Being cut off from someone you love is not only painful but apparently common, judging from the amount of feedback I receive about the estrangement advice on my website.
In that article, I advise the person who’s been cut off and wants to reconcile to act on all those good cliches: turn the other cheek, be the bigger person, and do whatever it takes to apologize and make amends.*
Outraged By Estrangement
That advice riles many readers.
One hundred percent of the angry comments I get are from people who write some variation of, “Relationships are a two-way street, you know! I will not apologize. I’m tired of being treated like a doormat.”
Totally reasonable feelings. Unfortunately, when both people feel that way, there’s a stalemate.
Since the angry comments are always anonymous, I can’t respond to them directly. Hence this post.
Be Honest With Yourself
There’s a question I ask in the middle of the article I mentioned above. I also asked it in my post, Estrangement Takes Two.
The question is this: Do you truly want a relationship with this person?
Or do you just need them to know that they misunderstood and/or hurt you?
Someone who really wants to have a relationship will do whatever it takes, even if that means getting an earful of the other person’s anger to begin with.
They’re willing to hear and acknowledge that they’ve hurt the other person. And they’ll postpone receiving any sympathy or understanding.
They lead with generosity and tolerance in order to reconcile and rebuild trust.
If there’s anyone who *might* be able to pull off this superhuman feat of putting their own needs aside for the greater good, it should be a parent.
Sadly, much of the angry feedback I receive about my advice to be the bigger person is from parents who are waiting for their grown children to stop being so mean to them.
They probably won’t get what they want, unless what they want is to believe they raised their kids to be *ssholes.
What Can Parents Do?
Parents, I genuinely feel for you. It’s totally unfair that so much is required of you when you’re already so hurt.
Unfortunately, the facts remain as they are. If you want to repair the relationship (assuming it’s still possible, which isn’t always the case), you have to be the one — probably the only one, especially at first — to make sacrifices. I know it’s not fair, but that’s how it goes.
Think carefully about whether having them in your life is worth it. If it is, you might just need to withdraw for a while and surround yourself with people who love and appreciate you. Fill the well. Then try again.
If you find it’s not worth it, then mourn the loss fully.
Then get busy making your other relationships the best they can be. You deserve the love you seek. You can have it if you let it in.
Remember that people are mirrors for us. If we don’t like what we see, it’s not the mirror’s fault. Give love to the people who are left in your life, and your love will be reflected back to you.
*If you were cut off by your parent(s) with no explanation, I’m sorry. You probably lost them long ago, and it wasn’t your fault. There might not be much you can do.
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Estrangement Takes Two, Part One
When Adult Children Won’t Talk to Their Parents
Estrangement: What to Do When Someone Won’t Talk to You