New Season, New Look! Subscribe for Season 4's New Episodes!
January 19, 2022
Dealing with Toxic Relationships, Pt. 1: How to Identify and Avoid People Who Cause Pain | S3 E2

Steve and Mary Alessi unravel the difficult but necessary steps they had to take to identify and cut off toxic family relationships that threatened to hold them hostage to the past, and reveal the freedom available when we say no to people who cause pain.


At some point, in every family, relationships go wrong.

Whether it's a family member who causes conflict, or a situation that creates a tragic break of communication, the pain that is associated with toxic relationships can poison a family for generations.

In this powerful episode, Steve and Mary Alessi unravel  the difficult but necessary steps required to identify, avoid and end toxic family relationships that are holding you hostage to the past, and reveal the freedom and possibilities available when we say no to harmful and dangerous emotional triggers in our family structures.

If you have ever dealt with toxic relationships in your family, this episode (and the one to follow) will help you discover the keys to freedom and a better family life.

Tell us how this episode impacted you by leaving us a voicemail at  https://alessifamilybusiness.com (tap the "Ask the Alessis" button) 


More Resources Related to This Episode

Love Must Be Tough - Dr. James Dobson 

Boundaries - Dr. Henry Cloud , Dr. John Townsend 

5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life: Identifying and Dealing with Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other High-Conflict Personalities

Join our family business every week as we talk about life, and help you build a great future with your family, no matter what business you are in.

New episodes are uploaded every Wednesday! 

Connect with Us on YouTube

Don't forget to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel! 

Tap HERE to Subscribe 

Follow Us on Instagram!

https://www.instagram.com/alessifamilybusiness

How to Listen

Listen to the audio version of our podcast on your favorite app:

⬇️ Pick your favorite listening app

🎧 Listen to 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗿𝗲 𝗲𝗽𝗶𝘀𝗼𝗱𝗲

✔️ Hit Subscribe or Follow 

👉 Rate 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

✏️ Leave us an honest review

Available on all podcast players, including: 

𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗹𝗲

𝗦𝗽𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘆

Amazon

iHeart Radio 

𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗴𝗹𝗲

Learn More about Metro Life Church:

https://metrolifechurch.com

More Resources

Get a copy of Chris Alessi's new book to help you overcome negative and self-defeating thinking, "Clickbait: Win the War for Your Attention in the Age of Distraction" 

http://chrisalessi.com

 

 

Transcript

Steve Alessi  

Well, hello, and welcome to another episode of The Family Business with the Alessis. I'm Steve Alessi, and I am here with my precious wife, Mary Alessi, because family is everybody's business. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes, it is. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We are going into our third season, Mary.

 

Mary Alessi  

That's amazing. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It is very exciting. I am, too, super proud of us, super proud of John, who's in the back. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right.

 

Steve Alessi  

Allen Paul, who's in the back. And Ashley, who's in the room with us. And sometimes, she turns red from all the exciting information that we share. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, awkward. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But this is pretty cool. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Just on the front end of this, we are right about 30 episodes in, which is a half a year. So, I don't know if it's helped our audience, at all, but it sure has helped our family. This is like our own counseling session— 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's like therapy, for sure. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's been cool. We're here, we are looking at half a year doing this, seeing people, hearing from people, seeing people respond the way they have, it's been really cool. What we do in this podcast booth is talk about things that we can't talk about on Sundays. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And so, here we are, excited about a new season, going into this, and just laying our lives out there. This is really us talking about things that we talk about on our patio, or—

 

Mary Alessi  

In the living room, when we wake up over coffee. And when we're in the car, and we start talking about resolving issues, and things we hear, things we see, and we always take it to the podcast booth. So, it's great. And I want to say that we've gotten such great feedback on so many of our family conversations. So, I encourage you to go back, if you've not watched that, or listened to those, go back. If you're raising kids, it's just been really neat to hear the feedback from people that are avid listeners. And how it is something— I had a friend recently, in our church, say she's raising two little twins. And she said, "I can't get enough of the podcast. I feel like it helps me every single day. And that means a lot." That's good feedback.

 

Steve Alessi  

Well, Debbie Villasuso said to me last night, at the event we were at, she said, "Gosh, I wish I was at your house during the holidays, you guys have quite a good time together." 

