MENDING RELATIONSHIPSPosted on 08/04/10, 01:44 pm
RELATIONSHIPS - You used to be close, but now you're not talking to each other. And it hurts. How do you go about mending a family estrangement?
- WORK THROUGH YOUR RESENTMENTS. When you have worked through resentments that get in your way and have taken responsibility for your own part in the conflict, you are better positioned to address grievances in a concilliatory way.
- KNOW THE GOALS OF THE ESTRANGED FAMILY MEMBER. By careful introspection, figure out what the estranged person wants. What you want is easier to figure out -- you want to reconnect. What the other person wants is to avoid you, buy why? Once you figure out why you're being avoided, you will know what it is the other person wants. If you can provide that, communicate your willingness to accommodate the other person's wishes.
- ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. Communicate your desire to work things out by immediately conveying that you value that person and want to reconnect with him or her, that you hold no grudge. Be forewarned: Resolving differences often means taking risks, baring your sould and again facing rejection. But for most of us who want to reconnect with a loved one, it's worth that risk. Estrangements that mend successfully usually skip the rewind -- the rehashing of the hurtful events. Instead, go directly toward a heartfelt gesture of reaching out to the other.
- DON'T PLAY THE BLAME GAME. If you're ever to bridge differences, you have to move beyond blame. On the other hand, if you are the one who wants to mend a relationship with a family member who instigated the estrangement, you may have to brace yourself for a diatribe of blame against you. Take it. Do not -- I repeat, do not -- retaliate with charges of your own.
- SAY SOMETHING NEUTRALIZING AND INVITING. Such as "I'd really like us to make a fresh start," or "You're my family, and I miss being with you." You might say "I suppose we've both been carried away." This canopy interpretation of past events tactfully skirts the issue of blame by distributing it evenly on both sides. A letter or e-mail may allow the other person to think about what's been said without having to react right away.
- KEEP THE DOOR OPEN. Send birthday cards, notes, e-mails and make occasional phone calls just so that your loved one knows that you're always receptive to him/her, giving the message that whenever s/he's ready to enter your life, you'll be there. If the letter is ignored or you get a cold response on the telephone, give it some time. and then write or call again.
Bury your feelings of revenge and redirect them into a search for solutions.
Even when the situation appears hopeless, remember that old cliche'..."Where there's life, there's hope." As long as you and the estranged loved one are alive, there is the possibility of reconciliation, especially if you want one badly enough.
My feelings at the moment? Fear. Fear of trying one more time only to hear that horrible sound of my son hanging up on me when all I wanted to say to him is that we wanted to be a normal family again and that we wanted it to end.We wanted it to end because, due to age and health, life was too short for us to continue on this way.
Reply #1 08/04/10 3:15pm
I KNOW! Im SO sorry!
Bad week. Mine said "U were a shitty mom,bottom line" Along w/a lot of other nasty things.TEXT only! Have NOT spoke to him in yrs, other than when I called his work to let him know his grandma was very ill. He finally called her (I think to get me off his bK) BUT never checked up on her or returns her calls. Breaks my heart.She was always so good to him and they were SO close!
MY grief is all inclusive. At days I feel I cannot live another day n this pain.
How did this happen? I can acknowledge some mistakes but 5 yrs.?
He's 27.Where does forgiveness and understanding and just plan respect for me being his mother, giving him life and raising him come into play?? LIFE is so Darn short!!!
Reply #2 08/05/10 1:03am
Thanks Guelsmom....that is helpful.....may I ask the source? ... a therapist?
I will definitely try to apply some of this with ED........my H is still so angry, he's done.....(could this be where ED got her stubbornness?.....they are both "Onlys!" ). It's difficult when you are the only one to reach out and the EC seems so happy with the E.
And janana28......so sad to read about your treatment by your ES.....how can we fight the EC's lack of maturity, lack of forgiveness and just plain meanness? But your ES is young, maybe something will wake him up soon because as you said Life is short. I keep thinking when will EC decide they have punished us enough?
Reply #3 08/05/10 7:13am
Janana... I got it off the internet. No source mentioned. Probably was a pro of some sort.
