Ten years have passed and you and your parents haven’t spoken much. Not since that dreadful day ten years ago when you have the argument that neither of you could quite get over. You said things, they said things – and so it ended badly. Now, hear you are older and wiser and realizing that perhaps the time has come to let bygones be bygones and to start patching things up with your folks.
How do you start? Can the two of you really get over the past, or whatever it was that separated you to begin with? Can and should fences be mended?
The reality is that if you have a family problem that has caused a dividing line between you and someone else, whether your sibling or your mom and dad – the simple desire or inkling to patch things up, means that you should try. If you often sit back in wonder, or thought wishing things were different than the only way to make a change is to create one. It may not be easy, to allow things from the past that you have held onto so tightly go, like a balloon on a windy day. However, the people in your life will not be here forever. The one thing that each of us can be certain of, is that someday – our loved ones will die. Living with the remorse that you never tried to patch things up, never tried to have a new relationship, can leave you in a dark place should something bad happen.
So the first step is to try. Make the phone call. Do not worry about who is right or who is wrong. Don’t go backwards. Call your folks up and tell them you love them, and that you want to try and have a relationship with them. Be certain that you are ready to close the chapter that separated you and your loved one in the first place so that you can truly start new. This means that you have to go forward not expecting an apology, and not expecting to have to apologize. Oftentimes, the hurts that linger the longest – that become the most deeply ingrained after years and years of not talking or separation – are the hardest to heal from. This is why it is so important that you resign yourself to starting over.
How you reach out is up to you. It doesn’t matter if you mail a letter, or a card – send an email, drop by their house or call them on the phone. In fact, you should do what feels the best to you. For many people, writing things down and mailing a letter, or an email is the easiest way to say what you mean without being taken off guard by how they might react. And, it can initiate them to call you. In your written communication, you can even ask them if they would consider calling you, and make sure that they have your phone number just in case they want to call you back. This puts the responsibility on them, and at least ensures that you initiated the mending of the relationship. If they do not respond, then you know once and for all that you will simply have to let it go, forgive them, forgive yourself, and move on. The one thing that no one else can force you to do is to stop loving someone, especially when it comes to your family. Just accept the fact, if they do not respond – that you will love them from that day forward, regrets, and imperfections and all.
If you are working on a rekindled relationship with your parents, it is also important to go in with little expectations. Often, it is our expectations of other people – especially out parents that cause the problem to begin with. When you start over, your expectations should not be high. In fact, you should decide to sit back and allow the relationship to take its natural course and decide that you won’t try to force your expectations of the way things should be on the other person. The relationship may never live up to the way you dreamed it would in your head. But that doesn’t mean it cannot be better than you ever expected either. Sometimes, the simpler we are with our expectation of others, the more they will surprise us.
In so many ways, it is funny how our family can seem so different from us. How the people that raised us can seem to be so out of sync with what we think they should be. After all, these folks are your family – your parents, the little sister you spent years squabbling with. How could things go so wrong? The more you love someone the easier it is to get hurt by his or her words or actions. That being said, it can feel at first – harder to forgive. In the long run however, when you realize that your love is more important that your anger, frustration, or pain – they can also be the easiest people to forgive. Life is short. If a reconciled relationship is what you want, then you should take it upon yourself to find a way to try and patch things up with your loved ones. In the end, not doing so, not trying – will cause you even more pain.