 

Mary Alessi  

That was a good one. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That was fun, about the holidays. That's not what we want. We don't want people coming and moving in. We just hope that—

 

Mary Alessi  

Just listen to the podcast. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Our world will help, be a blessing in one way or another, something that we say, or something that's— just the transparency of it, is helping people realize that it's down to earth. We're in this every day, trying to make a go of life, while we operate our family business, which is our ministry. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And truly, in our line of work, there is no ministry without the family being healthy, and getting along, and working together.

 

Which is what everybody wants, a healthy family.

 

And there's ways that you can go ahead, and pass this on to others. All that information you'll hear at the end. And if you're enjoying this as an audience, your questions that you send in, your comments— 

 

Mary Alessi  

E-mails. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Things that we are hearing. Let us know, and you'll hear about all that at the end. Okay, so here we are into a new year, which is 2022. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Wow. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It should be quite exciting for us. We've had a couple of rough years. So far, the 2020s have not been that good to us. But it's really a matter of perspective as well. And thankfully, we could say about our lives, and some of the people we see close around this, life's been good to them, even though, things in the global scale don't look that good. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We're seeing them that, really, doing well in life. And we're very blessed, and encouraged, to see that. But, Mary, some of the things we want to talk about, as we get ready for this new year is, starting fresh. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes.

 

Steve Alessi  

New Year's resolutions. What can I do now, and commit to, that's going to make my life better in this year. We all want to do better. We want to strive for more. We have dreams that we want to see realized. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Sure. 

 

Steve Alessi  

People refer to a bucket list. What can I mark off my bucket list this year? Well, so there's always this mentality that, "I want to do something different in the coming year that's better than what I've done in the past year." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Sure. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And the previous years things don't have to be bad, but we just want it to be better. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

However, there are some things that have happened in the last year, or previous years, that have not been positive and the best for us. And so, that's another reason why many of us look forward to a new year. So we can wipe the slate clean and start all over again. So, that being the case, as we're talking about how to make this 2022 even better, a new year ahead of us, we've got to talk about people that, maybe, we need to be distanced from. We have to distance ourselves from, because those people can cause us some pain. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah, absolutely. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And that's where I want us to go in the next two episodes. How do we distance ourselves from toxic people that have hurt us in our past, and maybe, even be— You know, because they're family, or close friends still in our friendship circle?

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. Or family, like you said. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Family. How do we go about moving forward in this new season without that influence of toxicity, or dysfunctionality, hurting us as we go forward?

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. Wow, this is a big one. I can say, for both of us, we personally have experienced this with friends and family. Throughout the years, we've had different environments where we've had to exercise this principle and knowing this information, and it's not easy. No one ever said it was easy, it's not going to be easy. Especially if you've had a toxic parent, you don't know anything other than that relationship. And it's very hard to know how to decipher what you're responsible for, and what you're not. And that's very difficult. 

 

You know, I go back, I allude to my father, the experience with my own personal father, who passed away three years ago, around the holidays. And it had been almost 30 years of just toxic nothingness, really. It was always one way. And I'm fortunate that I had you in my life, who, as a very strong personality, said, "We're not bringing that into our home, we're not bringing that into our children's lives. We're not bringing that in." But at the end of the day, I ultimately had to be the one that said, "This far and no farther." 

 

And where it gets cloudy and very hard and painful, is when it's a relationship with somebody you care about, and you love. It's easy to walk away from somebody whose toxic that you don't care anything about, somebody on the job, you know, somebody that you know from high school, whatever, or an old friendship that's out of your life. It's very hard when that person is in your life all the time. That is a very difficult thing to navigate. It's very difficult because, especially as Christians, we feel like, "Wow, we have to have grace for everybody. You have to love everybody. I have to have empathy for this person." But what we've learned, with toxic nature, is that it's generally very manipulative. And you can't be empathetic, ever, because empathy will get you poisoned.

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. We're going to hit this. So, let's put a little warning out there. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Okay. 

 

Steve Alessi  

All right? This may not be this warning... The information you're going to hear with us is definitely stuff that you're not going to hear on Sunday. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because we can't, necessarily, from a Bible perspective, or a being a Christian— These are things that require a little deeper dive. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Deeper dive. Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So we just can't hit it in the few minutes that we share. But, some may say, "What are you talking about? You're Christians, you can't treat people this way." And we're not talking about hurting anybody here. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

What we're talking about is protecting ourselves from influences that have been hurt, and then are hurtful. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Something has happened in their world, that has caused them this pain, and they then bring it over into your life. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And that's where you have to sit back, and you're going to have to come to grips with a very difficult decision of putting up boundaries to protect yourself going forward. Because if the person that's caused you some pain in the past, was able to get healed of that pain, they would not be bringing it over into your present. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