Reply #4 08/05/10 6:46pm
This is all wonderful advice and helpful, but in my case I have been the one and the only one to admit my part and apologize...I am sick and tired of making all the concessions and even when I did it would happen over and over...if my daughter wants a door mat, she can go to WalMart and purchase one...I will gladly admit and take responsibility for my part but I cannot beat myself up..I want to move forward, put all this in the past, forgive and move on, but she is never happy unles you grovel, put yourself down etc....and that is must plan wrong
Reply #5 08/05/10 8:02pm
I agree with everything you say and I put it on, not to be giving advice, but as something I came across and thought someone might find it useful information if they were contemplating "doing something." It is really a hard thing to do to set yourself up for another round of rejection.
Reply #6 08/05/10 8:21pm
Something else that might help, especially for those who are early in their estrangement. What does "early mean? I'm not sure, but... we should avoid black and white thinking. My thought about my ED is that we will never speak again and that our relationship will always be negative, and that I can't live without her in my life. The truth is probably (or maybe) that we will talk again in the future, but our relationship will have changed forever. Estrangement is becoming a pattern with her, but we have reconnected in the past. Maybe whether or not we reconnect depends on my willingness to keep trying. Maybe it's dependent on my ED getting to a point in her life where she needs me. Maybe it's the point where I've tried to contact her AND she needs me. I can't control that. But I can somewhat take control of the impact it has on me. Not all the time, but some of the time. I can try to live the rest of my life and be happy some of the time. And if I can't yet be happy for a day, I can work on being happy or at least distracted for some amount of time. Maybe just for an hour. And tomorrow, maybe two hours.
Reply #7 08/06/10 12:05pm
Thank You for the posting. ( just read it this morning)Yesterday for no reason at all I picked up my phone and called my ES.....first I thought I just wanted to hear his voice..however I actually spoke. We have agreed to meet today to TALK. After I initially made the call I felt some relief. However the relief has turned into panic and I don't know what to say or expect. I have had no contact with him for 14 months, after he verbally attacked me and my husband over the phone. My heart felt like he ripped it out of my chest and stomped all over it. I am not the same person I was a year ago....my heart will be forever guarded. The grieving process I have gone through has taught me a lot about myself .I have forgiven him and know that I am not responsible for the out come of his life. Things between us will never be the same. I will not apologize , play the blame game, or be abused again. In order for me to reconnect I need to know his true feelings. I only hope we can have a brand new start....
Reply #8 08/06/10 12:30pm
momwitha... I think you said it yourself when you said; "in order for me to connect I need to know his true feelings." If I could only sit down with my son (and even my DIL) I think at this point I would just say to him/her "Tell me who you are. What do you think? What do you feel? What are your goals for us? Is there something I have done that you think I need to apologize for?" Then I would just sit and listen because I truly want to know at this point.
I will keep you in my prayers today. Let us know how it goes.
Reply #9 08/07/10 9:41pm
momwithabrokenheart ... how did things go with your talk with your ES? I recently met with my ES after months of not talking and it was wonderful. I am hoping this will be the beginning of good things to come.
Let us know how you are doing.
Reply #10 08/08/10 2:23pm
Seems like good advice, but it would not help a Mom & Dad who ES gave no warning or explanation. Our ES just stopped talking to us, did not return calls, did not answer emails anymore. Packages sent to their home were returned to us by the postoffice. So all I am saying is when an adult child just decides they are eliminating you from their lives (and we understood it was going to be forever), there is no opportunity to heal resentments, understand goals, etc. Our ES did not contact us for 1 1/2. And then ES & DIL did again. We have seen them few times in the past 3 years. But it is still on and off communication. When we communicate with them it is just surface stuff. It is a roller coaster grief. All I am saying is some situatiions there is absolutely nothing you can do, wait, pray and try to go on with your life. And hope some day the EC will really open up and share with you again.
Do you have adult children, who have blamed you for everything wrong in their childhood, lost contact either through addiction, divorce, or in laws? No phone calls for birthdays, Mother's day, just no communication. How do you cope with the emptiness, the painful loss of not having your children in your life? *WARNING*: Read this note about privacy: http://www.dailystrength.org/people/548/journal/1802327