healing no contact

Deciding To Go No Contact With A Toxic Parent

Finding peace in the decision to disconnect, to heal and to move on.

One single drop will not fill a glass. Thousands of drops will, and one single drop will make the glass overflow.

Deciding to completely cut off a toxic person from your life is incredibly challenging. This gets even more complicated when it comes to family. It’s monumentally difficult when it’s your parent.

A year ago, I’ve taken the decision to cut out my father from my life. At first, I meant for it to be a break. Soon after, I decided to go no-contact completely.

Important Note: This is a deeply personal story and essay, and I’ve worked on it over the last year, going back and forth about whether to share it. Many reasons speak against it, from privacy and having grown up in a “don’t wash your laundry publicly” culture to the potential harm it could cause me. It took a long time, but I’ve found the courage to share it.

The reason I decided to is simple: maybe it’ll help someone get clarity on their situation, or maybe, just maybe, it’ll help someone get the courage to take action to put themselves first.

Please carefully consider whether you’d like to continue reading and whether this is for you. If you choose not to, I understand entirely. Next week, I’ll be back with some work updates and fun news about a passion project.

The relationship I’ve had with my father was never particularly healthy or fulfilling.

Growing up, we’d never spend time “together”. I could spend time with him (and his environment and people). There was no such thing as going on holiday. We’d travel a lot, and I’ll forever be grateful for these opportunities, but this never would be “as family” or a “vacation”. Work would always come along, either in the form of his co-workers and their kids or the fact that he lived on his phone the entire time. “I’m an entrepreneur,” he’d say. “You never get time off and are always working. Anyways, weekends and summers were for the farmers to put the kids to work,” he’d proclaim, dismissing any kind of rationale about taking time off.

Looking back at it now, it’s not that he couldn’t. It’s that he didn’t want to.

During these formative years, he wasn’t around. He replaced his presence with Nannies, caretakers, and others to help my mother. He paid for them, so he did his thing in his mind. The only problem is that kids don’t remember who paid, but they remember who showed up and came through for them. He lived his life how he wanted to and how it worked for him.

We got a lot closer after I turned 18 and finished school, and I could finally join him and start “learning from him to take over the business”. I was incredibly reluctant at first; the reason I had initially started my company was to become financially independent and get away from him. However, after a lot of work on his behalf, I’ve given in, partly due to his convincing and partly because I didn’t see the harm in letting it in slowly, as a hybrid between my work on TCG and helping him.

In retrospect, the key was his phrasing. He knew how to ask to get what he wanted. He always did.

He’s one of the smartest people I know. His intelligence is unmatched, and he has mastered the skills of persuasion on a scary level. That, in and of itself, wouldn’t be something necessarily bad. Except, he always used it to get what he wanted, playing chess in a way that could take months, but he’d get his way.

In the first few years, I’ve managed to maintain a healthy balance, never letting my work with him exceed 30% of my time and revenue. This worked well; meetings were kept to a minimum, I had a lot of autonomy, and things were going fairly well. To the outside world, he had his “heir” to me, I got extra income and some really interesting projects, and between us, things were alright because I tolerated him as best as I could.

I don’t agree with most of his values or behaviors. I was a vocal critic, and I would often start debates about it. Some were productive, others just led to clashes. In most cases, they’d end with one of two sentences:

“This is my son. He doesn’t agree with me, but he understands and accepts me because of his love and empathy” and “I don’t own you”, introduced to him by one of his chill-lounge covers of the song.

The issue with both of these, however, was that they were not true.

I did understand him, but I didn’t accept it. I tolerated it because of my extreme need to try to have a relationship with him. I’d look the other way or rationalize things just to move past them. As beautiful as “I don’t own you” sounds, this also wasn’t true. He did, and I broke and the crucial mistake I made came in 2021, when I agreed to start to take over more and more. This came with a handsome bonus in remuneration and with much more time requirements. Suddenly, it became 80/20 or 90/10 for TCG and for work with him.

I won’t go into the hours of pointless meetings I wasn’t needed in but dragged to for his enjoyment. Paraded around as the successor, who’d take over soon. Constantly reminded that he “built his empire” for me and my children and for the succession to take on. While he used this to dispel my hope of any way out, the truth is that he built his empire for himself. He built it the way he wanted to and the way it served his life.

I was dragged in more and more, and before I knew it, I had lost a lot of myself. I was miserable and wanted to leave, but I never could. I was so deep in that I’d often say that there’s no way out. Friends and family would often encourage me to leave. To just tell him I’m done and to start over on my own again. To just stop working with him and that this was an option.

