I Unfollowed My Entire Family on Facebook—And I Don’t Regret It
Severing that last virtual tie between my abusive family and me finally set me free.
As soon as I saw the policeman knocking at my door, I immediately knew what it was about. I was sure my mother had sent him to do a “welfare check” on me and I was right. Normally people ask the police to do welfare checks on loved ones who they fear are in danger but my mom was using it as a last-ditch effort to try to get to me. Why did she have to use cops to contact me? Because I’d blocked her and the rest of my family—parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, and all but one nephew—on Facebook and on my phone. And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
The event that triggered the mass blocking? My mom posting pro-Trump memes on her Facebook page in March of 2020. That may sound like an extreme reaction to some but those memes were the straw that broke the camel’s back. (This is one reason why politics is one of the things you should avoid discussing at family get-togethers.)
Growing up in a racist, abusive home
My siblings and I were raised in a tiny Texas town that was riddled with racism. In fact, when I was a child, the town still had “lynching trees” and it was against the law to cut them down. My parents bought into this evil rhetoric just like everyone else there. But I didn’t. When we first moved there, I was befriended by two Black girls and my White classmates ostracized me. My second-grade teacher, a Black woman named Ms. Wells, was the first person to ever show me unconditional love.
It was a love I desperately needed—it wasn’t just people with different colored skin that my parents hated. There wasn’t a single type of abuse that I didn’t suffer growing up. When I was finally old enough to leave, I took a job as a nanny in another state and never looked back.
I spent the next two decades trying to deal with my sexist, racist family and while I didn’t see them much, they were still a part of my life, including on social media. (Make sure you’re not falling for these social media scams.)
Becoming a mother
In 2003, I had a biological child and when he was two, I adopted his brother, also two years old, from China. They were just four months apart in age, making them “twins” of a sort. I was overjoyed to have these two beautiful children in my life and looked forward to giving them the happy childhood I never had. But when I told my mother about our plans to adopt, her first question was, “Is he White?” (Racism can be hard to recognize in yourself—it took this woman 34 years to recognize she was racist.)
I allowed my mother (who I prefer to call my female parent) to stay in our lives because she was the only grandmother they had, due to my mother-in-law passing before they were born, and there were times we needed her to help with the kids. Even as she helped care for them and grew to love them in her way, she was still showing racism, insisting on calling my adopted son “oriental” among other things. She and other family members blamed immigrants for “stealing” American jobs and repeated other falsehoods.
As my children grew, I was able to distance myself further from my family. Even so, the stress of dealing with them caused me to have seizures and I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet I still felt unable to cut that final familial tie through social media. (Here’s how to know whether to unfriend, unfollow, or block someone on social media.)
Donald Trump’s 2016 election brought so many bad feelings
I was irate. Donald Trump was unapologetically racist and abusive and reminded me too much of how I grew up. I told everyone in my life, “If you’re a Trump supporter you’re dead to me.” I figured my family supported him but I managed to keep a “don’t ask, don’t tell” type of peace— until my mother just couldn’t contain herself any longer and began posting on Facebook in support of Trump. That was it. I was done with her. I was done with all of them. That was the day I disowned my family, severing that last electronic link to them.
I didn’t say a word as I blocked her and my entire family on Facebook, not just from my account, but I also blocked them from my husband and children. I blocked them on other social media platforms, email, and their phone numbers. It took just five minutes.
I finally felt free
Immediately my stress levels went down and my mental and physical health improved. My kids felt better as well. I realized I was teaching them a valuable lesson on how to set boundaries and protect themselves. By doing this, I was able to be the parent that I always wished I’d had.
Once she realized what I’d done, my mother attempted to contact me once through the police but after I told them the situation, it never happened again. Occasionally my family sends things in the mail but my husband intercepts them before I can even see them. It’s all worth it.
Blocking my family was the most liberating, freeing thing I have ever done. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Life is too fragile and short to keep toxic people in it, even if it’s just on Facebook.
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