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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

estrangements

They seem to run in our family. My mother is estranged from one of her sisters, my step-dad is estranged from his two daughters, two of my siblings are estranged from my dad, and I'm estranged from one of my brothers who himself was estranged from the whole family for almost four years.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, as some of you know, I'm attending my niece's wedding this Friday and it will be the first time I see my brother again. I'm not particularly looking forward to that (am a bit apprehensive actually), but don't want to miss the wedding because of it. How we got to be estranged is, not surprisingly, a long story, but the final incident that clinched it was when said brother uninvited me from the family Christmas dinner he was hosting in 2003. To add insult to injury, he left a message on my answering machine saying that if I apologized to his wife for being rude (which I hadn't been), they'd reconsider uninviting me, but that they didn't care whether I was there or not. His last words to me on tape were, "Oh, and a piece of advice: get a job, get a life." Click.

Needless to say I was not amused, and apart from a letter I wrote, we haven't had contact since. Now obviously there was a fair bit of bad blood between us already because estrangements don't develop overnight, or in a vacuum. But they are definitely one of our family patterns, and one that I wanted to explore. Which is why I'm writing about otherwise personal and private matters, and also why a few years ago I bought family members copies of Laura Davis's book I Thought We'd Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation. It's a good book, and one of the appendixes includes a self-assessment quiz called "Are You Ready for Reconciliation?" I'm going to include it here because I think it's quite valuable and could be of benefit to others. You are to answer "yes" or "no" on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no and 10 being yes.

1. Has a relationship with someone you once cared about ended because of anger, betrayal, or miscommunication?
2. Do you miss the other person and wish he or she could still be in your life?
3. Have you worked through your own feelings enough to approach this person in a new way?
4. Are you ready to take responsibility for your role in what happened?
5. Have you developed a sense of compassion for the other person?
6. Have you moved beyond fantasies of revenge and retaliation?
7. Could you move forward even if you received no apology or acknowledgment that you were wronged?
8. Are you being realistic about the other person? Have you stopped pinning your hopes on a fantasy?
9. If a limited relationship is all that is possible, would that be acceptable to you?
10. Can you be in this relationship and still feel good about yourself?
11. Given the risks involved in reaching out, are you willing to face the worst possible scenario?
12. Do you have what it takes to rebuild this relationship?

My own answers revealed that I am not ready to pursue reconciliation, and that I'm closer instead to accepting that our relationship is probably over. Other family members have tentatively begun taking small steps to reach out and while I wish them success with that, I have no interest in doing the same. Still, I have to see my brother on Friday whether I like it or not, so it could be an interesting evening indeed.

5 Comments:

Anonymous krissa said...

Of course I am with you in spirit on Friday. But, I know it is going to be a very hard thing to walk into that situation. You are brave to do it and I know your brother (your niece's dad) will appreciate it. ... This post is interesting - the list especially. i didn't think I was estranged from anyone and now I know I'm not. I knew it from question 1 because I have never lost anyone important to me because of a fight,etc. Friendships ended sometimes, but that was for the best because they weren't healthy. ... I know you will remember this quote since it is after all one of your posts, but just remember (with a little change here): Be yourself. No compromise. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. ... Here's to Friday being a nice day to see the rest of the family. :)

July 05, 2007 8:33 a.m.

 
Blogger Dakota said...

I never understood how people can leave messages like that on answering machines. Grrrrr!
If they had real courage they would say it to you in person (or over the phone) so you could have a chance to respond. Grrrrr again!

I think you are very brave to go to the wedding and I applaud you for that. It can lead to strange and odd situations with your brother, but you can always choose to ignore him, you are not there for him……you are there for you niece. Enjoy yourself, keep your head high, your back erect and have a marvellous day. You go girl!

I’ll be thinking of you and will send you tons of positive energy.

July 05, 2007 11:07 a.m.

 
Blogger KJ's muse said...

Thanks for the support, Krissa and Dakota, it means a lot to me. Am not feeling particularly brave at the moment as I prepare to go, but yes, I need to remember that it's my niece's day, and that I'm going for her and her dad. I shall try to keep my head high, and will report back later! :)

July 06, 2007 1:34 p.m.

 
Anonymous krissa said...

Whew! It's Saturday now. We're quite a few hours ahead of you here in Europe, so I'm sure you're sleeping now. Can't wait to hear how it went!

July 07, 2007 5:10 a.m.

 
Blogger KJ's muse said...

Post coming right up. ;)

July 07, 2007 4:07 p.m.

 

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