When she set boundaries with her family members, they cut her off emotionally. She’s happier and healthier now but feels guilty about it. What to do?
Emotionally cutting people off, not speaking, pretending you are dead, is part of some cultures and families. When you set a boundary, or say No to an elder, or break a rule or expectation, you may find yourself cut off from your family.
It is not emotionally safe for you to say No.
When you are in a family or culture that is not emotionally safe there is punishment when you say No. One of the harshest punishments is being cut off and your family stops talking to you. It is a punishment. It can make you feel very young and powerless. And in every sense you are powerless.
In some cultures and families, this punishment will pass. They may not like that you said No to something or refuse to follow a rule or expectation, but they will accept your decision. Not all families will accept your position. Instead, they will cling to their power to hurt you in this way. They may feel they are doing what is "righteous" according to their belief.
I experienced this with my grandfather. As an adult, when I said No to my grandfather, he stopped talking to me for 20 years. We had been very close, he raised me, so his decision to cut off all communication was painful. But I was powerless over his choice. The 20 years passed. I felt the loss and grief. Many things happened in our lives during those 20 years and when he got to the very end of his life, he let me know how much he regretted the decision. He no longer felt "right", he felt very wrong.
When someone cuts you off, they leave a wound about what love is, about how much you were ever cared for or really loved. It is hard to chase after their approval and love when they hurt you in such a devastating way. It is hard to trust someone who is willing to cut you off. You may wonder what you are chasing after.
When you say No, my guess is you are giving deep thought to this realizing it is not something you can say Yes to. These are often not small things, but big things about the course and direction of your life. This is not about attending a barbecue. You are being true to you, your beliefs, and trying to be authentic to those around you. Your intention is not to be cut off, but to be real. I hope you are able to find relationships with others who are willing to accept you as you are.