Walking Away From Family…


Walking Away From Family…

Have you ever had to say goodbye to most of your family—the family who raised you, the family you loved? It was not easy, but it was necessary for my own mental health. Recently, the day came when I realized that my family was making me ill and sad.

I have six golden rules by which I live life. One of them is, “Cut ’em loose if they make you unhappy”. I find that rule useful in both my professional and my personal lives.

With family, things are complex and different; there are no sharp scissors. However, there is guilt. The Ten Commandments bid, “Honor thy Mother and thy Father.” My father is deceased; he was a good man, and I was his little angel (I miss him).

Having been raised Catholic; I was oozing guilt, passivity, and lack of autonomy. I dare say that Catholicism, inadvertently, espouses domestic violence based on the tenet “turn the other cheek”.

What if domestically abused religious women took the tenet literally? It does make one wonder about the role religion plays in domestic violence and other forms of abuse where the victims stay with their abusers.

I believe that religion laid the foundation for me to tolerate the psychological abuse of my mother and other family members who feared her and are now deceased. I should add that my mother grew up in a poor and abusive environment in Jamaica. Her mother died of TB, and was raised by her mother’s sister (my grandaunt) who also did not complete high school.

Together, they ruled with iron fists. Any object they could carry would be thrown at you in anger. The scar on my left thigh is a constant reminder of those days.


Religion is a complex, adaptive process that fills many important roles in human life—hope, resilience, connection, guilt, passivity, suffering and violence. Religion is tightly woven into many cultures and can determine cultural values, beliefs, and even, identity. Religious fervour can become a secondary symptom of severe depression, alongside psychosis, severe anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. However, religious fervour can also be the primary cause of psychopathology independent of other mental illnesses.

In Jamaica, as a little girl my first revelatory moment was my recognition of the importance of religion to hope and life. The Catholic religion is part of my social fabric; destroying it, destroys me. However, I learned that to remove that part of my life could become a positive action. Every Easter we are given the opportunity to die with Christ and be re-born. In other words, we let die old, destructive ways, and give birth to new positive ways of living.

Walking away from my family released the last shackles of Catholic guilt and unleashed a new voice of reason…

Part II


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

7 thoughts on “Walking Away From Family…

  1. Angela, I’m listening, and you have hit on important core issues. And before I go on, I am sick adn sorry for your upbringing that left fear and resentment as after tastes for “family”. This is tragic.

    There is a troubling pattern of increasing domestic abuse across the board, in some countries more than others, but apparently in virtually all socio-economic groups, all levels of education, spread across all religions, if my research is correct. It is particularly insidious when it happens in the most “devout” homes. Part of this has something to do with all you’ve suggested in your post, but I have to wonder if religion itself – and I’m talking about true doctrine, not cultural aberrations – is the primary catalyst.

    It’s a vital conversation. I hope the “more to come” comes soon.—M.

    1. Hi Melissa,
      You make an interesting distinction between a true doctrine and cultural aberrations. My question is how do we know that a doctine is true?…. especially, when it’s been translated into so many languages (interpretations lost along the way) and adapted to so many cultures (with the same result )…

      Many have been persecuted unjustly in the name of religion. We are still fighting religious wars? Religious is part of our culture, the two are the same. Religious teachings guided my behavior.

      I need an editor, my thinkos are getting worse. 🙂

  2. Angela, I too had to walk away from family members who made me sad and created great sorrow in my heart. It took me a long time to realize and work through how I had contributed to their behavior towards me. It was a gut wrenching exposure of my heart and self. I feel your pain and sadness and can only hope your life became for enriched by your decision. I am not there yet. Blessings.

    1. Hi Carol, Sometimes you have to listen to your body and inner self. It’s been difficult and too early to tell how things turn out. But thank you for your blessings.

      BTW, You will get there!

  3. I too was raised Catholic and I had to had to let go of family that was hurting me, it is hard, it weighs heavy but it was a good decision… We all want to live that image of a loving family but many people have really destructive family relationships and continue on and on, however, I just couldn’t take it anymore…

    1. Hi Shauna,

      It is a difficult decision–the realization that your life was a lie is a bitter emotionally humbling and devastating experience–my entire perspective changed.

      Interesting, you along with many others I know made similar choices to walk away from family.

      I feel very disconnected in the real world, almost as if I have nothing in common with people except my friends. In the digital world, I sense a stronger connection to the collective universe.

      The Matrix comes to mind, making me wonder which world is real…

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