Amending familial relationships can be hard

“It’s not a person’s mistakes which define them – it’s the way they make amends.” 
― Freya North

I have cousins on my mother’s side, whom I haven’t seen in over 30 years.

While some familial relationships experience such absences based on geographical location or the expansion of sub-families, mine seems to have more dramatic undertones, rather than a logical reality.

Without airing out all my dirty laundry, there was a supposed “falling out” between members of the family – details of which have been the subject of speculation for years, but never fully revealed to me. I was around eight-years-old when this all occurred.

And while I fully understand how turmoil inside the family can quickly divide people against each other, for me there’s still that little eight-year-old boy wondering what happened.

I was very close to my cousins – three older boys, whom I always looked up to as the youngest. I can still remember playing superheroes with light up swords and capes, or with the massive train set they had constructed in a small room off their basement.

Now sitting here almost three decades later, I find myself wondering what my life would be like if they had remained an active part of it.

And while there’s isn’t much you can do as a young child, as an adult you can try to find your own answers – try and make amends as best you can for situations you may or may not have had any involvement in.

And so, after much researching, I found my aunt and one of my cousins through Facebook. For weeks I did nothing with the discovery, worried about the unknowns surrounding the original severing of our relationship. But then I read this quote by Shannon L. Alder:

“Sometimes you only get one chance to rewrite the qualities of the character you played in a person’s life story. Always take it. Never let the world read the wrong version of you.” 

This seemed like my chance.

And so I reached out to both of them with a heartfelt message not looking for answers, but rather to say how unfortunate it was that whatever had happened led to the demise of our relationship.

I’m not going to lie in confessing that I assumed this might very well be my Hallmark-movie moment – where families are reunited after years of strife in under two hours. But sadly, it wasn’t meant to be it seems. Over a month has passed since I sent that message, and I’ve been greeted with nothing but silence.

I’ve always been a big proponent of making amends – even when it may not be completely your fault. I say that because relationships are incredibly hard to foster and almost impossible to replace once they’ve disappeared.

And while time definitely allows you to amend for the actions which haunt you, the longer you wait the greater chance such an action will fall on deaf ears. Don’t let your pride prevent you from reaching out to someone. While you may not always get a response, at least you made an effort to set things right.

Steve Carell once said, “I think in most relationships that have problems, there’s fault on both sides. And in order for it to work, there has to be some common ground that’s shared. And it’s not just one person making amends.”