Happy new year friends and family, may 2017 be the year to… The year to do what?
Yes, perhaps New Years resolutions are set each year by many, seriously set or in jest. Yet there is one resolution I encourage you to set as it is the most healing, revealing and important as it will bring an end to the emotional pain many of you experience daily.
I am speaking about re building relationships between siblings and parents, children and friends.
Many posts appear on Facebook stating the opposite. Basically saying ‘forget those who hurt you as you don’t need them in your life.
Unfortunately by doing this the person left with the emotional scar is YOU.
Last week on FB messages have been passed between family and friends wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2017. Messages about the love between brothers, sisters, parents – genuinely posted. But one such message returned a comment from a cousin of mine, saying ‘not from my brother, I have tried to communicate, no contact, sorry to say.’
And on a reply, ‘hate to say this, but I gave up years ago. Have a fantastic sister though.’
I replied, “surprise yourself and him – phone him tonight and wish him a happy new year. Build a new bridge. Life and family are too precious to give up on each other. Mend your heart by doing this.”
All very easy for me to say, you may be thinking. While the tension within you irritates your stomach, bringing pain within the ulcerated stomach you know you have developed over the years. Developed after years of hurts, through words expressed that seared you, through the ripping apart of the family unit you treasured as a child, and the sense of isolation and worthlessness after feeling rejected.
How do I know this?
I have walked that path many times. After making resolutions because of fractured experiences between siblings and parents.
Stubborn defiant and angry.
Thankfully I have been immersed in the teaching about forgiveness. Heard the statement about who is the better man – the one who forgives or the one who doesn’t. Yes, I want to be the better, stronger, emotionally adjusted person, so I want to be the first to forgive. I want emotional health.
It’s like a muscle – use it or lose it.
The more you use it the quicker and easier you can forgive, and move on. As honestly, the sibling you are refusing to communicate with may be blissfully unaware of your pain. Seeing you as someone who wishes to be estranged from the family. Thinking it’s your personality. Unaware it’s something deeper, which is slowly tearing your soul apart.
Ridiculous, you may be thinking. What does she know?
Let me tell you a story. A true story which brings a sense of happiness every time I recall it.
My family tree research while writing my novel, “The Fortune Seekers – Dan and Charlotte” lead me to meet my grandads’ brothers’ grandson. He lives in Sydney. We communicated and visited, openning up our lives to each other. His hug was that of a soft teddy bear, who didn’t want the hug to end. I loved him immediately.
He told me, “you are the first family I have met in Australia. I have half brothers in New Zealand, but we don’t communicate.’
“Why?” I asked.
He told me something like the following.”Years and years ago I left them, an angry, bitter man. Even my children, I left. So much pain. I was bitter and twisted and independent.”
‘That’s sad,” I replied. “Do you regret it now?’
“All the time. But it’s too late. I don’t even know if they are alive, or what they would say if I made contact. I’m scared to do so.”
Now, listen to me, dear reader.
This is an elderly man in his late seventies who has had a highly successful career, is highly educated, and loved by his sweet wife. Can you imagine such a man feeling this unworthy? Being unable to mend broken relationships when he really wants to?
We talked some time, and I suggested I would try and see if I could locate his half brother. His eyes teared up, as hope began to relight in his heart.
It didn’t take long to find his half brother. Sometimes these things are meant to be. Some say it’s the universe, I say it’s the love of God preparing ahead for such things. As Jesus is all about love and restoration.
This is what was prepared ahead of time.
On a webpage, written three years earlier was a request from a man. It was his brothers name.”I am searching for my half brother. (I’ll call him Arthur.) Last heard of somewhere in Australia. Please contact me on….”
I checked with Arthur, asking whether he would like me to proceed. I heard the emotion in his voice confirming he did. The email was answered within a day. The brother (I will call him John) and I communicated back and forth. John was ecstatic to have found Arthur, and told me he could make contact with Arthur’s two children as he knows where they are.
Three months have passed. Both men are catching up. The hurts are gone. The estranged relationships are regretted. Should never have got to this stage, they both agree. Arthur and John are happily rebuilding their families, have reconnected with a second brother and his children.
Both are grateful, sometimes overwhelmed while feeling the blessing of being loved by so many. Pleased they had the courage to reach out.
And my younger cousin who I mentioned earlier – remember his statement, “I hate to say this, but I gave up on him years ago.” What of him?
“Ian,” I said on New Year’s Eve,”surprise yourself and him – phone him tonight and wish him a happy new year. Build a new bridge. Life and family are too precious to give up on each other. Mend your heart by doing this.”
Is he stuck back in childhood with memories of sibling rivalry. Still unable to move through to emotionally become an adult in his emotions.
There is some hard hitting truth in that statement, as when we are stuck back there in sibling rivalry or fighting against parents it’s as if we are eight years old again, or a teenager if it’s against a parent.
There is too much of this in families.
We must grow up to retrieve the gift of family we have been given. It’s only as hard as dialling that number, sending the card expressing regret and love, or knocking on the door.
To finish, I’ll tell you one last story.
My brother Muz and I had an issue in 2016. I won’t tell you the details as it was silly really.
Our Mum has endeavered to teach us to mend and restore sibling relationships. ‘Wise old lady, but she doesnt know the history,’ you might be thinking, when pondering on your own life. Read on.
Muz and I weren’t listenning to each other clearly, or was it really that we weren’t hearing what we both were trying to say. As people rarely speak the simple truth, they go around the edges of the problem making it more unclear.
A few months ago we got together when I visited NZ, where he lives. We chatted superficially until one of us took the bite – spilling the hurt regarding the situation. My Mum, our spouses, all sat down. Giving each other glances, knowing a sibling arguement was under way. Leaving us to it.
Muzz and I argued, explained and re explained our points of view, until he said, “we are getting no where.”
We eyed each other, until we both grinned, knowing we had worked through the pain by the arguing, and now were free of the tension.
Being the female, who likes to have words said to mend the broken parts, I said,” I’m sorry Muzz,” as we hugged.
He said, “I am sorry also.”
Pause, while we hug.
“All forgiven Big Sis?” He asked.
“Nothing left to forgive, Little Brother.”
As we released from our hug, he eyed me again, before saying,” I love you.”
So dear reader, make 2017 the year to mend broken family relationships.
It’s not hard to do. All it takes is regret and courage. And compassionate honesty to recognise you are the one preventing reconciliation.
I know you have that courage.
Please write and tell me of your restored relationship. And how wonderful you feel having done so.