If you want to be a person that, then, continues the cycle of that pain, and bringing it into your kid's life, or other friends lives, then, don't worry about distancing yourself, or getting healed from it. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

But if you want to be different, if you want to stop the curse with that influence, and not allow it to be carried on, then you have to say, "This year is going to be different for me. And I'm going to control, to the best of my ability, not the person, but the person's influence that they're going to have in my life." So, we actually have to be upfront and say, "Let me see pass the person here, I'm not hurting a person. I'm not doing this to hurt anybody. I'm doing this to protect and help myself—" 

 

That's right. 

 

"—from the influence of the person who's been hurt." Hurt people—

 

Mary Alessi  

—hurt people.

 

Steve Alessi  

Cursed people, curse people. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's true. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And some have had experiences in their past. And for whatever reason, they have not dealt with that hurt, or that curse. And they then want to continue to bring it on to us. We have to say, "Wait, that influence, if I'm going to be feeling different in the future, I've got to remove that influence out of my life." And I got a feeling this will be one of the hardest things some of our listeners have ever had to do. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because it means letting people just be themselves. Because you can't change him.

 

Mary Alessi  

No, you can't change people. And it's very hard for us when our hearts are tied to those people. You know, one of the things that I had to learn is that, that toxic nature, and some of the manifestations of that, and the behavior, was not my fault. And I had a very hard, long, road in believing that. Because, it's just— I think it's a good-healed heart that says, "If I do something different, if I do something good, then I'll reap good from this person." And who wants to believe that that's not going to be true? That you could do something good for someone and not get good back. 

 

But when you're dealing with a broken person, a wounded person that isn't coming into the relationship saying, "Listen, I've been wounded, I've been hurt, and I need to get healed." When people can't talk healthy and do healthy things for themselves, then, for the most part, you're not going to reap the harvest of anything good from that person, because they don't even know how to treat themselves right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

They stay in a place of brokenness. So, it's not an easy task. But it is something that is required. You've got to do it, if you want to stay healthy. You said it's not easy for some of our listeners. The reality is, there's a lot of people that won't ever do it. They'll stay in a toxic cycle forever. And I decided I wasn't going to stay in that toxic cycle, because I loved my relationship with you too much. I wanted to save my marriage, I did not want my kids to have to know what manipulation from a parent looked like. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I never wanted them to experience that, because that wasn't in you. And that is not in me. And I had to kill it, and cut the head off of it, so that it wouldn't go into the next generation. Because it is learned, you know? It's a responsive thing that you can easily pick up on, and learn. And I was not about to let any one of my four kids be a target.

 

Steve Alessi  

Now, you know that people look at you and think, "Oh, she's so sweet. Look at Pastor Mary." Well, there's a strength to you that you had to definitely learn. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And this experience that you had with your father, is what gave you that strength. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

We can go back. Oh, goodness, just before we got married, and your mom is in our world, and she tells a story to our kids about when she was dealing with the dysfunctional behavior of your father. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And we don't want to speak ill of him. He's passed. But this is just for the sake of people being aware, okay? So, we're sharing a little, being transparent here, sharing a little personal thing here. But, he was not good to your mom. And so, she was in the kind of, minister's wife, evangelist's wife seat, thinking, "I gotta love him. I gotta love him. I got to pray for him. I got to get him through this. And I got to stay with him." 

 

And then, I came across a book from James Dobson, way back in the day, when I used to listen to his ministry, and it was simply, Love Must Be Tough. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And I introduced that book to your mom. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It changed her life. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And that changed her life. That let her know, "Wait a minute. Real love is strong." 

 

Mary Alessi  

And confronts. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It has to confront. And the reason you confront this situation, either passively, or not. Or aggressively, is because you want to say to the person that you love, "I love you too much to let you stay the same." 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

"And not keep bringing that kind of hurt to our relationship. I love you that much. But I also love myself." 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

"And if you're not willing to make the change, then I have to make the change for myself as well." 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And that helped your mom, stand up, get up on her legs, and be strong. And ultimately, your dad made the decision to end the marriage, not your mom. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Not my mom. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because your mom was willing to hang in there, and love him. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No matter what.

 

Steve Alessi  

But she set the right boundaries. And he couldn't respect those boundaries. So he, then, had to make a decision for himself, which then opened the door for your mom to experience a level of blessing by a man that walked into her life just a couple of years later. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And blessed her abundantly. And, you know.

