The Obligation of Family Relationships
It took me the greater part of my adult life to recognize that you are not obligated to have a relationship with someone just because you are related to them.
When a relationship breaks down, a healthy person will recognize that it has reached its end and it is time to let go. They will arrive at a place where they realize that the person on the other end of the relationship is not interested in reciprocity, which is critical for a healthy relationship, so they pack their emotional energy and move on. Unhealthy people may try to work things out without regard to their own personal health, they may allow themselves to be treated badly for fear of losing a relationship that society says every healthy person should have and they may go to unrelenting extremes to hang on to relationships that have absolutely no hope of ever happening. It is especially true when familial relationships become tense or estranged for long periods of time.
It's not rocket science to understand that relationships are primarily based on what you receive from the person you are engaging. I hear people say that they love to give give give but in most cases, that is only on holidays and special events. If you are involved with someone who is selfish, demanding, rude, who ignores your existence, someone who gives you nothing in return for all of the wonderful things you do out of the goodness of your heart, I guarantee you are either headed for Saint-ville or a major break-up or, you will spend your life being codependent. If that person is a relative, you are more likely to take the "abuse" and become angry and bitter toward that person. When the break-up does happen, it's usually a lot more ugly because you cannot fathom how someone who has shared so much of your life would treat you like this. It's the ultimate breach of trust. The absolution of abandonment.
So perhaps you had a falling-out with someone ten years ago and you haven't spoken since. You've made several genuine attempts to contact this person but to no avail he still ignores you. It's okay to set that relationship aside for now. You are not obligated to chase him like a psychotic girlfriend just because he is your brother or father. I know it would be better to be close to your him because of the natural bond you share but, maybe it's just not meant to happen at this time, and that's okay. Let it rest and revisit things when you feel the time is right.
What you need to come to terms with is that whether it's your brother, your father or any other member of your family, you don't have to foster that relationship in order to be a whole or complete person. Don't dwell on the loss because it's not going to change anything. Most likely they feel the loss just as much as you but may not have the tools to bridge that gap. The important message is that you need to free yourself of the burden that it is your job to fix the problem. It doesn't make you a bad person for not chasing a relationship that may not ever be righted again.
Continue loving that person regardless of the circumstances. Forgive and move on. Remember the good times you've had and if the chance to reconnect should ever come your way by all means, do it to the best of your ability.
Bridging The Gap
I wrote this hub because I had spent more than twenty-five years not speaking to my oldest brother after the tragic death of our mother at a very young age. Unfortunately it took most of my adult life, a broken marriage and many life lessons to recognize that I didn't have to feel badly about missing his presence in my life but the reality was, I missed him terribly. Sadly, it took the sudden and again tragic loss of our younger sister two years ago to make me realize that life is too short for my pride to keep us apart. So I picked up the phone and called him one day to tell him that I missed him and that I needed my brother in my life. As it turns out, he had been feeling the same way....and the wall came down. I can't say that all family rifts will be resolved that easily and certainly ours isn't necessarily resolved but it's definitely a start. I encourage everyone who reads this to reach out. Offer your peaceful truce and then hope and I wish you well. My brother was my first friend in my life, my first protector and my confidant. I can't explain how wonderful it is to have him back after missing him for a quarter of my life. #firstfriends