Family bonds are deep. No family is perfect and hardships come with the territory. Dr. Jade Wu, Ph.D., says estrangement is more common than people think. Contrary to popular belief, that feeling of not needing someone in your life doesn’t last forever.
Feeling disappointment towards someone who upset you is normal. Having a deep desire to forgive them is normal as well. Here are some steps that may help you move forward.
1. Consider If You’re Really Over It
You can’t force yourself to make genuine connections if you’re not fully healed from whatever situation occurred. You may receive pressure or “suggestions” from others about how you need to go about reconnecting, but the first step is making sure this is something you want to do. Take time to sit and think about if you’re truly ready to accept this person—and everything that comes with them—back into your life.
2. Seek Support
Depending on how bad the relationship got, it may be a good idea to have a support system in place moving forward. Find someone you trust who knows about the current situation and can serve as a mediator if needed. Deep-seated issues can’t just be swept under the rug, which means that lengthy conversations probably are what’s needed in the future.
3. Extend an Olive Branch
Therapist Robert Taibbi, L.C.S.W, says “Make an effort to sincerely say you want to repair the relationship.” People usually respond to sincerity when they can sense it. Even if the first try isn’t successful, Taibbi says it’s important to show the other person that you are willing to keep trying. Although you may be ready to put the past behind you, it may take the other person a little more time and space to figure out if they wish to do the same.
4. Talk It Out
Here’s where the real test begins. In order to really get past the situation at hand, each person must be willing to listen and hear the other person’s perspective. Arguing back and forth won’t fix the issue and may even cause a bigger rift. According to Dr. Wu, a willingness to accept each other’s flaws and apologize for the past is a vital step in the mending process. Even if you were not directly involved, Wu says acknowledging whatever your part was is extremely important.
5. Stay In Touch
It may take some time to get used to the idea of having this person in your life again, but keeping them there will take cooperation from both sides. Communication will be key to getting things back on track. Dr. Shauna Springer, Ph.D., says sharing something about your life at a deeper level when you see that person, will encourage relationship growth. The more both people work to restore the relationship, the better the outcome will be.