 

Mary Alessi  

Oh, my gosh, the story is incredible. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It would have never happened, though, if your mom didn't get strong, and then you were left with a dad. Your mom walked away from that, after he filed for divorce. You all still had to deal with that. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yes, we did. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And that's when we saw you, your heart was out there. You wanted a relationship with your dad, you loved your dad, you still respected him, you still honored him. But then, now our kids get older, come on the scene, our kids are older. And, what happened?

 

Mary Alessi  

I saw that the pattern, or the behavior, was not changing. I also realized that, in my little girl daughter's wish heart, what I was fantasizing would happen in my life that, "Okay. I'll get his attention. I'll be strong," and it didn't work. "I'll confront him, and I'll tell him the truth, and then he'll respond." And he didn't. "My sisters will band together, and we'll confront him." Nothing. "We'll get married, and he'll love our husbands, and then he'll want to be around us more, and he'll want to do things right." No. Did not move the needle with that. 

 

He just kept trying to figure out how he could play us all in the chess game. Then, I thought, "I'll have a son. And he'll— you know, we'll give him the middle name after my father, he'll be a namesake. And that'll do it. That'll turn his heart. That'll soften his heart." And none of that was happening. And it wasn't really moving the needle. It was setting me up for, almost, more opportunities for me to get hurt. Because dad just was not— He just felt more threatened. It was never better, it would seem to always be worse. 

 

And, I remember, you and I would— You stayed out of it to the best of your ability. I have to say, you handled that very well. You had to trust me, and you had to trust God. But you also let me know how you felt about things. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Because you were getting hurt. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I kept getting hurt. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I hated seeing you hurt all the time. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And it was awful. And I remember the kids were very, very small. And I drove to where he was, and we met to talk, and I had seen him several times before that. And he did not even know my kids' names. And you can chalk that up to, you know, a grandpa that's not thinking, but it wasn't. He was still so stuck in himself, and his own bitterness, and anger. Because brokenness turns to bitterness if you don't get healing. 

 

And then, we're all stuck with that bitter taste in our mouth to— 

 

Steve Alessi  

Say it again. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Brokenness turns to bitterness if you don't get healing. And once someone gets bitter— I mean, I couldn't heal my father. You can't heal the person in your life that's got that toxic nature. You're not equipped. I was not equipped to heal my dad. That wasn't my responsibility to heal my father. You

 

Steve Alessi  

Counselor told us the same. You're not your father's counselor. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You're his daughter. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's it. And he was responsible to reach out, and get healing, and get wholeness. That wasn't on me. But I felt, somehow, like, "Well, you know, we're his daughters, and we're the only ones, and we can reach him." When I found out that wasn't true, and I released that, and let that go, I did feel like somebody took a key to a lock on my heart, and just said, "Hey, you're free now. This is not your responsibility." 

 

That is literally what it felt like. That I could say, "I don't have to go, and sit in a mall, and meet with you. And have you not know my kids' names. And have you sit there and go, 'Now which one is that one?'"

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I don't have to do that. That was hurtful. I don't have to pick up the phone every single time you call with something dramatic. Or you leave a long message on my phone. Or, thank God, back then we didn't text, because he probably would have blown up my phone. But I don't I don't have to do that. We can set the terms of this relationship in my direction. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Because I'm not going to set the terms in your direction anymore. You're not healthy. That's not easy. But the first thing that helps you get there is to decide that's what you're going to do. You don't have to make the steps right away to do that. But the hardest thing is to decide. Now I know what's right. I've made a decision, this is what I'm going to do: Get some help and some counsel, how to lay that out. We've got phenomenal studies on how to set boundaries that are available to us, great resources, you don't even need to go to a counselor.

 

Yeah, I didn't even realize how much of our early years in marriage was absorbed in this, until I went back, and I started cleaning out a library of books that I had. And, Mary, talk about boundaries, we're discussing it, we did a whole study on boundaries. But that whole, Love Must Be Tough. Because we deal with people. 

 

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And people are hurt, people sometimes are dysfunctional, we have to always prepare ourselves for that one that really does not want to do what it takes to get healed. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, it's true. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And be a blessing to people in their lives. So, we've got to— We can't let our bleeding heart just lead us, or else, even as leaders in what we do, we could get bogged down in people's dysfunction, thinking, "Oh, we'll pray them through it," or, "God will show up and help them." But, you know, your dad, he went through a tough time in his early years. Something happened as an adult with his father that really hurt the family, and he struggled with that. 

