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.
- What are you hoping to achieve?
- Are you likely to get, if not your desired outcome, then at least a version of it?
- Do you firmly believe your desired outcome is achievable, given your knowledge of the situation and parties involved?
- Have you figured out the best approach to maximise your chances of success?
- Are you prepared for all of the ways in which things could go wrong?
- 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.
- I’m hoping to mend the rift between us.
- Yes, with strenuous effort on my part the rift could be lessened but unlikely to ever be fully eradicated.
- Yes, provided I accept full responsibility for a lifetime of their toxic bollocks and continue to be their whipping boy in perpetuity.
- 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.
- Myriad ways this could backfire; have obsessively over-analysed each one and remembered the emotional fallout from the last time they happened.
- 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.