I never saw this option. I felt like I didn’t have a choice. That I couldn’t get out, couldn’t quit, and couldn’t let him down. I was exactly where he wanted me to be.

I had a choice. You always do. There’s always another way.

It just was covered under so much bullsh*t and lies and manipulations that it didn’t seem feasible.

My father is toxic. He’s a narcissist with incredible skill and perseverance. He’s emotionally challenged and egotistical and doesn’t really care about anything but him.

The best decision I could have made was to leave and cut him out.

In March 2023, the final drop entered the glass, causing it to overflow. For months and years, the tension had been building up. Comments I didn’t agree with, actions that were hurtful to me and those I love, undeserved critique of anything that wasn’t his idea. Things were adding up, and the glass was filling up. We had a major fight right after my birthday a few months before, where we had a heart-to-heart. I told him how things were, and he countered with his usual narrative, and for the first time, something broke in me. I told him openly then that we had no real relationship because he never took the time or effort to build it with me. I told him it was too late to build one now due to his terminal illness prognosis.

I realized that he had not once asked me how my company was doing. How things were going for me. We never talked about anything in my world except things that were useful and connected with him. We sat in the restaurant, and he cried for a while, which was moving and a sliver of hope that things could change.
For the next 3 months, we both tried our hardest. Things seemed to look up, and to the outside world, it looked like everything could be okay. It seemed like we had lowered the water level down a bit.

In Bangkok, the fight started off innocently. To tell you the truth, I’ve started it, and I was the one who initiated the debate. When my father recalled a story, he said someone was “incredibly dumb and stupid”. I’ve found the courage to stand up to that and challenged him on calling people stupid when they don’t do what he wants or if they don’t agree with his views. We googled the definition. There was a lot of back and forth, but eventually, things calmed down. There was hope for the other people in our party for a peaceful dinner.

Yet, later that evening, a seemingly small and inconspicuous argument would unleash all hell: glasses. We had gotten into a discussion about how glasses are made if they’re poured or sanded. We took two opposing sites and eventually googled them. The answer was that we both were right. However, he only read the first sentence, which agreed with his point, ignoring the words that followed it. He did this again and again, and when it happened the third time, something in me broke. I broke. I understood.

That was the exact moment, where it all came crashing down. Things would never change. He would never change. He’d never grow up or start trying, and he’d always think he was right and the best. He would see the world in a way that fit his narrative, and he’d always have to win. He didn’t care about anyone or anything besides him. He’d always do what’s best for him and what he wanted.

Nothing would ever change unless I did. There were two options: become what he wanted or walk away. In a split-second decision, I’ve chosen myself and decided to walk away.

The argument was heated, and words started to be thrown around, such as “I’ll have to let him win to not crush him in front of other people” and the one that sealed the deal: “Respect your elders. We can interrupt you whenever we want”.

Those few words, were what truly flipped things. He didn’t care about me. He didn’t respect me. He would never change and grow. He would never see me, nor really understand me. The fog had lifted.

“I am done. I am done with this work. I am done with your people. I am done with you”, I blurted standing up. I grabbed his face and put it tenderly into my hand, something he never had done, looked him in the eyes, and said words that marked the end of our relationship.

The days later were rough. We had to meet on neutral territory to discuss separation and how to cut ties. I still thought that this would be temporary. I’ll give it 6 months, and then we could re-evaluate. That this was a trial. Not much after, when we were in Vienna, we had one more conversation one on one. It cemented everything I knew, that I would never be healthy, that he would never stop until I cut him out completely. Once I returned to Poland, I’ve fallen into another episode of derealization and depersonalization. The worst one yet, which was the loudest wake-up call possible. On the first night, when I recovered, I knew that this would be final. That I had to cut him out like a cancer, or he’d just grow back, months or even years later, always getting his way.

He is a narcissist. He’s a manipulator. He’s toxic. These things would and could never change. I needed to.

Looking back now, I see I always had the choice to leave earlier. There always was a choice.
The biggest takeaway I hope you take from this is that there’s always a choice, and it’s never too late, no matter how hopeless the situation looks.

I am free. I’m recovering. I’m healing and finding myself. It’s a long and hard road, but I’m enjoying it. I’m discovering who I really am, without the toxic influences, and I must say, I am starting to really like myself and the person who was hidden deep inside under all the defenses.
It took a lot of work with psychologists and therapists to work through the trauma from childhood and the events that occurred.

A year later, I can say that I have reached a point where I am okay. I wish him well in life, I hope he’ll do well, but I don’t care anymore.

Once again, I have no father.

Thank you for making it to the end of my essay. It’s been a challenging year, but as I look to the future, I feel hopeful and thankful.

Love from Limassol,


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