 

But he had a choice. He had a choice to choose healing, and not allow that dysfunction to continue on into, now, his relationship with his kids. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

So, I want to be sympathetic to people that are going through things. But I also want to say to them, "Hey, stop. Figure out a way to get healed." And we're going to talk about that in the next episode, how we should respond, then, to people that are not willing to go get healed. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

In order to protect ourselves. You and I were listening to an audiobook, and when it comes to pinpointing who this person is, and how they are just wrong, and toxic, and dysfunctional. And the person said, "Listen, if one person is doing something that is so erratic, so hurtful, stop and ask yourself, what are the 99 other friends of mine, or influences, doing? Are they doing the same thing?" 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

"If that person is the only one out of 100 in your life that's acting that way, then that person needs to be dealt within your heart." 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's not you. 

 

Mary Alessi  

It's not you. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's not your fault. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No, no. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's not your responsibility to fix them. It's not you, because if 99 other people in your world aren't acting that way, then it should show you, there's something up with them. 

 

And you're going to have to protect yourself. Which, how do I become aware of this, Mary? And you have a great story about, when we were in Georgia, going down to look at this beautiful, blue, water spring, and what happened?

 

Mary Alessi  

So, I was raised by a grandfather that liked to get out in the woods, and taught us a lot about the woods. So, I hadn't been in the woods in years. But when we started building our house out there, immediately, everything that I knew as a girl, being in that familiar environment, all flooded back. So, I would say to you, we need snake boots, we need to walk through the woods with a stick, and you're like, "What do we need the stick for?" 

 

I just— I remembered all that knowledge of what to look for, and how to look, for snakes came flooding back. And you know the patterns, you know the temperature, and the environment, the habitat for snakes. So, we went to— look, now, mind you, we tromped through our own property, we tromped through other people's property. We had not seen any snakes, but I also would tell you, walk heavy, because snakes feel the vibration, and so— 

 

Steve Alessi  

Stomp on the ground. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Stomp on the ground. And you laughed at me, some of our friends laughed at me, and I'm like, "I know what I'm talking about. I can spot snakes. I've seen them. My grandfather has taught me how to see them." And so, we went to go pick up some lumber from a neighbor. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yep. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And our contractor, who's from Georgia, all these guys are Georgia boys, they met us out there. And it's very remote. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Five or six of us walking into the woods. 

 

Mary Alessi  

All men, I'm the only girl. And we're walking through, and I, immediately— He says, "I'd like for you guys to see my Blue Lagoon." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Beautiful. 

 

Mary Alessi  

"It's gorgeous, and it's down through this little pathway." So we're walking through this very woodsy area, down to this water, and all I could think of is, "Snakes." Not out of fear. I was not afraid. Because I had everything I needed to protect myself. We all did. But I started looking, and as the story goes, our friend was standing right next to a… I think it was a cactus.

 

Steve Alessi  

We're all there, looking at the beautiful water. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Steve Alessi  

All the guys, we're mesmerized by the water. That's it. And we're just staring down into this dark hole of water. And there you are, saying...

 

Mary Alessi  

"Don't move, there's a snake right behind your foot."

 

Steve Alessi  

All the guys, the country guys, up in there, nobody saw the snake, but you. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Nobody saw the snake, but me. And the reason why, and it's such a revelation of understanding, that when you've been through something, especially with somebody who has a manipulative mindset, you become a snake spotter. I mean, I don't know any other way to say it. And that sounds so cruel to some people that you would refer to. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You have to be strong. Be strong. 

 

Mary Alessi  

But you have to understand that, sometimes, you have to see them with evil intentions. You love that person, but there's evil intentions, because they're not well, and you've got to be good at spotting that snake that is out to, truthfully, suffocate you. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

And be aware that that poison, that venom that's in them, they can't help themselves. They don't want to help themselves. We know the story of Eve, she was deceived by a snake, by a serpent. That's an incredible story in the Bible, that how the Bible uses the imagery of a snake, the story of a snake. And it's so, so important for us.  Now, there's not snakes. I don't look for manipulation in every man I meet, or every person that's around me, I'm healthy.

 

1 out of 100. If they show up, and they're acting like a snake, and all your other friends are not snakes, be careful.

