Connecting with Family, continued

by Rod Smith

Whenever I write about the necessity and benefits of pursuing a deeper connection with family of origin, several readers will push back.

“I am willing, my sister won’t respond,” or, “you don’t know my brother’s wife,” or, “you’re crazy; I am not going back to the people who hurt me so badly, just to get hurt again.”

As noted yesterday there are unusual, even dangerous exceptions, where initiating such reconnections would be unadvisable, even dangerous. These include contexts where enduring cruelty, severe and intentional abandonment, sexual and other forms of physical violence were part of a family history.

While reconnection is possible under such conditions, (grace always abounds), it is not necessary, and recommended without professional guidance. There’s nothing to be gained in walking back into open, festering childhood wounds. It’s the naive counselor or pastor (and some do) who promotes, even demands it.

The above circumstances noted and honored, there remains great benefit in the willingness, the openness to engage with the sister who won’t respond and that brother’s wife and even the people who hurt you so badly.

The anxiety you feel as you imagine such intentional reconnection is the gravitational force (is the anvil, the crucible – choose your metaphor) I am taking about. Your openness, willingness to engage and embrace will stimulate your growth. Your greater health pivots on your willingness, not the openness, or cooperation, or even availability of others.

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