance, and reunification with estranged or hurt family members.
2. Expect nothing from your family
Genesis 44 tells us that Joseph tested his brothers by putting a silver cup in Benjamin’s pack. Joseph didn’t know what to expect from his family or how they would react — but he knew he didn’t want them to go home without him. Joseph wanted his family back, but he needed to know his brothers had changed. Joseph wanted to go home with his family, but he didn’t know what to expect from them. So, he tested the waters and watched to see what would happen. He didn’t expect anything in particular from his brothers…but he did hope he’d go home to his family again.
How are your expectations changing your family relationships? Maybe you want your parents to change, or you wish your sister was kinder, more compassionate and loving. Maybe you want your mom to be healthier, your dad to be more supportive, your husband to be more affectionate. The problem with having expectations of your family — even healthy, normal, natural expectations — is that your family can’t be who you want them to be. Your mom, dad, sister, brother, even your husband can only be who they are. Your expectations set them up for failure. Your expectations set you up for disappointment and even bitterness.
Joseph surrendered to his brothers by allowing them to be who they are. He had no expectations — but he did hope he’d go home to his family. Joseph didn’t know what would happen if he confronted his brothers, and he had no idea if they’d welcome him home. He took risks and reached out to his family members, without expecting anything. And Joseph surrendered to the outcome. Genesis 44:33 tells us that Judah also surrendered. He took the punishment reserved for his brother Benjamin and protected his father from more grief and pain. Judah willingly surrendered to the fact that he couldn’t go home with his family.
What do you have to surrender to — and accept — about your family? I had to accept that I’d never have a “real” mom and dad. I had to surrender to the fact that my sister doesn’t want a relationship with me, my cousins have vanished, my grandmother is dead, and my mother is in a group home for mentally ill senior citizens. It still hurts to think that I can never go home to my family. My grief and pain will never go away because I am created to enjoy family, connection, love and home. So are you! We all are. But we live in this crazy beautiful world full of human beings who are vulnerable, flawed, hurt, and trying to do the best they can. Those human beings are our family members, and we have to accept them for who they are.
You can experience healing, joy, and freedom even when you can’t go home to your family. You can live fully and happily even if you’re still living at home with abusive parents. The secret is to go home to your Father, to embrace your brother and savior Jesus, and to welcome the Holy Spirit into your life.
How is your personal relationship with God? If you haven’t thought of Him as your home or the trinity as your true family, take time to ponder. Pray. Reflect. Realize there is something bigger, better and beyond our families here on earth. Look up to the heavens and surrender your heart, mind and will to Jesus. Learn who He is…for He is home.
With His love,
P.S. Are you struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life? Read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.