 

And you don't— The point of it is, you don't keep inviting the snake into your living room. You don't keep pursuing that snake like it's not dangerous, because, I knew, okay, I couldn't keep saying, "Oh, my dad's a good man. He's a good man." Wait a minute. There's some really bad qualities here, that are poisonous to the future of my life, and my children. So, in being able to, not only recognize snake behavior, but the environment of snake behavior. It kept myself, my sisters, from walking in the door of more pain and hurt. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yes. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Because I knew the holidays would come, and the phone, we're going to get together. We're going to meet. And there I would go. Well, all I did was set myself up in the habitat, in the environment to get hurt again. And when I would reach out, and make the call, when it wasn't the holiday, or when it wasn't convenient for him, but it was more convenient for me... Never, he was never free. He was never available, he could never come. So, the minute I started practicing, "Okay, let's take this relationship out of the terms of the deal that only work—" I'm sorry, "for the snake." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah.

 

Mary Alessi  

And does it work for me? I quickly realized this: There's not anything in this for me, under these terms. It did not mean that my father was all bad, throw him out. No. But I also knew that I could love him better by not putting myself in an environment, continually, where I wasn't aware, and I wasn't looking for it. I walked into those woods, going, "This is snake territory." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yep. 

 

Mary Alessi  

This is, this is the perfect habitat for us not to even see it. People that should see it and don't see it, but I knew what I was looking for. And I was aware, I didn't go in with this girly fantasy, "Oh, he called, and he wants me to come, and he's going to work it out." Okay, hold on. What are the boundaries here? Let's just be careful. Let's be mindful, keep our boundaries in place. And, sometimes, you're going to have to see if the terms of the deal, in that relationship— And I know that might sound crazy for somebody, but I know somebody's listening that goes, "That's me. That's exactly where I'm at." 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's who I'm talking to you. That has been so bound up, almost to a point where it's a Boa Constrictor, that's wrapped itself around you, and you can't find your way out. There's a lot of young girls that aren't married right now because they've got a toxic relationship with a dad, or with a mom. And they don't know how to let go, and know what's healthy and what's not healthy. 

 

And if you're a grown adult, at some point, you have to learn, "I have my life. And I can't keep allowing this toxic nature, and this poison, to affect my future," and here's the freedom: You don't have to. 

 

Steve Alessi  

You don't have to.

 

Mary Alessi  

You're not expected to. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yep. 

 

Mary Alessi  

You can walk away. You can set some terms of the deal. Now, we'll get into this in the next session. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yep. 

 

Mary Alessi  

How to do that, because that's not an easy thing. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Right. 

 

Mary Alessi  

But it can be done. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Yeah. Well, we've just given somebody, an after-Christmas gift. 

 

Mary Alessi  

I think so. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Giving you permission to say, "I don't have to live with a dysfunctional person influencing my life every day." 

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

It's going to be tough to step away. It's going to be hard, when you're around that snake, to say, all of a sudden, to see them as a snake. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

I loved your analogy, because dysfunctional people are a snake. 

 

Mary Alessi  

They are. 

 

Steve Alessi  

And if you see that image.

 

Mary Alessi  

That's right. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Like Eve. 

 

Mary Alessi  

Absolutely.

 

Steve Alessi  

What you don't want to do is sit there, and carry on a conversation with it, listen to it, let it influence you. No, you need to remove yourself from that environment. We're going to talk about that in our next episode. But Mary, I think this is an eye-opener for some, a heart-opener for some. And our desire, for this audience, is that they would look at this new year that is ahead of them, and be given the opportunity to walk in their dreams, and desires, and aspirations, and not be slowed down, in their head or their heart. 

 

They have no headspace, no heart space, for anybody that is toxic. 

 

Mary Alessi  

No. 

 

Steve Alessi  

That's going to slow them down. If you are obsessed by the toxicity of somebody around you, and you don't realize it, that it is toxic, then, just the fact that you're obsessed, and you're feeling bad, and you're angry, and you're insecure, and you're looking at yourself in the mirror, wondering, "What's wrong with me?" All because that person is making you feel that way. 

 

Listen, you don't have to carry that person with you into this new year. You can set up the right kind of boundaries. Go into this new year free from that. It's going to take you a little bit And that's why we want to invite you to our next episode coming up: How do we deal with snakes? 

 

Great job today, Mary. 

 

Mary Alessi  

This was good. 

 

Steve Alessi  

Thanks for joining us again on another episode of "The Family Business." We went deep today, talked some business. Glad you were with us.