On Coping With Estranged Family

Q: How would you ask estranged family why they dislike you? (sic)

EE: In my family, I wouldn’t bother. It would be presenting them with an open invitation to destroy me and I made a deal with the universe to stop doing that.

Coping with estranged family is always a trial, as is knowing exactly what to do about it. Conventional wisdom tells us families need to stick together at all costs but if your relative is a shit-breathing thunder douche whose very mission in life is to fuck with your head, there’s a reason why they are estranged family.

If you’re considering a little fence-mending within your own circle, I applaud your decision. To gain the best advantage, it would be wise to consider some very honest questions before proceeding.

  1. What are you hoping to achieve?
  2. Are you likely to get, if not your desired outcome, then at least a version of it?
  3. Do you firmly believe your desired outcome is achievable, given your knowledge of the situation and parties involved?
  4. Have you figured out the best approach to maximise your chances of success?
  5. Are you prepared for all of the ways in which things could go wrong?
  6. Are you prepared for the reality of actually having your desired outcome?

Let’s put these to the test with a person like my own estranged sibling.

  1. I’m hoping to mend the rift between us.
  2. Yes, with strenuous effort on my part the rift could be lessened but unlikely to ever be fully eradicated.
  3. Yes, provided I accept full responsibility for a lifetime of their toxic bollocks and continue to be their whipping boy in perpetuity.
  4. Yup! Go in there grovelling and admitting how right they were all along (music to their covert narc ears). Make some kind of declaration within the family to this effect.
  5. Myriad ways this could backfire; have obsessively over-analysed each one and remembered the emotional fallout from the last time they happened.
  6. Arguably the most important question. Whilst the theory of mending the rift may appeal to me, the reality of actively allowing a toxic person back into my life, let alone everything I’d have to endure to keep them there, is looking less tempting.

The fact is, in this scenario, what I actually want is for my sibling to become a different person so I can enjoy a relationship with them. I may well want that until the day I die, but it won’t make it happen.

Obviously the outlook in your particular case could look much brighter and I wish you the best of luck whatever you decide.